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A Global History of Architecture

Learn about humanity’s rich architectural history on this journey around the globe – from 100,000 BCE to ca. 1,600 CE.

This course is archived
Estimated 13 weeks
5–7 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

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

At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: History
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:
    None
  • Language: English

What you'll learn

Skip 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

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

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