(VERNACULAR AND NOT) ARCHITECTURE AND HISTORY Friends or foe? A Lesson in Methodology
TIMELINE 600-400 B.C.E Ancient Greece 100 B.C.E.-500 C.E. Roman Era (Republic and Empire) 0 Jesus Christ was born 600-1400 C.E. The “Dark Ages”: castles, knights and barbarians 1400-1600 C.E. Renaissance 1492 Columbus “discovers” America
MEDIEVAL PERIOD The period of European history from the fall of the Roman Empire in the West (5th century) to the fall of Constantinople (1453). The earlier part of the period (circa 500-circa 1100) is sometimes distinguished as the Dark Ages, while the later part (circa 1100–1453) is often thought of as the Middle Ages proper.
The debate about medieval economy and society has essentially been a debate about historians and archaeologists. Only recently they have both started selecting extensively from each other sources. DOCUMENTARY VS MATERIAL SOURCES
DOCUMENTARY SOURCES vs. MATERIAL SOURCE The true task of the archaeologist is thus to discover whether the evidence of material culture properly reflects the documentary record or vice versa. During the last few decades, however, it has become clear that the research carried by archaeologists has no direct connections with, or implications for, the question posed of the documentary record by historians. But the medieval history of material culture raises some important issues, all of which are of historical importance.
Primary Sources Primary sources are the original sources of information recorded at the time an event occurred. – First-hand accounts of events – Data collected for scientific studies – Historical documents Image found at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.h tml
Why use primary sources? To explain how major events are related to each other in time. To think critically and distinguish between fact and opinion. To recognize point of view in print and visual materials.
THE IMPORTANCE OF AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH The unwelcome result of subdivisions of knowledge (architecture vs. archaeology vs. history) is that there are groups of people engaged in the investigation of pre-industrial society, some interpreting documents, and others using mainly material evidence. But they do not talk to each other or read each other’s publications as much as they should, and therefore they fail to make the connections which would enrich the whole subject.
HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE MIDDLE AGES The ignorance of architecture among historians impoverishes their understanding of the past. Their loss is to be unaware of an important type of evidence which provides insights into the economy, society and mentality of every period and –as far as we are concerned- from the sixth century onwards.
In other words… We will be concerned with the contribution that -vernacular and not- architecture can make to broad interpretations of the past, and hope to indicate some ways in which research into buildings might have a greater impact on history.
The historical potential of buildings Skill and Craftmanship : telling us about the training, specialization, mobility and organization of carpenters, and their links with other crafts and relationships with employers. Construction of the buildings : demonstrating the achievements and limitations of early technology.
The buildings were the product of an economy, which gave their owners the resources to pay for the work, and which could deliver to the site the materials and labour. The buildings may themselves have had economic functions, in agriculture or industry. They can also be viewed as items of consumption, because a house or a palace, then as now, was the single most expensive item its owner acquired.
The building should be viewed in the broadest perspective, in relation to its neighbours as part of a pattern of settlement, and within the landscape. One may need to investigate the agricultural land to which it was attached, and its economic and social region.
What’s next? The importance of an interdisciplinary approach. An example from ancient Greece to prove the interaction between space, buildings and changing social structures and cultural practice.
For next week (28 October) Class will be divided into 6 groups. Each group will be assigned a reading to be presented in class and lay the basis for further discussion. 3 readings will have a more “historical” character whereas the other 3 will have a more “architectural” inclination. Tables will turn in the next reading session.