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Architecture & History

There is nothing more difficult than to represent global history in a synthesis of formulas to explain “humanity”, “races”, “disparities”, “similarities”, “faith”, “God” and “religions”.  Architecture has always been a physical witness in the evolution of Man to illustrate history, but we shall question how the evolution was interpreted for the privileges of cultures and political powers.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” – Carl Sagan, astronomer

The theory of evolution for example, wants to bring the roots of humanity in East of Africa, but if we make a parallel with architecture, it is not because a land does not reveal archeological evidences of constructions that ancient tribes did not have any form of settlement. I mean by this that in some areas of the globe, ancient sites may have been preserved from evolution and thought are still a rich archeological context while some other areas of the globe have taken roots to change and to migrate into a new form of humanity. This evolution has swallowed the past and we cannot know with certainty if a more ancient history had ever existed.

The theory of evolution wants to draw a linear evolution from monkey to Man, from black to white, from the South to the North and thought this theory wants to describe the darker skins as primitive while whiter skins would mark the direction of an evolution. This theory has a strong political significance that results from the political orientations of an Empire with the white man at the top of the pyramid of progress.

I don’t believe in the theory of evolution from monkey to Man. I don’t believe in the theory of an evolution from East Africa to the rest of the world, a monkey out of the jungle who became Australopithecus in the same context as the “natural monkey”. I believe that the proto-DNA of Man existed before the monkey and that this ancient Man existed in a large territory in West Asia, East Europe and Africa. While some of this DNA has adapted with the climates in Asia and Europe, it did adapt also in Africa. The East of Africa may have developed common features with the rest of the globe because its rivers and the ocean may have permitted some forms of exchange while the ancient proto-DNA Man may have evolved into a monkey by living in the forest, learning to climb trees and to modify his social habits in this arboreous context. New discoveries in Caucasus, India, Marocco, Spain and Indonesia may also question the East African theory. 

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Climate adaptation is not only a biological adaptation in Human. It is also a cultural adaptation, a technical adaptation” – Jean-Jacques Hublin, Paleoanthropologist

What we know from each period of evolution is a regular pattern showing climate and geography (land or island) as a factor of change in the availability of food, the type of food (meet, fish and vegetables) and the quantity. Globally, it is believed that Man may have been a nomad accordingly to the seasons and the migrations from fauna. He started to settle when the availability of food was enough abundant and when nature would offer a natural shelter. Smaller prays in Anatolia, Europe and Asia may have played in favor of domestication, sedentarism and the early notion of land property, task specialization and administration such food resources, sheltering, security and graves.

The capacity to survive has evolved with animal skin closing and sheltering in caves. The oldest known form of architecture was for the enclosure of a cave. Neanderthal, Denisovan and Homo Sapiens have both demonstrated their ability to shelter and to develop a form of artistry around them. Wall painting, bone and ivory sculptures, beads necklaces and a large variety of tools to transform food and materials into a functional object. Humanity today almost entirely originated with the Homo Sapiens species. Europe, Mesopotamia up to China have this in common their ancestry with Neanderthal species. Modern European humans have 1% to 3% of their DNA originated from Neanderthal.

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Human has constantly evolved and the size of the brain is a significant marker but not only the size, it is also the shape that reveals the cognitive capacity of a language, of thoughts, of anticipation and emotions. Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo Sapiens have put their emotions into art, graves and not only graves, but also the ritualization of death.

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Emotions are basically mechanisms that set goals and priorities. (…) Different cultures (…) have somewhat different emotional triggers and emotional baselines to respond to. But at the same time as Darwin well knew, emotions have universal roots.” – Pr Paul Bloom at Yale University

The architectural function of a  site has brought together the people to share collective emotions and break the line of those emotions into trances of profound belief into the cosmic forces that create life and that take it, forces that make dreams and imagination. The architecture of natural sites has inspired prophecies that put human intelligence into motion to imagine and anticipate events. Those ancient places have passed generations over thousands of years on sites such the cathedral of Chartres in France, the Vatican,  Montmartre in Paris, the cathedral of Saint Jacques of Compostela in Spain, the Saint Thomas cathedral in India. Many primitive sites and necropolis that were converted into cult and precisely, places where death was the opening of a passage into the deep invisible world. As said Aldous Huxley, “There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the doors“. Those sites believed to have doors have been modified and scenographed into a religious function for the cult. Architecture has recreated nature to elevate Human intelligence into a spiritual function, a 6th sense where the brain has continued to develop the ability to see and perceive invisible feelings and emotions.

The first cathedral of the world may have been a prehistoric cave with paints on the ceiling to represent the eternal body of a slaughtered pray, to offer a physical image where the soul can rest and bring peace among the living creatures who need to kill to be fed. The Human psychology has found many guilts on its way to evolution. Architecture has put into perspectives a way to find peace.

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CAUTION: This document is provided to show that until today, Human imagination can bring into the development of all sorts of imaginative and strange ideas to explain cosmic forces, try to understand and maybe give a sense to all the unknown.

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The most ancient architecture of the world was religious, but the first Christian buildings were not entirely religious. They had gathered many other social functions to bring the cult into the city. As a door between life and death, a religious building maybe a temple, but it is not yet a cultural asset of such importance to dominate a city. To become “religious” architecture has placed the mountain and revealed the sky, the deep underground river, the moon and the stars together organized in a cosmogony where the society had established roles, the priest, the chief, the protector, the father, the brother, the son. All those men where the messengers and the shepherds of a large and multigenerational family.

Science has shown how the “domestication syndrome” has influenced our evolution and particularly among men with a feminization of the skulls and equalitarianism among males with patriarchy. Patriarchy is a form of cooperation that brings a group to regulate aggressions through coercion, and again, architecture has staged an environment where a group is provided a status and an authority.

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From Gobekli Tepe to Hagia Irene in Turkey, both architectures reveal a coherent evolution where the verticality and the centering of the doors between the underground world and the upper world distinctively shape the invisible forces between life and death. Early Byzantine buildings such Hagia Irene in Constantinople, the basilicas San Vitale and San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenne, Italy, enumerate in their sequencing of a scenography what we may see as a ritual to symbolize the natural architecture of a religious tribunal chamber where corporal and capital punishments are sentenced. This scenography was later transposed into the urban design of the city.

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The location of Hagia Irene next to Hagia Sophia on the Seraglio point of Constantinople defines a dominant position next to the harbor. It is where trade was settled between merchants from all continents and it is probably a place where intrigues and commercial disputes may have justified the establishment of a ruling system. The natural cosmogony represented with the architecture of religious buildings would sit an authority to settle the disputes and it is only “human people” who would be empowered to render a justice in the name of cosmic forces. With evolution, those cosmic forces have taken the name of “God”.  

This urban distribution  finds a parallel in Paris where Notre Dame of Paris is facing the Tribunal chamber. Similarly, the cathedral of Chartres is located next to the tribunal of the city. In Reims , the tribunal is situated on the left side of the cathedral, sharing the same forecourt. In Marseille, the cathedral is front of the harbor. The construction of cathedrals has moved the authority of Constantinople to Europe but with a same model where coercion and punishment regulate the society. They are both participating in a spiritual urban representation that leads to the Sacred Arcanum of religious buildings.

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Sons of the Doctrine, not without purpose have I described to you the disposition of these four elements, for in them is a secret arcanum.” – Eximenus in The Ninth Dictum of Turba Philosophorum

Gobekli Tepe was built during the pre-pottery Neolithic period, around 10,000 BC. The bronze age started around 3,300 BC in Mesopotamia but “humans may have started smelting copper as early as 6,000 B.C. “. Cuneiform script emerged in Mesopotamia almost at the same period as bronze age in 3,200 BC. With the transformation of metals, a new tradition has emerged for the conservation and the transmission of knowledge and we find in the Turba Philosophorum, the emergence of a practice to gather philosophers “for the advantage of posterity” and “to avoid omissions for the sake of future generations.

For narrow is the gate and straitened the way that leads to life, and they are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

From the first gathering in Gobekli Tepe in 10,000 BC to the construction of Hagia Irene in 330 – 337 AD, an old tradition has emerged with the Greek Empire. This tradition was curious, educated and religious. It is the emergence of Gnosis what in Greek means “knowledge”. It is also the assimilation of knowledge from other cultures as far as India and Egypt. The first mention to Isis is dated 2465 – 2325 BC what resonates into the Egyptian Sebayt and the teaching from Imhotep. The pyramid of Djoser, which is attributed to Imhotep, was built between 2667 and  2648 BC. The first reference to Imhotep is dated 1391–1353 BC. The pyramid of Cheops was built between  2580 and 2560 BC. Accordingly to Rabbinical Judaism, Moses brings the Israelites out of Egypt in 1391 BC about the same era as the references to Imhotep.

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In the cathedral of Chartres, we find many references to Ancient Egypt more than 3500 years after the first pyramid of Egypt and in 1746 AC, more than 4000 years later, the “Arcanum Arcanorum Seu Magisterium Philosophorum” of the alchemists starts with the symbols of the four elements, fire, water, air and earth, front which God had created all things. Those four elements are represented by a pyramid.

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The façade of the cathedral of Milan in Italy, has the triangular shape of a pyramid. The term pyros (πυρός) in Greek means fire what symbolizes the union (religare in latin) between a man and a woman, the energy of life produced by their union. We also find the term “fire” in the Hebrew name of Jesus between the man (Iod, Adam) and the woman (Havah, Eve). In the same disposition, fire represents the union between the God Amun-Ra and the Goddess Isis in the name of Israel. On the stain glasses of the cathedral of Chartres, the name of “Faraon” is covered with an ark, maybe in reference to the Ark of the covenant.

Arisleus, begotten of Pythagoras, a disciple of the disciples
by the grace of thrice great Hermes, learning from the seat of knowledge, unto all who come after wisheth health and mercy. I testify that my master, Pythagoras, the Italian, master of the wise and chief of the Prophets, had a greater gift of God and of Wisdom than was granted to any one after Hermes.
” – Turba Philosophorum
For the heat of the Sun extracts something tenuous out of the air, which also becomes spirit and life to all creatures.” – Turba Philosophorum

The construction of the pyramid of Cheops would not have been possible without an advanced knowledge in sacred geometry and we know from advanced studies that the value of Pi=22/7 was the very key to the whole construction. We find the same value of Pi in the construction of the cathedral of Chartres, in the roman cubic foot, in the definition of the meter, in ancient carpentry engineering, and the measurement of time with clocks on the front of the cathedrals in a reference to the eternal and universal union between the sun and the moon. This union is the course of the light in one day. It is also the energy between the heat of the sun and the rotation of the earth represented by the sacred ratios of Pi, Phi and One. Indeed, without the knowledge of ratios, none of the cathedrals or the pyramids of Egypt would had ever been possible.

In the third dictum of the Turba Philosophorum, Anaxagoras said “I make known that the beginning of all those things which God hath created is weight and proportion“, pietas and ratio. The “seat of knowledge” is literally the cathedral, from “cathedra +‎ -ālis” in latin the “seat” + the “growing root”, the tree of knowledge of the arcana. The tree of knowledge represents also the seven fundamental dimensions and the seven virtues of the soul that bring the vital energy to the world. It is Pi in the eternal movement of the human evolution.

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Architecture of religious buildings is a fundamental DNA of a society to understand the universal message behind human history, what makes Homo Sapiens so special. “Religare” in latin means also the tie, what links people together. In 2021 AC, what ties people together are technologies and sciences, movies, music, sports and the portion of educated people who really care of human evolution is really narrow. And it has ever been, but during the 20th century, movie studios in Hollywood have put legends into lights to narrate human history with large production peplums. The city of Angels has played the Hermes for a time to bring an emotional perspective on historical events. The public was able to be touched by historical figures and question their inner thirst for knowledge. The real purpose of a religion is to learn, to change, to move, to be moved, to progress and to adapt with the human evolution.

Starting in 9,000 BC, stone masks were found in some graves of the fertile crescent. In 600 BC, the Greek theater emerges in Athenes into 3 different dramatic genres, the tragedy (late 500 BC), the comedy (490 BC), and the satyr play. When Los Angeles emerged from the desert of California, the Greek theater was built among many other references to ancient primitive times. The Egyptian theater makes a direct parallel to both Ancient and modern history with the two versions of The Ten Commandments by Cecil B. DeMill (1923 – 1956), Cleopatra (1934), The Egyptian by Michael Curtiz (1954) and so many others. Behind the masks are the mythical figures that made Hollywood famous.

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When listening Stephanie Lamprea, soprano, interpreting a “Dithyramb” composed by Jason Eckardt, we perceive the difficulty of raising into grace, the pulse, the breath, the energy of Ancient times when humanity was just at its dawn. We can almost feel the mortuary mask on her face. We feel the life and death reunited into the sounds of one single voice mimicking gestures and emotions. Grace and emotions are such an evolution that architecture captured over the time. and within architecture, it is all the sacred geometry that was embodied into limestone, marble, granite, glass, bronze, stucco, iron and wood. Architecture has known periods, styles and epochs, and all had a story.

This book is under construction, but over the 50 chapters, I am going to add stories inspired from the real History and stories inspired from the modern architecture of Los Angeles, churches, cathedrals, temples, museums, parks, restaurants, shops, cemeteries, places that offer the possibilities to touch emotions in a time travel over the city.

the religions, behind the “religare“, the “union“, the “communion” of men and women who have dispersed on earth. From the first prehistoric art in a cave to the most sumptuous cathedrals, Man has learnt to coordinate his ideas and to communicate with people for their collaboration in art. Religious art, literally art made by the union of people under the supervision of high priests.

because as we will discover in the evolution of this book, the architecture of 

Global memory into architecture

The arcana of cosmogony is found in nature and 

All this alchemy became an architecture to represent the arcana of nature, a cosmogony

If you are familiar with my blog on eimablank.com, you already had access to my publications on the geometry of sacred ratios. In 2017, I started another blog on “gender and sexuality in religion” which I partially published on my Academia.edu page. Both those publications brought me to question the meaning of Christianity and especially the meaning of the representation of Christianity through religious buildings. I started to pin point architectural sites on a map and to archive my data. 

Blogging was a way to search without a “research” and to take advantage of the non-academic medium of publication to assemble on a board all my ideas very ruffly. This board has taken a form where I have now become convinced that Christianity was carrying a philosophical message where the cross is related to ancient scientific knowledge and this knowledge takes its expression into a cosmogonic harmony that relates man to the universe. This cosmogonic harmony was given to us from prehistoric times and perfected during historic times by scholars and philosophers.

I was not really seduced by the idea of writing an “academic” paper because sometimes, like in arts, the academic format does not fit with the novelty. It is heavy, difficult to read and also very difficult to write without being exposed to unnecessary criticism. Instead, I have chosen to write a “book” that almost anybody could read and where a curious mind would be able to dig. Simple words,  references simple to access and many, many pictures.

I remember as a young academic researcher entering into conflicts with academic historians who would tell me that history is no matter the work of an architect, and I am an architect, so I became very frustrated that my vision as an architect would be less of importance than the vision of an historian, an anthropologist or an ethnologist. I have continued my work despite all critics and all adversities. Instead of a claustrophobic academic environment, I have accepted the ostracism and continued my work as an architect, but an architect writing, drawing and representing ideas through pictures.

Architects have something autistic in their approach of history. They work with “pictures”. If you are familiar with Temple Grandin, you would probably have watched the movie about her. She sees everything in pictures and makes parallels between things to understand how they work.

I am willing to have the same approach in order to bring my public into this journey where the history I write may have the shape of a romance, but the kind of romance that makes people think and better understand the beauty we have available around us.

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Books

  1. A. Huxley - The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell (2009)
    Link: https://amzn.to/32zANTM

  2. A. Huxley - The Devils of Loudun (2015)
    Link: https://amzn.to/2QHf4ql

  3. C. Castaneda, M. Doury, Y. Buin - L\'herbe du diable et la petite fum{\\'e}e: une voie yaqui de la connaissance (2012)
    Link: https://amzn.to/3tGqIR3

  4. P. Kreeft - Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis \& Aldous Huxley (2010)
    Link: https://amzn.to/3sFzlKh

  5. G. Aujac - Claude Ptolémée, astronome, astrologue, géographe: connaissance et représentation du monde habité (1993)
    Link: https://amzn.to/2QJqERX

  6. E.M. Cioran, E. Cioran - Histoire et utopie (1960)
    Link: https://amzn.to/3txf36V

  7. G. Cataldi, Universita di Firenze. Dipartimento di progettazione dell'architettura, Italy) Museo nazionale di antropologia e etnologia (Florence - All'origine dell'abitare: mostra itinerante : Museo nazionale di antropologia e etnologia, Firenze, Palazzo nonfinito, 15 ottobre-15 novembre 1986 (1986)
    Link: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/15683596

  8. J. G. Frazer - Le rameau d'or. Tomes I et II (1983)
    Link: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/929616109