NEAR EAST ARCHITECTURE

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1) Architectural influences

i) History

  • Started as villages on the flat land between Tigris and Euphrates rivers – “Mesopotamia”
  • Turned into city-states with populations of thousands
  • Each city-state surrounded by a wall and dominated by a large temple
  • Society of kings, craftsmen, soldiers, farmers, priests
  • Fought and traded with each other
  • Sometimes would conquer each other and form an empire
Mesopotamian
  • City-states of Ur, Babylon, Agade, Ashur and Damascus
  • 2334 BC, King Sargon of Agade formed the first major empire
  • 1792 BC, next by King Hammurabi
  • Instituted laws to keep order
  • Invention of writing – pictograms or cuneiform records on clay tablets
Assyrian
  • Based in Ashur, biggest empire under King Ashurbanipal – conquered Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt
ASSYRIAN
Persian
  • Begun by Cyrus the Great from 559 to 529 BC
  • Covered Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Eastern Mediterranean, Bactria, Indus Valley and North Africa
  • Darius I had provinces ruled by a satrap, who guarded the roads, collected taxes and controlled the army
  • Local peoples were allowed to keep their religions and customs
  • Capital moved from Susa to Persepolis
  • Network of roads linking the royal court to other parts of the empire – from Susa in Persia to Sardis in Anatolia
  • Traded raw materials, carpets and spices
  • Darius and Xerxes tried to conquer Greece
  • Ended with the defeat of Darius III to Alexander the Great of Macedonia

ii) Religion

  • Each city-state worshipped their own god for protection
  • People aimed to make peace with their wrathful god
RELIGION OF NEAR EAST ARCHITECTURE

iii) Geography and geology

GEOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY OF NEAR EAST ARCHITECTURE

Fertile Crescent:

  • Marshlands with few natural advantages aside from water and soil
  • Import materials like hardwood and metals

Also:

  • Deserts of the Arabian Peninsula
  • Mountains and plateaux from west to east

2) Architectural character

i) Materials

  • Only materials readily available was clay, soil, reeds, rushes
  • Bricks made of mud and chopped straw, sun-dried or kiln-fired
  • Timber, copper, tin, lead gold, silver imported

ii) Decoration

  • Colossal winged-bulls guarding chief portals
  • Polychrome glazed bricks in blue, white, yellow, green
  • Murals of decorative continuous stone
DECORATION IN NEAR EAST ARCHITECTURE

3) Examples

i) Ziggurats

  • Religious buildings built next to temples
  • On top was a small temple
ZIGGURATS

Development:

  • Archaic ziggurat
  • Two or Three-staged ziggurat
  • Seven-staged ziggurat during the Assyrian period
DEVELOPMENT OF NEAR EAST ARCHITECTURE

Ziggurat at Ur

  • 2000 BC

ii) Palaces

  • Kings celebrated their victories, wealth and power by building large palaces
PALACES OF NEAR EAST ARCHITECTURE

Palace Platform at Persepolis

  • Ruins still exist
  • 50 years to build
  • People from all over the empire were involved in its construction
  • Variety of architectural styles
  • parts: audience halls, reception halls, storerooms for tributes and valuables, military quarters, apadana – tallest building, with 36 columns of 20m height

iii) Dwellings

  • Known as Megaron
  • Entrance at end rather than on the long sides
  • Portico – colonnaded space forming an entrance or vestibule, with a roof supported on one side by columns
  • Suited to climate of Anatolian plateau

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