Below are the three questions. Each answer should
be around 400 words. Write your name and student number on each page. You
should submit one copy to the Moodle, “1st exam submission” link,
and two hard copies to the Student Office by 25 January, Thursday 3 pm.
Question 1: Ancient
Egypt civilization and ancient Maya civilization all respect light. They designed two monumental buildings
in cooperation with light. What are the names of these buildings and when were they built?
Where are they located?
What are their functions?
How do they
incorporate with light and
why? There is another
building designed to work with light has been mentioned in the lectures,
where is it?
Ancient Egyptians respected light, this can be seen
through their worship of God of the sun ‘Ra’ who was the ‘king of gods and
creator of all life forms’. One example of the Egyptian’s respect for light is
inside the entranceway of ‘Abu Simbel’, a massive temple built in the 13th
century BCE to commemorate the battle of Kadesh under reign of Ramesses II. Located
in Nubia, on the western bank of Lake Nasser, the temple was built in a way in
which allowed the light to shine into the inner sanctuary, illuminating three statues
except for the statue of god ‘Ptah’ who was thought to be ‘connected with the
underworld’. This penetration of light was thought to be intentionally
positioned by Egyptian Architects in such a way which would only align with the
sun on October 22nd and February 22nd – thought to be the
‘king’s birthday and coronation day’, this therefore shows how Ancient
Egyptians designed in cooperation with light.
Similar to ancient Egypt, light was used in
architecture by the ancient Mayan civilisation as a connection to their deity.
El Castillo, also known as the ‘Temple of Kukulkan’, is a pyramid which was
built by the pre Columbian Mayan civilisation in the ‘post classic period’
between the 9th and 12th century. The pyramid (located on the Yucatán
Peninsula, Mexico, Guatemala) served as a temple to the god ‘Kukulkan’, a deity
characterised as a ‘feathered serpent’ who is closely linked to ‘Quetzalcoatl’ the
god of light, justice, mercy and wind. The temple has 91 steps on each of the
four sides, including a last step on top totalling 365; the same number of days
in a year. To enrich the design the Mayans used the late evening sunlight to
cast shadows of the steps onto a plumed serpent which runs down the structure,
therefore creating the illusion of a ‘feathered spirit’ crawling down the sides
of the temple.
Question 2: Ancient
Mesopotamia civilization and India Buddhism have built two types of monumental
buildings as device to communicate with gods above. What are the general names of these buildings?
What are the difference of these two types of building in terms of forms and materials? What
is the common
characteristic of these two types of buildings in terms of space use?
Ancient civilisations built monumental buildings to
‘communicate with the gods above’. One example built in ancient Mesopotamia is the
Ziggurat, a type of building which was typically a built using stone and served
as a temple or shrine for their god whilst acting as a ‘centre of the city’. Early
versions of this structure used ‘tampered earth’ and mud bricks built on top of
one another, later using sun baked bricks in the core of the design with the
facing of the structure clad in fired bricks; sometimes glazed in different
colours or engraved with kings’ names. The form of the structure ranged in ‘two
to seven’ tiers of receding levels producing a ‘terraced step pyramid’ shape. They
built the temples as high as possible to make them ‘close to the heavens’ and therefore
much closer to their god where they could come down to the mortal world. The
ziggurat resembled a ‘mountain’ and commonly used a staircase or long ramp to access
the top, where the space inside the temple was used to worship and connect to
the gods above. Similarly, the ‘Stupa’ from ancient Indian civilisation,
attempted to connect with the gods above using a dome structure upon a base,
symbolising the ‘dome of heaven enclosing earth’. Excluding the intention of
height to connect with the gods and stairway or ‘Sopanas’ leading up the structure
– the form of the stupa was comparatively very different to the Ziggurat. This can
be seen through the smooth shape of the Dome or ‘Anda’, containing a crown called
a ‘Parasal’ at the highest point of the building. Much like the Mesopotamian
civilization’s motives this Parasal was used as a cosmic axis, connecting them
to the ‘centre of the universe’. The shape of the stupa also reflects traditional
Bhuddist values, where they seek the ‘balance between human and nature’ and
have ‘no desire on the material world’, this can be seen in the simplicity of shape
in the stupa and the minimal design without decoration. Much, like the central point of Mesopotamian
temples, the stupa later became the central point of many rock-cut Bhuddist temples
such as the Vihara chamber dating back to 3 century BC – 7 century AD; both
acting as a place of worship to the gods above. Much like the construction of the
ziggurat, Early Stupa structures were made using sundried bricks. Contrastingly,
the stupa uses ‘earth and brickbats’ in
the centre of its core, and unlike the mortar-less design of the Ziggurat the
bricks of the stupa were laid with a thin mortar and later clad with a thick
plaster on the exterior. In conclusion, both types of monumental building existed
for the same purpose of connecting to a ‘god above’ or the sky where the ‘heavens
existed’. The form and shape of the design has different aesthetic qualities
due to their function and purpose; with the stupa resembling the simple and non-materialist
values of Bhuddism and the Ziggurat using a more functional purpose of living
around the central point of the temple.