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Monumental Public Works Essay

1188 words - 5 pages

Monumental public works of the ancient world demonstrated an extraordinary degree of human organization and power in the absence of machinery or modern weapons used today to establish that power. Archaeologists recognize cities/states with the evidence of two essential characteristics in state development: increase in population density and monumental architecture, both tie in together. Religious, social, political, and economic reasons brought people of ancient civilizations to come together to form monumental works. Large human made structures of stone or earth commonly used as public buildings and spaces: monumental architecture. A key characteristic in the development of most, if not all ...view middle of the document...

Durability with expressions of human intentions in a public setting (Knapp). Monumental architecture in ancient civilizations are mostly portrayed as architecture or sculptures, but it can also include paintings, ceramics, mosaics, numerous forms of contemporary art.
Mesopotamia’s first monumental buildings were temple, during the Ubaid period dating from 5300 – 3600 B.C.E. Temples used for religious purposes, a square building built on raised platforms and supported by thin walls. The temple at Eridu was built by the first Northern Mesopotamians made of mud brick. Mud brick was used for other temples for centuries throughout Mesopotamia such as the temples and ziggurats during the Jemdet Nasr period centuries after the Ubaid period. Over time temples grew larger and more ornate, requiring more labor force. The way temples were designed and its layout became more elaborate, usually decorated with geometric mosaic designs. The increase of such buildings indicated the elites growing, increase of laborers and their power was effective. Dedication solely to agricultural wasn’t needed. Social and economic changes enabled the presence of monumental architecture (Craig).
The most impressive ancient monumental architecture was displayed in Egypt. Unlike the temples of Mesopotamia social, political and economic developments lead to the construction of pyramids rather than technological innovation. The pyramids were built by the ancient Egyptians during the Old Kingdom and were used as burial sites for the pharaohs that ruled over Egypt. . Pyramids were constructed for deceased Egyptian rulers for a suitable dwelling for their afterlife. Built on the west side of the Nile for the sun sets in the west and this was seen as the “realm of death”. The pyramids were a symbolic portrayal in stone of the sun’s rays seen through clouds depicted a stairway ascending to the sky where the deceased pharaoh would join Re, the sun god. The pyramids represented an eternal display of the pharaoh’s kingship on earth.
Egyptians used stone work to build pyramids. The exterior layer of stonework consisted of limestone, wooden wedges soaked in water placed on the bottom and granite formed in the interior to expand into a block. Stones were transported on sleds near the pyramids on pathways that were loosened with water to reduce friction, so they would fit precisely with each other. Egyptians used drills and other tools of stone and copper to mine the material for the stonework made for pyramids. The construction required about 100,000 men every year, labor work that represents the control rulers had among their people (Craig). Villagers, men who built the pyramids were required to work as a part of their annual tax by labor law under horrible and...

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