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Earthen Architecture of Africa: Of Buildings and Belief

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Friday, November 19, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0647
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Materials for this program

  1. Earthen Architecture of Africa | Handout

Great Mud Mosque, Djenné, Mali (Photo: Ruud Zwart)

Extraordinary variety and unexpected beauty are the trademarks of the unique architecture found in desert environments. For centuries, monumental and aesthetically innovative structures made from mud and earthen material have been built across the African continent. They range from roofs with life-size mud-sculpted sentinels standing guard to columns carved into fine relief. In large kingdoms and small-scale societies, these buildings were used as dwellings or gathering spaces, but also to communicate fundamental social, cultural, and religious beliefs.

Kevin Tervala, associate curator of African art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, explores the use of buildings to signify identity in Africa. He also examines how the introduction of Islam in the 7th century restructured the social and architectural fabric of western African societies and cultures, influencing the design of earthen architecture.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.