The Forum Romanum and Archaeological Context

The city’s monuments (and their ruins) are cues for memory, discourse, and discovery. Views of Rome The Roman emperor Constantius II (the second son of Constantine the Great) visited Rome for the only time in his life in the year 357 C.E. His visit to the city included a tour of the usual monuments and[…]

Hindu Architecture at Rajarajesvara Temple in Tanjavur, India

The Rajarajesvara temple was built by one of the most successful rulers of the medieval period, Rajaraja Chola I. By Dr. Arathi MenonHistorian of Art and Architecture Introduction To see the Hindu god Shiva in the Rajarajesvara temple complex in Tanjavur, we must enter two impressive gateways, walk into a cloistered courtyard, past an enormous[…]

The Origins of Cathedrals and Chapels

Millions step into cathedrals and chapels every year. The history of these places of worship offers important insights into Christianity. Introduction Cathedrals and chapels have played vital roles in the development of Christian culture. As a scholar of the Bible, Judaism and Christianity, I have come to learn the historic importance of these structures and[…]

Leading Figures of the Renaissance

From the 14th through the 16th centuries, Europe crackled with energy. Introduction The period in Europe known as the Renaissance began in Italy around 1300. From the 14th through the 16th centuries, Europe crackled with energy. Trade and commerce boomed. Cities grew. Artists and writers experimented with their crafts and created wonderful works of art[…]

Florence: The Cradle of the Renaissance

Exploring the Italian city-state of Florence to learn about a number of advances made there during the Renaissance. Introduction Florence is located on the Arno River, just north of central Italy. The city is often called the “cradle of the Renaissance.” Between 1300 and 1600, it was home to some of the greatest artists and[…]

Stone and Concrete in Ancient Italo-Roman Building Techniques

The masonry techniques discussed here cover a broad chronological range from the second millennium B.C.E. to Late Antiquity. Introduction Building techniques represent an important means through which to study and understand ancient structures. The building technique chosen for a given project can indirectly provide a good deal of information about the building itself, in terms[…]

William Strickland and Greek Temple Architecture in the Early United States

In the architectural void of a new nation, he borrowed from ancient Athens to express America’s democratic ethos. President Andrew Jackson took a keen interest in the construction of the federal mint in Philadelphia, a grand, columned edifice, inspired by the temples of ancient Greece, that opened in 1833. Jackson was not a man known for his appreciation of cultural and artistic pursuits.[…]

Magna Ecclesia: A History of the Hagia Sophia

The aesthetic qualities of a geometric design are what most concern the twentieth-century work on Hagia Sophia. Introduction Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, constructed 532-537 CE, continues to be revered as one of the most important structures in the world. Hagia Sophia (Greek Ἁγία Σοφία, for ‘Holy Wisdom’) was designed to be the major basilica of the[…]

Capturing the Architecture of American Agriculture – and a Passing Way of Life

For 45 years, David Hanks has photographed feed mills in every season and mood. By David HanksPhotographer “Why would anyone want to take pictures of a place like this?” That’s the question I often get when I enter the office of a feed mill or grain elevator, asking permission to make photographs on the property[…]

Alberti’s Late Medieval Revolution in Painting

Alberti’s De Pictura (On Painting, 1435) was the first theoretical text written about art in Europe. Introduction In a fresco (water-based pigment applied to fresh moist plaster) high on one wall of the Sistine Chapel, the aged Saint Peter kneels as he humbly accepts the keys of heaven from Jesus Christ standing before him. These[…]

Thailand’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha

What is this figurine and why was it so important to King Rama I (r. 1782-1809 CE)? Introduction A small carved figurine sits high on a grand multi-tiered pedestal in a magnificent wat (temple) in Bangkok, Thailand. It has been sitting there since 1784 CE and was originally thought to be made of emerald. Hundreds of[…]

Ancient Rome’s Wealthy Cities of Oplontis, Stabiae, and Boscoreale

While the Vesuvian eruption was devastating, and many lives were lost, it preserved a moment in Roman history. Introduction More than 2,000 years ago, extremely wealthy Romans lived on the sunny shores of the Bay of Naples at Pompeii and in opulent villas nearby, unconcerned about Mount Vesuvius in the distance. Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), Augustus[…]

Types of Patronage in Renaissance Art and Architecture

We often forget that for most of history artists did not simply create art for art’s sake. Introduction When the banker’s guild of Florence commissioned a massive bronze statue of St. Matthew for Orsanmichele—a former grain house turned shrine at the heart of the city—they clearly had their own magnificence in mind. Not only did[…]

Civic Patronage of Art and Architecture in Ancient Rome

The complex patronage relationships changed with the social pressures during the late Republic. Introduction Patronage (clientela) was the distinctive relationship in ancient Roman society between the patronus (“patron”) and their cliens (“client”). The relationship was hierarchical, but obligations were mutual. The patron was the protector, sponsor, and benefactor of the client; the technical term for[…]

Medieval and Early Modern Windmill Architecture and Technology

Historical aspects in the transformation of the windmill’s architectural forms, structures, and elements. Introduction The modern wind-power engineering is one of the perspective directions of using ecological clean energy. Renewable energy sources used to ensure energy supply can be considered to be an upcoming trend for civil engineering [1-10]. The article deals with the historical[…]

Medieval Castles and Fortification Architecture and Technology

Construction could sometimes take decades to complete these massive defensive structures. Introduction Medieval fortification refers to medieval military methods that cover the development of fortification construction and use in Europe, roughly from the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the Renaissance. During this millennium, fortifications changed warfare, and in turn were modified to suit[…]

We Want Our Stuff Back: A Look at Art Imperialism since Ancient Rome

Empires acquire artifacts from source nations by various means, and the newly acquired art takes on some new role within the empire. Cultural history inquiries can benefit by using a world historical lens to view and interpret sources and events. By widening both the geographical and chronological boundaries, this global vision reveals patterns and trends[…]

The Sanctuary at Ancient Keros: Materiality and Monumentality

A place for the perform­ance of rituals of congregation. Abstract The discovery of the early bronze age sanctuary on the Cycladic island of Keros is briefly described. Why islanders in the Aegean should establish the world’s first maritime sanctuary around 2500 bc is then considered, and other instances of early centres of congregation are briefly[…]

The Geometric Landscapes of Lorenz Stoer (1567)

This was intended to be “read” by intarsia workers (artists who inlay sections of wood to decorate floors, walls, and furniture). This article, The Geometric Landscapes of Lorenz Stoer (1567), was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ Though these images may[…]

The Glory of Ancient Persia in the Behistun Inscription of King Darius

The text of the inscription is a statement by Darius I of Persia, written three times in three different scripts and languages. Introduction The Behistun Inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: The document most crucial in the deciphering of a previously lost script. It is located in the Kermanshah[…]

A History of Korean Architecture since the Neolithic Period

A history of architecture favoring practicality, frugality, and harmony with nature. Introduction Korean architecture refers to the architecture of Korea. The early stages of Korean architecture date to the Neolithic period; archaeological evidence of ondol, the unique Korean floor panel heating system, was found among the remains of the burnished plain pottery culture. For the[…]

Art and Architecture in Early Medieval India’s Gupta Period

The Guptas were ambitious rulers and by the end of the fourth century claimed dominance over a vast swathe of northern India. By Dr. Arathi MenonHistorian of Art and Architecture Introduction During the Gupta period (c. 320 – 647 C.E., named for the Gupta dynasty) there were tremendous advances in poetry, prose, and drama as[…]

Medieval Chinese Art and Architecture at the Longmen Caves of Luoyang

The Northern Wei was the most enduring and powerful of the northern Chinese dynasties before reunification. Imperial Patronage Worship and power struggles, enlightenment and suicide—the 2300 caves and niches filled with Buddhist art at Longmen in China has witnessed it all. The steep limestone cliffs extend for almost a mile and contain approximately 110,000 Buddhist stone statues,[…]

‘A Thousand Years of Art’ at China’s Mogao Caves of Dunhuang

The ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’ are a magnificent treasure trove of Buddhist art. A Trove of Buddhist Art The ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’ (Qianfodong), also known as Mogao, are a magnificent treasure trove of Buddhist art. They are located in the desert, about 15 miles south-east of the town of Dunhuang in north[…]

Five Rejected Designs for the U.S. Capitol Building in a 1792 Competition

Introduction Construction of the US Capitol we know and love was completed in 1800, following a competition to find a home for Congress. The contest had been won by a physician with pretensions to architecture, William Thornton, who only had his shot at the prize – after the deadline had passed – thanks to George[…]

Hoysala Architecture of Medieval India

The vigorous temple building activity of the Hoysala Empire arose from the social, cultural and political events of the period. Introduction Hoysala architecture indicates the distinctive building style developed under the rule of the Hoysala Empire in the region known today as Karnataka, India, between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. Hoysala influence stood at its[…]

Skulls, Temples, and Churches: The Ancient Walled City of Evora

Evora’s history dates back over five millennia. By Kim MartinsHistorian Introduction The sunbaked plain of the Alentejoregion in central Portugal is called planicie dourada (golden plain)by the Portuguese, and it is dotted with cork oak forests, vineyards, olive groves, and hilltop towns with whitewashed houses. ‘Alentejo’means “beyond the Tagus River”, and there is a raw[…]

The Ancient Athenian Treasury at Delphi

The Athenian treasury was the first Panhellenic sanctuary that was dedicated by Athenians. Introduction The Athenian Treasury at Delphi was constructed by the Athenians to house dedications and votive offerings made by their city and citizens to the sanctuary of Apollo. The entire treasury including its sculptural decoration is built of Parian marble. The date[…]

Angkor Wat, Medieval Center of the Khmer Empire

Introduction Angkor Wat is a temple complex in the province of Siem Reap, Cambodia originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu in the 12th century CE. It is among the largest religious buildings ever created, second only to the Temple of Karnak at Thebes, Egypt and, some claim, even larger. Its name means “City of[…]