8.000-4.000 B.C

Agriculture was already firmly established and a sedentary lifestyle encouraged the construction of permanent housing. Social organization became more complex and different types of buildings appeared. The first great Neolithic city was up to 10,000 inhabitants.

The city enclosure was protected by a defensive wall. It was made up of groups of rectangular houses, separated only by some courtyard and without streets The house has a ground floor and a first floor, they were built with pressed adobe bricks and the wooden roofs were covered with rammed mud on vegetables mats.

PREHISTORY 4.000-3.000 B.C

There are several important and large cities that are permanently inhabited in the valley between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The writing is developed and there is much prosperity, domestic pottery is developed too.

The urban architecture was made with adobe or brick. The vestiges of these protohistoric architectures are the Ziggurats, the most characteristic buildings of ancient Mesopotamia.


Sumerian ziggurat had a core of raw, sun-dried adobe brick and a covering or fired brick taken with a thick mortar of bituminous material that has high resistance. They are temples built on top of natural or artificial platforms, overlapped and stepped with ramps and ascending stairs, imitating the dwellings of the gods.

The oldest temple of this type was built in Uruk towards the end of the fourth millennium, who involved this new type of religious construction into a new concept based on a large central platform, crowned by smaller ones rising towards the sky. The structure resembles the pyramids of Egypt, but these always housed a mortuary chambre inside.


In order to understand the Egyptian people and architecture it is necessary to consider the Nile River Egypt develops a civilization that survives almost 3.000 years. Life was peaceful and of high quality. 

The river and the sun are the most important axes for the Egyptians. The organization of temples, cities and fields follows these two perpendicular axes forming an orthogonal grid.


The temple is the most important public building, place of veneration and centre of learning and training for the administration of the county. 

It was the house of the gods and had an entrance courtyard, reception room and private chambers. Then, the residence of the god or sanctuary.  Architecture of permanence and immutability. Its shape experienced few subtle changes in 2.700 years with the same shapes and details, Its purpose was continuity and order.


Egyptian were obsessed with life, too good to end, chance the cult of the dead reflected in the pyramids, eternal constructions. The architect Imhotep changes funerary architecture by intervening the stepped stone pyramids for Zoster 2.650 BC. He replaces adobe brick and tree trunks with limestone masonry. Pyramids were integrated in the temple set, portico with chapels and walls.

THE GREEKS 1.200-146 B.C

The ancient Greeks learned from Egyptian architecture and sculpture, evolving it and creating their own art and architecture and a value system based on the exaltation of human capabilities that has served as the foundation for all subsequent Western culture.

Greek architecture expresses the search for equilibrium between vertical and horizontal load-bearing elements. Each element was carefully worked with the best of possible materials, not only to exhibit wealth but as the best method of satisfying the gods and honouring the polis.


Greek cities grew up around fortifications perched on high ground which were acropolis. The Greek polis included the city and surrounding farms, encompassing the community, political, cultural, moral and economic life of the people.

The buildings surrounded the upper part of the Acropolis and developed downwards. The main streets included an open meeting space. The Agora was the centre of Greek community life, where the affairs of the polis were traded and discussed, where they met in open air assembly to vote on matters relating to the welfare of the Community.

The agora was first configured by private houses and shops but then by stoas, large and elongated public buildings with porticoes to encourage meetings, installation of craftsmen.


It was the most important building, dedicated to a divinity. It was placed on a base or stepped platform. Inside, the nucleus was the Cella, a very simple closed space, where the divine image was kept. The initial basic form of the temple was a wooden structure.

There are large sculptures, where the interior space is hardly  treated, was very simple and was not accessible to the public and is left in the background.

The façade deserves maximum artistic attention. The Parthenon, was dedicated to the goddess Athena, is a Doric temple periptery.


Theatres and stadiums were the largest open-air buildings. They were very important for the culture, education and community life of the polis. They were not only for entertainment, like those of the Romans.

They were not only for entertainment, like those of the Romans. They were usually located on the slopes of a hill. The scene of the Greek theatre was lower than that of the Roman theatres and in addition to the stage you could see the landscape.


The Greek architecture was that of the sculptural volumes organized in balanced contrast with the landscape. In it there is hardly any interior space. Greek houses were simple. They had a central courtyard or peristyle, around which the rooms were located, a constructive tradition that will remain in Roman architecture.

ROMANS 1.100 B.C

The settlement of the Latins in the centre of the Italian peninsula occurs around 1.100 B.C. The Romans spread throughout the Mediterranean basin and much of Europe and their architecture was universal, embodying the essence of the “romanitas” wherever it was built.

Roman architecture is the architecture of the interior closed space, but also of the exterior space on a grandiose scale. With the discovery of concrete, the Romans created new forms and were able to experiment with interior space, lights and shadows.


Specialists in the design of infrastructures such as: swage networks, aqueducts, roads that reached all points of the empire, bridges, walls.

They are ceremonial works and a source of architectural and sculptural details. The arch of Constantine is a rectangular structure with three openings, one central and the other auxiliary. There are columns on pedestals that rise up to an entablature.


Any Roman city had thermal baths that served as baths, a library, a school, a place for commercial relations, a place for the exhibition of sculptures.

Roman theaters derive from the Greek model but are of greater proportions. They were not embedded in the slopes of the mountains and their steps were built on a radial system of inclined concrete vaults raised on stone pillars. 

They were perfectly semi-circular and not horseshoes like the Greeks and the function was somewhat different. It was used for representation of theatrical, Greek and Roman works without religious or educational purposes.

The roman circus was destined for races, shows and performances. The shows held in the Circus were very successful.

The basilica as a court of justice consisted of a space for legal proceedings, covered and usually next to the forum.

The amphitheaters are the main Roman innovation, they are a double theatre presenting an elliptical scene and a continuous grandstand dedicated to fights between gladiators, with beasts and other similar mass specialities. They had hatches with systems to lift the beasts and floors mechanisms for naumachia.


The Romans structured the city with an orthogonal planning, derived from the camps that were the basis of the planning. 

The first Roman cities and those that emerged from the Greek colonies had plots of streets in the form of more or less irregular rectangles, but later more regular city blocks were made. 

In the heart of the city was the forum. A civic space in the open air delimited by colonnades such as stoas and public buildings, with functions very similar to the Greek Agora, but more regular, usually rectangular.


When it came to buildings, the Romans used the Greek orders with a certain freedom, subjecting them to modifications. The Romans are more related to the naturalism, vitality and energy of the Etruscans than to Greek rationality.

They placed their temples on very high podiums whose staircase was located in the axis of the door of the cellar, pseudo hermitian. They look like elements from other Etruscan villages, each and vault. They developed domes to cover buildings solving the technical problems of the Greek.


Habitual dwelling of the richest families had an impluvium atrium, with surrounding public relations rooms and private rooms. They ended up in another open space with an orchard or garden. Mosaics, paintings and sculptures decorated these types of residences.


Were the dwellings of the plebeians who constituted the most numerous part of the population. They were buildings of three or four floors subdivided into different floors. They were built with low quality materials and wood. The flats were divided into two premises, one for the kitchen and the other for the rest. They were often occupied by several families at the same time.


From the 2nd century A.D, the roman empire disintegrated due to the pressure of the barbarian on the frontiers. The construction of Roman public buildings was practically paralyzed in the 5th century A.D.

What was left of the Roman Empire became Christianized. Churches and other religious buildings became the only important architecture, while other public and private buildings were submerged in relative anonymity.

The glory of pagan imperial Rome was lost and a new Christian empire was established in the East, in which religious and civil powers were merged.


Text and images: https://prezi.com/view/VlTvssbFEVSDE2RUmkaQ/