Category Archives: Architecture

Buildings of the Future With Foundations in the Ancient Past

canstockphoto13190712

UPDATE! This post was originally published on December 16, 2014. In the post below we discussed some ancient building techniques that are being employed in creative and practical ways. These techniques, while thousands of years old, are being utilized in modern constructions because they are sturdy, economical, efficient and sustainable. Today we’re bringing you one more ancient innovation: bamboo. Bamboo is one of the oldest building materials and has been used extensively in South America, Africa and especially Southeast Asia, all areas where it grows in abundance. Incredibly, even though bamboo is strong, beautiful and plentiful, in ancient times it was thought of only as a building material for the very poor.[1] Those who could not afford more lavish materials were forced to pull from their surroundings, and since bamboo was always at hand, it became the most employed. Even today in China, bamboo is referred to as “the poor man’s timber” and is not “accepted as a modern building material.”[2] However, this opinion is rapidly changing as forward-thinking architects around the world have begun to praise bamboo’s unique and valuable qualities. For example, bamboo is light and flexible, and bamboo buildings have been found to withstand earthquakes far better than those made from other more modern materials.[3] Also, while wood can take several decades to mature and be harvested, most bamboo can be harvested after growing for three to six years. In fact, there is one species that only takes two months to mature.[4] Compared to other building materials, bamboo can be processed with relatively little energy and only a limited amount is needed to build an entire house.[5] It can be combined with plywood and steel to create uniquely strong buildings able to withstand natural disasters.[6] Continue reading

A Modern Makeover for an Ancient Religion: The Norse Gods Find a New Earthly Home

OdinWe see them on the big screen, bashing about aliens and each other, ruling over fantastical worlds and wielding extraordinary weapons. Their hair is perfect, muscles rippled and jaw chiseled. While Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston do a remarkable job of portraying the Norse gods Odin, Thor and Loki, it is likely few moviegoers are aware these are not just superheroes, sprung from the mind of a talented writer. These are important figures in an ancient religion. And now, after thousands of years, the Norse gods are getting a brand new temple, the first since the Viking age. Before we explore this new phase of the Norse religion, let’s venture into its past and find out how it all began. Continue reading

Qin Shi Huang’s China: The Secret Tomb of the First Chinese Emperor Remains an Unopened Treasure

A kneeling crossbowman from the Terracotta Army assembled for the tomb complex of Qin Shi Huang (r. 221–210 BC)

A kneeling crossbowman from the Terracotta Army assembled for the tomb complex of Qin Shi Huang (r. 221–210 BC)

The history of China can be likened to a majestic tapestry threaded with innovative technologies and embellished with the exquisite artifacts of a prolific culture. Intertwined in this more than 4,000-year-old history are the wars and periods of peace that have lent definition to the complex evolution of this most populous modern nation. Continue reading

Part 2, Tricks of the Trade: From Ancient Symbols to Modern Sensibilities—Imagination and the Power of Belonging

In ancient Rome, the fasces, symbolized strength through unity.

In ancient Rome, the fasces, symbolized strength through unity.

In Part 1, “Tricks of the Trade: From Ancient Symbols to a $70 Billion Brand” we looked at how symbols and branding have been around for millennia. Indeed, humankind has an innate need to belong, and to embrace that belonging with some outward expression of attachment. Whether it be the demonstration of national identity with flags and blood-stirring national anthems, team spirit with the sporting of football colors, ladies with attitude in purple and red hats or political candidates in party lockstep with precision soundbites, we join, cleave to, pledge allegiance to and meld into the single identity that gives meager individuals a sense of purpose and being. Continue reading

The Nepal Earthquake: Cultural Heritage and the Soul of a People

AN Forum

How do societies define themselves? To some degree or another, they look to the past. Where their people originated, the gods who have guided and protected them, their cultural accomplishments through the ages and the ancient sites that embody their historical heart.

Dharahara Tower before and after the earthquake. Image credit: NPR, Sunil Sharma/Xinhua/Landov and Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Landov

Dharahara Tower before and after the earthquake. Image credit: NPR, Sunil Sharma/Xinhua/Landov and Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Landov

The massive earthquake in Nepal has resulted in thousands of deaths and casualties. Pictures reveal vast swathes of devastation, and as with most catastrophes, it’s hard to distinguish amidst the rubble the evidence of previous human habitation. The earthquake now is embedded as a fault line of the nation’s 21st century self: the time before the earthquake, the time after. Once again, this ancient land has raised itself upward and wrenched itself away from earth’s pull. Eventually, after the geological frenzy, it will settle back down again. In Nepal’s strata, in its layers of broken tiles and artifacts, history reveals itself as relentlessly repeating. Continue reading

Strata: Portraits of Humanity, Episode 5, “Archaeology in 12 Minutes” and “Photographing the Invisible”

StrataImage-webEpisode 5 of the new documentary series Strata:  Portraits of Humanity, produced by AntiquityNOW’s partner, Archaeological Legacy Institute, is a two-part episode 1) illustrating the history of archaeology and 2) demonstrating one of the technologies used today to recover the amazing artistry of our ancestors. Continue reading

ISIS, Syria and the Eradication of Culture: As the Ancient World Falls, Efforts Mount to Save World Heritage

AN Forum

ISIS has reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud.

ISIS has reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud.

You’ve probably seen the reports of destruction coming out of the Middle East. You’ve certainly heard of ISIS and its reign of terror. The loss of life and the horrifying atrocities being committed against innocent people are splashed across every news network. But ISIS is doing more than taking individual lives. The group is bent on annihilating ancient culture and what it represents. This part of the news story may not have caught everyone’s eye, but it is a desperately important part of that story. Continue reading

Strata: Portraits of Humanity, Episode 4, “The Secret Passage,” “Weedon Island Canoe” and “Alchester Memorial Stone”

StrataImage-webThis month we’re pleased to bring you Episode 4 of the new series Strata:  Portraits of Humanity, produced by AntiquityNOW’s partner, Archaeological Legacy Institute. In this three-part episode we look at memory and how we preserve the past to remember the lives that were lived so long ago. Continue reading

Ancient Egyptian Blue: How the World’s First Synthetic Pigment Is Producing Tomorrow’s Brave—and Colorful–New World

color paletteHave you ever noticed that the AntiquityNOW website has splashes of a particular set of vibrant colors? Perhaps you’ve even found the Our Colors section on our site that reveals the ancient history behind our beauteous array. One color, specifically the deep blue, is particularly intriguing with its 4,500-year-old past, its surprising relevance for today’s scientific inquiry and its future promise for such fields as medicine and communications technology. Continue reading

Strata: Portraits of Humanity, Episode 2, “Metalla Oiassonis: Roman Mining in Northern Spain”

StrataImage-webWe are pleased to bring you “Metalla Oiassonis:  Roman Mining in Northern Spain,” which is Episode 2 of the new documentary series Strata:  Portraits of Humanity, produced by AntiquityNOW’s partner, Archaeological Legacy Institute.

“Metalla Oiassonis” is a film by Felix Ugarte Elkartea of Spain that introduces us to the complex world of ancient mining that the Romans developed at the ancient port city of Oiasso. Oiasso is situated within the modern city named Irun in Spanish and Gipuzkoa in Basque, which is located in Spain near the French border.  In the western foothills of the Pyrenees next to the Bay of Biscay stands the granite massif called Aiako Harria in Basque and Peñas de Aya in Spanish.  On these slopes one of the chief mining centers of the Iberian Peninsula lasted until modern times. Continue reading