A Brief History of Architecture From the Prehistoric Era to Modern Day

by Tanmay Arora Architect

The Prehistoric Era

Most early structures are thought to be little more than temporary, animal-cribbed structures. Such habitation was quite primitive, for cave dwellers often only sheltered themselves from the elements and slept during the day, emerging only to hunt and farm during the night. The habitations were likely shelters, huts, and shelters that were built by animals (such as mammoths) or the community itself. Later, when people started farming, people began to build permanent structures that were more complex and elaborate. The earliest evidence of a permanent shelter comes from the Middle Paleolithic period. In the Netherlands, De Bloemencorso shows a structure with a roof that is made of wood, reeds, and animal hides, and the sides were formed from poles and bones.



Architecture in Mesopotamia is one of the oldest surviving forms of ancient art and civilization, extending back to the 7th millennium BC. The key concept in Mesopotamian architecture was the order of the Universe. Mesopotamian architecture appears to have been developed by at least 4,500 BC. This proto-industrial civilization thrived from 2600 to 1400 BC and flourished as the "parallellist" city-state of Sumer (6000–3200 BC), in modern-day Iraq. The earliest written record of Mesopotamian architecture, the cuneiform tablet 'Enûma Eliš', dates from about 1400 BC. Founded by Sumerians in the first millennium BC, Ur was the most important city in the region until its capture by Assyrians in the 14th century BC.

Ancient Egypt

There are many different references to the Egyptian art in ancient Mesopotamia, and all such art exists under a common construct in that there is a strong religious component to the architecture. Evidence for this can be seen in the sarcophagi, tabrets, columns, façades, hieroglyphs and the infrastructure built on that religious grounds. The idea of the sacred has its roots in the conception of the body, meaning that the body of the temple was sacred and that it could be used for religious purposes. The architecture of Egypt, however, cannot be strictly defined as a type of building because of its religious connections. The most famous example of Egyptian architecture is the temple of Karnak.

Nabataean Architecture

Architecture has been used for thousands of years, but the origins of formal architecture are uncertain. Many scholars claim the Babylonians and Sumerians were the first to have designed buildings using the mathematical concept of geometry. The Romans added details and character to the ancient Babylonian structures, and some would argue they introduced more organized, rational designs that better complimented the ancient geometric creations. Although a handful of structures from Ancient Egypt still stand today, Egyptian architecture is generally credited with introducing a number of concepts to the world of architectural design and expression.

Classical Greece and Rome

Architecture in classical Greece and Rome was typically based on Greek and Roman architecture, and bore a strong resemblance to European Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanticism style. Though in Ancient Greek history, architecture and artists were not linked into the professional guild system. Instead, as described by the British art critic, art historian and curator, John Ruskin: “ ... when we want to deal with the whole problem of the arts and sciences and the crafts, we look up to the craftsmen and see the faults, we see the strengths and we discover the good in them. And then when we want to compare them, the good ones, with the craftsmen in other trades we see the faults and good in the others.


Early Christian Architecture

"The Church" has been a huge influence in shaping the world in a variety of ways including architecture, music, art, literature, and theology. Although it was a relatively recent invention, the initial church in a medieval structure is thought to have looked more like a town hall and more modestly decorated. But soon it evolved to its present geometric forms and is decorated with stained glass. The theme of church building, however, was first introduced by St. Augustine in the 4th century. He had an argument against the idea that a building was only worth building if its worship was related to something like martyrdom or the existence of God.

Medieval Period

Early cultures in ancient Egypt had already elaborated and modified their dwellings and structures to suit the changing climates in the desert. Though they had become fairly sophisticated, they still had limited architectural skills and even the process of construction was based more on crude building materials such as clay, wood, and mud brick. The history of architecture in ancient Egypt begins with a building project by Pharaoh Thutmose III during the 14th century BC. His palace at Tanis featured an extremely sophisticated system of conservation, which included a system of drain holes as water flowing through the bricks was used as a heat source to melt away ice.


The Renaissance era saw the rise of Gothic architecture, with many great architects of the period. Notable Gothic architects include Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor. The "Mannerist" movement was dominant in Europe in the 16th century. Many Mannerist styles of architecture still persist today, such as Palladian, Baroque, and Neoclassical. Renaissance Popes The Popes had a large hand in determining much of the architecture and style of the Renaissance. In the 12th century, St. Peter's Basilica was built on the Vatican Hill by Pope Gregory VII, an opponent of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1303, a fire destroyed much of the Vatican's buildings, and a few years later Pope Boniface VIII constructed St. Peter's Basilica in its place. 

Modern Era (Postmodern)

Modern Architecture (2017)- Modern architecture refers to the artistic and architectural practices within the study, creation, creation and preservation of architectural designs and buildings, with primary consideration to the differences in style, scale, form, or proportion between these works and the surrounding natural environment. Modern architecture builds off of existing concepts, such as the work of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and uses modern technology and scientific developments to meet and surpass the conceptual challenges presented by the previous period of architectural development. This modern era has been largely determined by the architectural contributions of great figures such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Alvar Aalto.

Sponsor Ads

About Tanmay Arora Junior   Architect

1 connections, 0 recommendations, 17 honor points.
Joined APSense since, October 11th, 2022, From Patna, India.

Created on Oct 14th 2022 09:37. Viewed 173 times.


No comment, be the first to comment.
Please sign in before you comment.