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Cyclopean (sĪkləpēˈən) [key], name often applied to a primitive method of prehistoric masonry construction, found throughout Greece, Italy, and the Middle East. The term is derived from Cyclopes, the mythological beings who were supposed to have built walls in this manner. The Cyclopean technique involves the use of huge, irregular boulders, carefully fitted together without the use of mortar, thereby creating a massive wall with an uneven face. These walls were characteristic of Mycenaean civilization. Remaining examples are found at Knossos, Mycenae, Tiryns, and Athens. There are many Cyclopean walls in Etruscan and Anatolian architecture. Somewhat similar examples are seen in China, Japan, and Peru.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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