Big buildings: Monumental and civic-ceremonial architecture

Eiffel tower from SE sunny day

Archaeologists have a term for outsized buildings and other structures—monumental architecture.

This just simply means that they are big. Often large buildings are part of complexes, or groups of buildings, walls, and paths or roadways, on specially modified locations (large, artificially flattened or raised areas; as part of open areas like parks or plazas).

Sometimes archaeologists also talk about civic-ceremonial architecture.

This term refers to function, not size. Civic-ceremonial architecture is not, at least primarily, residential. It is/was often, at least in part, used for public events and activities. There’s a show-offy aspect to monumental architecture; it’s meant to impress, and to awe.

Often, archaeologists talk about ritual activities association with ancient civic-ceremonial architecture. The mounds and plazas of Georgia’s Woodland and Mississippian peoples were places where they conducted ritual activities.

Consider Georgia’s modern monumental architecture. Examples include the capitol building, county courthouses, churches, museums, and office buildings.

Can you describe some of the civic-ceremonial functions these structures have for our society today? What about for the example of monumental architecture in the picture at the beginning of this article?