The Rise of Cities

The earliest cities were developed around great river systems consisting of the Nile of the Egyptians, Tigris and Euphrates river systems which the fertile crescent let the rise of Mesopotamian civilizations and Indus valley around the upper west region of today’s India.

Cities of Mesopotamia and its architecture were highly under the influence of their belief systems which they thought to be the only reason of their well-being and persistence of the city. It is clearly understandable from the configuration of the city plans in which the temples and sacred places are located in the heart of cities. Clay tablets played a significant role for the establishment of cities since they served as first architectural city plans which include streets, canals, temples and so on. Their city plans remind of the cells made of orthogonal lines and grids which are perfectly conceived.
There exist different attempts of temples but all working with the same idea which forces them to be rising stepped structures to be symbolize the way through the god. In both oval temple at Khafaje and Ziggurats sacredness of the place scales up through upper steps. Mesopotamian people used mud bricks rather than mud and eventually produced long lasting structures compared to those made of mud. There is an awkward situation in the construction of city of Ur, which may be considered as the first step through high-rises. The rising street levels because of dump like usage of roads, obligated the people of Ur to add a storey on top of the existing one (by filling the old one). Houses of Mesopotamia were shaped through a center courtyard which highly cut the relation of private life to the outside. Orthogonality of the city plan was also visible in the plans of public houses, too.

Similary in Old Kingdom Eygpt the city plan was also made of orthogonal lines, too and the affect of religious belief was shaped the architecture of the whole city besides the river Nile. However since the local houses were mostly constitude of perishable materials, it becomes harder to evaluate them unlikely the great solid tombs called the pyramids. It is doubtless to say that the belief was certainly the most influential factor on the architecture of early civilisations that it pushed Egyptians to built great monumental volumes of the world not for their daily usage, but for the sake and welfare of their future gods who were pharaohs before. The improvement of the pyramids from mastaba through the Great Pyramid is easily observable. First pyramid of pharaoh Djoser’s stepped pyramid reminds me of the ziggurats of Assur people. In time the aim shifted from steeped ones to the perfectly flattened surfaces of the pyramids that we know today. The pyramids has no features related to human body and experience, no stairs, no gates or doors nothing for something alive however they maintan their importance as the greatest solid volumes of the world and their significancy of geometries and architectural abilities of those eras.

Suprisingly architecture improved in the Indus valley seems to be the only one which has not been under the influence of religious and expectedly there has been erected no structures like tombs or temples.This kind of a condition enabled the people of Indus to work more on the functional features of the buildings rather than the meaning. Dislike the Nile, irregular tides on the surrounding river forced them to erect high city walls besides improved canal systems. Additionally the ortogonal city plan of the Indus valley makes us to question whether there was a trade between the cities of mesopotamia or not.

 

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