1.1 EGYPT - 1.001: Stonehenge INTRODUCTION In our...

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INTRODUCTION In our examination of the architecture of Ancient Egypt, we will cover the span of time from 3100BC, more than 5000 years ago, to 323BC.This latter date marks the beginning of Egypt’s rule by foreigners, rst by Alexander the Great through his governor Ptolemy. When Alexander died in 305BC, Ptolemy declared himself king of Egypt. Ptolemy I sought to make Alexandria the cultural center of the Greek world. One of his most important achievements in this respect was the founding of the great library there. With over 700,000 volumes, this was the greatest library of antiquity. Its destruction by re during a civil war in the 3 rd century AD was an incalculable loss of ancient learning. Ptolemy’s ancestors, which included Cleopatra, ruled Egypt until the Romans arrived in 30BC. Even with the arrival of the Greeks then the Romans, the general pattern of Egyptian civilization and culture that had begun in the 4th millenium continued for another 600 years until rst Byzantine Christianity and nally Islam displaced them forever. Consider how long the ancient Egyptians had maintained a continu- ous, self-governed civilization with the following comparison. The time that has elapsed since the beginning of the Ptolemaic rule until the present, some 2300 years, is still 500 years less than the span of time between the unication of Upper and Lower Egypt under the pharaohs and the beginning of Ptolemaic rule. Thus, our study of Egypt encompasses almost 30 centuries of history, an almost incomprehensible span of time for a continuous civilization. To put Egyptian history into the larger context of human development, the earliest human ancestor homo erectus appeared one million years ago, the Neanderthals lived 100,000 years ago and our species, homo sapiens , made its rst grunting sounds 40,000 years ago. 500,000 years ago human beings began to lead their lives in a conscious reaction to the seasonal variations. The rst calendars appeared some 30,000 to 27,000 years ago to keep track of these variations by recording of the phases of the moon. The famed megaliths of Stonehenge, built in Wiltshire, England around 2100 BC 1.001: Stonehenge 1.002: Stonehenge 1.003: the walls of Jericho 1
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are presumed to be such a calendar built at an architectural scale. Stonehenge formed a kind of astronomical observatory to determine the precise times of the annual solstices and equinoxes. (Figures The change from cave dwellings to stone walled settlements with separate houses took 20,000 years to develop. About 10,000 years ago, permanent settlements appeared with stone buildings such as the walls of Jericho, which was long before its destruction by the Israelites recounted in the biblical story of Joshua 6 . (Figures 1.003 Following this, the rate of development speeded up a little in relative terms, because in just 5000 more years there was an explosion of knowledge with the invention of writing and numbers. At the same time as writing appeared, cities began to crop up along the
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course ARCH 2110 taught by Professor Bell during the Fall '07 term at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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1.1 EGYPT - 1.001: Stonehenge INTRODUCTION In our...

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