Yakushiji and Ryoanji: A History of Two Japanese Buddhist Temples

Buddhism in Japan has been practiced since its official introduction by monks in 552 CE. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Yakushiji Overview The Yakushiji temple, located in Nara, Japan, is the headquarters of the Buddhist Hosso sect and one of the most important temples in the country. Originally founded in 680 CE at Fujiwara-kyo but then relocated[…]

The Hippodrome of Constantinople: Sports and Entertainment in Ancient Byzantium

Many important Roman cities had an arena which hosted thrilling chariot races and more for public entertainment. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Hippodrome of Constantinople was an arena used for chariot racing throughout the Byzantine period. First built during the reign of Roman emperor Septimius Severus in the early 3rd century CE, the structure was[…]

The Mystery of Fort Ancient Culture: The Great Serpent Mound

The 1,000-year-old mound conforms to the natural topography of the site. A Serpent 1300 Feet Long The Great Serpent Mound in rural, southwestern Ohio is the largest serpent effigy in the world. Numerous mounds were made by the ancient Native American cultures that flourished along the fertile valleys of the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri[…]

A Brief History of the Cultures of Asia

In Asia, because of its huge land mass and multiple diverse cultures, there are several overlapping timelines. Overview Historians divide history into large and small units in order to make characteristics and changes clear to themselves and to students. It’s important to remember that any historical period is a construction and a simplification. In Asia,[…]

Contemporary Native American Architecture

The variety of native traditions, available materials, and architectural expertise has given the continent new and culturally sensitive architectural forms during the last two generations. Design and Heritage You are a member of one of the midwestern nations of Native Americans. Your ancestors had no permanent architecture because they were nomadic hunter-gatherers (see photo below).[…]

Finding the Hidden Hellenism in Melbourne’s Architecture

Take a tour through Melbourne with a Greek lens and discover the rich Hellenic influences that shape the city. Introduction Melbourne is the city with the largest Greek population outside of Europe. Since the earliest instances of Greek migration in the mid-19th century, the Greek community has been a great contributor to the richness of[…]

Itinerant View Takers: Topographic Artists in Early Modern England

Examining how topographical views were often the result of artists touring in Britain and beyond. The lawyer Sir William Burrell, planning a history of Sussex which he never completed, commissioned over the period 1780 to 1791 a series of illustrative drawings from James Lambert, a local watercolourist, and from Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, an immigrant from Switzerland.[…]

The German-American Family Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge

In creating an icon, Washington Roebling and his kin realized dreams that Europe never could fulfill. By Erica Wagner The Brooklyn Bridge was truly an American project embodying a certain American ideal. And people celebrated that fact from the start. On May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge—after 14 years of construction—was opened at last. The[…]

The Kingly Pursuits of Herod during the Augustan Period

Herod built on a Roman scale. King Herod had a substantial architectural heritage to his name in the Levant by the time of his death in 4 BCE. As one of Rome’s most loyal client kings, he incorporated much Roman-style architecture throughout the lands he ruled. He visited Rome in 40 BCE and returned two[…]

Baalbek: Temple of Jupiter in Ancient Rome

Baalbek is a town in the northern Bekaa valley, the site of the largest sanctuary in the Roman world. The greatest temple of Baalbek was dedicated to a god who was, at various periods in history, called Ba’al, Hadad, Helios, Zeus, or Jupiter Optimus Maximus Heliopolitanus. According to Macrobius, the cult statue had been taken from Egypt, was[…]

Design Principles of Early Stone Pagodas in Ancient Korean Architecture

The ancients constructed the pagodas complying with design principles based on the arithmetic and geometric proportional systems. By Dr. Juhwan Cha, Professor of Architecture, Tsinghua UniversityBy Dr. Young Jae Kim, Professor of Architecture, Korea National University of Cultural Heritage Abstract Ancient books on East Asian mathematics introduced to the Korean Peninsula enrich our understanding of[…]

The Theodosian Walls of Ancient Byzantium

The fortifications were the largest and strongest ever built in either the ancient or medieval worlds. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Theodosian Walls are the fortifications of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, which were first built during the reign of Theodosius II (408-450 CE). Sometimes known as the Theodosian Long Walls, they built upon[…]

Ancient Greek Temples of Sicily

Greek temples are one of the earliest well-defined expressions of what we now recognize as the Western tradition in architecture. Introduction There are at least a thousand reasons to visit Sicily, the great island – indeed the largest in the Mediterranean – that forms the triangular football to the boot that is the Italian peninsula. They are all[…]

A Route 66 Road Trip through Indigenous Homelands

Seeking out the histories and communities that existed before Route 66 and that survive still today. By Shoshi Parks The wind is so powerful on top of the mesa that even hours after I’ve returned to the valley below, I’ll be wiping its ancient sand from the cracks and crevices of my skin. In the[…]

Exploring Western Crete’s Ancient Minoan Archaeological Treasures

Remainders of Crete’s extraordinary past are scattered all over the island. Introduction As the cradle of European Civilization and a meeting place of diverse cultures, Crete is a magical island that stands apart in the heart of the Mediterranean sea. Its prominent place in world history dates back to the mysterious and fascinating Bronze Age civilization of the Minoans, who were building lavish labyrinth-like[…]

On the Pallava Trail in Kanchipuram

The creativity of the Pallavas did not diminish throughout their reign. By Anantha Krishnan Introduction The Pallavas ruled south-eastern India from the 3rd through the 9th centuries CE. Their empire covered what is today the Tamil Nadu state. Their origin is shrouded in mystery though historians believe their roots might have been from Andhra Pradesh[…]

The Khan’s Drinking Fountain in 13th-Century Mongolia

Of all the things described in William of Rubruck’s account of his travels through 13th-century Asia, perhaps none is so striking as the remarkably ornate fountain he encountered in the Mongol capital which — complete with silver fruit and an angelic automaton — flowed with various alcoholic drinks for the grandson of Genghis Khan and[…]

The Great Mosque of Kairouan

The mosque communicated that Kairouan would become a cosmopolitan metropolis under strong Muslim control, an important distinction at this time and place. A New City Seventh-century North Africa was not the easiest place to establish a new city. It required battling Byzantines; convincing Berbers, the indigenous people of North Africa, to accept centralized Muslim rule;[…]

Weimar, Founding City of the Bauhaus

The renowned German school of art and design now has its own museum in the town where it was founded a century ago. Introduction The Getty Research Institute exhibitions Bauhaus Beginnings (June 11–October 13, 2019) and Bauhaus: Building the New Artist (online from June 11) explore the founding years of the German Bauhaus, presenting rarely seen artworks, notes, and[…]

Mestre Valentim and the Passeio Publico Architecture in Rio de Janeiro

The Passeio Publico represented several groundbreaking achievements. Introduction In the middle of the eighteenth century a series of epidemics ravaged the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The illness was attributed to the unsanitary air caused by human and animal waste in Lake Boqueirão. The viceroy Luis de Vasconcelos e Sousa ordered the lake to be filled[…]

Medieval Japan’s Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Traditionally founded in the 6th century CE, the present layout of buildings dates to the 12th century CE. Introduction Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of the same name, also known as Miyajima, located in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. Traditionally founded in the 6th century CE, the present layout of buildings dates[…]

The Architecture of Medieval Japan’s Himeji Castle

The castle is the largest and best-preserved samurai fortification in the country. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Himeji Castle, located in the town of Himeji in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan, was built on a natural hilltop between 1581 and 1609 CE. The complex is composed of a maze-like arrangement of fortified buildings, walls, and gates,[…]

We’re Just Beginning to Grasp the Toll of ISIS’s Archaeological Looting in Syria

A small portion of a site can yield thousands of objects, adding up to millions of dollars. By Dr. Fiona Greenland (Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia), Dr. James Marrone (Adjunct Lecturer of International Economics, Johns Hopkins University), Dr. Oya Topçuoğlu (Lecturer, Northwestern University), and Dr. Tasha Vorderstrasse (University and Continuing Education Program Coordinator[…]

The Fight to Save Syrian Antiquities

Scholars across the globe have joined forces to preserve the beleaguered country’s cultural heritage for all our sakes. By Gabrielle Murphy Introduction For Andrew Jamieson, the conflict unfolding in Syria is a catastrophe on multiple levels – professionally and personally. By day (or more correctly, semester) Dr Jamieson is a senior lecturer and celebrated teacher[…]

A Royal Armchair Traveler: The Grand Tour and George III’s Topographical Collection

George III never visited Italy. Instead he collected prints, drawings, and guidebooks enabling him to travel virtually to antiquity’s greatest architectural and artistic sites. A large number of views and maps in the King’s Topographical Collection correspond to locations that were once linked to the Grand Tour.[1] Visiting the settings associated with the classical authors they had studied[…]

An Artistic and Architectural History of the Great Mosque of Damascus

Damascus is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. To understand the importance of the Great Mosque of Damascus, built by the Umayyad caliph, al-Walid II between 708 and 715 C.E., we need to look into the recesses of time. Damascus is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world,[…]

Architecture of Ancient Sri Lanka

The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity. Introduction The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity, varying in form and architectural style from the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BC–1017) through the Kingdom of Kandy (1469–1815). Sinhalese architecture also displays many ancient North Indian influences. Buddhism had a significant influence on Sri Lankan architecture after it was introduced to the island in[…]

Notre Dame Echoes of Russia’s 1837 Winter Palace Blaze

After the building that symbolized ‘all that is Russian’ went up in flames, the czar scrambled to restore it to its former glory. In a city graced with remarkable architecture, the cathedral of Notre Dame may be Paris’ most striking edifice. So when it was engulfed by a fire that toppled its spire, it seemed as if[…]