Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Military and civil engineering
Although it is wise never to indulge in any travel writing because a) it is a debased genre, and b) the great I, Ludicrous examine the folly of the holiday bore in their epic 'Oh, Really' (to be found on the peerless LP Idiots Savants), I would suggest that anyone with an interest in the history of civil and military engineering should consider visiting the Argolid region of the Peloponnese in Greece. Within easy reach of the town of Nafplion are prime examples of ancient Mycenean defensive citadels, classical Greek temples and theatres, Roman baths and Frankish, Venetian and Turkish castles; some of these structures are so immense, and positioned such in the landscape that they almost defy belief. The building techniques employed by the Myceneans, and the manner in which they must have co-ordinated the sheer brute strength necessary to transport and manoeuvre such huge blocks of stone, are particularly impressive; quite how they did it is, I gather, still a matter of some debate amongst scholars of antiquity. I have no ideas to contribute on that score (perhaps I should ask my brothers who work in the building trade ...), but I can certainly appreciate building and engineering genuis when I see it.