Lecture 7. Empire Building: Central America and China

This lecture will focus on the building of empires, how were the empires manifested in the built environment? We have looked at Rome and then moved to Meso or Central America, where we will pick up today and finally to China. These were distinct empires, sharing characteristics but as with all of the built environments we have studied, there are specific response to place, to landscape, to environment, to culture, and to practices including trade, politics, and power. The three distinct empires that we have studied are brought together in these two lectures so that we can not only learn about them as important and significant empires who have shaped culture in many ways, even today, but also so that we can learn to compare and consider how we might read difference and similarities in the built environment. It is often when we compare places or practices that we can see the details more carefully, that we can begin to question our assumptions. We will explore how while building and infrastructure were one key to establishing empire: roadways and water sources were important as was the establishment of clearly defined cosmological understandings within a culture – and how these then were inscribed upon the built environment.

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Lecture Notes