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A Global History of Architecture (edX)

Learn about humanity’s rich architectural history on this journey around the globe – from 100,000 BCE to ca. 1,600 CE. How do we understand architecture? One way of answering this question is by looking through the lens of history, beginning with First Societies and extending to the 16th century. This course in architectural history is not intended as a linear narrative, but rather aims to provide a more global view, by focusing on different architectural “moments.”

How did the introduction of iron in the ninth century BCE impact regional politics and the development of architecture? How did new religious formations, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, produce new architectural understandings? What were the architectural consequences of the changing political landscape in northern Italy in the 14th century? How did rock-cut architecture move across space and time from West Asia to India to Africa? How did the emergence of corn impact the rise of religious and temple construction in Mexico?

Each lecture analyzes a particular architectural transformation arising from a dynamic cultural situation. Material covered in lectures will be supplemented by readings from the textbook A Global History of Architecture.

Join us on a journey around the globe and learn how architecture has developed and interacted with the world’s culture, religion, and history.

What you’ll learn:

– History and context of the important buildings that shaped our culture

– History of technological advances that significantly impacted the development of architecture

– Impacts of certain cultural and religious traditions on architecture

– History of climate and geographical changes that shaped human civilization and its architecture


Lecture 1: The First Societies

Lecture 2: The Gravettians and the Hunting Traditions of the North

Lecture 3: The Holocene and the Agro-Pastoral Emergence

Lecture 4: Agricultural Emergence

Lecture 5: Stone – Between Life and Death

Lecture 6: Cities and Temples

Lecture 7: After the Cataclysm and the Rise of the Eastern Mediterranean

Lecture 8: Iron and the New World Order

Lecture 9: Persia and Greece

Lecture 10: India and China

Lecture 11: Buddhism – India and Beyond

Lecture 12: Americas – Shaping/Harvesting the Land

Lecture 13: Rome

Lecture 14: Roman Architecture

Lecture 15: Early Christian Architecture

Lecture 16: Christianity and the Roman East

Lecture 17: Early Islamic Architecture

Lecture 18: Early Hindu Architecture

Lecture 19: Borobudur, Angkor, and SE Asia

Lecture 20: The 13th Century – Inner Asia and Beyond

Lecture 21: Medieval Christian Architecture

Lecture 22: Italy – 13th to the 15th Century

Lecture 23: Colonial Transitions

Lecture 24: Time