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Architecture                  1,000 AD
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

Zimbabwe-style architecture includes large, dry-laid stone walls made of rectangular granite "bricks." Zimbabwe-style walls are massive and broad, with bastions, stepped platforms, towers, and large monoliths (massive, upright, single stones) incorporated into their construction. Some wall sections are ornatelyt designed with granite bricks laid in chevron patterns. The two main structures at Great Zimbabwe - the "Hill Ruin" and the "Great Enclosure" - are the most imposing of the monuments built by these people. The Hill Ruin is the smaller of the two, yet its walls stand some 11 m (nearly 37 ft) high. The Hill Ruin actually consists of two separate enclosures connected by a narrow passageway walled in with granite bricks. Altogether, the long axis of the Hill Ruin is more than the length of a football field, about 100 m (328 ft) long and 45 m (148 ft) wide. The Great Enclosure is larger still, an elliptical wall some 244 m (nearly 800 ft) in circumference, 5 m (16 ft) thick, and 10 m (33 ft) tall, enclosing a space with a maximum diameter of nearly 90 m (almost 300 ft). This truly monumental construction project required nearly 1 million granite bricks for its completion. More than simply massive, the masonry of the Great Enclosure is the finest in ancient Africa outside of Egypt. The bricks fit together virtually seamlessly; the walls are imposing yet, in places, delicately graceful. (170

Southwest Asia

 

Egypt

 

Indus Valley

Maya pyramid-temple at Tikal, Guatemala (left); temple complex at Madurai, India. (120)

AD 1150 is the date of the completion of Angkor Wat, with undisputed archaeological evidence that the entire complex of monuments at Angkor was built over slightly more than four centuries between AD 802 and AD 1220. (161)

...several extremely important and, we would have thought, glaringly obvious parts of the puzzle do still remain completely unsolved. These include: 1 an explanation for the amazing suddenness with which the sacred domain of Angkor was brought to life at the beginning of the ninth century AD; 2 an explanation for why it was developed so methodically and so industriously, at such vast expense, for approximately 420 years; 3 an explanation for why this staggering and unprecedented burst of temple- building, greater in magnitude and quality than anything in India, took place in a remote backwater of rural Cambodia; and 4 an explanation for why all new temple-building at Angkor suddenly ceased in the thirteenth century after the death of Jayavarman VII and never resumed - even though the site continued to be occupied until at least the sixteenth century. The notion that the rulers of Angkor were working to an imported master-plan that they were for some reason obliged to fulfil within a specific time-frame provides a complete explanation for all of these mysteries. The existence of a similar plan at Giza in 2500 BC would also explain the mystery of the sudden appearance there of the Great Pyramids of Egypt and of the associated smaller structures at Saqqara containing the Pyramid Texts. These massive cultural achievements of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Dynasties were without precedent (and without sequel. And just like the pyramids, temples, bas reliefs and inscriptions of Angkor, they were completed within a span of approximately 420 years (from 2575 to 2152 BC). (161)

We suspect that those who fully understood the Angkor monuments were not 'believers' but 'adepts', high initiates in a lost system of cosmic wisdom, who would have come to the Bayon in search of the final mysteries. As such, through diligent inquiry, they would of course have already been equipped to 'go down to any sky' - i.e. to make the precessional calculations that would allow them to visualize the positions of important stars in former epochs. In a general way, they would have long since realized that the layout of the Angkor monuments was intended to draw their attention to the sky-region around the celestial north pole - notably, as we have seen in previous chapters, to stars in the constellations of Cygnus, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, the Corona Borealis and Draco ... especially Draco. In order to have discovered so much they would have had to work their way back, again just as we have done, to the spring equinox in 10,500 BC (although, of course, they would have used a different dating system). And they would have realized that an observer looking north at the moment of sunrise would have seen a perfect meridian-to-meridian match between the patterns of the stars in the sky and the temples on the ground. In the process of mentally 'winding the stars back' until the correlation was achieved such adepts would inevitably have discovered what we can so easily confirm on our computer screens today: the slow, cyclical rotation of the celestial north pole around the 'heart' of the constellation of Draco, i.e. the ecliptic north pole. It is this 'heart', this abstract point in space that finds its terrestrial counterpart at Angkor in the great pyramid of the Bayon...(161)

China

 

Europe

 

South America

 

Although they were master builders, most Inka lived in rural villages, not great metropolises. Typical Inka residential units were rectangular walled houses of stone or adobe, subdivided into smaller units. Most public constructions were in the form or palaces temples granaries, fortresses, barracks, and highway stations. The skill used in these constructions is amazing, considering the simple tools employed. The Inka cut stones into huge blocks simply by chipping and abrading them with harder stones, and they then fitted them together (without the use of mortar) so precisely that, as the cliché goes, a knife blade could not be inserted between them. (52)

 

 

 

 

The capital city of Cuzco was an orderly arrangement of houses, monumental buildings, and streets, well-provided with a municipal water and drainage system. The great temple of Qori Kancha here had exterior walls measuring sixty-eight by fifty-nine meters and a semi-circular annex that rose to a height of more than thirty-four meters. A gold frieze about a meter wide ran along the exterior wall, and the entranceway was heavily sheathed in gold plate. Many other structures at the capital were lavishly decorated with gold and silver. (52)


…there is a legend that has been told by the people living around Lake Titicaca since the time of the Spanish Conquest some 500 years ago. It has been passed down from generation to generation and claims that there is an ancient sunken city in Titicaca's depths. A recent discovery as reported by the BBC, "Archaeologists Probe Lake of Mystery," just may prove this to be an accurate historical record: La Paz, Bolivia, Aug. 24--A stone anchor and animal bones were among the artifacts scientists said they found beneath South America's Lake Titicaca in what is thought to be a giant 1,000-year-old temple. After 18 days of diving below the clear waters of Titicaca, scientists said Tuesday that they had discovered a 660-foot-long, 160-foot-wide temple, a terrace for crops, a pre-Incan road, and a 2,600-foot containing wall. (69)

Mesoamerica

Around the year 590 AD, at the site they call Ceren in present-day El Salvador, a volcano erupted that provided remains of a village so well preserved that it has been stamped with the inevitable sobriquet of Central American Pompeii. So far, 11 buildings have been uncovered: dwellings, an obsidian workshop, a food storehouse, a sauna for ritual sweat baths, a religious center and a community hall. The structures had adobe walls and roofs of thatch made from a type of grass that is now extinct, apparently killed off by alien grasses from the Old World. Found in the surviving thatch were the bones of mice that had infested the roofs. Ground-penetrating radar surveys have detected the sites of many more dwellings, leading to estimates that 200 to 300 people lived in the village. (101)

Maya pyramid-temple at Tikal, Guatemala (left); temple complex at Madurai, India. (120)

The Aztec description of the Toltecs represents them as the apotheosis of the technical, the skilled, the civilized: The Toltecs were a skillful people; all of their works were good, all were exact, all well made and admirable. Their houses were beautiful, with turquoise mosaics, the walls finished with plaster, clean and marvelous houses, which is to say, Toltec houses, beautifully made, beautiful in everything...(120)

North America

 

Great Serpent Mound, an Adena construction near Cincinnati, Ohio. (53)

But we know comparatively little about daily life for the mass of the Hopewell or Adena peoples. The few houses excavated seem to be rectangular or ovoid constructions supported on posts and covered with bark or mats. (53)

Stoltman has listed some characteristics that define Mississippian culture, including certain kinds of houses, built by digging wall trenches and then using clay and thatch to form rooms. (53)

Artifacts and mounds of the Mississippian type,…by AD 1800 to AD 900 occurred over much of the Ohio and Missouri river valleys. Between AD 900 and AD 1600, large towns with impressive ceremonial centers were built from Florida to northern Illinois, and from Ohio to eastern Oklahoma, but the heartland of this culture was in the central Mississippi Valley.

The largest prehistoric settlement north of Mexico was Cahokia, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Beginning at about AD 600 the people of Cahokia began building mounds and other features, and by about AD 1250 there were over 100 mounds within the 13 square kilometers of the site. Monk's Mound, an earthen pyramid in the center of Cahokia, is over 30 meters high, 241 by 316 meters at the base, and covers an area of more than 6.5 hectares. Thirty to forty thousand people are estimated to have lived in the environs of Cahokia at about AD 1200 in several large towns, a few smaller towns, and more than forty villages; no doubt people living within a large surrounding area had some contact with Cahokia. (53)

This reconstruction of Cahokia shows the palisade that enclosed the center of the site and some of the seventeen other major structures that existed at about AD 1200. The base of Monk's Mound, the largest pyramid, is larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt. (53)

Outside the great ceremonial centers, Mississippian villages were dispersed settlements of a few score wattle-and-daub structures, supported by internal wooden beams, with floors of packed earth. (53)



After about A.D. 400, the Anasazi began to use pottery and to build large pit houses, most of which were circular or rectangular, from 3 to 7.5 meters in diameter, and covered by log and mud roofs supported on center posts. Interior walls were plastered with mud or faced with stone, access was through a descending passageway, and fireplaces and benches were standard furnishings. At some sites, large ceremonial pit houses, or kivas, were built. After about AD 700, above-ground masonry houses were erected in some Anasazi communities, but the pit house and kiva combination continued to be the basic village type until the end of the thirteenth century AD. (53)

 

Reconstruction of Pueblo Bonito, as it may have appeared at about AD 1050. (53)

Southwest Hohokam piled adobe building

Other

 

...a most unusual and mysterious archaeological site with unknown origins and function does lie in the Pacific Ocean 54 degrees of longitude to the east of Angkor. The name of this site is Nan Madol and it consists of approximately 100 artificial islands, constructed out of basalt and coral, which lie in the blue waters of a lagoon off the south-eastern coast of the Micronesian island of Pohnpei. Although the setting is very different, Nan Madol has a number of features in common with Angkor. Scholars believe that the bulk of the temple-islands were completed between AD 800 and AD 1250, precisely the period of Angkor's florescence, but have also detected the traces of an earlier layer of construction - as is again the case at Angkor. The largest structure, Nan Douwas, is oriented to the cardinal directions, with its principal entrance facing west. Adopting the classic 'mandala' form, it consists of two concentric perimeter walls separated by a seawater moat and enclosing a central pyramidial mound. The walls reach 7.6 metres in height and are made from crystalline basalt megaliths, some of which weigh 50 tonnes and are more than 6 metres in length. (161)

...the people of Pohnpei remember a legend that the canals separating their temples were originally dredged by a 'dragon' which offered its assistance to Olosopa and Olosipa, the two mythical founders of the city. Said to have been brothers, Olosopa and Olosipa were 'Ani-Aramach', primordial god-kings, who arrived in boats 'from a land to the west' bringing with them a 'sacred ceremony', which they instituted in their new homeland with the help of wise magicians. The name of the submerged 'city of the gods' under the 'Reef of Heaven' is Khanimweiso and it is not a figment of myth. As part of an archaeological conservation project led by Dr Arthur Saxe of Ohio State University a thorough mapping-survey of large parts of Nan Madol has now been undertaken and has confirmed the existence of extensive undersea ruins, some of them lying at very great depths. The majority have so far been discovered to the east, and a little to the south of the massive breakwaters around Nan Douwas and have included what appear to be a series of tall pillars or columns, standing on flat pedestals on the sloping sides of the island and reaching heights of up to S metres. ...the temples of Nan Madol are linked to ancient local beliefs in life after death. According to these beliefs, which are astonishingly similar to those of the ancient Egyptians, the soul must make a perilous afterlife journey during which it will face many trials and tests. In Egypt this journey takes place in the Duat, a region of the sky...(161)