Saturday, May 19, 2018

What the Eighth Century looked like around the World

Afew years ago I put together a cross-cultural 'History of Design' timeline covering art and architecture from prehistoric times to the beginning of the twenty-first century.  I used either facts I'd learned while visiting archaeological sites or looked up when I was writing blog posts about them.  While making some additions to this timeline recently, I noticed I have painted archaeological sites from the Americas, Asia and the Middle East dating from the eighth century CE, but didn't have anything from Europe for that time period.  In Europe the time from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries was referred to as the Dark Ages.  The first painting below fills that gap.  It and the other paintings posted here do not in fact show 'what the eighth century looked like' at all.  They show what some eighth century sites look like now.

The Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle in Aachen Germany is one of the oldest in Europe.  Construction started in the late eighth century by order of Charlemagne.  It was heavily damage in the ninth century by Vikings and restored in the tenth century.  Originally Carolingian in style, with Gothic additions in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the cathedral was heaviy damaged, and restored, in the twentieth century.

Americas & Pacific
Copan, in what is now Honduras, known as the Athens of the New World, was founded in the fifth century and construction continued through the 700-year Golden Age of Mayan Culture.  The Hieroglyphic Stairway shown here, which has enabled historians to decipher the Mayan language, was completed in the eighth century.

Near East & Africa
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is an example of Umayyad architecture which developed in the Middle East in the seventh and eighth centuries, at the beginning of Islam. Completed at the beginning of the eighth century, the Dome was built on the Temple Mount, site of Herod’s  Temple in the first century BCE and a subsequent Roman temple in the second century CE, and may have been an addition to an existing Byzantine building.  It collapsed and was restored after earthquakes in the ninth and eleventh centuries, became a Christian church after the Crusaders captured Jerusalem at the end of the eleventh century and was re-consecrated as a Muslim shrine in the late twelfth century.

Meanwhile in the Far East, the Bulguksa Temple was completed by the Court of Silla in the eighth century.  Considered a masterpiece of the Golden Age of Buddhist art, the temple encompassses seven National Treasures of South Korea, including two stone pagodas, the Blue Cloud Bridge and two bronze statues of the Buddha.