Innovation: Hagia Sophia
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Built By: Emperor Justinian I
Designed By: Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles
The Hagia Sophia is a basilica that has a vast system of vaults and semi-domes which concludes in a central dome that is 101 feet in diameter and 160 feet in height made of brick and mortar. This type of dome is called a pendentive dome; this dome consists of four triangular segments of a sphere surface, filling in the upper corners at the top to from a supportive circular dome. This allows lateral forces to be alleviated by dispersing its weight downwards. The brick dome has a wooden tension ring at its base to resist outward thrust and interrupt cracking. The atrium is 157 feet by 106 ft and 442 feet in diameter. The church of Hagia Sophia was made of material from a plethora of places, from columns from the Temple of Artemis, stones from Egyptian quarries, marble from Thessaly, black stone from Bosporusm, and yellow stone from Syria.
Location: Rome, Italy
Year: 128 AD
By: Publius Aelius Hadrianus
The Pantheon was built in 128 AD as a temple to all the Gods of Ancient Rome. All the materials used in construction were floated down the Tiber and taken to site using carts using animals and the lighter materials were taken by men. The layout is such that there is a rectangular entrance connected to a circular enclosure. The dome is built so that it would remain robust under its own weight using no steel reinforcing rods to resist cracking; it still remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome till today. The giant concrete dome is 142 feet in diameter which contains a 25 feet oculus at the highest point which is the only point that light can pass through. The concrete at the top is lighter than normal density and much heavier at the base. The internal part of the dome is made up of coffers, which are rectangular panels sunken into the structure to help lighten the weight. The oculus at the top decreases the overall weight and distributes the stress around its circumference. The condition of the terrain was not one that could easily be built upon. To ensure the building would not fall the builders built a second concrete ring foundation to hold the first and put buttress walls on the side opposite the porch to keep cracks from extending. `
Innovation: Great Pyramid of Giza
Location: Giza, Egypt
Year: 2560 BC
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and biggest pyramid location in Giza. It was constructed as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharoah Kuhfu over a 15 year period until 2560 BC. The process in which this was built has been debated for years, but it’s accepted that the Egyptians built a ramp that permitted them to drag the blocks into the appropriate positions. It was built to be 480.6 feet tall and was the tallest man made structure for over 3 millennium. There are an estimated 2.3 million blocks of stone that were taken from nearby quarries, each around 2.5 tons in weight. Each side of the building is similar to the same differing by approximately 8 inches. The corners are all aligned with the 4 cardinal directions of the compass, at this time the compass had not even been created. The stones were cut with such precision that they were within .01 inch of being perfectly smooth, and were all brought together at .001 of an inch from a perfect 90 degree angle. With such technologies today it would be difficult to replicate this monumental structure.