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From: Journal of the Southwest
Volume 54, Number 2, Summer 2012
pp. 283-293 | 10.1353/jsw.2012.0015

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

"Pre-Euclidean Geometry in the Design of Mission Churches of the Spanish Borderlands" (Journal of the Southwest 48, no. 4, 2006) was the culmination of research begun years ago as a term paper tracing evidence of professional building artisans employed in the design and construction of colonial churches in Texas. My preliminary analyses of the church facades suggested that geometric canons of proportion were used in generating their designs. As soon as time allowed I delved wholeheartedly into the subject and found that geometry had indeed dictated the design of not only the facades but also the plans of the churches. In other words, the geometry was three-dimensional; it was volumetric. When I showed my drawings to the professor under whom I had studied he introduced me to the seminal research of Tons Brunés, the Danish engineer and author of The Secrets of Ancient Geometry and Its Use. In this two-volume work Brunés set forth the evolution of the early geometric system and demonstrated its application to Cheops's pyramid, Greek and Roman temples, and the Cathedral of Cologne. This simple form of geometry was derived from empirical experience based upon astronomic observation of the seasons prior to Euclid's exposé of theorems. What I had uncovered in the Texas missions was no fluke. As time permitted over the ensuing years I put together a portfolio of analyses and research into the metaphysical background of geometry in order to explain the "why" of geometry in design, information presented in the 2006 publication.

Not explained in that study were two additional questions: How far back into antiquity could the use of geometry be traced? And how was knowledge of the early geometry transmitted? Research to answer these questions turned into two book-length manuscripts. The antiquity question was answered in my 2011 publication of Abodes for the Gods: The Symbolism of Ancient Sacred Architecture in Eurasia. My analyses of ancient sites demonstrated that by the Ubaid III period (ca. 4500-4000 BCE) Mesopotamian builders were applying geometric canons of proportion to their sacred sites. These are evident at level XIII at Tepe Gawra, where the square, the doubling of the square, the eight-pointed star, and perhaps what Brunés called the Sacred Cut were applied to the complex of three temples. It is evident at the enormous temple [End Page 283] complex at Ur, begun by Ur-Nammu and his sons of Dynasty I, about 2560-2450 BCE. Mensuration derived from astronomic observation was also used in Egypt as well as to lay out megalithic sites in the British Isles. It spread eastward via trade routes to India, China, and Southeast Asia. The heavenly realm of the gods was duplicated in these sites in order to ensure their continued protection and goodwill. How the knowledge of sacred geometry was transmitted is explained in The Empire Builders: A Socio-Economic History of Architects and Building Artisans from the Neolithic to the Renaissance. In Neolithic states the arcane knowledge of astronomy and geometry was under the purview of the temple schools where princes, priests, and state officials were trained. The twin subjects were carefully guarded until the classical period, when the secrets began to be disseminated outside the temple schools by former students and transmitted through brotherhoods of masons, carpenters, and blacksmiths. Even though the brotherhoods were being brought under state control by the period of the Roman Empire, use of the sacred geometry remained a secret through the Middle Ages.

The years that went into researching these manuscripts led me into the mythologies of the people who produced sacred spaces in such multitudinous forms. Religious structures can only be understood in the context of the worldview of those who produced them. I found that the construction, or reconstruction, of a temple or other sacred space was always a reenactment of creation itself and represented the genesis of a new age. Sites were quite literally laid out with cords, which were themselves sacred. The cord can be understood as the umbilicus that tenuously links the celestial and terrestrial halves of the creating spirit who had to be sacrificed—that is, split in...