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Architecture                  8,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

 

Southwest Asia

Simplified plan of an early settlement at 'Ain Mallaha (Israel). Compounds of circular huts such as those at 'Ain Mallaha were widespread in Southwest Asia after about 8,000 BC, but by 6000 BC had been superseded largely by villages of rectangular huts.(26)

Kent Flannery has noted that many contemporary African peoples live in compounds of circular huts and that most such societies share several characteristics: (1) only one or two people are usually housed in each hut; (2) many of the huts are not residential, but are used for storage, kitchens, stables, and the like; (3) huts are often placed in a circle around a cleared space; (4) food space is usually open one shared by all occupants; and (5) perhaps most important, the social organization of the typical compound, like that of hunting-gathering groups, usually consists of six to eight males, each assoicated with from one to three women and their respective children, and includes strong sexual division of labor. Flannery argues that settlements of adjacent rectangular buildings--which he calls villages--have advantages over settlements of circular buildings--which he calls compounds. The former are more easily enlarged because rooms can be added on, whereas increasing the number of circular residences rapidly increases the diameter of the settlement to an unwieldy size.(26)

Villages are also more defensible than compounds for a number of reasons. But the primary difference is in their respective capacities for intensification of production. In compounds, storage facilities are open and shared, and the basic economic unit is the group; but in villages the basic unit is the family, which maintains its own storage of supplies and thus has greater incentives for intensification of production--the seeds, in other words of private enterprise and the first steps toward capitalist economies. If Flannery is correct, the transition that occurred between 9000 BC and 7000 BC from compounds of circular structures to villages of rectangular rooms is a reflection of the changes in the social organization of the Greater Mesopotamian peoples, with the nuclear family gradually replacing the hunting-and-gathering group as the unit of economic production. And although the circular building tradition continued for several thousand years in parts of Southwest Asia, it was eventually entirely supplanted by rectangular-unit villages.(26)

After several strata of round houses (Phase II) comparable to those of Ain Mallaha and Jericho, Mureybet's tenth building level revealed the earliest permanent rectangular structures of record, marking the beginning of Phase III. (115)

Jericho's original builders date back to the ninth millennium BC. Possibly used for flood protection, a large stone wall and tower with interior stairs were built to the west of the city. These structures are date from 8000 BC. In the center of the tower, the steps were built from huge stone slabs, similar to the construction techniques seen in towers in European medieval castles. (70)

…the necessity of a hierarchical social structure to initiate and effect Jericho's architectural achievements seems unquestionable. The great stone wall, some twenty feet high and nine feet thick, was joined by at least one apsidal tower which Kenyon felt would not have disgraced one of the more impressive medieval castles. Almost completely solid and more than thirty feet in diameter, the tower still stands to a height of thirty feet. An internal flight of stairs, whose treads had been formed of hammer-dressed stone slabs, led down to a horizontal passageway; both staircase and passage were roofed with even larger, similarly dressed stone slabs. (115)

Jericho's massive stone wall and tower are believed to have been raised c. 8300 BC, presenting one of the biggest puzzles in Near Eastern archaeology. Investigators have reached little agreement on the reason for these apparently defensive structures, but as one prehistorian noted, whatever their ultimate purpose the tower and wall would seem to be proof of the presence in the surrounding country of "potentially hostile people, without whom the necessity to build these defenses would scarcely have arisen." But the Atlantics were also wall builders. The ring islands and canals that encircled the temple of Poseidon were enclosed by "a stone wall all round, with towers and gates guarding the bridges on either side where they crossed the water" (Critias 115 -16). Moreover, the Atlantics had hollowed out a great ditch around their most fertile plain to irrigate the summer planting (Critias 118), and at Jericho later in this period a huge ditch was hewn out of the natural limestone bedrock outside the wall--nine feet deep, twenty-seven feet wide, and possibly half a mile around--in the words of one observer, "a considerable feat in the absence of metal tools." (115)

Foundation walls of a Grill Plan building at Cayonu, east Anatolia, late eighth millennium BC. The Grill Plan consisted of a grid of narrowly parallel stone walls (fig. 69), upon which wooden beams and then floors seem to have been laid. The purpose of such an extensive foundation is unknown; several analysts have suggested that it was a means of raising the floors of the buildings above off the winter-damp ground, and the excavators see indications of the “absolute need for dry floors and a corresponding comprehension by the builders of how to achieve them." Trash-filled pits and open-air hearths which were once thought to represent an earlier phase of occupation are now believed more likely to have been the result of outdoor activities undertaken by the inhabitants of the Grill Plan structures. (115)

The Broad Pavement Plan featured smooth flagstone floors and the use of tall upright slabs of limestone, together with the first recorded examples of internal buttressing. One structure, known as the "flagstone building," was floored with large flat stones measuring up to five feet in length; the remains of two standing stones opposed the buttresses on the back wall. The "terrazzo building" yielded a true terrazzo floor, in which two pairs of white-pebbled lines, positioned relative to the buttresses along the walls, were set into a ground of salmon-pink limestone particles. Analysis has shown that five different limestone fabrics were used in preparing this floor; once the mortar had set and hardened, the whole surface was carefully polished. Another of these stone-paved structures included a corner entranceway that was compared to the farisi of later Aegean architecture, a device which allows more light to enter the building than conventional doorways. The floor of this particular structure had been covered with an even layer of coarse sand; a water channel ran the length of the south wall, with a two-foot-wide podium along the other sides. (115)

The Cell Plan consisted of mud-brick superstructures which were supported by high stone foundations divided into six or eight small compartments. The contents of these cubicles suggest that each may have served as a storage room for the specialized materials used by Cayonu’s craftsmen. (115)

He drove them to a village called Kaymakli [in turkey], where a subterranean city had been discovered in 1964. It was a kind of underground tenement, with several levels and corridors 10 feet wide and 6.5 feet high. Doorways were closed by huge round stones that could be 'locked' from the inside. It seemed that the builders of these high-ceilinged rooms were (for that time) exceptionally tall. Another underground city had been discovered beneath the town of Derinkuyu, it had no fewer than eight 'stories', although, in spite of ventilation shafts, it was completely invisible from the ground above. It was big enough to hold a population of 20,000. In fact, there could only be one purpose in building such a city underground: to escape the temperature of the air above ground. In stiflingly hot summers and freezing winters, the temperature in the underground cities remained around 8 degrees celsius. Collins says there is geological evidence that Turkey was plunged into a mini-ice age for about 500 years in the middle of the ninth millennium BC. This made more sense. If the landscape was covered with snow and ice and scoured by freezing winds, an underground city would be as comfortable as a Hobbit hole. The local archaeologist, Orner Demir, told Collins that he believed that the oldest parts of the 'city' dated to the late Paleolithic Era, perhaps 8,500 BC. Older parts were hewn out with stone tools, not metal. Moreover, it had been made by two types of human being, and those who carved the oldest part were much taller than the others--again, they had made their ceilings higher. (123)

...these Neolithic sites were meticulously looked after by their ancient custodians. Thus, it is a perfectly reasonable suggestion to say that the layers of silt at the bottom of the Stonehenge and Avebury ditches do not mark the henge's construction era, but instead they mark the era of the site's abandonment. If this is so, then the C14 dates that have been so meticulously derived for Stonehenge, mark not the site's beginnings, but instead its eventual demise. A review was therefore begun into the radiometric data, including the three lonely samples from inside the Sarsen ring. Without much fanfare, the results of these modern radiocarbon dating tests were released. They also included some wood samples, which were found in some massive post holes, that lie underneath what is now the Stonehenge car park. These post holes were dated from 7,730 to 8,820 BC (approaching 11,000 years ago). (147)

...the Catal Huyuk culture appeared suddenly on the Konya plain amid a backdrop of very unstable climatic conditions. For example, there is good evidence to suggest that Anatolia was plunged into a mini ice age, c. 8850-8300 BC, following a relatively mild period after the recession of the last Ice Age proper, c. 9500-9000 BC. This glacial relapse would have brought with it intensely long periods of snow, ice and freezing conditions, which would have forced indigenous populations to seek refuge in cave shelters in an attempt to survive on a day-to-day basis. This was significant, for the Catal Huyuk folk's construction of its mostly sub-surface shrines and houses, all huddled together without exterior doors or windows, was clear evidence that they had evolved from a race that had once experienced a subterranean lifestyle...(149)

Egypt

 

Indus Valley

The remains of what has been described as a huge lost city may force historians and archaeologists to radically reconsider their view of ancient human history. Marine scientists say archaeological remains discovered 36 metres (120 feet) underwater in the Gulf of Cambay off the western coast of India could be over 9,000 years old. The vast city - which is five miles long and two miles wide - is believed to predate the oldest known remains in the subcontinent by more than 5,000 years. The site was discovered by chance last year by oceanographers from India's National Institute of Ocean Technology conducting a survey of pollution. Using sidescan sonar - which sends a beam of sound waves down to the bottom of the ocean they identified huge geometrical structures at a depth of 120ft. Debris recovered from the site - including construction material, pottery, sections of walls, beads, sculpture and human bones and teeth has been carbon dated and found to be nearly 9,500 years old. Lost civilisation The city is believed to be even older than the ancient Harappan civilisation, which dates back around 4,000 years. Marine archaeologists have used a technique known as sub-bottom profiling to show that the buildings remains stand on enormous foundations. (71)

With its descriptions of flooded cities and lost lands, the Kumari Kandam myth 'predicts' that prehistoric ruins more than 10,000 years old should lie underwater at various depths and locations off the Tamil Nadu coast. The NIO's discovery of a large and apparently man-made structure at a depth of 23 metres off Poompuhur seems to confirm the accuracy of this prediction. (124

…I reported the claimed discovery by India's National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) of an extensive urban complex underwater in India's Gulf of Cambay. The discovery was announced on 19 May 2001 by Science and Technology Minister Murli Manohar Joshi with the suggestion that the structures dated to the Harappan period of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization. I pointed out that inundation science firmly indicates the Gulf of Cambay to have been submerged in pre-Harappan times and specifically in quite a narrow time-window between 7700 years ago and 6900 years ago. From this it follows, if the structures that have been identified are indeed man-made, that they must date from a rather early phase of the pre-Harappan period. Moreover, a date of submergence between 7700 and 6900 years ago only tells us that the city was built at some time before then - not how long before. Since the geometrical structures identified by the NIOT's side-scan sonar readings extend over more than 9 kilometres of the sea-bed, and since a city on that scale could not have grown up overnight, logic suggests that it is likely to be significantly more than 7700 years old. According to Dr S. Kathirol the NIOT's Project Director, and geological consultant S. Badrinarayan, they had been surprised by the hostile reactions of archaeologists to the initial announcement of their findings in May 2001. As scientists, however, they have decided to pursue the mystery further through empirical research and see where it led. Thus, between May and late November 2001 they had conducted further side-scan sonar surveys and backed these up with sub-bottom profiling around the geometrical structures. (124)

The results confirmed their initial impression that extensive man-made ruins did indeed lie on the sea-bed in the Gulf of Cambay at depths of between 25 an 40 metres and at distances of up to 40 kilometres from the modern shoreline. The sub-bottom profiles revealed extensive, well-built foundations to the geometrical structures and in some cases walls rising as much as 3 metres above the sea-bed and extending down several metres below. Moreover, as well as the original 'city-complex' covering a rectangular area roughly 9 kilometres long and 2 kilometres wide, a second city of similar size had been found a little further to the south at similar depths. Both cities lie along the courses of ancient rivers that had flowed here when the area was above water, and in one case the remains of an ancient dam more than 600 metres long have been identified. The results, which they showed us and we were able to film, are spectacular. In just one day of sampling using grabs and trawls more than 2000 man-made artifacts were recovered - including jewelry, stone tools, pottery and figurines. The assemblage, which is typically 'pre-Harappan' (and which includes carbon datable human remains such as teeth), confirms that the underwater structures identified by the side-scans and sub-bottom profiles were indeed large-scale human settlements before their inundation. The extremely ancient character, of the artifacts also seems to rule out any possibility that the underwater sites could date from a period later than the pre-Harappan. On the record S. Badrinarayan told me that in his opinion these submerged city-complexes must, at the very youngest, date to between 7000 and 8000 years ago and that the most likely agent of their inundation was sea-level rise at the end of the Ice Age rather than any kind of fault collapse due to seismic activity - for which the region is nevertheless renowned. (124)

On 16 January 2002 India's Minister of Science and Technology released the first results of carbon-dating of the artifacts from the flooded cities of the Gulf of Cambay. The results date the artifacts to 9500 years ago - 5000 years older than any city so far recognized by archaeologists. On April 3, half a mile from the shore, Hancock plunged into the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal- and what he saw lying beneath him almost took his breath away. 'What was staggering was that the ruins lay directly beneath the boat,’ he says. 'I swam down to a depth of about 20 ft and reached out to scrape the sand away from the stone. It was clear from the masonry joints that the Structure was unmistakably man-made, rather than a natural formation. I could see straight and curving walls, all made from clearly defined blocks of stone, and followed one which was still completely intact for 50 ft. The site contains conglomeration of large, distinct blocks which seem like several big ceremonial buildings surrounded by a number of smaller ones. 'These enormous granite blocks looked like huge sugar cubes, about 20 ft tall, and there was a cluster of small stones around them,' he said. 'Although it's hard to say with any certainty, what we are seeing could have been a granite shrine surrounded by the remains of four temples.' Hancock believes the underwater ruins to be in the region of 6000 years old. If the flooded city did indeed date from only 1200 years ago, to the time of the Pallava dynasty, one would expect to find evidence of inscription on the stone. Yet during the 49 separate dives done over the course of three days by the team, not one inscription was found. In addition, the two structures differ widely in their architectural styles. The shore sculptures are ornate and highly decorative, while the underwater city is made up of simple, austere, rectangular blocks. (124)

The greatest single piece of evidence so far to date the lost ruins of Mahabaliipuram as 6000 years old comes from geophysicist Dr Glenn Milne at Durham University's world-renowned Department of Geological Sciences. Milne has built up a large database of figures and a sophisticated computer program that can print out images of any shoreline at any period in history. When Hancock relayed data from Mahabalipuram, Milne was able to tell him that the site was at least 6000 years old. 'Assuming there was no tectonic movement at the site, and it looks like there wasn't, then it appears that the area was flooded by a rise in sea levels about 6000 years ago,' says Milne. 'The computer program is accurate to within 1000 years either side of the allotted date.' In January, it was revealed that the carbon dating of artifacts discovered at two submerged sites in the Gulf of Cambay, off the north-western state of Gujarat, show that these underwater cities are likely to date from 9500 years ago - 5000 years older than any city recognized by mainstream archaeologists. The cities - which are 15 miles apart and lie 12 ft beneath the waves - were discovered in May of last year, during routine pollution testing by India's National Institute of Ocean Technology. (124)

China

 

Europe

 

The layout of Asikli's houses, courtyards, and roadways pointed to advanced urban planning. Masonry consisted of both mud bricks and meticulously hewn blocks of Hasan Dag's volcanic tuffs. Beneath the plastered floors of rooms were burial pits - one containing the complete skeleton of a woman in her twenties with her infant. The mother had survived a "trepanation" in which a flap in her skull had been opened years before her death in a surgical procedure presumably to relieve pain or swelling. Necklaces of beads, semiprecious stones, and hot-worked native copper adorned her body, which was interred in a fetal position with knees drawn to the chest. The excavation in 1989-90 exposed almost four hundred houses whose rooms varied from six feet on a side to almost fourteen feet. The hearths were either in a corner or against a wall, with a hole opened in the roof to serve as a chimney as well as an entry and exit. Mats woven of the cut stalks of grain or reeds had covered the floors. Neil Roberts pointed out the checkered imprint left by these rugs in the burnished plaster. Archaeologists found nearby Asikli and closer to the volcano the remains of open-air shops in which workmen knapped blades, scrapers, and knives from the obsidian to be used not just for themselves but for trade with other communities and for export to the Levant. Present in the scrap piles were fragments of polished mirrors still shiny in defiance of the long passage of time. (131)

The most famous stone circle, Stonehenge, in the county of Wiltshire, is close to the southern limit of the zone described by Enoch. ...at around 8000 BC some unknown group erected two large wooden poles where its car park stands today. They were aligned east-west and could have acted as equinox-sighting markers. This date was well before the cometary impact of 7640 BC, which we knew from the sand layer covering most of Scotland and unfossilized sea shells on top of Snowdon resulted in the swamping of the British Isles. But there is also clear archaeological evidence that just under 1,000 years later, two further posts were erected only 350 metres away, also aligned east-west. (160)

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 From about 11,000 to 8,000 years ago, many of the Desert West peoples apparently organized their economies around the resources of lakes and marshes, while groups in more arid areas probably adopted a more generalized hunting-and-gathering strategy. Remains of pole-and-thatch huts have been found in some areas, but the size, location, and contents of most sites of this period suggest that for most of the year Desert West peoples lived in small bands and followed complex seasonal rounds, exploiting different resources as they became available.(26)

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

 He showed me striking underwater pictures that he had taken of a bizarre terraced structure, apparently a man-made monument of some kind, lying at depths of up to 30 metres off the south coast of the Japanese island of Yonaguni. His extensive survey, sampling and measurement had shown that it had been hewn out of solid bedrock when the site was still above water. If sea-level rise were the only factor to take into account, then provisional calculations would indicate a date of inundation of around l0,000 years ago. (124)

The first anomalous structure that was discovered at Yonaguni lies below glowering cliffs of the southern shore of the island. Local divers call it Iseki Point ('Monument Point'). Into its south face, at a depth of about 18 metres, an area of terracing with conspicuous flat planes and right-angles has been cut. Two huge parallel blocks weighing approximately 30 tonnes each and separated by a gap of less than 10 centimetres, have been placed upright side by side at its north-west corner. In about 5 metres of water at the very top of the structure there is a kidney-shaped 'pool' and near by is a feature that many divers believe is a crude rock-carved image of a turtle. At the base of the monument, in 27 metres of water, there is a clearly defined stone-paved path oriented towards the east. If the diver follows this path - a relatively easy task, since there is often a strong west-to-east current here - he will come in a few hundred metres to 'the megalith', a rounded, 2 tonne boulder that seems to have been purposely placed on a carved ledge at the centre of a huge stone platform. (124)

Two kilometres west of Iseki Point is the 'Palace'. Here an underwater passageway leads into the northern end of a spacious chamber with megalithic walls and ceiling. At the southern end of the chamber a tall, lintelled doorway leads into a second smaller chamber beyond. At the end of that chamber is a vertical, rock-hewn shaft that emerges outside on the roof of the 'Palace'. Near by a flat rock bears a pattern of strange, deep grooves. A little further east there is a second megalithic passage roofed by a gigantic slab that fits snugly against the tops of the supporting walls. Two kilometres to the east of Iseki Point is Tategami Iwa, literally 'The Standing God Stone', a natural pinnacle of rugged black rock that soars up out of the ocean. At its base, 18 metres underwater, there is a horizontal tunnel, barely wide enough to fit a diver, that runs perfectly straight west to east and emerges amidst a scatter of large blocks with clean-cut edges. A three-minute swim to the south-east brings the diver to what looks like an extensive ceremonial complex carved out of stone. Here at depths of 15 to 25 metres there are massive rectilinear structures with sheer walls separated by wide avenues. At the centre is the monument that local divers refer to as 'the stone stage'. Into its south-facing corner either man or nature has carved an image that looks to some like a gigantic anthropoid face with two clearly marked eyes...(124)

At Aka Island in the Kerama group 40 kilometres west of Okinawa, local divers have been aware for some years of the existence of a series of underwater stone circles at depths of 30 metres. There are also associated rectilinear formations within the same general area that show some signs of having been cut and worked by human beings. There were huge numbers of columns, some broken, some virtually intact, but all tumbled and fallen. There were Doric column bases surrounded by tumbled debris. Here and there one or two courses of a wall could be seen, rising up out of the murk. There were dozens of metre-wide hemispherical stones, hollowed inside, of a type that I had never encountered before in Egypt. There were several small sphinxes, one broken jaggedly in half, and large segments of more than one granite obelisk seemed to have been tossed about like matchsticks. There were also quarried granite blocks scattered everywhere. Most were in the 2-3 square metre range but some were much larger - 70 tonnes or more. A notable group of these behemoths, some a staggering 11 metres in length, lay in a line running south-west to north-east in the open waters just outside Qait Bey. When I researched the matter later I learnt that they were amongst the blocks that Empereur had identified as coming from the Pharos: some of them are broken into two or even three pieces, which shows that they fell from quite a height. In view of the location the ancient writers give for the lighthouse, and taking into consideration the technical difficulty of moving such large objects, it is probable that these are parts of the Pharos itself which lie where they were flung by a particularly violent earthquake. (124)

Kimura: This construction has been submerged since 6000 years ago, because the coralline algae attaching to the wall of this structure shows 6000 years. …and so in general 6000 years ago the sea-level at that time [was lower]...So if this was made by men, this must be when this area was land...it's about 9000 or 10,000 years ago. On our first dive at Yonaguni I took Wolf to a very curious structure that I had discovered in late June 1999. It stands in 18 metres of water 100 metres to the west of the terraces of the main monument. When it was above sea-level 8000 or 10,000 years ago I suggest that it was originally a natural and untouched rocky knoll rising about 6 metres above ground level. A curving sloped ramp 3 metres wide was then cut into the side of the knoll and a retaining wall to the full height of the original mound was left in place enclosing and protecting the outside edge of the ramp. On our second dive we visited the twin megaliths, weighing approximately 100 tonnes each, stacked side by side like two huge slices of toast in a west-facing alcove in the north-west corner of the main monument. The swim ahead to the base of the megaliths is a matter of 20 metres and you observe immediately at this point that they do not stand on the sea-bed but are elevated about 2 metres above it, with their bases resting on a platform of boulders, and framed in a cleft. The side of the cleft to your right is formed by the rear corner of the main terraced monument; the side to your left is formed by a lower ridge of rock which also shows signs, though to a lesser degree, of terracing. Both megaliths slope backwards at the same angle against the cleft and both are the same height (just over 6 metres). At this level a spacious patio about 12 metres wide and 35 metres in length opens out and in its north-eastern corner, at depths decreasing from 13 metres to 7 metres, the structures known to local divers as 'the terraces' are found. There are two main 'steps', both about 2 metres high with sharp edges and clean near-right-angle corners. Above them there are then three further smaller steps giving access to the top of the monument which continues to rise northwards until it comes close to the surface. (124)