Which civilization was the world's most advanced in antiquity?

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Feb 2011
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I'm not saying the Pantheon is better than other buildings in everyway, only that its more structurally sophisticated. The fact that East Asian wooden architecture allows for a 10 meters or so gap between supporting columns falls short in comparison. Even considering the huge roofs and its projections.

Long gaps between supporting columns was what the Romans were aiming for. You are still using Roman standards to judge non-Roman buildings. Very long eaves, multi-eaves for every level, maximizing window space, is not something the Romans aimed for, but others did.

"The Chinese Hall Building has not changed greatly since the Han, essentially being a three-part structure comprising a sturdy platform on which a timber frame supports a roof that visually (and physically) dominates the structure. Much of the weight of the roof is in its ceramics, and this can be very significant. For example, the roof of the Taihedian, a principal hall in the Forbidden City, weighs upwards of 2000 tons. On a floor plan area of approximately 2000 square metres this average load of 1000 kg per square metre, equivalent to between 30 to 40 tons per square metre at the base of each of its 72 columns, is impressive by any standards. The sturdiness of such buildings owes much to the design of their complex timber frames, which have been much studied by architectural historians, as well as to the static loading of their ceramic content." - Colours and Contrast: Ceramic Traditions in Chinese Architecture, By Clarence Eng, pg 26

Also from the same source, pg 27-29
"The strength of the timber frame is helped by its parts being almost entirely under compression, and by its use of bracket sets, dougong, which brace the structure and distribute loads along the length of horizontal members. This is best seen from drawings, which also illustrate the quality and detail of structural research on timber frames. Overhanging roof eaves, supported by beams cantilevered outwards from the outer columns act as a canopy to protect the walls and foundations and also regulate solar gain by admitting low-angled winter sunlight to the interior but providing cool shade in the summer.
Above the eaves-height the complex woodwork in the roof-space serves a number of functions. It braces the supporting columns and distributes the roof loading between them, and it also presents the main ridge and multiple purlins of the roof at appropriate relative heights to give the external surface the desired curvature, which is often concave but can also be convex.
Below eaves level the structure relies on the supporting strength of its main upraights, which for the most prestigious buildings were traditionally hard wood tree-trunks cut in the round. The prodigious weight of the roof of the Taihedian in the Forbidden City is carried on 72 pillars, most of it on the 24 main columns inside its vast ceremonial area. As noted by Edward Farmer and Yu zhuoyun, the process of finding and transporting by water such hardwood trunks from south-west China was in itself a major undertaking, involving a journey of up to four years, and further straining an already-congested Grand Canal.
The skilled construction of the timber frame, the 'major carpentry' , was critical for the integrity of the structure. The durability of a hall building comes from its structure being strong but not rigid. This allows energy to be dissipated by friction within its complex dry joints, enabling the structure to absorb shocks from wind gusts or earthquakes. This will be discussed further in Chapter 9.
Not only does the absense of load-bearing walls in the traditional hall building allow for a flexible floor plan, but the structure is sufficiently resilient even for columns to be omitted or removed to adjust thespace available for audience or ritual. A further practical feature is that it is easy to make localised repairs as required. Less conveniently for historians, this sometimes complicates the dating of different parts of a building. Occasionally, circumstances require that radical repairs involve stripping the building back to its main framework timbers before restoration, as seen at the Guozijian, Beijing.
However, it will be suggested in Chapter 3 that the more normal custom of making localised repairs, together with the recycling of re-usable parts may have preserved the continuity of original tiling colour schemes.
Even when radical restoration is undertaken, as for instance during 2006 renovations at the Gugong in Beijing, the practice is still clearly to re-use serviceable parts wherever possible, so it can probably be safely assumed that the fabric of nearly all buildings is a mixture of original parts and later replacements.
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Both use wooden ceilings that cover very big spans, I believe between 20 and 30 meters. But they have the "inconvinience" of having brick/stone walls.
That's about the span of the Tadaoji.

I can show the Saint Peter Basilica, for example:



Or the Roman Basilica at Trier:



Both use wooden ceilings that cover very big spans, I believe between 20 and 30 meters. But they have the "inconvinience" of having brick/stone walls.
Are those load bearing walls (outer wall support the inner roof from tipping outward)? As long as you think stone walls support more weight than wooden walls, stone columns support more weight than wooden columns, and also considering that load bearing walls support more weight than non-load bearing walls, this example is cheating at best. Not so much an "inconvenience" as much as it is a convenient cheat if you want to show the capability of Roman (Renaissance era) wooden architecture. Instead of showing how much weight European wooden architecture could support when building out of wood, you are showing how much weight, in wood, that their stone architecture could support (also albeit being in Rome, not really the Roman time period).
 
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Long gaps between supporting columns was what the Romans were aiming for.
No. Long gaps between columns is a show of structural sophistication. Not the only one. And not a necessary one. But creating bigger gaps between columns will always ask for more demanding structural system. Sometimes brute force alone will do the job, others you need more sophisticated system.

That's about the span of the Tadaoji.
Could you post more about this particular structure?

Are those load bearing walls? Considering you think stone walls support more weight than wooden walls, and also considering that load bearing walls support more weight than non-load bearing walls, this example is cheating at best. Instead of showing how much weight Roman wooden architecture could support when building out of wood, you are showing how much wooden weight Roman stone architecture could support.
The parts that are not windows (or below them) are carrying the load, yes. But my purpose here is not to show how much load roman wooden architecture could support, only the open spans they could create with wood, which are siginificant.
 
Feb 2011
6,453
No. Long gaps between columns is a show of structural sophistication. Not the only one. And not a necessary one. But creating bigger gaps between columns will always ask for more demanding structural system. Sometimes brute force alone will do the job, others you need more sophisticated system.

Exactly, it's "not the only" sign of structural sophistication. I do not deny that it is ONE sign of structural sophistication. But as long as a building shows other signs of structural sophistication, then it is by no means "simple" even if it lacks that one sign of structural sophistication.


Could you post more about this particular structure?




The statue's golden halo is 27 meters in diameter, which is about the length of the two nearest beams to the Buddha's left and right. So that meter bar don't look right at all. I'll have to look further into it.


The parts that are not windows (or below them) are carrying the load, yes. But my purpose here is not to show how much load roman wooden architecture could support, only the open spans they could create with wood, which are siginificant.
The length of a wooden span is near meaningless without knowing the weight of the span, or the columns/walls necessary to support the span. Because these factors affect how long the wooden span could be made to be.
 
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Jan 2016
589
United States, MO
No. Long gaps between columns is a show of structural sophistication. Not the only one. And not a necessary one. But creating bigger gaps between columns will always ask for more demanding structural system. Sometimes brute force alone will do the job, others you need more sophisticated system.
Creating large eaves is also a sign of architectural sophistication. There are many factors that can show architectural sophistication. A gap is one of them, large eaves is another, as is longevity, height, load capacity, resistance to weather and earthquakes.


Could you post more about this particular structure?
I will repost something from an older post I did about two years ago.

Todaiji is a Japanese temple that was the largest wooden building in the world until 1998. The current structure was completed around 1700, but the original was larger and predated the current one by 900 years.

Here is an image of the main hall.



The current main hall is about 50 x 57 meters.

Here are a couple floor plans.

This first one is on the right side and the current structures are orange colored while the original structures are colored light green.
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 1500x548.




This floor plan shows pillars. There is a circular-like space in the middle of the main hall which contains a giant Buddha statue. (it is the round area in the center of the plan.) I zoomed in, used the scale and did a little math to get a rough estimation of the square area without pillars that the statue sits in. I got 29.1m x 20.8m which equals 605.28 m2. Now this floor plan and my measurements may be slightly off so lets say that the statue sits in an area that is roughly 600-610 m2

This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 834x757.


This makes sense because the statue is quite large. It is the largest interior Buddha statue in the world. A 15m tall bronze wonder that bankrupted the country to produce it.


The statue is cleaned once a year.



Can you find an all wooden building which has an open surface area of 600-610 m2 of covered floorspace without any pillars providing extra support?

The parts that are not windows (or below them) are carrying the load, yes. But my purpose here is not to show how much load roman wooden architecture could support, only the open spans they could create with wood, which are siginificant.

East Asian wooden architecture is the largest, tallest, longest lived, best load bearing, most resistant to earthquakes, and has the longest eaves when compared to any other wooden structures. Also,since its pillars hold all of the weight, its walls can be coated in a thick fireproof plaster like the walls of Japanese castles, which makes these wooden structures much more resistant to fire.
 
Jan 2016
589
United States, MO
It is a fact that the Chinese use of the arch and dome is not as sophisticated as the Roman use of these designs, but the Roman's lackluster joinery and the total lack of the dougong bracket system severely limited the things that their wooden structures could achieve.
 
Exactly, it's "not the only" sign of structural sophistication. I do not deny that it is ONE sign of structural sophistication. But as long as a building shows other signs of structural sophistication, then it is by no means "simple" even if it lacks that one sign of structural sophistication.
In my defense, I didn't say they were simple, only simpler than a structure like the Hagia Sophia, which might be argued is more sophisticated than even the Pantheon.

The length of a wooden span is near meaningless without knowing the weight of the span, or the columns/walls necessary to support the span.
I wouldn't say it is nearly meaningless, but the span alone doesn't tell the whole story, true enough.
 
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I will repost something from an older post I did about two years ago.
This is the same structure mentioned in the other post, yes? Because the gaps between columns do not look very large there.

Can you find an all wooden building which has an open surface area of 600-610 m2 of covered floorspace without any pillars providing extra support?
I don't know of any, no. But I'm not sure what's the point. I didn't try to argue you need that large a interior space to be impressive.
 
Feb 2011
6,453
You mean the span covered by the structure? Because in that bridge the structural element that supports the bridge seems to be the iron chains.

I mean the weight of the span and what's supporting the span. Ergo it wouldn't be fair if you only look at the length of the span itself and say "look how long the wooden structure is". I admit this is an extreme example.
 
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