When I was in middle school, I became obsessed with Heinrich Schliemann and his son Peter Schliemann. Now as I prepared for this post, I did a little research to make sure I had my facts – come to find out that Peter’s name is Paul and he may or may not have really existed. Thank you internet for ruining my memories.
But that doesn’t really matter. Heinrich Schliemann was real and he was an archeologist – professional or hobbiest, doesn’t matter. What mattered is that he introduced me to what I thought would be my future. After reading about Heinrich, I read Paul Schliemann’s book on Atlantis. What does this have to do with architecture? I’ll tell you, the one thing I remember most about that book was the sketches of the buildings. The layout of the city. All of it started a whole new craving for me.
I had already loved buildings. I was sort of learning the terms for various architectural features (my mom would eventually go to school to be a city planner but at this time, she just had a great appreciation for the buildings). But the idea of the ancient mysteries was something that would change my life. I had decided I would be an archaeologist when I grew up.
While I still love architecture and most of my stories start with a building (and often the floor plans), it’s the ancient buildings that have really stirred my passion. For the BSA architecture merit badge, the scout is to research influential architecture. I tried googling influential architecture because I was stumped. My search seemed to return time and time again to those ancient buildings.
I understand that they don’t necessarily influence architecture today but they are amazing feats. The picture above is a replica of Stonehenge (I believe I wrote about my visit there before) which resides near the Maryhill museum in southern Washington. The replica is 1/4 size, I believe. I have been there 3 times and it still takes my breath away. I think of the original and I’m just stumped for days.
No one really understands why Stonehenge exists. And while that is fascinating, it’s how it was constructed that boggles my mind. Imagine carvings those stones. Setting those stones. And knowing that those stones traveled over 300 miles to get there. Not that impressive – right? We can do that now except they did it ages before the invention of the wheel.
The pyramids, the Parthenon, the Red City of Petra were all constructed before modern conveniences like vehicles and power tools. The Parthenon has been under restoration for ages and the reason they can’t restore it in less time than it took to build it is because they have no idea how things were done. There is a mastery to these buildings that we will never have again.
It kills me when people prefer new and shiny to old construction. The care taken in building these structures is far superior to the quick assembling of today’s modern houses. They took time to get things done right. The houses are solid. Come on – I have seen new homes fall apart years after they were built and yet there are buildings that are hundreds, if not thousands of years old.
The more I learn about architecture, the more I begin to understand civilizations. For example, stairways in castles were often designed so that the person coming down the stairs has the advantage when engaged in a sword fight.
I’m not expressing myself very well lately but I hope that you take some time to learn something about these old buildings. They are more than wonders, they are downright conundrums that can spark so many passions. I, often, believe that it is my love of buildings that fuels my love of writing. A building holds so many stories and I can’t help but want to explore them.