Lecture 1. Introduction

This course serves as an introductory course to the history of ancient built environments. We will become familiar with the language of built environments including the vocabularies of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. We will also be introduced to ideas that have shaped the cultures we know today, from the Western Culture of Europe to that of China, India, and some of the many cultures of the African continent. This is a survey course and an introductory course, so we don’t expect you to come with specific knowledge but we do expect you to engage the material with curiosity and rigor. Before we begin, it is important to consider the core objective of the course. Many courses in architectural history have strong global foundations, however, they generally remain tied to traditional European stylistic categories such as “Classical Greek,” “Byzantine,” “Romanesque” and “Gothic.” In this course, we hope to strengthen the global perspective by treating “western” and “non-western” material in less isolation through cultural and environmental lenses. We want to create a deeper understanding of commonalities across diverse geographical areas by examining, in a more holistic manner, how different cultures relate to their built and natural environments. Additionally, the study of architecture's history has tended to focus on buildings as objects in isolation.  Our approach is to emphasize a humanistic reading, to look at individual monuments as elements of human settlements that can tell us the story of human history. We do so by approaching architecture as place-based, culturally inscribed, and environmentally-shaped.

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Lecture Notes