Architecture is an overt expression of the culture and beliefs of any society. Though the basic principle of manipulation of space in order to control the user of the space is universal, the subtleties may vary with the culture. A study of the various monuments belonging to different cultures that existed at different periods of history will help us understand this idea.
We will first travel back to prehistoric times and take a glimpse at the 'Great Stone Tower of Jericho'. By doing so we will try to capture some of the beliefs, priorities and traditions of the people that lived in those times. This monumental structure was built between 8000 and 7000 BC. This tower makes Jericho the oldest known city in the world. The tower also proposes that the people who built it had settled there and were not nomadic food hunters. They also had an organized community in order to carry out such a task.
The tower has only one entrance and steps made of well carved stones that lead to the summit. The summit is circular in shape. The structure controls the movement of the user by its single entrance and the steps that allow only up and down movement. The purpose of the tower seems to be defense which appears to be a very important consideration of that community. This could be the reason for building five feet thick walls and ditches around these towers. This shows that the people were in fear of a mighty foe that they had to keep out of their territory, and for the people that built this structure life must have revolved around military and other defense problems of their day. This structure thus gives us a picture of the life of the people in those times.
Nothing can match the excellent example of the pyramids when it comes to architecture and space manipulation. The pyramids are also a primary source of information about the life and death beliefs and ceremonies of the people and the kings that ruled them. The primary function of these pyramids was to serve as funerary complexes to the pharaohs who were worshipped as gods. These gigantic monuments speak with the voice of the dead about the enchantment of the people of their times with the afterlife. The preserved body of the pharaoh with the provisions needed for his afterlife was kept in these pyramids. They also served as ceremonial cites and places of worship where the people worshipped the deceased king as God. To this day they stand as an architectural marvel. The size of these structures is massive and the question of how the huge stones were carried up as the building progressed is a mystery.
Another interesting part of the pyramid was the Ben Ben which formed the capstone of the pyramid. This was made of shining material like gold or silver. The Ben Ben is believed to represent the rays of the sun. Egyptians worshipped and revered the sun god as the supreme provider of life on earth. The hieroglyphics on the pyramid also talks about the solar eclipse, and other planetary events, telling us how the Egyptians followed the happenings on the sky and related them to life here on earth.
The Stepped Pyramid and mortuary precinct of Djoser, Saqqara, Egypt, was built between 2630-2611 BCE. It was built as a grandiose royal tomb. Such monuments represented eternal life after death and were designed to last for. A great amount of money and manpower was pumped in to build these. The shape of the pyramid with the slopes on the four sides