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Architecture                  2,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Global

 Stonehenge II dates to between 2200 to 2100 BC. That was also the time--perhaps more accurately, in 2160 BC--when the "Stonehenge on the Euphrates" was built. ...other stone observatories proliferated at the same time in other places on Earth--at various sites in Europe, in South America, on the Golan Heights northeast of Israel, even in faraway China (where archaeologists discovered in the Shanzi province a stone circle with thirteen pillars aligned to the zodiac and dating to 2100 BC). (137)

Africa

Dating to more than 3,500 years ago, the civilization of Kerma represents the first indigenous complex civilization in Africa south of the ancient Egyptian nation. The site of Kerma itself is located on the east bank of the Nile, south of the third cataract in Sudan. The site has been called "the earliest city in Africa outside of Egypt". The center of Kerma covered 15-25 acres and was surrounded by a huge wall about 10 m (33 ft) high. Its fortifications included monumental towers called deffufa, constructed of mud-brick; the Western Deffufa is an enormous, solid mass of brick some 52 m (170 ft) long and 27 m (88 ft) wide. Today it still stands more than 19 m (62 ft) high, and it was even taller in antiquity. (170)

Southwest Asia

 A city that throbbed with vitality in the third millennium BC lies buried, forlorn and silent, beneath the windblown soil of the Upper Euphrates River Valley in southeastern Turkey. Mapping the site of the city, known today as Titris Hoyuk, archaeologists are delineating the usual urban remains. At the center once stood a palace and other public buildings on high ground. Out from there, streets ran through residential neighborhoods. Beyond city walls lay a cemetery and scattered suburbs. On closer examination, however, archaeologists have found surprises. The streets and terrace walls appear to have been laid out and built before the houses. And the houses seem to follow a master plan, some larger than others but all of the same design. Archaeologists are thus drawn to the conclusion that Titris Hoyuk, population 10,000 in its heyday, represents a striking example of urban planning in antiquity. Built in about 2500 BC, this was a kind of Levittown-on-the Euphrates. (84)

Streets examined by the archaeologists were carefully prepared, cut into virgin soil and then paved with cobbles and crushed pot shards. It was clear, the archaeologists concluded, that the streets were "laid before the houses at either side because, in places, the foundation trenches for the house walls had cut into the street." At both excavation sites, archaeologists uncovered limestone and fieldstone foundations of several houses that were more or less identical in design. Walls rising from the foundations were made of mud bricks, which have now disintegrated. The roofs were of thatch. One well-defined dwelling consisted of 15 rooms arranged around a central rectangular courtyard. The courtyard seemed to be subdivided with low partition walls defining what appeared to be four separate working areas. People typically entered the houses through a door off the street that led to an antechamber and then to a second small room that opened on the main house. The houses were probably occupied by extended families, for each one contained several cooking areas. Each house excavated so far had a family crypt, usually in the central courtyard. Though partly subterranean, the tops of the crypts were visible above the floor foundations. (84)

Now the ziggurat was the stepped type of mound temple, and for many centuries virtually the only kind of temple characteristic of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon and Assyria. Temples of this type were erected to the best of our knowledge from 2900 BC to 800 BC and even reappeared atavistically in the Middle East under the Moslems. It was also the type of temple, virtually the only type of temple, found amongst the Central American Indians. The ziggurat in both regions had a temple at the top, for the benefit of the god, a temple which was also used in both regions by the priests for astronomy. In both regions the temple was often erected with its four sides places in accurate relationship to the four points of the compass. In both regions, there was a broad flight of steps, a Jacob's ladder, leading from the ground to the temple at the summit. (135)


The remianing cyclopian stones of the northern Phoenician town of Aradus. (135)

2150 BC Ziggurat of Ur, built using entasis. (135)

1800 BC Cutting of first 'Suez Canal'. (135)

Gudea needed the help of an oracle goddess and two more vision-dreams to understand the meaning of it all. In the third. vision-dream he was shown a holographic-like animated demonstration of the temple's building, starting with the initial alignment with the indicated celestial point, the laying of foundations, the molding of bricks--the construction all the way up, step by step. Both the start of construction and the 'final dedication ceremony were to be held on signals from the gods on specific days; both fell on New Year's Day, which meant the day of the Spring Equinox. Gudea was required to encase the structure with a casing of reddish stones, increasing its similarity to an Egyptian pyramid. "The outside view of the temple was like that of a mountain set in place." That raising a structure with the appearance of an Egyptian pyramid had a purpose becomes clear from Ninurta's own words. The new temple, he told Gudea, will be seen from afar; its awe-inspiring glance will reach the heavens; the adoration of my temple shall extend to all the lands, its heavenly name will be proclaimed in countries from the ends of the Earth--

In Magan and Meluhha it will cause people [to say]:
Ningirsu [the "Lord of the Girsu"],
the Great Hero from the Lands of Enlil, is a god who has no equal;
He is the lord of all the Earth. (137)

Proclaiming Ninurta's (rather than Marduk's) supremacy required special features in the Eninnu. The ziggurat's entrance had to face the Sun precisely in the east, rather than the customary northeast. In the temple's topmost level Gudea had to erect a SHU.GA.LAM--"where the shining is an­ nounced, the place of the aperture, the place of determining," from which Ninurta/Ningirsu could see "the Repetition over the lands." It was a circular chamber with twelve positions, each marked with a zodiacal symbol, with an aperture for observing the skies--an ancient planetarium aligned to the zodiacal constellations! In the temple's forecourt, linked to an avenue that faced sunrise, Gudea had to erect two stone circles, one with six and the other with seven stone pillars, for observing the skies. Since only one avenue is mentioned, one assumes that the circles were one within the other. As one studies each phrase, terminology, and structural detail, it becomes evident that what was built in Lagash with the help of Ningishzidda/Thoth was a complex yet practical stone observatory, one part of which, devoted entirely to the zodiacs, reminds one of the similar one found in Denderah, Egypt, and the other, geared to observing celestial risings and setting, a virtual stonehenge on the banks of the Euphrates river! ...the prime outside feature was the creation of a sight line from a center stone, continued between two stone pillars, then on down an avenue to another stone. Such a sight line, precisely oriented when planned, enabled determining at the moment of heliacal rising in which zodiacal constellation the Sun was appearing. And that--determining the zodiacal age through precise observation--was the prime objective of the whole complex facility. (137)

Unlike other Enlilites, Nannar/Sin was not a combatant in the Wars of the Gods; his selection was meant to signal to people everywhere, even in the "rebel lands," that under his leadership an era of peace and prosperity would begin. He and his spouse Ningal were greatly beloved by the people of Sumer, and Ur itself spelled prosperity and well­being; its very name, which meant "urban, domesticated place," came to mean not just "city" but The City--the urban jewel of the ancient lands. Nannar/Sin's temple there, a skyscraping ziggurat, rose in stages within a walled sacred precinct where a variety of 'structures served as the gods' abode and the residences and functional buildings of a legion of priests, officials, and servants who attended to the divine couple's needs and arranged the religious observances by king and people. Beyond those walls there extended a magnificent city with two harbors and canals linking it to the Euphrates river, a great city with the king's palace, administrative buildings (including for scribes and recordkeeping as well as for tax collecting), multilevel private dwellings, workshops, schools, merchants' warehouses, and stalls--all in wide streets where, at many intersections, prayer shrines open to all travelers were built. The majestic ziggurat with its monumental stairways, though long in ruins, still dominates the landscape even after more than 4,000 years. (137)

When the Esagil was eventually built, it was a ziggurat erected according to detailed and precise plans: its height, the spacing of its seven stages, and its orientation were such that its head pointed directly to the star Iku--the lead star of the constellation of the Ram--circa 1960 BC. (137)

2500 BC Avebury stones set up 2500 (160)

BC Megalithic building stops in Orkney (160)

Egypt

 

...the Great Pyramid is essentially a scale model of Earth and a geodesic marker of the center of Earth's landmass. The ratio of the pyramid's height to its perimeter equals the ratio of Earth's radius to its circumference. The colossal monument elegantly squares the circle and incorporates pi in numerous features. • Every detail of its precise architecture seems to have been meticulously planned. • The structure embodies geodesic alignments and measurements and mathematical ratios. • The structure is made of solid stone, unlike many other later pyramids that were constructed with masonry fill and an outer layer of cut stone. • The pyramid covers roughly 13 acres. • It comprises approximately 2.5 million stone blocks weighing from 1 to 70 tons each with an overall weight of 6 million tons. • Although the majority of blocks in the pyramid are in the 1- to 3-ton range, there are many blocks weighing 5, 10, 20, and even 40 tons. The heaviest single block is 75 tons. (68)

Simply stated, the floor in the back of the Sphinx was weathered to a depth of only four feet, while the front was weathered to a depth of eight feet; this suggests that the front of the Sphinx is twice as old as the back. Schoch estimates that the rear floor of the enclosure was first exposed in 2500 BC, and that the exposure of the front and side floors of the enclosure (and the initial Sphinx carving) must have occurred between 7000 and 5000 BC. (70)

Mehler's observations at Sakkara appear to confirm the ancient tradition that the tunnels were carved as channels for flowing water: It appeared to us that the water was channeled from the west, the direction of the ancient Ur Nil, not the current river about eight to ten miles to the east of Sakkara. The downward sloping of the ground was from west to east, and the tunnels seemed to be coming from the west also. The tunnels and channels we observed were in different layers of bedrock under the surface, cut in rectangular, smooth-sided, serpentine passages going, apparently, for miles under and through the limestone bedrock. These passages all seemed man-made, not natural formations. The only way these tunnels could have been carved is with machine tools, not with copper chisels and "stone pounders." (70)

2500 BC is the astronomical dating of the alignments of the Great Pyramid's shafts (supported by undisputed archaeological evidence of intense activity at Giza at around 2500 BC)...(161)

Three sites had a particularly profound impact on me: the temple complex at Karnak; the Zoser 'step' pyramid at Saqqara; and the Great Pyramid at Giza on the outskirts of Cairo. It seemed to me that the special composite quality of raw power, delicate grace, imposing grandeur, mystery and immortality that these edifices possessed stemmed from the working out within them of a refined and highly developed understanding of harmony and proportion - an understanding that could reasonably be said to have amounted to a science. Combining engineering, architecture and design, that science had been remarkable by any standards. It had never since been surpassed in its ability to stimulate religious awe, and it had been equalled in Europe only in the great Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages such as Chartres. Centuries and civilizations before them, however, it had been the ancient Egyptians who had been the first masters of the science of building - the first and still the greatest architect- masons that the world had ever known. Moreover, the monuments that they left behind beggared description and challenged time itself. Typical in this respect were two tall obelisks that dominated the Karnak complex and that I found myself particularly drawn to on my own visits there. One, I discovered, had been erected by Pharaoh Tuthmosis I (1504-1492 BC) and the other by Queen Hatshepsut (1473-1458 BC). Both were perfect monoliths, hewn from single slabs of solid pink granite, the former standing 70 feet in height and weighing an estimated 143 tons, the latter standing 97 feet in height and weighing an estimated 320 tons. A few minutes' walk to the south, overlooking a sacred lake that was used by the temple priests for elaborate purification ceremonies, I found a third, but tumbled and broken, obelisk, the top 30 feet of which - surmounted by a finely pointed pyramidion - were nevertheless quite undamaged. On one occasion, following the advice of a guidebook I had with me, I stepped over the rope perimeter surrounding this fallen giant and placed my ear to the angle of the pyramidion. I then struck the granite firmly with the palm of my hand and listened, entranced, as the entire monolith reverberated with a deep, low- pitched tone like some strange and prodigious musical instrument. It seemed to me that this phenomenon could not possibly have been accidental. On the contrary, the enormous care and 'skill required to produce such a monolith (when the same splendid visual effect might have been achieved simply by cementing block on block) only really made sense if the ancient Egyptians had wanted to realize some special property inherent in a single piece of stone. I learned that they had not been hewn locally but rather had been transported by river from granite quarries more than 200 kilometres to the south. (169)

Indus Valley

 

Mohenjo-daro was bisected by a north-south street some nine meters wide that was flanked by drainage ditches. Public toilets and sewers and bathrooms in houses were connected to main sewage lines. Most residences were made of fired brick, comprising several rooms arranged around an open courtyard, and the majority appear to have had private showers and toilets drained by municipal sewage systems. Some houses were two stories high and larger and more elaborate than others, but the overall impression is one of uniformity. In fact, A. Sarcina found that almost all houses at Mohenjo-daro were of two basic patterns: those having a courtyard at one corner that was flanked by rooms on two sides, or those with a courtyard in the center and rooms on three sides. Also, almost all the houses were of the same approximate size and construction: 77% of the buildings seem to have been ordinary houses, while the rest were very small shops and businesses distributed throughout the living areas. If gross differences in wealth divided the inhabitants, these inequities are not reflected in residential architecture, at least not to the extent that they were in Mesopotamia. (48)

 

 

Since 1983 the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography (in India) has been engaged in the offshore exploration and excavation of the legendary city of Dwaraka in the coastal waters of Dwaraka in Gujarat. Offshore exploration of the legendary city at Dwaraka was...with a view to trace the plan and extent of the port-city and the purpose of the massive stone walls built on the banks of ancient Gomati. It was also necessary to ascertain whether its architectural features were in conformation with the description of the city of Dwaraka given in the epic Mahabharata. The importance of the discovery of Dwaraka lies not merely in providing archaeological evidence needed for corroborating the traditional account of the submergence of Dwaraka but also indirectly fixing the date of the Mahabharata which is a landmark in Indian history. The Thermoluminiscence date of the pottery from Bet Dwaraka which is also connected with the Krishna legend is 3520 years Before Present. Identical pottery is found in the submerged city of Dwaraka. Thus the results have proved that the account in Mahabharata as to the existence of a beautiful capital city of Dwaraka of Sri Krishna was not a mere figment of imagination but it did exist. (72)

 

 

China

 Chang also notes that the first traces of town walls--which became a standard feature of later communities--are found at the Longshan site of Ch'eng-tzu-yai. It was built with the "stamped-earth" technique, in which layer after layer of fine loess silts and clays were stamped by workers into a compact wall. The wall at Ch'engyai has now largely deteriorated, but from its traces the excavators estimate it was six meters high and nine meters wide at the top. (49)

Europe

In southern Crete, between 2800 and 1700 BC, the Cretans built vaulted tombs that were used not merely as tombs but also as ritual centers. The ground plans looked like the following (at right) They'd built their "kivas" all through the Mediterranean in Sicily, Sardinia, Balearic Isles, Malta, and then in Spain, had moved out past Gibraltar, built more "kivas" in Brittany, the British Isles, England, Ireland, then up to Denmark and, in a more southerly route, across the Atlantic to the Azores, which may have been a much larger landmass in Neolithic times, to the Americas. (120)

Among the other elements carried from the Southeast European, Danube-Dniester zone were a number of distinctive painted pottery motifs (e.g., the double ax, spiral and swastika, meander and polygonal designs, concentric-circle and checker patterns, wavy-water lines, angular zigzags, and organizations of bands), spear- and arrowheads of slate, a way of building pile dwellings along river and lake shores...It is, in short, to the impact of this Yangshao-Austronesian culture wave that a great part of the broad diffusion must now be attributed. The head­hunt, the pig, pile dwellings, megaliths, and their associated rites of animal sacrifice came together on this wave from the West. (128)

Between 2500 and 2300 BC the megalithic builders spread up the coasts of western Europe and with them comes the civilisation of metals. 2000 BC Start of Stonehenge, in Britain, using entasis. (135)

The drainage system of the palace of Knossos would, according to Baikie, be hard to parallel in Europe for efficiency until the middle of the last century, while the Knossos town sanitary system has been described as 'staggeringly' modern. (135)

Carbon dating has been applied to the megalithic monuments in western Europe with the following results: The Passage Grave of the Mound of the Hostages, Ireland, about 2100 BC. Some kinds of megaliths, according to Sean O'Riordan and Glyn Daniel were being built in Europe from the fourth to the first millennium BC. The people who built them according to the same authors, came by sea from the east Mediterranean to Iberia and later spread out from there to England, Ireland, Scotland, the Orkneys and Scandinavia. It is suggested that they were prospectors and copper-miners. Clearly they were sea-people for their passage graves are everywhere close to the water. (135)

Megaliths in general in Britain were erected over more than 2000 years from the end of the fourth millennium to the commencement of the first. Calendar clocks, Thorn discerns, from an analysis of their layout, were erected for less than 500 years and he draws a histogram of their incidence, showing that most of them were built between 1900 and 1750 BC. Here it is; this is the age of Kronos, the time-worshipping people, the early Phoenicians and Amorite alliance from Canaan. (135)

By about 3880 B.P., the first monumental edifice, the temple discovered and initially excavated by Evans, was constructed at the site of Knossos. The building consisted of a mazelike jumble of rooms, chambers, halls, and corridors. The temple at Knossos would at its peak ultimately cover an area of some 20,000 m2 (more than 210,000 ft2, or about 5 acres) and would contain about 1,000 separate rooms. The temple included a central courtyard with a pillar- lined hallway, a huge number of storage rooms, a ceremonial bath, and grand staircases leading to upper levels - some parts of the temple possessed three or even four stories. The walls of some of the living quarters and large halls were covered with magnificent fresco paintings of dolphins and especially bulls. At its peak, the population of Knossos and its surrounding "suburbs" may have been close to 100,000 people, making it the largest concentration of people anywhere in the ancient world to that point in time. (170)

South America 

Once the Andean coast was fairly thickly settled, people here, like those in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and other early developmental centers, began building monumental architecture. It is absurd to think that people generally have some innate desire to build big stone buildings, but in Andean South America, too, no sooner had people devised economies of some reasonable reliability and richness than they began "wasting" massive amounts of their wealth in temples, tombs, and pyramids.

In the second millennium people in dozens of communities along the coast began to build impressive stone buildings and complexes of plazas, sunken pits, courts, truncated pyramids, and other large and formally arranged architecture.

…the principal mounds at both El Paraiso and another coastal site, Piedra Parada, are oriented to north 25 degrees east. This orients the sites toward the NE and SW maxima of the Milky Way, and the axis perpendicular to this orientation is directed to the rising of the sun at the Summer Solstice (December) in the east and the setting of the sun at the Winter Solstice (June), as calculated for the years ca. [1450 BC]…This suggests that the astrocosmological concepts known to have been important for the Inka were established in Preceramic times. The outer stone walls of El Paraiso were faced with clay and then painted; like the ancient Egyptians, Maya, Greeks, and others, people of El Paraiso painted their monumental buildings in primary colors. (52)

Walls at Sacsayhuaman near Cuzco, Peru

In the 1930s, Rolf Muller, professor of Astronomy at the University of Potsdam, found convincing evidence to suggest that the most important features of Machu Picchu possessed significant astronomical alignments. From these, through the use of detailed mathematical computations concerning star positions in the sky in previous millennia (which gradually alter down the epochs as the result of a phenomenon known as precession of the equinoxes), Muller concluded that the original layout of the site could only have been accomplished during 'the era of 4000 BC to 2000 BC. (152)

Mesoamerica

 From the hot, wet Guatemalan lowlands to the arid Tehuacan Valley, the earliest villages were quite similar in size and contents. Almost all houses were built using the wattle-and-daub method--sticks, branches, and cane were woven in-and-out between vertical wall poles, then covered with a mud plaster, which was dried by the hot sun. Houses, which were seldom larger than four by six meters, featured thatched roofs and tamped clay floors on which fine sand was scattered. Most of the earliest farming communities were tiny hamlets, villages of ten to twelve houses that were home to about fifty to sixty people, but some communities were larger. (51)

Now the ziggurat was the stepped type of mound temple, and for many centuries virtually the only kind of temple characteristic of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon and Assyria. Temples of this type were erected to the best of our knowledge from 2900 BC to 800 BC and even reappeared atavistically in the Middle East under the Moslems. It was also the type of temple, virtually the only type of temple, found amongst the Central American Indians. The ziggurat in both regions had a temple at the top, for the benefit of the god, a temple which was also used in both regions by the priests for astronomy. In both regions the temple was often erected with its four sides places in accurate relationship to the four points of the compass. In both regions, there was a broad flight of steps, a Jacob's ladder, leading from the ground to the temple at the summit. (135)

A large overgrown hill that had been covered by lava streams, just off the Cuernavaca-Mexico road, was excavated by Dr. Byron Cummings who found underneath the lava a stepped temple of great complexity, which is also looked on as one of the older, truly monumental buildings in Mexico. It has been dated around 1600 BC. (135)

Before 2000 BC, most inhabitants of the region lived in small, seasonally mobile, hunting-gathering bands; by 300 AD, large urban centers were common features of the landscape. In the Valley of Oaxaca, during the Tierras Largas phase (ca. 1650-1400 BC) small public buildings were constructed by egalitarian village inhabitants. These buildings had plastered walls and plastered floors set into low platforms of crushed rock, in contrast to the dirt floors and unplastered walls of residences San Jose Mogote also boasted a large nondomestic structure built in several tiers of stone and adobe, on which were placed stone carvings of a jaguar head and a raptorial bird. (159)

North America

 The Koster site, in the Illinois River Valley, was first occupied at about 7,500 BC, and people lived at this site many times, at least until about 2,500 BC. These people slowly improved their technologies, adding new varieties of stone tools, more permanent forms of housing made of clay, poles, and thatch, rare implements of copper for which they traded with neighboring groups, and various other tools.(26)

Other

 

On the same trip I learned that certain pyramid-shaped mounds, hills and mountains are regarded as sacred beings in Japanese mythology and saw evidence which suggests not only that this belief is rooted deep in Jomon times but also that it sometimes led the Jomon into 'artistic manipulation' of the landscape on an even larger scale than the disputed structures now underwater at Yonaguni, Chatan and Kerama. The experts concluded that a natural hill had indeed once stood on the site but that this had been deliberately quarried, sculpted and reinforced with stone blocks to create a pyramidial core with seven terraces that was finally covered with ramped earth and then overgrown by vegetation. …four Shinto shrines positioned around the base of Kuromata Yama lie in direct lines pointing north, south, east and west from the summit and incorporate solstitial alignments datable through the accepted formula for changes in the obliquity of the ecliptic to 4000 years ago: 'The shrines were built relatively recently on what are known to be sacred sites dating from ancient times, suggesting the shrines may have maintained that link since the Jomon Period. (124)

…at Sakuramachi Iseki, near Oyabe City in western Honshu, archaeologists have recently excavated examples of 4000-year-old Jomon carpentry using complex joints, dovetails and corners of a type not previously thought to have been introduced into Japan before AD 700. (124)