Civilization: Monumental Architecture
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Civilization: Monumental Architecture
Ancient Civilization in the Middle and Near East
Although there are numerous definitions as to what civilization is, in all appreciation to all these definitions and contributions to this topic, scholars and contributors agree on some common grounds. And one such common ground is that Civilization is the complex advancement in the social order and technology. The commonly agreed elements in the earliest civilization included advancement in agricultural production, reading and writing, architecture, bronze use and production and technological advancement. (Fosmire, E., & Santa Ana College. (n.d.)
The Middle and Near East received earliest forms of civilization which led to emergence of rise and growth of early urban centers and large and complex societies. The cradle of civilization in the Middle and Near East is Mesopotamia, usually called a land between rivers, Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (in modern day Iraq). Rivers flowing through this topography and the developed irrigation systems that drew water from these two rivers, is the origin of complex early urban centers, these rivers provided the support for the growth early urban centers in the Middle and Near East especially around Southern Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia’s early urban centers are related to the broader area of Egypt, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, the Gulf States, and Turkey. These areas are in the regions often referred to as Near and Middle East. (The cradle of civilization (article). (n.d.)
Monumental Architecture in the Middle and Near East
Monumental Architecture is term used to denote large human structures made of stones or earth for public or communal use or for special purposes and not for individual or private usage purposes. These structures were exceedingly unique in building functionality and requirements. Example of monumental architecture included temples, pyramids, large tombs, burial mounds, platform mounds, astronomical observatories, erected groups of standing stones, plazas, astronomical observatories and palaces and elite residencies to name but a few. (Hirst, K. K. (2019, June 27). The monumental architecture was a source information to the members of the society where such monumental architecture existed since the texts and visual narratives in the monumental architecture were effective instruments for building social identity and historical memory. (Carl, Peter; 1983)
Roles of Monumental Architecture in civilization of the Middle and Near East
Agriculture; through technological advancements in irrigation systems like the inventions of canals, dams and aqueducts, barley and wheat agriculture took place in In the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia. (MAMcIntosh. (2017, April 17)
Expression of relationship to afterlife; with architectural designs in funerary architecture of burial tombs like pyramids in Egypt, to perpetuate and symbolize the importance of afterlife. (MAMcIntosh. (2017, April 17)
Religion and worship; people found and participated in religious beliefs in places in temples, churches, mosques, and synagogues, shrines and memoria. (MAMcIntosh. (2017, April 17)
Legislative, administrative and social order; with groupings and gatherings, the ancient people developed governance architectures like palaces as headquarters for governance and social order and dispensation of justice. (MAMcIntosh. (2017, April 17)
Protection from external aggression or invaders; military architecture; like Jaffa Fortress in Egypt to serve as a fortress and a port on the Mediterranean coast and Pelusium Fortress in Egypt to serve as protection against external coming towards the Nile Delta. (MAMcIntosh. (2017, April 17)
Recreational purposes; recreational architectures like recreational plazas for athletic events- active and passive participation or for communal participation. These palces were also used for public gatherings built in towns to be used by everyone. (MAMcIntosh. (2017, April 17)
Special purposes; example of this included dams and water reservoirs control and as a water collection system for flood control. (MAMcIntosh. (2017, April 17)

The roles monuments such as pyramids in Egypt and Ziggurats in Mesopotamia
The pyramids built in Ancient Egypt by the ancient Egypt kings symbolized power and high emphasis on religion. The pyramids are stone tombs where ancient where ancient Egyptians were buried for their afterlife journey. Through examination of the artifacts in the tomb that were ready for use in the afterlife, we have information and understanding about the ancient life in Egypt- the life lived by the dead before afterlife. (Ziggurat of Ur (article) | Sumerian. (n.d.)
The Ziggurats of Mesopotamia built by Ancient people of Mesopotamia looked like step pyramids to symbolize power and high emphasis on religion. They were built due to belief that God to that higher temples were closer the heavens thus closer to gods as gods are believed to be appear at highest points of earth since Mesopotamia was relatively flat. They were also secular and acted as a sign of visibility and tangibility of a king’s power. Through this, the world can learn how Ziggurats symbolized emphasis on religion and power. (Ziggurat of Ur (article) | Sumerian. (n.d.)

Carl, Peter; 1983. ʺAncient Mesopotamia and the foundation of architectural representation, ʺ Princeton Journal 1: 170‐186
Fosmire, E., & Santa Ana College. (n.d.). Introduction to Art Concepts. Retrieved from
Hirst, K. K. (2019, June 27). What are the Characteristics of Ancient Monumental Architecture? Retrieved from
MAMcIntosh. (2017, April 17). Art and Architecture of the Ancient Near East. Retrieved from cradle of civilization (article). (n.d.). Retrieved from ancient-near-east-an-introduction/a/the-cradle-of-civilization
Ziggurat of Ur (article) | Sumerian. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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