Why Did Early Civilizations Develop Art And Architecture


The purpose of art and architecture in early civilizations remains one of the greatest enigmas of human history. It is widely accepted that art and architecture were not just an expression of the culture, but also a sign of development. In other words, the art and architecture were not just mere decorations, but something that helped in advancing the civilizations equally in cultural, social and economic aspects. To understand why did early civilizations develop art and architecture, it is important to look into the various aspects of their civilizations, including their lifestyle, societal structure, regional differences in beliefs, and so on.

Cultural Aspect

The art, architecture and artifacts left behind by early civilizations allows us to peek into the cultural heritage of such civilizations. It goes without saying that art and architecture helped define the culture and traditions of a particular civilization. In many cases, these ancient works of art, architecture and artifacts depicted predominant religious beliefs, and the prevailing cultural norms and taboos. With advancements in the surrounding environment and technological augmented resources, art and architecture became more intricate, with artists trying to recreate stories, beliefs and practices in a better way.

Economic Aspect

Early civilizations were expected to uphold certain economic norms, which were carried forth through rivers, cities, ports and other settlements. The infrastructure and development of cities, roads and ports was partially done through art and architecture. We can see that many of the early civilizations were involved in trade activities and a great part of this economic system depended upon art and architecture. It’s no surprise that many early civilizations developed impressive works of art, monuments and temples that served as a center for trade and transportation activities.

Social Aspect

Art and architecture was not just limited to economic gains, but also helped in forging and carrying out social reforms. This was done with the help of monuments, temples, theaters and other places of gathering, which were built with the help of art and architecture. Art and architecture also played a vital role in fostering religious beliefs and practices. It is widely believed that many early civilizations accompanied their religious practices as part of their routine life and art and architecture served as a symbol of such beliefs and practices.

Political Aspect

Political power in early civilizations was often held responsible for the majority of the art and architecture that was created. Power was often expressed through visual symbols such as sculptures, monuments and temples, which were the direct result of art and architecture. Such works of was seen as a form of prestige for rulers and held a deep significance for many early civilizations.

Technological Aspect

The advancement in technologies such as metalworking, pottery, stonemasonry and other such practices, enabled artists and architects to be able to create intricate and stunning works of art. The availability of new materials, techniques and better crafted tools allowed the ancient civilizations to construct exquisite cities, monuments and temples, which later served as a foundation for subsequent advances in the field of art and architecture. Furthermore, due to better interconnectivity between civilizations, this helped in the exchange of resources, art, culture and knowledge, which encouraged further advancement in the area of art and architecture.

Archaeological Aspect

The discovery of lost civilizations and the archaeo-based ruins and ancient structures are evidence of a civilization’s development in art and architecture. The ability of ancient civilizations to craft such intricate structures has led to the rediscovery of many ancient works of art and artifacts that have been found in many of the lost civilizations over the years. This has enabled historians to gain access to information and knowledge, which wouldn’t have been possible without art and architecture.

Educational Aspect

The availability of art and architecture made it possible for early civilizations to share and hand down knowledge across generations. Such architectural works could have been used for educational purposes as temples and monuments served as centers for learning and transmission of knowledge. These works of art and architecture could have served as a beacon of knowledge, which provided individuals with a sense of cultural identity and a connection to their own history.


It is quite clear that art and architecture was an integral part of the early civilizations and played a vital role in their economic, cultural, social and political development. From religious monuments, to works of art and artifacts that served as a form of education, art and architecture helped shape the early civilizations. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to explore and learn more about the art and architecture of such lost civilizations so we can gain an insight into the ancient world and appreciate their achievements.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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