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Ancient Architecture Essay

1808 words - 8 pages

Taylor P
Ancient Architecture

Functions of Ancient Monuments

Ancient monuments have been discovered to be a prominent feature of many different ancient civilizations throughout history. The most elaborate and well known ancient buildings are the pyramids and the ziggurats of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica. The construction of these massive monuments began sometime during the fourth millennium BC and to this day many can still be seen. Although believed by most to serve a particular religious function, historians are still trying to discover the exact purpose of these breathtaking feats of architecture. However, through the vast studies of archaeology, enough information has ...view middle of the document...

The Pharaoh being the closest things they had to the gods, eventually led to the evolution of the royal tomb from a small rectangular box to enormous pyramids. One of the first pyramids built was the Pyramid of Djoser, which is also known as the step pyramid and was built in the Third Dynasty around 2700 BC. This step pyramid is believed to have evolved from the more rudimentary mastaba rectangular tombs. Eventually, the Egyptian’s technology and knowledge would advance even further and lead them to design and build the Great Pyramids of Menkaure, Khafre, Khufu, the Great Spinx at Giza as well as many other pyramids.
Over the years, historians have been in fierce debate over the explanation as to why these structures have adopted the pyramidal design and what the true utility of the edifices were. Some of the circulating theories suggest a possible stairway to the heavens, prophecies from the gods, protection of ancient relics, proof of Egyptian intelligence, and even alien invasion. The most widely accepted of these theories is based on the religious notion that the design of the pyramid would allow the Pharaoh’s soul to ascend into the heavens. Although this idea does correspond to many of the Egyptian beliefs and practices at the time, there is no actual proof of this theory. Dr. Robin Derricourt, stresses the importance of ignoring statements about pyramids that do not have supporting evidence especially when any idea can be made popular by simply posting something to the Internet. In his journal, he distinguishes over thirty claims of pyramidologies of Egypt and states that “the arguments resemble those between faith and reason, religion and science: people looking for particular kinds of approaches and explanations…” The only factual evidence that we can determine from the ancient artifacts found in pyramids and monuments is the deity role of the Pharaoh in Egypt. However, the reason for the pyramids unique design and true purpose it was designed for may never be known.
Another civilization that was making similar progressions during the same time period was Mesopotamia. Within Mesopotamia lived the Sumerians and the Semites, who spoke different languages, but shared similar religions. Like the Egyptians, they also pioneered many advancements in engineering, architecture, math, and writing. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers surrounding Mesopotamia provided rich soil that they utilized in the production of sun dried mud bricks. These bricks were the essential ‘stepping stones’ to the creation of the first ziggurat, which was completed around 3500 BC. Mesopotamia’s first noteworthy architecture was the Ziggurat of Ur-Nammu, which was built for the moon-god Nanna around 2125 BC.
The Sumerians and Semites in Mesopotamia believed their gods were anthropomorphic and “embodied the forces of nature.” Instead of the conception that the king was a god himself, like in Egypt, the king was more like a protector who served the gods. “The public,...

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