Australopithecus (5.000.000 B.C.)

The first hominids appeared in central Africa, a warm zone, therefore they didn’t need shelter nor fire (which they didn’t know yet). They moved to the north and evolved to Homo Habilis.

Homo Erectus (1.600.000-200.000 B.C.)

He moved from central Africa to Europe, invented the home (with fireplace) and discovered the fire. In Atapuerca the first settlers were found and in Nice, the first artificial dwelling.

The beginning of architecture was a spring camp for a group of hunters with 31 huts, 11 of them were rebuilt every year.

Also, there were oval plant huts from 8 to 15 m long by 4-6 m wide. Walls of branches formed a kind of palisade, surrounded by aligned stones. The interior post had to support both the ceiling and the central beam. Each hut had a central fireplace to congregate.

Homo Neanderthalensis (100.000-40.000)

They live in caves around Europe, North Africa and the East. They believe in community and think in symbolic terms.

In Iraq, graves surrounded by flowers and branches and alignments with the sun were found. They thought about continuity after death.

Homo Sapiens (40.000 B.C.)

They increased their intellectual capacity, manifested in sculptures and cave paintings. His successor is the modern man. 

Dwellings are located in Eastern Europe , huts of circular plant and domed form with a frame which was possibly covered with animal skin. These dwellings were used by large family groups (large diameters to 9 m).

8.000-4000 B.C.

They already had agriculture and a sedentary life, therefore they had to develop architecture. Society became more complex, which made different buildings appear.

Catal Hüyuk (Turkey) 6.500 BC

The first great Neolithic city which had 10,000 habitants. It had developed agriculture and a vital node in commercial network and transport of minerals. The city was protected by a wall. The city was composed by rectangular houses, without streets and separated by some courtyard. The houses had a ground floor and first floor, constructed with adobe bricks and the wooden roofs were covered in rammed mud on vegetable mats. No front door, people came in with a ladder, through a hole in the ceiling.

Protohistory (4.000-3.000 B.C.)

There are a lot of large mesopotamian cities that are now inhabited between the Tigris and the Euphrates. writing was developed, along with pottery. Houses were made with adobe or brick. The most characteristic buildings are the Ziggurats.

Sumerian Ziggurats had a core of raw, sun-dried adobe brick and a covering of fired brick taken with a thick mortar of bituminous material high resistance. They imitate the dwelling of the gods, that’s why they are temples built on platforms (closer to them). The oldest temple is in Uruk. These structures are similar to the central America temples that were built much later.

The Egyptians (3.500 BC)

Their architecture was very influenced by the Nile river and the sun. This civilization survived 30.000 years and its life was very repetitive.


It was the most important public building, place of veneration to the gods and learning about the administration. It had an entrance courtyard, a reception room and private chambers. It was God’s sanctuary.

Its architecture was of permanence and immutability.


This civilization was obsessed with life, its cult is reflected on pyramids, eternal constructions. Imhoteph, an architect, introduced elevation to pyramids, thanks to steps. He also introduced the limestone masonry.

The Greeks (1.200-146 BC)

Its architecture has served as a foundation for Western Culture. Greek architecture finds the equilibrium between vertical and horizontal load-bearing elements. All elements are made with the best materials, not to show wealth but as a way to honor the gods and polis. The aim was to achieve excellence in form, detail and execution, to ensure immortality in human memory through intellectual and artistic excellence.

The polis

They were greek cities that grew up around fortifications perched on high ground. The polis included the city and surrounding farms.


The most important building, dedicated to gods and placed on a stepped platform (stylobate). Its nucleus was the Cellar where the divine image was kept. The basis of the temple was made of wooden.

There were huge statues in the interior, where not everyone was allow to enter, only some priests and chosen people.

The façade was quite artistic and it reached visual harmony.

Theatre and Stadium

They were the largest open-air buildings, very important for the culture, education and community life. Usually located in the slopes of a hill, the greek scene was lower than the roman one. They had amazing acoustics and capacity and their harmonical proportions and the surrounding landscape served as a theatrical frame.


They hardly had any interior space, they were simple and had a central courtyard, around which there were the rooms (tradition that continued in roman architecture). There are no greek houses in good condition left.

Romans (1.100 BC)

They spread around the Mediterranean basin and Europe. Their architecture was universal and embodied the essence of Romans everywhere they built it. The architecture of the interior is closed while the exterior is made in a grandiose scale. With the discovery of concrete, the romans experimented with interior space, light and shadow. It wasn’t the concrete we know nowadays, it was lime. Thanks to its durability we still have roman buildings nowadays.

They would cover large public spaces with arches, vaults or domes (except for temples). They did amazing engineering works (roads, highways, bridges…) They followed the ideas of stability, functionality and magnificence.

Civil Works

They were engineers, specialised in the design of infrastructures like: sewage networks, aqueducts, roads, bridges, walls and commemorable buildings (the Triumphal Arch).

Public Buildings

They built the thermal baths, which served as a reunion building. Their theatres come from the greek ones but with greater proportions, they weren’t built in slopes and their steps were made on a radial system of inclined concrete vaults raised on stone pillars. They were semicircular and only used to represent theatre plays.

The stadium was much bigger than the greek ones and they were used for races, shows and performances, like the Roman Circus, which had a capacity of 385.000 people. 

They created the basilica as a court of justice for legal proceedings.

The amphitheatres were the main Roman innovation which was a double theater for fights between gladiators.


They were structured as an orthogon, derived from the camps (castrum) that were the basis of the planning. The first cities appeared of greek colonies, which had the form of an irregular rectangle.

In the center of the city was the forum, a civic space that limited with public buildings and stoas, it had similar functions to the greek agora. The basilica was one of the main buildings of the forum.

The main streets were drawn from the forum: cardo (north-south), decumanus (west-east). They had a system of walls and fortified gates.

Religious buildings

They used greek architecture as they wanted,experimenting with other ways of construction, they related more to vitalism and naturalism.

They would place their temples in very high points, with the staircase located in the axis of the door of the cella.

They used orders like the Tuscan and Composite and elements like vaults and arches.

They invented domes.

The Domus 

Building of the richest families with public relations rooms and private rooms. It had an impluvium atrium (to collect rainwater), drainage and heating installations. They also had gardens. The Domus was decorated by mosaics, paintings and sculptures.

The Insulae

Dwellings for the plebeians, which were most part of the population. Buildings of 3-4 floors subdivided. As it was for plebeians, it was constructed with low-quality materials. They were occupied by numerous families at the same time and as they didn’t have a heating installation, they would use the fire to cook and maintain heat at the same time.


After the Roman Empire disappeared, its construction was basically paralised in the 5th Century AD. 

The glory of the Pagan Empire disappeared and a new Christian Empire started, in which religious and civil powers were mixed. Everything that wasn’t related to religion lost its importance.

The classical language of architecture developed from Greek and Romanian architectures. It disappeared during the middle ages but then was used later again, (Renaissance – Modern Age).


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