History:There have been human beings on earth for about1.7 million years. The detailed record of events anddevelopments that we call “history” stretches backfor only about six or seven thousand years. Beforethe beginning of history we have only myths,legends, and guesswork to tell us what eventsoccurred and in what order. Thus the question ofwhere and when people first learned to useshelters, and what the earliest shelters were like,have long been the subject of much speculation.
The first shelters :The first shelters were either found (caves) orwere made with materials that were easy towork with bare hands or with very simpletools.Although the term “cave men” is often usedto describe early human beings and whilethere is certainly evident that ancient peoplemade use of caves. It is unlikely that caveswere the most widely used of early humanliving places.While the famous cave paintings at Chativet,Lascaux and Altamira clearly prove thatearly people used these caves , there are nocertainty that they were dwelling places butperhaps used it as an emergency shelters –places for special rites or ceremonies or theymay have been used for the works of art.
Characteristics of prehistoric period:-The earliest forms of dwelling of “savage” hunter were rock – caves. Thesavage or the primitive tribe, state the means of living were hunting, fishingand collection of food.-The dwelling units had its transition from caves to build huts of reeds and thetents from bark and skin of animals.-The “barbarian” state the means of livelihood came from crops and cattlerearing and later on men started living in settled life.-Because of this, men in early civilization started constructing houses, watersupply schemes and defensive works.-Once the problem of food and shelter had been successively solved, the nextoutstanding works taken were of sacred nature, the place of worship andtombs.-Still we can visualize few of such sacred prehistoric monuments – dolmens.Dolmens are the tumuli or large grave mounds built of massive stone during3rd or 2nd millennium B.C.
Dolmens and barrows:The arrangement of stones called Alignmentsand the Dolmens were usually used forceremonies or rituals connected withobservation of astronomical movements.The arrangement of a large stone placed on topof two or three upright stones that makes upthe many dolmens seems to have created theinner chamber of a tomb that took the from ofan artificial hill.A barrow is a heap of earth placed overprehistoric tombs. It is possible to go into theinterior chambers of some of these survivingtombs. they are dark, mysterious and oftenimpressive. In some of these structures, it ispossible to see carved or incised patterns cutinto the stones with patterns of beauty.
Stonehenge :-Stonehenge is circular assemblage of hugestones.- These stones are arranged in twoconcentric circles, the outer one with 33min dia. and the inner with 25m.-The other remains of this sacredconstruction are great upright stone“monoliths” -Some of these monoliths are 19 to 20 m high, 4.24 to 5 m in dia. and they weigh about 250 tones.
Evidence from tribal cultures:The oldest known traces of built human shelter, found in Terra Amata in Southern France,are believed to be 400,000 years old, but only the minimal remains, suggest the form ofthese huts made from tree branches.Primitive societies are characterized by a powerful conservatism, a devotion totraditional ways (often reinforced by a system of taboos that discourage change)Most primitive societies depend on hunting, fishing, and food gathering for sustenance.They are therefore generally to some degree migratory and must build shelter that isreadily portable.People in the tribal Africa, in the islands of the Pacific, in the Arctic and in the North andSouth America continents before the coming of Europeans are now, or were recentlyliving in ways that had not changed in many generations.The villages in tropical Africa, settlements in Sahara and Mongolian deserts, nativeAmerican , Eskimo and Australian communities are all primitive living system systems thatcan be assumed to the evidence of how human shelter may have developed.
The forms of nature are rarely straight- lined and square-cornered and inobservation of trees and rocks, and of shelters built by birds and insects, wouldsuggest circular forms, while the materials available to build the shelters mighthave been difficult for making square corners and create weak points in afragile structure.The tepee of the American plains had a frameof long poles tied together at the top. Its outerwalls were skins arranged to permit a flapdoorway and a top flap that could be adjustedto control air circulation, allow penetration ofthe daylight and act as a smoke outlet.The whole tepee was easy totake down, pack, and transportwhen the migratory hunting usersneeded to follow the herd thatwere their food supply.
The Yurt or Ger of the people of Mongolia uses avertical wall frame of lattice strips that collapsefor transport but are expanded and tied to forma circle. Willow strips form a roof structure. ThePortable Yurt, still in use is an interestingexample of a design development to fit aparticular way of life in a particulargeographical location. The snow houses or igloo of the people of Arctic region is a circular construction build from blocks cut from snow. The blocks are laid up in concentric circles of diminishing size to form a dome. Within the house, proper skins are used to line the walls, leaving an air space that helps to insulate the interior while preventing the heat from melting the snow dome. Raised platforms lift the interior floor level and also acts as a substitute form of furniture. These are used only during the cold months and are replaced by a tent like house of skin in summer or some places, a grass house of domed shape similar to the winter igloo.
Pattern and design:The technique of weaving is an ancientinvention in which has appeared in manylocations, making possible baskets, blankets,rugs of a manufactured membranes as analternative to animal skins. The weaving offibers of varied colors, either from naturalsources or through dyeing, leads to thediscovery that patterns too can be woven.Such simple patterns as strips and checks lead The design of an African woven cloth or a Navajoto the invention of more complex geometric blanket, for example, follow customs that make the visible designs significant in reinforcing tribal traditionspatterns that appear in basketry, pottery and and taboos.woven blankets and rugs.In primitive practice, pattern and imagery arerarely strictly ornamental but there arepurposeful meanings in color, pattern, anddesign that serve to designate identity withina society, tribal loyalties, religious or mythicreferences, or magical significance.
The first permanent settlement:The key inventions or discoveries on which civilization is built are the controlled useof fire, the invention of language and the development of agriculture.Of these, agriculture most directly had an influence in the design of built shelter. Aslong as food supply was dependent on hunting and gathering of growing plantproducts, the human population was forced to travel to locations where food wasavailable.But the discovery that it was possible to plant crops and harvest a larger and morereliable food supply was the basis for a chain of developments.Therefore with more people and with techniques for building more lasting structures,villages and towns became more permanent settlements.The making of the necessities for living became more specialized with systems ofbarter and trade emerging to make it possible for a farmer, a shepherd or a fishermanto make exchanges with weaver, a potter or a builder to the benefit of the both.
Mesopotamia : SumerianThe beginning of a settled Sumerian civilization based on agriculture can be dated around3500 B.C. when a system of picture writing came into use.• The cities of Sumer grew gradually. Instead of straight streets that cross at right angles, Sumerian cities had narrow, winding streets.• Protective walls with gates surrounded the city.• People built their houses of mud walls that were several feet thick. Such thick walls helped to keep out heat. Narrow tunnels ran through the walls, carrying fresh air from the outside into the house.• People first made the doorways by placing a horizontal beam over two vertical posts. Then they built the mud walls around the doorways.• A house consisted of a series of rooms arranged around a courtyard. The builders covered the courtyard with a loose roof of palm leaves over wooden planks. This roof helped protect people from the hot sun.
• Sumerian Religion The Sumerians believed in many gods and goddesses -polytheism.• Sumerians believed that four main gods created the world and ruled over it. These were the gods of sky, wind, foothills, and fresh water.• The largest and most important structure in a Sumerian city was the temple - Ziggurat.• The ziggurat was not just a temple; it was the center of city life. The ziggurat functioned as a sort of city hall. This was because the priests ran the irrigation systems.• People came to the ziggurat to pay the priests for their services with grain and other items. As a result, the priests controlled the storage of surplus grain.• The priests ended up controlling much of the wealth of the city-state.• The cooking area was usually located out in the courtyard so the smoke could escape through gaps in the roof.
Ancient Egypt:The style of architecture in Egypt prevailed during theperiod of 3200 BC – 1st century A.D .Primitive architecture consisted of readily availablematerials like reeds, papyrus and palm ribs plastered overwith clay.Buildings with circular plans had domical coverings of similarconstructions while square shaped building had tunnelshaped coverings on flat roofs.Egyptian religion, like many others religions included beliefin a life after death but it put extraordinary emphasis on thepreservation of the bodies of dead persons. The after lifewould last as long as the body survived – hence thedevelopment of techniques of embalming and the concernfor the building of tombs of maximal lasting qualities.On the walls of tombs and temples, texts spelt out inhieroglyphic writing were combined with visual images,incised and painted in plaster or directly in stone.
Geometry and proportions:The largest and best known of ancient Egyptianstructures, the pyramids are among the oldestsurviving works but their small interior passagesand chambers are of less interest.Ancient Egypt developed great knowledge of andskill in geometric planning. The pyramids at Gizaare positioned with a North – South axialorientation of great precision.The slope of the pyramid sides are at an angle of51 degree and that it is a base angle of a trianglehaving a base and hypotenuse that arerespectively the short and the long sides of a“golden rectangle”.The only value that satisfies this relationship is theratio 0.618:1. this relationship is often called asgolden ratio. A golden ratio can be constructedwith straight edges and a compass by laying out aright triangle with an altitude equal to one halfthe base.
Egyptian temples and houses:The plans of Egyptians temples are expanded andelaborated versions of Egyptian house plans, withan innermost chamber – home of the god-surrounded by layers of walled spaces and reachedonly through succession of outer walls, gatewaysand courtyards.The mud-brick material of house building wastranslated into construction using carefully cut andpolished stone.The design of the typical stone column , with itssuggestion of a binding of cord at the base andbelow the capital, was derived from the mudcolumns.Flat stones used for roofing could span only shortdistances so rooms were usually small with narrowpassage . Incase for a larger space when required,it was filled with columns spaced closely enough tomake it possible for stones to span from onecolumn to another.
Furniture The knowledge of Egyptian furniture comes from images in wall paintings that shows scenes of everyday life. The typical preserved chair has a simple wooden frame with a low seat webbed with bands of rush or leather. Legs usually end at their base with carved , clawed animal foot forms. There are also simple folding stools of an X-form being used. Others like bed, a cosmic box, chair, tables give an idea of the elegance of more simple Egyptian furniture design . Surviving bits of woven textiles suggest that the Egyptians were also highly skilled weavers and colorist of woven cloths. The bed has feet carved in animal form while the box of ebony and ivory is made in proportions that relates to the golden ratio.
The basic structure ofebony wood can be seenin the legs of the chair,which is encrusted withinlays of gold and ivory.The seating function iscertainly subordinated tothe display of wealth,grandeur and powerconveyed by the richnessof material.
Indus valley civilizationThe earliest traces of civilization in the Indian subcontinent are to be found in placesalong, or close, to the Indus River. Excavations first conducted in 1921-22, in the ancientcities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, both now in Pakistan, pointed to a highly complexcivilization that first developed some 4,500-5,000 years ago. Settlements From the beginning of the 4th millennium BC, the individuality of the early village cultures began to be replaced by a more homogenous style of existence. By the middle of the 3rd millennium, a uniform culture had developed at settlements spread across nearly 500,000 square miles, including parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Baluchistan, Sind and the Makran coast.
Urban DevelopmentThe emergence of this civilization is asremarkable as its stability for nearly athousand years. All the cities were wellplanned and were built with baked bricks ofthe same size; the streets were laid at rightangles with an elaborate system of covereddrains.There was a fairly clear division of localitiesand houses were earmarked for the upper andlower strata of society. There were also public buildings, the most famous being the Great Bath at Mohenjo-Daro and the vast granaries. Production of several metals such as copper, bronze, lead and tin was also undertaken and some remnants of furnaces provide evidence of this fact. The discovery of kilns to make bricks support the fact that burnt bricks were used extensively in domestic and public buildings.
OccupationsEvidence also points to the use of domesticated animals, including camels, goats, waterbuffaloes and fowls. The Harappans cultivated wheat, barley, peas and sesame and wereprobably the first to grow and make clothes from cotton.Discoveries suggest that the Harappan civilisation had extensive trade relations with theneighbouring regions in India and with distant lands in the Persian Gulf and Sumer (Iraq).The Harappan society was probably divided according to occupations and this alsosuggests the existence of an organized government.The figures of deities on seals indicate that the Harappans worshipped gods andgoddesses in male and female forms and has alsoevolved some rituals and ceremonies.No monumental sculpture survives, but a large numberof human figurines have been discovered, including asteatite bust of a man thought to be a priest, and astriking bronze dancing girl. Countless terra-cottastatues of Mother Goddess have been discoveredsuggesting that she was worshipped in nearly everyhome.