- Architecture- and Habitat-anthropology -
Regarding the structure of this collection of studies
The real introduction of the present work is in fact the first volume of the Research Series <Architectural-Anthropology>. For various reasons this research series originally planned to be published in 8 volumes and in 3 languages could not be continued. However, the first volume mentioned above contains the theoretical disposition of the materials, which in this present work are developed further.
The anthropological definition of architecture presented there and its division into four main classes, that is, proto-human, semantic, domestic and sedentary architecture is considered to be known here.
The reader, who knows the first volume, will notice quickly, that numerous studies, which were listed there in the program, now are published in this edition.
To some extent it is correct to say, that the present edition represents
a condensed edition of the seven volumes 2-8 planned before. At the
same time it has to be emphasised that the program exposed in the initial
version has been extended considerably, particularly by studies which open
new perspectives into the way archaeology and prehistory can be conceived
in new and more effective ways.
This primary approach is mainly directed against the historically founded 'achitectural theories' of the historians of art. The basic idea is that an objectively conceived scientific and evolutionary anthropology of architecture should manage to eliminate the endless conventional aesthetic speculations of the architects and the art historians and pave the way for an architectural theory structured according to general principles (-> systematics of insights provided by architectural anthropology).
By proceeding according to evolutionary principles, it is possible to demonstrate essential parametres of the relation <architecture - settlement - humans> as well as to reconstruct the origins of aesthetics in new ways. In particular it manages to critically show that the dilettantic reinterpretation of elementary conditions in construction methods (e.g. as Mies van der Rohe presented it) as well as the unreflected import of the homogeneous space concepts of physics alien to age old cultural space concepts demanded tremendous adaptation-efforts to modern humans all over the world.
On the other hand this anthropological type of achitectural theory may
show that the whole pre-modern architectural tradition consists of a very
small number of essential 'patterns' ethnologically, historically and prehistorically.
In spite of the tremendous manifold of forms - like in biology regarding
the 'cell' - continuity can be seen, in regard to what we call <horizontal
and vertical polarity> (or: 'access-place scheme' and 'vertical polarity
scheme'). All premodern architecture can be seen to be composed of these
The cultural theory based on the anthropology of the habitat can be understood as a globally valid evolutionary theory of the habitat. It stands against conventional historically formed disciplinary anthropology with its fragmented divisions into subdisciplines (e.g. social anthropology, philosophical anthropology, anthropology of religion etc.). In particular its division into physical and cultural anthropology can be seen highly problematic. In both cases: conventional anthropology considerably distorts our views by retroprojection of evolved concepts (e.g. spatial, or disciplinary) to early conditions. Whether 'physical' or 'cultural', we have to reconstruct the basic causes of the evolution which has produced the phenomenon called 'anthropos'.
The earlier program listed in the annex of the first research volume
was strongly directed towards a newly defined anthropology of architecture.
Several papers were related to the new class of 'wemantic architecture'
in various cultures. But, in the framework of more than ten years of work
related to the whole concept the fructuous validity of the wider
framework of 'anthropology of architecture and habitat' has shown. It is
this framework which is now put in the foreground of the present studies.
The New Method
Most important in regard to the cultural theory aspect is the new method. It introduces a new artefact into prehistory which is to show an enormous temporal depth, only theoretically, but clearly plausible, particularly in regard to the problematic situation of the archaeological method which constructs cultural history based on the often extremely fragmented source-condition of durable remains. The new artefact belongs to the domain of constructive behaviour and architecture. It produces an elementary form with a potential temporal depth of 22 million years as a construction and 16 million years as a primordial type of architecture. Thus this type of constructive behaviour which produces and defines such primordial forms could have been of great importance for man. Culture could have developed under exterior impacts. somehow under forced conditions. Territorial and semantic conditions play an enormous role. Cultural evolution happens as a development of territorial demarcation, as a control of space, highly local at the beginning among hominoid precursors of humans, then in increasingly extended dimensions up to those early neolithic settlements which we know to some extent, and - with sedentary forms of life - to the early citystates at the beginning of civilisation.
The idea is not new, that man and his culture are the expression of
a development of constructive behavior, which exists in its earliest form
in the nest building behavior of the Great Apes, the Pongids. It was clearly
formulated already in the 30ies of the last century by the primatologist
couple Yerkes. However, a second element, which lifts this hypothesis onto
a level of a extensive theoretical consideration, is the Verklammerung
of primatology and paleoanthropology with ethnology. The relationship between
human research and the human artefact - a fossil from the medieval
scholastic historisms - remained historistic to a great extent. In the
domain of archaeology only what was durable and lasting counted, ephemeral
materials were banned from entering the visual field, in spite of the fact
that in many cases they played an important role for instance as plant ornament or rope decor. On the other hand ethnology considered large parts of their fibrous artefacts, like nets and basket type of objects etc. without relationship to the time. By no means they were considered as old, despite their technologically archaic character: the hand is practically always the most elementary tool in their manufacture.
A New Image of Culture
On the basis of this Verklammerung surprisingly a completely new image
of history emerges. The origins of human culture assumes quite different
traits, even completely different appraisals. Wherever the conventional
method of history operates with beginnings, which imply splendor and glory
and human and superhuman creativity, suddenly a very realistic continuity
emerges. The early city states and empires of the Ancient Near East and
Egypt can be understood as 'metabolisms'. Their architecture now appears
not as human 'creations', but as monumental transformations of fibroconstructive
signs and symbols traditionally maintained and developed by neolithic village
cultures and cyclically renewd for temporal continuity. The inventive performances,
the human creativity admired on the level of the historic method are reduced
pratically to zero. The earliest script too was developed from the agrarian
population's fibrous 'fetishes' as the earliest types of script found on
clay tablets in the earliest levels of Uruk, one of the earliest Sumerian
cities show. the priests of the temples copied them in two dimensions on
clay tablets for taxation of the surrounding farmers. Religion
In Ancient Egypt the phantastic ideas of religion admired by many today were developed fairly late. The origins of its complex system of local, regional and state gods and cults was in fact of a primary territorial nature, a "territorial feudalism" as the Egyptologist Hermann Kees precisely writes. In view of this the interpretations of the later sources of religion too must be critically reviewed.
In a similar sense Greek philosophy was not the great beginning as Snell in his time had thought. A passage field are The presocrats are a passage-field to the Ancient Near East, to a primary level in which - as Heraclitus clearly shows - cognition to a great extent happened in categorically polar analogies (Upper and Lower Egypt as State Union). European analytical thought is only a - highly problematic - transformation of this primary type of cognition! Thus, again, no originality! Aesthetics too can be defined in new terms of cognitive philosophy as the categorically polar structure of territorial demarcations. This demarcation system became highly efficient in the formation of sedentary life in neolithic times and later and consequently its demarcations were increasingly considered of high ontological values (sacred, gods etc.). Aesthetics, philosophy and religion are thus very close in these early protocivilisational conditions.
In the framwork of thee new insights, Europe's high metaphysical traditions
appear in an highly questionable light. Through its speculative interpretations
of Ancient Oriental and Egyptian cultures it has put itself fairly early
into a fictive highlight, which can not satisfy anymore the modern anthropological
views. Europe has to be 'revised' that means 'critically rethought' for,
the highly explosive contradictions it projects into the world, can not
be supported on all levels any more. This was shown particularly with the
two bestialic world wars of the 20th century. They have not developed aus
heiterem Himmel. The reasons have to be found in the highly problematic
basic constructions of Europe. There are enough 'Menetekels' today showing
clearly that the West with its exalted ways of life is about to maneouvre
the globe at the edge of Abgrund. It is shown in the globalisaion Wahn
of postmodern economy which is developed on the level of some worldmap
atlas knowledge of a college student. Outdated concepts are taken of the
Mottenkiste of the 19th century. For instance the term 'civilisation'
in Huntington's book which wants to legitimize the 'new worldview' of the
Reagan era. It is shown also in the cultural dilettantism, in which the
construction of Europe is based on the American model which has an entirely
different history. Finally the complete loss of cultural taste is shown
on the most elementary level if television shows how animal plagues are
solved by mass burning/combustion.
With this an immense new field of thought work is outlined, a thought
field which by far exceeds the capacity of a single individual. Accordingly
the work does not present materials broadly written in the chair Lehnsessel.
The work is a collection of essays in most cases about narrowly defined
themes. Only in this form certain aspects could be worked up in scientifically
reliable ways. For instance the studies related to the nest building behavior
of the higher apes or those on the origins of writing. These works
are reflecting the present status of the concerned research field in all
details. In addition there are studies, which were written in view of certain
occasions like conferences etc., but which, on the other hand, were also
considered meaningful by the author with regard to the whole anthropological
concept in view. This character as 'collected works' at first sight gives
the impression of a fairly heterogeneous concept. At the same time the
present work mediates also an actual insight into a presence focussed on
a certain type of research, or, in short, a piece of actively led life
of intense research. Thus, even if the present work does not show a systematical
whole as a result, it may serve perhaps to many a reader as a welcome scaffold
for his own.