Art History 1
September 25, 2014
Evolution of Architecture
The way a city is built and set up tells one of the many features as to the main goals and ideas of a civilization. Some time periods are based around common themes of prayer, tribute to the dead, and the actual way of life of many cultures. When taking a look into the Neolithic time period, Catal Hoyuk and Jericho seem to be two of the first experiences with urban living. In the Ancient Near East, daily life was centered on the construction of Ziggurats, or temples, as a place for prayer to many g-ds. In Egyptian culture, Egyptian tombs are said to show evidence for the reconstruction of Egyptian civilization. Architecture in different time periods differs immensely as each civilization’s ideals differs. Whether a civilization is more focused on prayer, funerary reconstruction, or on the basis of urban living tells us much we need to know on the ideas each civilization was trying to promote.
The Neolithic age was one of great ideas that originated the art of weaving, pottery, metalworking, and much more. These many innovations spread quickly throughout the Near East into cities such as Jericho in Iraq and Catal Hoyuk in southern Anatolia. Jericho was a plateau that provided a constant spring water supply in the Jordan River. The village of Jericho went through magnificent development in 8000 BCE as a new Neolithic settlement was built across 10 acres. 5-feet thick wall barriers and a stone tower that was at least 30 feet high and 33 feet in length protected the city of Jericho. That marked a great achievement in the Neolithic era and began the achievements in monumental architecture. With more city development came more wealth, which resulted in needing more protection against the nomads, thus creating the first stone fortifications. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages states, “By approximately 7500 BCE, a wide rock-cut ditch and a 5 foot thick wall surrounded the town, estimated to have a population of more than 2,000 people”(Fred S. Kleiner 11). A circular tower was also built about 30 feet high with an inner stairway that lead toward its summit. A structure as tall as the tower shows great architectural achievements in technological aspects as well as a builder’s ability to organize such a workforce. It is for this reason why Jericho’s walls and towers mark the beginnings of monumental architecture. Catal Hoyuk in Anatolia shows a site of flourishing Neolithic culture between 7000 and 5000 BCE. Catal Hoyuk revolved around trade, which included obsidian (glass like volcanic stone) that could be chipped and highly valued to toolmakers. The town must have been built with a predetermined outlook. Catal Hoyuk contained no streets, houses that were all joined together with no doors, and non-existent ceilings for complete interior recognition and ventilation. Archeologists have also discovered that Catal Hoyuk is home to about 12 different building levels. The idea of the attached homes created a great barrier on defense against enemies, as “they would find themselves not inside the town, but above the houses with the defenders waiting there on the roof”(Kleiner 12). Houses were constructed of mud brick and were strengthened by timber frames. Decorated rooms, or “shrines” have been found in many places in Catal Hoyuk and played a central role civilization, yet their function is uncertain. The shrines included great interior designs such as wall paintings, animal heads, and plaster reliefs. Bull-horns, which were great symbols of masculinity, were placed in many rooms, sometimes next to plaster breasts that identified female fertility. Neolithic architecture was in great abundance as it demonstrated and began great technological changes in monumental architecture.
The Ancient Near East was highly centered on religion such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Sumerian cities were reflected much on the daily life and prayer in the