When man first sought out shelter other than a cave he used whatever materials were at hand. Mud, sticks, leaves, and dead animal skins, were the first products widely distributed, much like the stuff on homes today. Like always, the ancient Greeks came up with some of the most revolutionary ideas about staying out of the weather: pitched roof construction.
The Chinese had developed pitched roofs centuries ahead of the Greeks because they held a big advantage. They had discovered gravity when the Mongols had thrown them off the Great Wall. All they had to do was put an inverted “V” between two of these walls. The Greeks had not come up with the idea of a wall yet and all they had were pillars. This made the construction of a pitched roof much more difficult. The lack of solid material support meant higher math was needed.
After these great Greco-math guys did all their computations they got ready for the new high tech system that would revolutionize construction for the next couple of millennium, the gable. The measuring needed for precise spacing, geometrical designs accentuating the art displayed on the frieze, and durable stone building materials are all things lost to us today. All that is left are the Latin words for the concepts we stole from the Greeks: soffit, fascia, and frieze.
Once these philosopher builders around the area of Athens known as Attica began their giant stimulus project called the Acropolis, everyone knew that one day the French would come blow it up. Pericles, a famous sock manufacturer, was supervising his project one day and, when looking up, exclaimed to his fellow citizens, “look Attics!” Everyone asked “what?” Again he screamed “Attics!” The foreign born labors doing the actual work took this to mean the area where his eyes were cast, the attic underneath the roof, but he was just calling out in a parochial fashion to his buds.
Later these workers migrated north, the first time this had ever happened, and it hasn’t stopped yet. When they got to Britain the word “attic” had corrupted to “angle” and as the attics became Hellots, the Saxons became Angles, then Anglos.
Thus began another empire, built upon roofing techniques that allowed the conquest of the world. Come on. How can you occupy foreign lands if you can’t build a good roof to keep your powder dry.
Thus was born the Graeco Roman Western Civilization. Once the gable roof was invented the Attics migrated worldwide, building capitols like Washington D. C. and Austin. To this day we owe our heritage to those ancient Greek roofing philosophers.
The final touch came with the Judeo-Christian transformation brought by that famous Jewish son of a carpenter allowed us to build even more grandiose structures called Cathedrals.
Footnote: Back about 1995 Tom Fracaro's professor brother from the University of New York was showing me the glory of the internet from his $5000.00 laptop I asked him to prove it's worth by searching for Pericles. The only reference it found was a sock manufacturer. It would be years before I went cyber again and I cannot find my way out of Tron's homeland. I wonder if the sock reference came from Socrates using a sock to make a puppet of his had in order to practice arguing or from the sock on a stick that Pericles saw on "Planet of the Apes" that helped them find a place to land.
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