Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Confederate statues, Egyptian pyramids, and medieval cathedrals: these are some of the places that are the subject of Making Sense of Monuments, an analysis of how the built environment molds human experiences and perceptions via bodily comparison. Drawing from recent research in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and semiotics, Michael J. Kolb explores the mechanics of the mind, the material world, and the spatialization process of monumental architecture. Three distinct spatial-cognitive metaphors—time, movement, and scale—comprise strands of knowledge that when interwoven create embodied contours of meaning of how human interact with monumental spaces. Comprehensive, lucidly written, and thoroughly illustrated, Making Sense of Monuments is a vibrant, extraordinary journey of the monuments we have constructed and inhabited.
Michael J. Kolb is Professor of Anthropology at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Presidential Teaching Professor Emeritus at Northern Illinois University. His scholarship focuses on the political economy of emerging societies, and has conducted field research around the world. He has examined the energetics of monumental building for thirty years in both the Pacific and the Mediterranean.
"In this book, anthropologist Michael Kolb productively explores the cultural and communicative roles of the built environment. Systematic without being deductive, thematic without universalizing, the author guides the reader through detailed analyses of case studies to illustrate and explain how monumental architecture constructs and communicates content. Not limited to how humans think about their environments, Kolb also skillfully demonstrates how embodied experience is intrinsic to "making sense" of places, and their significance. The result is an ambitious book that makes important contributions to studies on the multifarious meanings materialized by the built environment."
Thomas Barrie, AIA, DPACSA, Professor of Architecture, NC State University, USA
"Monuments bulk large in archaeology. In this book, Michael Kolb offers a very new approach to thinking about them, combining insights drawn from cognitive science, phenomenology, and cultural theory with his own hands-on archaeological experience in both the New and Old Worlds. You will never look at a monument in quite the same way again."
Ian Morris, Professor, Stanford University, USA