Construction of Megalithic Architecture and Dome Building

Construction of Megalithic Architecture and Dome Building

Megalithic monuments form a significant part of the Neolithic art found in Western Europe. The term Megalith means a large stone. The Neolithic Period lasted from around 10,000 BCE up until around 3,000 BCE. During this period, the most common form of megalithic architecture was the passage tombs. It involved the use of large stones to create walls and structures. No bonding agents were used to join the stones. The stones were tightly fit and relied on gravity to hold them in place. The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange, Ireland, constructed around 3,200 BCE, is a good example. The structure is in the form of a mound approximately 80m in diameter. The Passage Tomb is surrounded by a kerb at its base made up of 97 stones.  Apart from being a Megalithic structure, the Passage Tomb at Newgrange also contains Megalithic Art that includes circles, spirals, arcs, and lozenges.

Dome building is a key part of art history. Beehive tombs or tholos tombs were pretty common after 3,000. A tholos was a circular building with a conical or dome shaped roof. There were innovative megalithic variants. The Mycenaeans tholos tombs are a good example. They consist of “a circular, subterranes burial chamber, roofed by a corbelled vault and approached by dromos that narrows to the stomion or opening into the chamber” (Dirlik, 2012). The corbelled vault was dome shaped

The Pantheon of Rome is another building studied in art history due to its immense dome. It is a huge Megalithic structure. However, unlike the Megalithic structures of the Neolithic era, the Pantheon was built using concrete as a bonding agent. The Pantheon was commissioned three times. The first two burned down, and the third was finished in 125 CE. The circular part of the Pantheon or the rotunda is 43.2 meters in diameter, and its wall is 6 meters thick. At the top is on oculus, 8.8 meters wide.

Another dome building that is studied for its rich history is the Filippo Brunelleschi, Dome of Florence Cathedral in Italy.  The dome is an architectural masterpiece. At the time of its construction, it was the largest dome in existence. The structure is made up of double shells supported by sturdy pillars. Brunelleschi, the engineer who oversaw the dome’s construction, played a big role in the “cultural and social revolutions of the Renaissance itself” (Mueller, 2014). This is largely due to his ability to rework classical components to meet his needs.

In conclusion, from the Neolithic period when Megalithic Structures started being put up to the Renaissance period when the Filippo Brunelleschi, Dome of Florence Cathedral was constructed, it is clear there has been a transition in the architectural style. No bonding agents were used to make the early Megalithic Structures. However, bonding agents such as concrete were used to make the domes that followed the Neolithic era, such as the Pantheon and Filippo Brunelleschi, Dome of Florence Cathedral.


Dirlik, N., 2012. The Tholos Tombs of Mycenaean Greece. Master’s thesis in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University.

Mueller, T. (2014). Brunelleschi’s Dome. National Geographic. Retrieved from

Reymond, R. (n.d.). Art and Cultural Heritage Looting and Destruction. Art History Teaching Research. Retrieved from

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