Posted in History n Theory

[HISTORY & THEORY OF DESIGN II] reading comprehension 2

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[1] Hersey describes a grammar for Greek architectural elements based on the idea of sacrifice. SPECULATE about the validity of his argument based on what you know about Greek design and the evidence (both visual and written) he provides. (5 points)

 The sacrificial process was very important in the Greek culture and was seen as necessary prior to building their temples.  “Greek sacrifice involved the deconstruction and reconstruction of the victim’s body….  It could also involve the construction or reconstruction of the god himself as he presided over his offerings.” (Hershey; Architecture and Sacrifice, p. 16)  In reading the Hershey’s book, I have come to understand the importance of nature and sacrifice in the Greek design.  
•    The Cavetto moldings, (which are common in the bases of columns) were seen as representing the rope, which was tied around the feet of the victim being sacrificed.
•    The sacrificial victim’s feet were bound and tied up like they were game.  This is represented in the statue columns that often had bound feet.
•    The temples were also decorated with the bones of the victims – the head being the most important part – said to contain the most spiritual essence. All bones were considered sacred and were obtained during the rapid cremation process and placed on the altars. 
•    According to Hershey’s reading (Architecture and Sacrifice, p. 14), Vitruvius said that trees were the first columns and they were often decorated with material and gear from the sacrifice victims.  In looking at the picture provided above, The columns are massive and although made of stone, are the shape and size.

[2] Meant in jest, Macaulay shapes a world of the future in which the main character claims meanings for archeological evidence uncovered at the Motel of the Mysteries. EXTRACT what you believe to be the lesson of mis-interpreting evidence and link that lesson to the real world phenomenon of the internet. In other words, EXPLAIN how you might avoid such a blunder as mis-reading evidence when you use the web as your major information source. (5 points)

In reading Macaulay’s excerpt, I am reminded about a phrase that one of my teacher said in my first semester in this program.  “Always keep a beginners mind”.    When I first heard this expression, I did not understand what it meant, but upon further thought, it has become a powerful part of my way of thinking about the things I do, and especially design.
  A beginners mind keeps you in the mindset, when experiencing new things, of being childlike.  Explore, search, ask questions and play to find out if what you are seeing or being told is true.  With the way of the internet now, so many things are available for us to explore and question.  Some people may feel that too much information available is just that – too much.. .But I think having that information available, helps us “keep that beginners mind” and to have the availability to question what we are being told by finding an alternative way.  Researching things we would normally not be exposed to is a key advantage to the internet and one of the ways you could avoid mis-reading evidence.

[3] The funerary temple design of Queen Hatshepsut speaks a very different design language than the pyramidal forms for other pharaohs. From your readings and the ideas addressed in class, RECOUNT possible reasons why Queen Hatshepsut used this building form. (5 points)
It was a life’s mission of a Pharaoh to build the largest burial site for them, being the pyramid. Pyramids are considered to be one of the most basic structures (class notes 9/8/10) but it was designed to be a type of maze so that the Pharaoh’s belongings couldn’t be stolen. The largest pyramid would represent status and power and it was covered in colorful limestone and at the very top, was a gold topper.  These Pharaohs believed they were the center of the universe and that the lines of the four corners of their pyramid would reach the four corners of the earth.  Pharaohs were involved in their design and build process and placed their pyramids in a way to stand out in their surroundings. Since they were built while the Pharaoh was still living, as soon as he died, he was placed with his belongings in the underground chamber to then pass on to his next life in the ‘afterlife’.

The temple of Queen Hatshepsut was built after she had passed and once completed years later, she was then laid to rest.  According to our class notes and lecture on 9/8/10, it is believed that she may have had a say in how her temple was designed, but one cannot be sure. 

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In the picture to the left You will notice the central stairway leading up to the colonnade, which gives a more inviting feel.  This burial temple took advantage of the natural landscape, and although covered in hieroglyphics like the pyramids, there is nothing overly extravagant about this feminine structure.  According to Roth, pg. 202-203, “building a temple-tomb at the base of a cliff – and, even more, the raising of a huge artificial stone mountain over one’s tomb – simply advertised where the treasure was stored.”  Eventually most of the royal tombs after this were buried dug into the cliffs to give it more security. 

[4] Although some evidence suggests links between the Egyptian and Greek civilizations, and some building forms and details provide support for that linkage, the two societies produced design responses in great contrast to one another. Select a building type (house, tomb, or temple) from each culture and ELUCIDATE similarities and differences in the two forms over time. Provide an annotated illustration for each selected type. (5 points)

Temples in the Egyptian and Grecian society were an important public structure.  In Egypt, temples were the center of government administration, scientific and medical study and agricultural administration. Large temples included schools, universities, libraries and archives and were the center of government administration, scientific and medical study and agricultural administration. (roth pp205-206)  Egyptians also used their temples for very theatrical religious festivals.  Urban planning also began with the Egyptians and they used different axes to plan out the placement of their temples.

Greek temples also held an important public function but were not your typical public building.  Only priests and certain selected individuals were able to enter it.  The public often celebrated rituals at the altar, in front of the temple.  The exterior was also paid much attention to the artistic nature of it and said to be a monumental structure set within the landscape.
The Greeks made no effort to have any of the buildings aligned along an axis.  They adjusted the topography to the site, and occasionally aligned the temples on an axes leading out to the mountain peaks in the landscape.  (roth page 230)

[5] Harwood shows examples of Egyptian furniture on pp. 60-61. HYPOTHESIZE about the lightweight nature of Egyptian furniture when compared to tomb architecture, as at the Pyramids of Giza, which many characterize as massive and heavy. (5 points)
The Egyptian furniture shown on pages 60-61 show simple pieces, many from King Tut’s tomb, made out of wood as well as more ornate wood pieces overlaid with gold and silver foil with some inlay.  One quality these items all share, are that they are a fairly minimally sized pieces.  Once he died and was placed in the tomb, his belongings were also included with him. The Egyptians believed that you needed your things when you passed over to your next life. (Being the afterlife)  Because of the status of King Tut, much of his furniture had carved detail, such as his throne and small chest.
The tomb design, or pyramid, was meant to show status and power on a different scale.  A Pharaohs’ life’s goal was to build the grandest burial tomb.  Because of the size, the stone used to build this tomb needed to be large, and they needed to be stacked on top of the other to reach the height desired for the appropriate status. Size matters here, resulting in a powerful, strong and imposing pyramid. 

[6] Based on a careful reading of the visual evidence in these two images, DRAW OUT an explanation of design and gender roles as you see both depicted. As this language of urns represents essentially one of the main ways we know about Grecian culture, COMMENT on the validity of such a practice of reading evidence. (5 points)

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Grecian culture portrayed more equality in their male and female gods, although the Grecian women lived a life of seritude.  This is portrayed in both of these urns, as women serving their leaders, being men.  These men are both seated on their “throne” and surrounded by a number of different natural objects.  You will notice the depiction of the animals and leaves.  The lion’s skin on the black and white urn, as well as the bird on the staf.  Hunting was also depicted here by the use of the swords and the animals – these items represented power and wealth.
Nature is very sacred to their society – they saw trees as being most sacred (sometimes even more so then the temples they stood for) and the use of the leaf material around the tops of both urns represent that sacred aspect.  Urns are also used to help in offerings.  The offering up to the gods was a ritual that was very important to their society.


Lover of architectural history, family, building design, coffee and dogs.

One thought on “[HISTORY & THEORY OF DESIGN II] reading comprehension 2

  1. [1] Great examples [2]Good [3]Nice blending of information from lectures, and readings [4]Good observations [5]Reasoning is clear and well supported [6]good job 'reading' the vases, but do you think this is a valid practice?

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