700-200 BCE: Southwest Asia & Achaemenid Persia & The Greek City-State

By the 800 BCE the architecture and imperial adminstration in Southwest Asia progressed dramatically. Dur-Sharrukin and Babylon indicated that development with their urban order and well made streets and city gates. The Achaemenid Empire’s idea was to become the biggest world empire which covers the three ancient (mesopotamia, nile, indus) civilizations. So, they occupied them all and created a whole cultural interchange. They were like the syntesis of these three cultures. Achaemenid’s capital city was Persepolis. They had a combination of mesopotamia indus and nile architecture and it demonstrates that they govern a grand multiethnic comfederation.

Sargon II was king of Assyrians who lived in Southwest Asia. After great military victories, they conquered new states. One of them was Dur-Sharrukin which means the city of Sargon (now called Khorsabad) and it became the new capital of Assyria Empire. Outside Egypt (and the vanished Harappans) Dur-Sharrukin was the first city which was designed on an orthogonal plan but the scale of the city was so big that the city surpassed all previous models. Sargon set his palace, with its temples and ziggurat and his citadel rose on a grand terrace line with pleated walls. The two palace gates established a huge scale with doorjambs framed by enormous hybrid creatures. The first idea of palace garden as a paradise garden was in Dur-Sharrukin.

During the 1800 BCE Babylon had political prominence but it lost that political power around 1600 BCE, then it remained as a religious site. Later, Babylon was revived as a center of a dynasty from southern mesopotamia. The rulers of New Babylon portrayed themselves as defenders of religion and planned new projects such as great temples, ceremonial procession route. The constructed royal palace for Babylon was occupied more area than Sargon II’s one, and new babylon’s walls and elevated royal palace was similar to Dur-Sharrukin, also the orthogonal planning of Dur-Sharrukin repeated in Babylon. Babylon’s new ziggurat known as Entemenanki (the Tower of Babel), rose in seven stages (Ziggurat had three stages) and showed up as the tallest building in the world. Babylon famed with its hanging gardens in different levels as paradise gardens. Ishtar Gate was another popular part of Babylon with its blue-glazed bricks, lion decorations as symbols of Ishtar, goddess of love and war.

Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The Persians gathered the largest empire yet. Despite, Cyrus the Great of Persia (founder of Achaemenid empire) defeated the Babylonians but Achaemenid Empire did not sacked them or interrupted their religious activities. Cyrus found a new capital city at Pasargadae with the scattered layout which contains a few randomly placed buildings appeared as the first architectural initiative of the Persian Empire. Cyrus’ palace and audience hall was like Sargon’s palace in terms of their positioning on lofty playforms. The Pasargadae city had a gate house, a fire temple and the Tomb of Cyrus (Cyrus was buried in Pasargadae). Together with Darius came to power, Pasargadae was abandoned and a new city was established. Darius built the greatest palace at Persepolis which is called Apadana. Apadana had a huge hypostyle audience hall and repeating square rooms. Apadana had intentionally eclectic order and its columns with imperial iconographies and shallow stairs which has painted reliefs of soldiers and elite on them. There was hall of the hundred columns that represents infinitude, it was like mirror effect.

Ancient Greek architecture was like the source of classicism. Classical architecture is a kind of style which contains proporsitonal composition system, sculpted columns, entablatures and pediments. Sculptures were part of Greek architecture too. Greeks had a triangular elements on the entrance of buildings which is called pediment. Unlike the Egypt, Assyria and Persia Empires, Greeks did not constructed palaces or tombs. In Mesopotamia, there was the architecture of cultural environment, for example ziggurat was like the representaion of mountains. However, Greeks related the nature and the topography to their architecture. The nice example of this is the theater (colosseum) with both its slopy condition and the relation of natural settings & architecture. They designed the stoa which defines a place that is designed for public use and they produced a democratic process of rule and directed citizens to public debate. So, Agora was a public space of the greek polis (the Greek city called as polis) to have public debate. Greek cities; Athens, Acropolis and Agora had orthogonal layout and the greek grid planning. Acropolis had sacred precinct on high terrain and had relational and perspectival planning. After greek temple origined, it developed into a type. Greeks had some proportions to built a temple, for example; the number of longitudinal columns was equal to the number; two times short side plus one. In a greek temple, the inner space was narrow because it was like a symbolic space and it was just for a statue. Temples had different orders for columns. There were three different greek columns: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and there were different places where they used these columns. For example; Ionic colums generally used in Anatolia. Corinthian columns were not seen in Greek period, they were like a specific ones and they used alone sometimes. However, there were some regions where had all columns as Corinthian in Rome. Temple of Artemis Ephesos was like an open hypostyle hall temple. Additionally, in ancient Greece, having statue had mean of being in high statute and there were a lot of statues in Agora.

Reference: World Architecture: A Cross-Cultural History by Richar Ingersoll.

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