Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Williams Heather IAR 221 Unit Summary

    Unit 1 describes the way humans naturally encounter the cosmos through constructing towns and civilizations around a center point of importance. I am going to focus on the importance of having ritual centers of ancient civilizations. The beginning of China’s Civilizations included a Niuhealing Ritual Center which was located along the Loaoha, Yingjin, and Daling rivers that empty into Boai Bay. These were burial mounds and altars dating around 3500 BCE located in the center of the town (Ching 8). Our group focused on Mohenjo-Daro. In Ching pages 30-31, it is described that the area was prone to flooding which is why they built it on fired brick to protect themselves of water even thought this area receives very little rain.  This represents the fear they had of the water. The neighborhoods were set up so that all houses were facing toward the inner center of the town where a public bath was located, “The Great Bath of Mohenjo-Daro”. “Mohenjo-Daro was raised high on a platform of bricks to disperse the floodwaters through a series of culverts […] Burnt bricks lined the pool while a layer of bitumen waterproofed it” (Ching 30, 31). This represents the ritualistic value the water portrayed in the city as well as fear. Roth talks about the humans creating Stonehenge by following the stars and mapping out how they wanted to represent them. This is another example supporting how humans wanted to portray an idea through their architecture. They show how important the center element is to them by surrounding it with their towns.

This is an image of the Great Bath at Mohenjo-Daro

It is constructed of fired brick and represented in the center of the town as a main focus enforcing the importance of water in ritual.

Unit 2: Humans noticed connections made through things such as the sun and moon, which are representative of circles; groups: groups of trees, and also stacks, mountains where all things came together in one place. The ritualistic importance of circles, groups, and stacks is represented through early attempts at building and then rebuilding through environmental influence passing on rituals. “The upper surface is divided into forty sections, corresponding to the celestial zones of the Etruscan pantheon; these have the names of gods […] one of the words used to descrive this liver was templum, which could refer o the sky”(Ching 100). This is a quote describing the thought behind Etruscan religion and building. The Etruscan ach represent signs manifested in the sky to the gods. They used their religion to form their structure enforcing their beliefs.
The Pantheon

Week 3 deals with the way structures are built to enhance their perception. The Parthenon was constructed on a inclined verticle axes of the perimeter columns of the Parthenon. “forty-six perimeter columns was tilted slightly inward, with the corner column tilging on a diagonal. If the columns of the short sides were extended upward, they would meet around 4.8 kilometers above the roof (Ching 130,131). This explains how the Parthenon was created to seem grander for the god Athena. This also relates to how the statue on the inside of Athena’s temple had a statue of Athena holding a regular sized person in her hand to emphasize the large scale and importance of the statue Athena. As stated in Roth’s text on pages 226-227, the Greek public buildings were constructed with columns down the middle to support the roof ad small chambers along the back for offices, similar to the layout of the Parthenon.

The Parthenon

Week 4: Diverse building types in Rome represented power and made trade routes possible through their engineering. The colosseum in Rome was constructed around the time Rome was at the height of its power. A new central bath was rebuilt (Ching 178). “By the 2nd century CE, the Roman Empire extended as far north as Gaul and across the channel to England” (Ching 194). The great expanse of the Empire was greatly influenced by the technology they acquired to transport water. It gave them power because they had the ability to make water go where they wanted it to go. Roth describes the large public buildings that Romans built also representing their gained power. “They had large interior volumes with concrete vaults of interior space” (Roth 264). Every roman city had at least one theater that was ramped up on tiled vaults raised on stone piers. These theaters were a large part of Roman architecture that represented great volume and power.

The Roman water system. This image shows how it was constructed of arches. The point of these arches were to be able to spread a larger distance of weight through and down the sides of each vertical section in order to use much less materials and weight over large distances. This water system gave great power to Rome through their ability to control the use of water.


  1. Try to be more theoretical, I mean form questions and theories then relate all chapters to the point. Thats what I would like to see for the unit summary. You started to do that in chapters, but try to tie them all together under a single theory. Overall you understood the text and the chapters. Good work.

  2. Also your pictures didn't come through, that effects composition of the presentation. Try resizing in photoshop, decrease pixels per square inch.

  3. I noticed the pictures about ten minutes ago and i just went back and fixed them. But ok, thanks