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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A Global History of Architecture

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX


How do we understand architecture? One way of answering this question is by looking through the lens of history, beginning with First Societies and extending to the 16th century. This course in architectural history is not intended as a linear narrative, but rather aims to provide a more global view, by focusing on different architectural "moments."

How did the introduction of iron in the ninth century BCE impact regional politics and the development of architecture? How did new religious formations, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, produce new architectural understandings? What were the architectural consequences of the changing political landscape in northern Italy in the 14th century? How did rock-cut architecture move across space and time from West Asia to India to Africa? How did the emergence of corn impact the rise of religious and temple construction in Mexico?

Each lecture analyzes a particular architectural transformation arising from a dynamic cultural situation. Join us on a journey around the globe and learn how architecture has developed and interacted with the world’s culture, religion, and history.


Lecture 1: The First Societies
Lecture 2: The Gravettians and the Hunting Traditions of the North
Lecture 3: The Holocene and the Agro-Pastoral Emergence
Lecture 4: Agricultural Emergence
Lecture 5: Stone – Between Life and Death
Lecture 6: Cities and Temples
Lecture 7: After the Cataclysm and the Rise of the Eastern Mediterranean
Lecture 8: Iron and the New World Order
Lecture 9: Persia and Greece
Lecture 10: India and China
Lecture 11: Buddhism - India and Beyond
Lecture 12: Americas - Shaping/Harvesting the Land
Lecture 13: Rome
Lecture 14: Roman Architecture
Lecture 15: Early Christian Architecture
Lecture 16: Christianity and the Roman East
Lecture 17: Early Islamic Architecture
Lecture 18: Early Hindu Architecture
Lecture 19: Borobudur, Angkor, and SE Asia
Lecture 20: The 13th Century - Inner Asia and Beyond
Lecture 21: Medieval Christian Architecture
Lecture 22: Italy - 13th to the 15th Century
Lecture 23: Colonial Transitions
Lecture 24: Time

Taught by

Mark Jarzombek and Vikramāditya “Vikram” Prakāsh


4.9 rating, based on 10 Class Central reviews

5 rating at edX based on 5 ratings

Start your review of A Global History of Architecture

  • The content of this course was fantastic: it greatly expanded my understanding of humanity, of history, and of the meaning of architecture and how so many contemporary facets of life are rooted in the distant past. Presentation was a little less "slick" than some other courses, but it's worth getting used to; prof is enthusiastic and lectures are personal as well as academic. Huge course, tons of material, fascinating. FMI see my personal blog post at
  • This is an excellent course taught by a very engaging professor. As part of course, students also receive access to PDF of textbook that the professor wrote for the course. Great future resource!
  • i think this course deliver a bigger perspective and general enough to grasp the impact of architecture to human and how human impacting the development of architecture throughout history. very clear and good
  • Aybige Tek

    We had great times during this course and even formed a group of international friends after the course has ended to create & learn and share together.

    True gem course.
  • Aana

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