Architecture and cultural history

Carl R. Lounsbury

in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199218714
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Architecture and cultural history

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  • Archaeology
  • History and Theory of Archaeology
  • Landscape Archaeology


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The major focus of this article happens to be architecture and cultural history. Buildings tell many stories. They are complex material objects wherein we live, work, worship, socialize, and play. They serve basic functions but also embody culture and express the dynamics of its social, economic, and political fortunes. Buildings also communicate their messages by their unusual forms, gigantic scale, or dramatic settings. The vast majority blend together as unconscious backdrops to daily routines. Buildings have life cycles. Most buildings have brief tenures before they are destroyed or fall into ruin. Only a very small number of them survive for long periods to give an historical dimension to the landscape. This article proceeds to explain design sources of architectural structures. From the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century, architects in Europe and America found design precedents in the early buildings of their native lands. Buildings are often seen as embodiments of culture.

Keywords: architecture; culture; cultural history; architectural structures; landscape

Article.  7575 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; History and Theory of Archaeology ; Landscape Archaeology

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