Or catches fire. It iss hard to find a timber buildin ng, an original timber building, much over or, at the most, 1, years old. One can arguee that, on the whoole, there is no reasoon for most buildings too last so long. Or, equally, one can fall into the Japanese way. Throughout this book you will find timber buildings of extraordinary daring and refinement and examples of timber construction that are quite breathtaking. I still look up at the great lantern of Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire with awe.
Supported by the sawn trunks of eight mighty oak trees, each weighing 10 tons, the timber lantern itself weighs tons and yet seems to be floating effortlessly above the crossing of the medieval cathedrall. It took 14 yyears to craft and dates from ca. The very last bu uilding shown in this boook, the J an Marie Tjibaaou Je C ltural Center, Cu Noumea, in thee French No co olony of New w Cal donia, iss made Ca Cale TTim imber triumpph im Inn thickly foreested Noorway andd Sweden, stave chuurches built entirely of woodas a Heddaal, Norway at l ft m le made a ve y disstinctive ver conttribution to m medieval arcchitecture.
New ways with wood The J. Tjibaou Cultural Center, the work of Renzo Piano, evokes the traditional huts of the indigenous people of the island of New Caledonia. Timber remains a fine material to build with, although the fear of fire is always present. Stone was readilyy available in other parts of the world. The Egyptians tended to use stone in great blocks that could be brought to building sites on rollers. The Greeks shaped their stones more subtly but still treated them as a stiffly noble material lacking in flexibility.
Greek temples are the apotheosis of trabeatedor post-andlintelconstruction, whereby posts or, in the case of Greek temples, columns are set into the ground and then set over with beams in their case entablatures. The Greeks made a great art of this simple form of construction, which, it has been argued g byy theorists and historians from the 18th century, was developed from timber buildings. Perhaps it was. It was tth he R Romans, tth hough h, wh ho demo de mons mo nstr ns trat tr ated at ed tthe he p pla last la stic st ic p pro rope ro pert pe rtie rt iess ie off stone.
This is not to sugg g est that ston st o e can be squ quee eeze zed d lilike ke d dou ough gh oorr shaped like putty, but it does possess a dy dyna nami micc qu qual alit ityy if on onee kn know owss ho how w. Although the arch was known to the Greeks, it was the Romans who made it their trademark. Without the arch, there would be no Colosseum, no bridges across high rivers, no aqueducts. By extension, an arch could become a barrel vault to cover a room. Where two barrel vaults intersected they formed a groin vault, as seen in many Roman basilicas.
If an arch is stretched and rotated, it becomes the base of a dome. But it was the European p Gothic masters who made stone one of the most exciting of all building materials. Geneera rati tion b by generati tion, ambi biti tious clie cl ient ie ntss, iima nt magi ma gina gi nati na tive ti ve aarc rchi rc hite hi tect te ctss, aand ct nd supe p rblyy talented craftsmen used the supp su ppor ortt ga gain ined ed b byy ad addi ding ng ffly lyin ingg buttresses to stretch their arches h hig i her and an d th thei eir ir va vaul ults ts intto evver e mor oree.
It is said that, in a popular move, Pericles used not slaves but unemployed Athenians as workers, thus ensuring all Athenian families had food on their tables. Complex scaffolds and pulleys aided the work of lifting the huge stone blocks into place. Roman arches The Roman aqqueduct at Segov g ia,, in Sppain be low , brinngs water bri water 22, ft 89 m fr froom the Fr Fro o Riv River to the ci city ty.
Bu Built ilt in th thee rreig eignn ooff the the emp empero erorr Traj Trajan an, it is one of the best-preserved example p s of Roma omann pr provi ovinci ncial al archit arcchitect ecture. Ambition did, however, prove the limitation of stone technology. In , the vaulting of the choir of Beauvais cathedral, in France, collapsed. The aim of its founder, Bishop Guillaume de Grez, had been to build the tallest cathedral in Europe.
To do so required the vault to be raised by 16 ft 5 m. Gothic stonework Even after its rebuilding with sturdier supports, the vaulting of Beauvais cathedral still powerfully communicates the soaring ambition of its creators. This was six feet too far, and the vault caved in. In , the even more ambitious central tower of the cathedral, still under construction, collapsed.
Only the choir and transepts of this stratospherically ambitious building were finally completed. They tell a tale of hubris, and yet the skyhigh vaults of the choir are, it has to be said, breathtaking. Would the ancient. Greeks have thought such construction possible? Probably not, although it should be said that they were content with what they wanted to achieve. They let their mountainous landscape climb toward Heaven, while on the flat plains of Europe, ambitious clerics built holy mountains in sensational leaps and bounds of adventurous stone.
Roman builders had another trick up their togas: concrete. By mixing lime and clay, or pozzolana a volcanic dust , with water they produced a cement that when mixed with aggregate stones, pebbles, sand, gravel, rubble formed concrete, a strong, plastic, easily worked, fireproof material that could be used to span previously inconceivable spaces, such as that over the voluminous drum of the Pantheon in Rome.
The cores of very many other Roman engineering structures and buildings were also concrete; but, by and large, this truly empire-building material vanished with the Romans. Modern concrete was invented by John Smeaton in England in ca. Only in the 20th century was it truly admired. Even then, architects did their best to make concrete as smooth as possible, so that, especially when polished, it resembled stone.
Raw concrete was made fashionable by Le Corbusier in the s and today remains the choice core material of many of the worlds buildings, whether artistic or not. In the meantime, reinforced concrete had been invented by a French gardener, Joseph Monier, in the midth century. His first experiments had been with flower pots, but once he showed his revolutionary materialconcrete.
C cre Con crete te con te co ce cealed cea led Thee do dome m off the Panth me theon th eo , Rome eon me, iiss buil me b ililtt ooff c crete, con e altho h ugh itt is clad in wha whatt were were considered more decorative materials. Architects, especially in the 19th century when there was so much technological change going on around them, often found it hard to accept or to adapt to new materials.
Equally, they often refused to see how a new material might be beautiful. They fought an increasingly rear guard action against new materials but finally gave into them and, in the case of concrete, did so with a vengeance.
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In modern construction, there is one major rival to concrete: steel. In fact, far more steel is used in building. Harsh reality The J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, D. Steel took over from iron, which, although it had been forged since BCE, was essentially a soft material. By the 19th century, it was still much used in architectural decoration and for smallspan structures, but it would never have been strong enough to allow the construction of skyscrapers.
This, of course, is exactly what steel allowed. Steel took over from iron in , when the Englishman Henry Bessemer first proved that pig iron could be decarbonized, via his Bessemer converter, to produce an immensely strong alloy that would revolutionize architecture. The lightness of steel and concrete compared to masonry allowed towering structures to be built.
Wright published sensational sketches of a 1 mile 1, m high, story office tower he would have liked to have built. His tower, The Illinois, never happened because of the costs involved and because no one then or now could quite see how to get around the problem of providing sufficient elevators traveling at a comfortable speed. What was not questioned was the ability of engineers and contractors to build so high.
Within a few decades of its invention, the New York skyline had become a wonder of the modern world. Today, of the approximately one billion tons of steel manufactured worldwide, 60 percent is recycled. For this reason alone, steel is, beyond the manufacturing process, an environmentally sound material. It loses nothing in terms of strength or reliability through recycling. It allows for buildings that climb into the sky seemingly forever.
No one is quite sure how tall a steel-framed building could be, although in Frank Lloyd. Today, there are many new materials available for architects to toy with, from plastic reinforced with glass to neoprene a synthetic rubber , artificial stone, glass-reinforced concrete, titanium, and even sea-cretion the curious coral-like invention of the German architect Wolf Hilbertz.
Yet many of these materials are used only decoratively, for cladding, or for modest structures. The living houses that adapt their structures to human emotions as described so thrillingly and darkly in a short story in J. Ballards Vermilion Sands have yet to come. The basic building blocks of architecture remain brick, Modern use of steel I architect In hi Santiago S i Calatravas C l City Ci off Arts A andd Sciences, in Valencia, Spain, steel is used not as a conc conceal ealed ed, re reinf inforc or ingg armat armature ure bu butt cele celebra brates tes its contribu butio bu tionn ttoo th these hese swee sweepin ping i g stru stru tructu ctures ctu res.
Throughout the world and across history, shelters of one sort or another have been built from hides, bones, wooden poles, bamboo, leaves, bark, fur, branches, reeds, ice, vegetable fibers, rocks, and mud. Occasionally these have been used to create architecture, as in the extraordinary mud mosques of Mali. For the most part, though, these are the materials of temporary structures: igloos and tepees, yurts, and clay-and-wattle huts.
These are beautiful structures, but gone, in terms of the stretch of architectural history, with the wind, while the ziggurats of Mesopotamia carry on from ancient history to. A new Ede d n de The domes of Britains Eden Project are clad in transparent foil pillows, fixed to a framework that is designed to allow the substitution of even newer breathable materials as they become available.
Have birds eggs, spiders webs, the hexagons of beehives, or the brilliant ventilation systems of termites nests affected the way we have built as the flight of birds has to the development aircraft? Yet what seems remarkable after so many centuries is that the basic building blocks have changed so little.
As toddlers, our first act of building is to set one brick on another. When we learn to do it well, we are on the way to architecture. Mary Axe office building in the City of London, designed by Foster and Partners, are a test of the strength of the relationship between architect, contractor, and client. A key first step in the creation of any major new building is the decision as to whether 30 ST. Popularly known as the Gherkin Pickle due to its unusual shape, 30 St. Mary Axe the headquarters of the insurance firm Swiss Recame about through particularly dramatic circumstances.
The decision was made for it to be demolished, and to replace it with an entirely new building. Once the decision to build has been made, the role of the architect is to fathom the needs of the new buildings clients, and then consider how these needs can be met within the constraints of local planning guidelines and laws, while also satisfying the wider cultural concerns of bodies charged by the government with protecting, and even enhancing, local and national heritage. They can also be used to demonstrate the flow of air through the building, and to get a feel of what it might be like to work or live in specific areas.
Model of rotations This model of 30 St. Mary Axe shows how each floor plan rotates 5 degrees from the floor below, creating spiraling lightwells and sky gardens. Sectional drawings A cross-section of a proposed building enables the architects to peel away the skins of their designs and reveal the interior layout and workings. Here, the complexity of the interiors of 30 St. Mary Axe is revealed. The drawing also serves to demonstrate the scale of the office tower in relation to existing buildings around it. Upper section of tower has a different internal layout from the office floors below it.
Six-floor atria, known as sky gardens because they contain plants and trees to re-oxygenate stale air from the offices. Floor plans Individual floor plans help to visualize the interior spaces of a building, and can inform its overall design. These circular floor plans from 30 St. Mary Axe are, from left to right: entrance lobby, typical office floor, seat restaurant below bar, 40th-floor bar. The architects commissioned to deliver 30 St. Mary Axe, Foster and Partners, are known for their uncompromising exploration of technological innovation and forms, and made environmental considerations an important concern in their design for the building.
The design of a building may move through many stages, with the architects making sketches, computer drawings, and 3-D models of the proposed building, working closely with structural engineers and, gradually, as the form and detailed design of the project become clear, with a wide range of specialist engineers concerned with heating, ventilation, elevators, and lighting.
Before construction of a building can begin, drawings a and models must be approved by planners in many stages. Once all parties are satisfied and in agreement, the final working drawings are signed off, and the contractors begin their work. Few changes are made to the design at this stage, and certainly not to the essential structure of the building. Office towers like 30 St. Mary Axe rise from the ground with astonishing.
Once completed and hopefully well received by clients, public, and critics, a building like this remains a concern of the architects who shaped it. It serves as their most effective calling card, determines their reputation, and is a key part of their historical legacy. Window design An architects early sketch shows how the visual effect and structural design will combine. Note that people are included to give a sense of scale, and as a reminder of the purpose of the building. Window construction Only when the skin of a building begins to cover its skeleton does it start to look like the drawings.
The finished building With its eye-catching design and unique shape, 30 St. Mary Ma Axe, completed in , is an unmistakable feature re of the he London skyline. It is a place where people live and work cooperatively, producing food to sustain not only themselves, but specialistsartisans, artists, architects, scribes, administrators, and priestswho shape a unique culture. The story of architecture therefore begins with the first cities. There are many theories about how and when civilizationand architecture with itbegan.
All need to be prefaced with the word perhaps because we are unlikely to ever be sure why people first settled and began to build on a heroic scale, with artistry beyond craft. However, r most archaeologists agree that urban life evolved in the Middle East long before the first cities of Central America and China, and that the location of this giant leap forward was Mesopotamiaan area roughly equivalent to modern Iraq. Mesopotamiathe land bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers the name means between the rivers in.
Marks in clay tablets were made using wedge-shaped cuneiform ends of cut reeds. Greek was essentially a dry land; its position between the two mighty rivers, however, allowed for easy irrigation of the desert, where reliable native grassesbarley and wheat could be grown as crops. Fish and wildfowl were also plentiful, allowing settlers to build up the surpluses of food on which the beginnings of urban civilization depended.
Urban settlement was driven on by agricultural success and technological development. From around BCE, bronze-age technology spread through the Middle East, replacing stone tools with metal. The ox-drawn plow appeared in Mesopotamia around BCE, providing the first motive force beyond human muscle. Ancient Mesopotamia hosted a procession of great civilizations: the Sumerians BCE were succeeded by the Akkadians, then the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians. The first Sumerian cities differed from earlier village settlements because their surrounding lands were thought to be owned by a local god rather than by families of clans.
Lookingg to the t e skiess The br brill illllian antt lig light and ev ever-chan hanngin gingg posi posi ositio tions ti off su sun, moon, star tars, s, and nd plane pllanets ts overhe rhead h ad in thee first st ci citie ties encoura tie ura rage ged tthhos osee wh whoo foun foun ounded dedd ded them th m to desi e gn esi gn th their the ir mon monume ume ment me nta t l buil tal uildi uildin dings din g in gs tun u e wit ith th tthhe geo geo eom ometr etr tryy of tr of the thee hea heaven venns.
Mesopotamian people from Babylonians to Persians saw their cities as sacred places. Babylon, the greatest of all Mesopotamian cities, was known as Babi-ilani, or the Gate of the Gods the place where the gods were thought to have descended to earth. In its time, Babylon was also an important center for trade, linking the Persian Gulf with the Mediterranean. Ancient city Around BCE, Babylon was the largest city in the known world, covering more than 2, acres 1, ha. Priests organized work on the land, which in turn provided food for the whole community.
A temple dedicated to the local god was typically the center of the settlement, surrounded by public buildings and marketplaces, and built up on a stepped pyramid, or ziggurata kind of cosmic mountain. The priests were at the hub of society because, on behalf of the gods, they controlled much of a citys lands and irrigation systems, as well as distributing the allimportant agricultural surplus. The Sumerians created the very notion of the state, of law and kingship, while inventing the calendar, the wheel, abstract mathematics, timekeeping.
Were the early Mesopotamian city states, complete with their sacred temple mountains, the blueprint for later cities beyond the Middle East from Egypt to China, India, and the Americas? Certainly, the stepped pyramid form appears in Egypt soon after its development in Sumeria, and Gods of ancient Egypt The Egyptians had as many as 2, gods, often represented as part human, part animal.
This mural, picturing the gods Anubis and Horus, was discovered on tomb walls in the Valley of the Kings. Fertile floods As in Mesopotamia, Egyptian civilization depended on water. Regular flooding of the Nile made the strips of land on either side of the river extremely fertile. But although Egypt produced its own great cities, they never assumed the independent identity and dynamism of those in Mesopotamiapartly because the activity in Egyptian cities focused more on serving the royal court than on building civic identity.
Accordingly, the most famous monumental architecture of Egypt is dedicated to dead pharaohs, rather than living communities. The Bronze Age which lasted until around BCE in the Middle East was a time when people traveled freely over surprisingly large distances, spreading trade, myths, and ideas. Some commentators suggest that links between the Old and New Worlds were well established during this time, explaining the appearance of the stepped pyramid form in Central America.
These notions are highly controversial, but what is certain is that something profound occurred around BCE, changing peoples who subsisted by hunting and gathering, and lived in makeshift homes, into. Some claim that this change gives credence to the destruction-andrenewal myth of the Great Flood enshrined in so many cultures; for others it simply marks a shiftno less remarkablein human consciousness. Gilgamesh was a real Sumerian ruler who reigned around BCE, and the epic drew together poems and legends surrounding his reign into a complete, mythologized story, inscribed in cuneiform, on 12 clay tablets.
It includes an account of a cataclysmic flood, similar in detail to that in the Bible, promoting great interest from scholars. Epic of Gilgamesh Elements of the epic have been woven into later biblical and classical literature; this illustration is from Zabelle C. Boyajians book Gilgamesh. This is largely because the everyday buildings of this period, in which people lived and worked, have long since vanished.
What we are left with are the ruins, in various states of decay, of ambitious palaces and templesthe architecture of religion and power. Stone was largely unavailable, as were the lengths of unyielding timber necessary to span large spaces. The most impressive of the early works of architecture in the ancient Middle East is the Ziggurat of Ur see p.
The base of this temple, measuring ft 90 m square, does indeed suggest a daringly ambitious structure.
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Faced with blue-glazed bricks and rising in seven stages, it would have towered over King Nebuchadnezzars legendary palace beside the Euphrates, famous for the Hanging Gardens that cascaded in great perfumed terraces from the top of the building. It is vital to remember that what today are ruins in a war-torn desert were once the raiments of powerful civilizations.
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Eventually, the region was swallowed up by the worlds first great empire, founded by Persias Cyrus the Great ca. From this time on, building styles were not only transferred from one city, or kingdom, to another, but they also began to be mingled to produce fusions of styles that pushed architecture down new pathways and into creative risk-taking. Craftsmen from across the Persian empireAssyria, Babylon, Egypt, and Ioniajoined forces to shape a new architecture that was far more fluid and sensual than that of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians before them.
Lavishly a decorated and brightly colored, the Palace of Persepolis see p. Increasingly, surfaces were adorned, and then covered, in tiles and relief sculpture. Much of this symbolic sculpture was brightly colored and supported by inscriptions. The palace at Nimrud, for example, features reliefs of kings and courtiers superimposed with detailed and lengthy inscriptions listing their achievements.
Hereatt Pers Perssepo epolis lisvisit visit sitors ors we were re lef leftt in in no dou doubt bt as to the chara h cters t off th the ki kings ngs g theyy were the were to me meet et at the to topp of of the the sta stairs irs.. The figures depict stately processions of Persian and foreign nobles, chieftains, courtiers, guardsmen, and tribute bearers from across the ancient empire. Carvedd stone s panells attach att ached ach ed to the si side de of the stair stairway way.
In the flat, sun-baked desert of southern Iraq, in what was once ancient Sumeria, lies the biblical city of Ur, home of Abraham and the site of one of the most significant early architectural monumentsthe Ziggurat of Urnammu. This imposing structure commanded what was then a great walled city. The Ziggurat stands alone and apart from the extensive remains of the excavated streets and tombs of the city of Ur.
Originally it was walled around, at the heart a religious complex, and reached through a grand courtyard. This artificial sacred mountain was once topped by a temple dedicated to the Moon god Nanna, gained by daunting flights of stairs that still survive.
When the Ziggurat was remodeled and expanded by Urnammu see below and his successors in the 21st century BCE, it was already an extremely old building. It is constructed from mud bricks, the ubiquitous building material of ancient Mesopotamia; each layer is bonded with bitumen, and some with matting to improve stability. The outer layer of bricks is baked for sharpness of profile and durability. Urnammus monument has survived over the centuries, not least because of the ingenuity of its construction: weeper holes in the va vast st mas mass of brickwork allow the Mighty Mig ghty co const nstruc nst ructio uctio tionn Only the base remains today, but this mounttainous i buildi bui ding ng onc o e had three tiers, and and some suggest that eaa h level w eac was as pla plante n d with trees tr es.
It remains a tantalizing feature of a landscape fought over almost as long as it has been inhabited. In a bid for immortality, it must be said that Urnammu has done rather well each of the many individual bricks used to build this amazing structure, the best preserved of all Mesopotamian ziggurats, is stamped with his name. The palaces of the Assyrian Empire are some of the largest and most imposing ancient buildings in Mesopotamia, demonstrating the affluence, aspirations, and determination of the fierce military regime that shaped them.
Though dramatic, the empire was short-lived, and its kings were. And yet, the overall effect of the architecture would have been overwhelming. Raised on a stone platform at a height level with the top of the city walls, the palace covered almost 23 acres 9 ha. At its heart was a throne room measuring x 35 ft 49 x Valued materials The palace was decorated with reliefs showing the transport of precious wood to Khorsabad. One of the eight main entries to the city of Babylon see opposite , the Ishtar gate today stands inside the Pergamon Museum, Berlin.
The structure was moved from Iraq soon after its discovery in the early 20th century, and a two-thirds scale replica was built at its original location, commissioned by Saddam Hussein as part of a controversial reconstruction of Babylon. The original New ggate New te Today Tod ay y s rep repl eplica ica hints hints at the cr ccraft aftsma smansh manship shhip of the or origi ig nal ga igi gate. It is magnificently patterned with dragons and lions, worked in low-relief kiln-fired bricks glazed with liquid asphalt. The dragons symbolize Marduk, god of the city and giver of eternal life, life while the lions are a symbol of the goddess Ishtar.
At its peak, Babylon covered an area of at least 3. Set along the Euphrates River, its walls enclosed a densely packed mix of temples, shrines, markets, and houses, divided by grand avenues set at right angles to one another. The citys legendary Tower of Babel was a seven-tiered ziggurat rising from a base ft 90 m square. The Hanging Gardensone of the seven wonders of the ancient worldwere built for Nebuchadnezzars wife, Amytis.
Nimrud is the site of the biblical city of Calah. For its day it was an enormous settlement: its walls extended 4. Nimrud continued to be a major center until it fell to the invading Babylonians and Medes between and BCE. Typically, this Assyrian city boasted a palace set in generous courtyards, complete with a ziggurat and stone relief carvings depicting bloody battles and lion hunting.
It was also home to the fascinating Temple of Ezida, built in the 9th century BCE; here was the sanctuary of Nabu, the god of writing.
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A well in front of Nabus sanctuary provided the water that, when mixed with fine clay, produced the writing tablets that were such an important part of life for all Mesopotamian cultures. The city of Nineveh, on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, was the final and greatest capital of the Assyrian Empire. It was founded by Nimrod and laid out by Sennacherib, son of Sargon II, but like many ancient cities, its heyday was brief: it was overrun and humbled by the Medes and the Babylonians in BCE.
Containing several palaces and girdled with 7. Impressive stretches of wall survive to this day, some rebuilt by Saddam Hussein. There are also remains of King Sennacheribs Palace without a rivalstill decorated with aggressive carved stone reliefs. Many of the best reliefsincluding those from King Ashurbanipals palaceare now in the British Museum, London.
They depict vivid scenes of royal lion hunting and gruesome executions of enemies in the bloody campaigns fought by the Assyrians against the Elamites: Nineveh, like all Assyrian cities, was primarily a machine for making war. Nothing of the original temple has survived: it was most likely destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE. Descriptions in the Bible and archaeological digs suggest a building with an inner sanctum fronted by a courtyard, with both structures surrounded by open courtyards, as seen in the model below.
The remains of the Citadel of Van rise from a rocky outcrop more than ft 80 m high, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. From around 3, years ago, Van was the capital of the kingdom of Urartu, a civilization of which we know little, except that it was an enemy of the Assyrians as was every other civilization within reach of their chariots. The base of the citadel was constructed from massive stone blocks, many of which are still firmly in place; the superstructure would have been made of mud bricks, while roofs were either thatched or of timber.
The one surviving architectural feature is a powerful stone-built barbican, or fortified gateway, that once protected the entrance to the citadel and its water supply. The internal layout of the citadel was probably along the lines of a densely inhabited castle. There are no remains of a temple, though rock tombs, with niches for lamps, have been found in the walls of the south side of the citadel.
Carved into a solid cliff face, the tomb of Darius I see above, right is inscribed with the achievements, reflections, and beliefs of the great Persian ruler. The finely executed facade of the tomb is 60 ft The capitals are of the double-bull typecarved bull heads facing away from one another characteristic of Persian buildings of this period. The design of the facade seems to be adapted from the south front of Dariuss palace at Persepolis nearby. The Palace of Ctesiphon is one of the late-flowering wonders of Mesopotamian culture.
Although built by the Persian kings of the Sassanid dynasty, it is in many ways a summary of the vigor and grand architectural ambitions of the many civilizations of this region. Its most obvious featurea vast, single-span brick barrel. This arch technically a pointed ovoid, a shape typical of Mesopotamia is an astonishing ft The influence of Rome is very mu uch in evidence throughout the design oof the palace: massive walls flanking the centtral banqueting hall were animated with Rooman-style arcading set between pairs off attacched columns. The actual building type,, however, is very un-Roman: the sttupendous banqueting hall was open-ended, forming, in effect, a hugely stylized tent.
The east wall of the palace remains; the west and rear walls have collapsed, and, tragically, engineers now fear for the integrity of the arch itself. Arch construction The largest vault in the ancient world, the impressive arch at Ctesiphon is made of unfired mud bricks. With its imaginatively carved ceremonial stairways and its fabulous Hall of a Hundred Columns, this complex must have been among the most thrilling buildings of its time. Its architecture and decoration reflect the design and craftsmanship of the many civilizations and cultures broughtmostly by forceinto the orbit of the Persian Empire, and even its remaining ruins retain real visual power.
Most ancient buildings represent the culture of one specific civilization; at Persepolis, we begin to see how architectural styles could be fused across civilizations, producing hybrid designs. The palace complex stands on a stone platform measuring 1, x ft x m , raised 50 ft 15 m above ground. Its courtyards and halls, built over decades, were reached by a magnificent stairway that can still be seen today; kings would have ascended the stairway on horseback.
The highpoint of the complex was its Hall of a Hundred Columnsan imposing throne room with brick walls 11 ft 3. Walls of the principal buildings were lined with stone, those of lesser structures with baked and glazed mud brick. The site was rediscovered in the 17th century.
When visiting the bleached ruins of Persepolis today, it is easy to forget that the original decorations were incredibly brightly coloredprobably lurid to modern observersand that the palace would have dazzled the eyes of awed ancient visitors. He built Persepolis as the showcase of his great empire, dedicating it to Ahuramazda, the supreme god of the Persians. Work on the complexs giant platform began around BCE, but the task was not completed until many years later by Artaxerxes I.
The complexity of its myths, its highly involved burial rituals, its mummified cats and pet snakes, and the sheer tenacity of a culture that lasted essentially unchanged over thousands of years are utterly compelling. So, too, is its haunting, powerful architecture: the geometric brilliance of the pyramids, and the eeriness of the temples and tombs. The countrys fortune and culture were based around the seasonal cycle and flow of the Nile River. Each year, as the waters of the river rose and the valley bloomed, agriculture became the main focus of activity, producing the food that would have to last through the next dry season.
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