Architecture (Lat. architecture from Gr. a master workman), the art of building. This term embraces every kind of structure except works of defence and ships. The styles of architecture, like other historical monuments, may be divided into two classes, the first comprising the barbarous art of those nations which lie outside the circle of civilization, and the second comprising the historical styles, beginning with the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Creek, and reaching to our own day. The Assyrian and Greek give evidence of having arisen from a system of wooden construction; in the Egyptian the primitive material seems to have been mud or unburnt bricks. In the subsequent use of stone the forms proper to the original materials became as it were fossilized, and continued in use long after their origin and meaning were forgotten. Of the early achievements and of the progressive steps of the science of architecture there remain but fragments, though sufficient, with the assistance of history, to teach us their antiquity. Throughout the globe we find remains of edifices which proclaim an early possession of certain degrees of architectural knowledge.
The most remarkable vestiges of these primitive structures, save the Celtic monuments, were once supposed to be the works of giants or Cyclops like those mentioned in the Odyssey. By whom they were erected, however, is unknown, though they have been attributed to the Pelas-gians. The walls of the cities and of the sacred enclosures and tombs were composed of blocks of stone of a polygonal form well adjusted. No cement was used, the interstices being filled with small stones. At times they present horizontal layers whose upright joints are variously inclined. Their entrance gates received different forms. the most common being quadrangular, composed of upright jambs, either perpendicular or inclined, supporting a lintel. Others assume the shape of a pointed arch, the jambs gathering to a point at the summit. Examples also present themselves of truncated pointed archways over the lintel, an arch occasionally being constructed to relieve this member of the superincumbent weight. We are led to suppose that within their city walls the habitations were erected without order, a place being reserved in the midst for public assemblies. Little is known of their domestic architecture, as there exist no vestiges of those palaces so highly spoken of by the ancient poets.
Perhaps the most interesting of their structures are their circular subterranean chambers styled treasuries; they present vaulted ceilings, although not constructed on the principle of the arch, the vaulted form being obtained by horizontal annular layers, corbelling inward, and the projecting edges of the stones being taken off after the construction was completed. According to Blouet, they served for tombs as well as for treasuries. Internally they were covered with sheets of bronze. At Mycenae and Tiryns several examples are to be found. - One of the most ancient nations known to us who made any considerable progress in the arts of design is the Babylonian. Their most celebrated monuments were the temple of Belus, the Kasr, the hanging gardens, and the wonderful canals Nahar Malca and Pallacopas. From the dimensions of their ruins can be formed an idea of the colossal size of the structures they composed. The material employed in cementing the burned or sun-dried bricks, upon which hieroglyphics are still to be traced, was the mortar produced by nature from the fountains of naphtha and bitumen at the river Is. near Babylon. - No entire architectural monument has come down to us from Nineveh, the superb capital of the Assyrians; nor from the Phoenicians, whose cities, Tyre, Sidon, and others, were adorned with equal magnificence; nor from the Hebrews, the Syrians, the Philistines, and many other nations.
Our want of knowledge concerning the architecture of these oriental nations is attributable partly to the devastations of war and partly to the perishability of the materials that were employed, such as gypsum, alabaster, wood, terra cotta, and brick, with which their ruins abound. From recent discoveries, we have been able to see the great affinity existing between many of the works of these nations and those of Egypt and Greece; in their sculptures and ornaments, for example, and in the coloring of the various parts of their structures, which were without doubt polychromatic. - Of the very ancient Chinese monuments Ave have no trace, they having been destroyed by Tsin-Chi-Hoang-Ti upon his ascending the throne. Their pagodas are merely imitations of the design of. the nomadic tent. The Chinese Avail is one of the most stupendous structures of the world. Japan, Siam, and the islands of the Indian ocean abound in ancient ruins once sacred to the divinities of the Buddhist faith. The Hindoos, in their colossal structures, with their endless sculptured panels, their huge figures, and their astounding intricate excavations, evince a perseverance and industry equalled only by the Egyptians. The Hindoo structures are remarkable for their severe and grotesque appearance. - The history of the art in other regions and in its later developments may be most conveniently treated under several divisions.