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History of Architecture Essay

1. Comparing and contrasting Minoan and Mycenaean architecture, describe how the two architectures are different and why.

Minoan architecture was characterized by a number of structures that acted as epicenters for religious, commercial, and administrative lifestyles. In the recent past, archeologists discovered tombs, palaces, towns, and roads in Crete which symbolized the Minoan landscape. All this evidences the pre-historic culture that survived in the Aegean Sea. Minoan palaces were used to hold gatherings, workshop for artists and food stores. The palaces were multi-storied buildings with impressive exterior and interior staircases. The tombs were built in round shape with a flat wood-framed roof. It was not until Neopalatial period, 1700-1400 BC that Minoan towns started to emerge and easier linkage between the towns and palaces, roads were developed via the interior of the island (Marquand, 2008).

On the other hand, Mycenaean architecture came into being in the Mycenaean period and most of their architecture is indebted to architecture of Minoans of Crete. An outstanding characteristic feature of Mycenaean architecture comprises of megaron, usage of exceptionally large stone blocks, corbel vaulting, and large fortification walls. Besides, the Bronze Age Cities’ plan and layout on the mainland resembled that of palaces of Crete to a large extent. Some of the major Mycenaean architectural projects were huge tombs, city planning, and palace.

Palaces in the Minoan period had an open, vast courtyard whereas in Mycenaean megaron –indoor hall. Mycenaean architecture is also said to have been characterized by professional engineering works -evidenced by size of stone blocks used in constructing walls. Later their work was referred to as Cyclopean architecture by the Greeks and another distint feature from from the Minoans was the technique used in corbel vaulting. Therefore, Mycenaeans can be said to have been more technical in the architectural works as compared to the Minoans (Marquand, 2008).

2. Discuss the evolution of the Greek temple form from its early days as a megaron to how it is represented in the Hellenistic period. How and why did it evolve in the way that it did?

A number of earliest Greek Temples are up to date the orientalizing and geometric periods. The temple had a votive model which in most cases was found in tombs and the basic geometric style of an ornament. The persistent advancement of the Greek Temple was was characterized by an addition of more columns, increased size, and inclusion of general underlying base of three steps. Therefore, the columnar screens and base generated a symbolic and visual transition from the normal world to the space of the temple. The progression of the Greek Temple involved a number of stages: the first stage is the megaron –indoor hall- which saw it being used as temple and it was initiated in the Mycenaean period; second stage was characterized by initiation of peristyle and an increased size; stage three was evidenced by completion of the peristyle, integration of the monumentality of Egyptian temple, symmetrical construction, and architectural design in conformity with requirements of Golden Section (Marquand, 2008).

The Greek Temple has therefore totally remained to be a monument and it does not seem to combine its setting with the Mycenaean and Minoan designs. The temple is also a major achievement by human beings to have accomplished and the Temple represents an exceptional object from the natural environment. Consequently, the Temple has continued to serve as a commemoration of the geographical sacredness and provision of sanctification through a terrace that acted as the temple’s pedestal. It is also worth noting that the aforesaid column parts of the Temple does not match to natural forms such as plants or trees since the basic assumption was to evoke a human rationale and reasoning as opposed to monumentalism. The masterpiece of Greek architecture continued to evolve into classical designs (500-323 BC) and Hellenistic designs (323-27 BC) and it was evidenced by improved engineering skills applied in constructing towers (Ibid, 2008).

3. Describe the sensory experience of the Panathenaic Procession that would lead you to the Acropolis and up into the complex.

It is quite evident that when one takes a closer look in the historical books of ancient Greek and during the Classical period that there was a direct relationship between religion, politics, and art or architecture. Historians have established that first temples were created to house cults and in particular to facilitate religious practices in the community. Parthenon as a temple was spectacularly placed in the ‘Holy City’ of Acropolis and hence acted as a means with which people could link the temple to their past. A notable feature is the Panathenaic Procession as it represented the religious and social lifestyles of the Athenians. Besides, the Procession was part and parcel of festivities that honored Athena, panathenaea which was commemorated annually. The procession comprised of ritual presentation of new cloaks or peplos to the ceremonial Athena statue (Neils, 1992).

After every four years, a presentation of a huge peplos was made to the Grand Panathenaea within the Parthenon. Subsequently, every other successive year, Panathenaic Procession was marked by peplos presentation to Athena within the Erechtheum. As a formality, the Panathenaic Procession was started at Diployn Gate and traversed Agora with the final destination being in Acropolis. The activity of most importance to the women as during the period they performed a lot of activities such as weaving and presenting huge peplos to Athena every fourth year in Pathenon and smaller peplos to Athena in Erechtheum on yearly basis. Phases of Procession were represented by the frieze of the Parthenon that extended to a length of about 160 Metres. It stretched from the South West end of the Temple –with horse riders- to the North and West sides before heading to South, West sides (Neils, 1992).


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