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When did architecture begin?

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines architecture as follows:

the art or science of building; specifically : the art or practice of designing and building structures and especially habitable ones.

Given the definition above, some form of primitive architecture must have existed as soon as the first humans began to construct buildings that were expected to last for more than a few days. Structures that were designed to be permanent or semi-permanent would have had to have been planned in terms of their projected use, appearance, and building materials, and an appropriate site would have had to be chosen. Over time, even very small, pre-historic societies would have developed tried-and-true styles of building that suited their climate, culture, and purposes. This would have been the earliest architecture.

Architecture as a specific profession, however, would not have developed until societies and populations had grown large and wealthy enough to support differentiation of labor. In prehistoric societies, presumably all adults would have had the knowledge to construct a rudimentary building. In larger societies, such as ancient Egypt, professional architects emerged. Imhotep of ancient Egypt is identified as the first known architect. He was born about 2650 BCE. However, he did not work solely as an architect. He was also a priest, a sculptor, a carpenter, and a scholar, suggesting that individuals could pursue a broader and less differentiated set of professions in the ancient world than today. He was deified as a god by the Egyptians, indicating that architecture was a valued pursuit.

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Architecture began the first time humans built anything to live in.  A lean-to, wickiup or grass hut is architecture.

Primitive mankind left us evidence in circles of stones meant to weigh down the edges of skin tents.  Early Native Americans built mounds and towns with buildings of various materials as far back as 5000 BC.  Cities built of brick and stone in the Middle East began about the same era, Akkad possibly the first, followed by cities such as Babel, Calneh, Gawra, Asmar, Fara, Lagash, Ur, Ninevah and Erech.

Stonehenge, originally a wooden structure, was rebuilt in stone around 3000 BC.  The first pyramid in Egypt, a step pyramid, was built about 2789 BC by Imhotep, architect of Pharoah Djoser (or Zoser).  The smooth-sided pyramid appeared in the Fourth Dynasty under Pharoah Snefru in the 26th century BC.  The Great Wall of China was begun around 25 BC, and in the 1st century BC the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio wrote De Architectura, the first classic work on the art of architecture.

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