Ancient Architects

Feb 4 2012 @ 8:23am

Maggie Koerth-Baker marvels at the above clip from 2010:

This is simply breathtaking. In the video, researchers pump 10 tons of concrete down an ant hole and then slowly, carefully excavate the site to see what an ant colony looks like. The result is an intricate structure, equivalent in labor to humans building the Great Wall of China.

David Byrne recently mused over the same video and the idea of collective creation:

It’s easy to see how incredibly impressive the city is that these little things constructed. Overlap this town over a medieval city in Europe, in the Maghreb or in the Middle East, and one might see an almost an identical layout. It makes one think that: (A) we haven’t come so far, and (B) maybe the "hive mind" concept is more literal than metaphorical. Maybe we have retained elements of the insect mind, and we use and are guided by that, to order, build and organize our own cities. Like storytellers and songwriters, maybe in urban planning, we are merely embellishers too—we are reworking the same forms over and over, making slight adjustments to fit our own needs.