Stone from the very beginings

Single stone:
menhir is a single stone, but this is not an architecture yet
(Menhir in Corse, France; Tamuli in Sardegna, Italy)

Beginnings reach several millennia back, into prehistory, from which megalith structures are known. They are "large stones" that stand independently or in rows, in walls or forming shelters. The menhir as an important stone isn't architecture, although it is designed. With a beam its' utility increases, corbelling allowed the creation of enclosed spaces, the Etruscans introducing the arch and Romans developing it further into spatial constructions the cupola.

Technically speaking development runs logically from the simplest solutions to more demanding ones, which offer more.

The menhir as a stone doesn't represent architecture as such. It is only a spatial landmark.

The taula is part of larger spatial compositions, technically positioned between the menhir and dolmen. It is a sort of column with a capital.
The dolmen itself is a structure of two vertical stones with a beam, which together function as a simple object. More important is the row, when several dolmens form a longitudinal place. At the end of the "corridor" is a space, usually a rough cell, at first covered by a large slab and later with smaller corbelled stones. Later the arch was developed and only much later, during the renaissance, the cupola emerged, which was however already seen on the Pantheon. Stone monuments, such as menhirs are most often seen in Brittany and Corsica, where they are already designed, while in Sardinia they are known as tamuli and have abstract shapes.

The first known arch: Etruschan architecture from the first Millennium BC (Volterra, Italy)

In Menorca the "recinte de taula" are joined objects serviced by a central column.

Typical corbelling first emerged as the construction for sanctuaries (Hal Saflieni and Hagar Qim in Malta, tumuli in Ireland, Britanny and Italy), as well as in burial architecture (naveta in Menorca) and as military systems in the Nuraghi culture of Sardinia. Proven beginnings reach back to some five thousand years BC.


Corbelling is constructional principle, next to lintel, and the first trace is found in circular underground temple, 4ooo BC (Hypogeum, Hal Saflieni, Malta)
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