PRE HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE

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  • The definition of prehistoric architecture is, quite literally, pre-history. In other words from a time before mankind was capable of recording its history in writing. This makes the prehistoric era one that is very difficult to define, dating back tens of thousands of years. For an era that is so vast it’s difficult to recognize any real themes in its architecture, but there are a few key forms and concepts that pre-date any known civilization and were significant enough that they would influence key architectural developments in the centuries and millennia to come.
  • Prehistory basically covers the Old Stone Age, Middle Stone Age, and New Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic) periods, as well as portions of the Bronze and Iron Ages. These ages refer to the materials with which tools were made during those periods. So the earliest tools were made of stone and then people developed bronze and iron metal tools

1) Architectural influences

i) History

  • Direct human ancestors evolved in Africa from 2.3 million years ago – Homo habilis, Homo erectus, homo sapiens, homo sapiens sapiens
HISTORY OF PRE HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE
  • The success of the human race was largely due to the development of tools – made of stone, wood, bone
  • Humans spread from Africa into Southern Europe, Asia
  • Could not settle far north due to the cold climate
  • From Siberia by foot into North America
  • From Southeast Asia by boat into Australia
HISTORY OF PRE HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE ONE
  • Before 9000 BC, nomadic life of hunting & food gathering
  • By 9000 BC, farming and agriculture was practiced
  • Fertile soil and plentiful food
  • Animal domestication for work, milk, wool
  • People wanted to settle down, live in communities
  • First villages in the Middle East, South America, Central America, India and China
HISTORY OF PRE HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE TWO
  • Some people needed not farm, so they spent time on other work – pot-making, metal-working, art and… architecture!

ii) Religion

  • No organized religion
  • The dead are treated with respect – burial rituals and monuments

2) Architectural character

i) Materials

  • Animal skins, wooden frames, animal bones

ii) Construction system

  • Existing or excavated caves
  • Megalithic, most evident in France, England and Ireland
CONSTRUCTION SYSTEM OF PRE HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE

iii) Decoration

  • Caves paintings in Africa, France and Spain
  • Sculpture

3) Examples

i) Menhir

MENHIR
  • A single, large upright monolith
  • Serves a religious purpose
  • Sometimes arranged in parallel rows, reaching several miles and consisting of thousands of stones
PICTURES OF CARNAC
PICTURES OF CARNAC

ii) Dolmen

  • Tomb of standing stones usually capped with a large horizontal slab
DOLMEN

iii) Cromlech

  • Enclosure formed by huge stones planted on the ground in circular form Stonehenge, England (2800 – 1500 BC)
CROMLECH
  • Most spectacular and imposing of monolithic monuments
  • Outer ring, inner ring, innermost horseshoe-shaped ring with open end facing east
  • Largest stones weigh 45 to 50 tons, came from Wales 200 km away
  • Stones transported by sea or river then hauled on land with sledges and rollers by hundreds of people, raised upright into pits, capped with lintels

Genuine architecture – it defines exterior space

A solar observatory – designed to mark the sun’s path during sunrise on Midsummer Day

iv) Tumulus or passage grave

  • Dominant tomb type
  • Corridor inside leading to an underground chamber
TUMULUS OR PASSAGE GRAVE

v) Primitive dwellings

  • Mostly had one room
  • The development of more complex civilizations led to division of the room into smaller ones for eating, sleeping, socializing
  • In places where no industrial revolution has occurred to transform building methods and increase population density, houses show little difference from primitive ones
PRIMITIVE DWELLINGS

Natural or Artificial Caves

NATURAL OR ARTIFICIAL CAVES

Beehive Hut

Trullo – dry walled rough stone shelter with corbelled roof

BEEHIVE HUT

Wigwam or Tepee

  • conical tent with wooden poles as framework
  • Covered with rush mats and an animal skin door

Hogan – primitive Indian structure of joined logs

WIGWAM OR TEPEE

Igloo – Innuit (Eskimo) house constructed of hard-packed snow blocks built up spirally

Nigerian hut – with mud walls and roof of palm leaves

WIGWAM OR TEPEE ONE

Iraqi mudhif – covered with split reed mats, built on a reed platform to prevent settlement

Sumatran house – for several families, built of timber and palm leaves, the fenced pen underneath is for livestock


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