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The most ancient constructions that we can witness are “menhirs” and “dolmens”. These refer to elements in rock that were used for the construction of megalith structures. Found in different parts of Europe, these are very common in England and France. As matter of fact, on English soil, the most famous monument is found: the megalithic structures of Stonehenge. Placed in concentric circles, these structures have always caused curiosity due to their unknown function. Their disposition influenced by astronomic references still suggest a scared and religious function, linked to pantheistic cultures.
Stonehenge dates back to four thousand years ago, and despite the lack of archeologic knowledge and the reduced number of similar monuments, we can estimate that urban societies have developed as far as ten thousand years ago, in the Palestinian and Syrian regions.
With the development of agriculture and stable communities, the environment of the ancient man changed. Nature was not surrounding humans on its own anymore as they were dividing the land with crop fields, channel water and build cities and roads.
Architecture was born when rustic properties and farms formed and the concept of territory started to develop; the geography of places started to be characterised by permanent settlements belonging to different populations, and that within the different settlements they would identify authorities.
The formation of these settlements spread across the whole world; however, they were thriving particularly in the Mesopotamia and Middle East regions, where the Tigris and Euphrates allowed for agricultural, economic and social growth. In this region, during the Bronze Age, Sumer, Assyrian and Babylonian populations represented the origin of Western civilisation. The “Ziggurat” were massive structures built by these populations and are perhaps one of the earliest type of architectural complex structures.
The subsequent Egyptian civilization, built along the banks of the Nile River four thousand years BC, and has left us some of the most magnificent monuments of antiquity: the pyramids. These gigantic constructions were the evolution of the first burial enclosures used by the pharaohs: they were of rectangular base, and took the name of "mastaba". More mastaba overlapped, created the first step pyramid, that of Saqqara. Later the pyramid took its canonical form, perfect prism with four triangular faces.
A pyramid, however, is a special type of building. Intended for burial, it consisted of indoor spaces, almost as tunnels dug into a mountain, with impenetrable access. The pyramids, therefore, appeared as gigantic objects, rather than true architectures. However, their, majestic and grand rise, in a uniformly flat landscape, marked the territory of the Egyptian civilization with impressive and immortal symbols. Many examples of pyramids are visible today, such as the Giza pyramid complex and the Sneferu’s Red Pyramid.
The pyramids were built in a period between 3000 and 2000 BC, later fell into disuse, and the pharaohs, for their tombs built temples with papyrus columns (so-called because the columns had the shape of stylized papyrus). They therefore adopted the trilithon, according to their vision, with gigantic proportions and measurements. Immense rooms were filled with towering columns at close distances as to create singularly mysterious spaces. It is important to know that, in trilithon, the horizontal elements, if they are stone, cannot be of excessive length, otherwise it could not even bear their weight. Thus a stone horizontal coverage can be realized only with shorter element, and therefore require shorter supports. From here, then, the constraint for the Egyptians to fill the environment of their temples with numerous columns.
Image credits: http://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions-/pyramids-of-giza-egy-giza-giza.htm