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"Zigurat" redirects here. For other uses, see Ziggurat (disambiguation).
The reconstructed facade of the Neo-Sumerian Great Ziggurat of Ur, near Nasiriyah, Iraq

Ziggurats (/ˈzɪɡʊˌræt/; Akkadian ziqqurat, D-stem of zaqāru "to build on a raised area") were massive structures built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley and western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels.

Notable ziggurats include the Great Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriyah, Iraq; the Ziggurat of Aqar Quf near Baghdad, Iraq; the now destroyed Etemenanki in Babylon (possibly the inspiration behind the biblical story of the Tower of Babel); Chogha Zanbil in Khūzestān, Iran; and Sialk near Kashan, Iran.

Description[edit]

Ziggurats were built by the Sumerians, Babylonians, Elamites, Akkadians, and Assyrians for local religions. Each ziggurat was part of a temple complex which included other buildings. The precursors of the ziggurat were raised platforms that date from the Ubaid period[1] during the fourth millennium BC. The earliest ziggurats began near the end of the Early Dynastic Period.[2] The latest Mesopotamian ziggurats date from the 6th century BC. Built in receding tiers upon a rectangular, oval, or square platform, the ziggurat was a pyramidal structure with a flat top. Sun-baked bricks made up the core of the ziggurat with facings of fired bricks on the outside. The facings were often glazed in different colors and may have had astrological significance. Kings sometimes had their names engraved on these glazed bricks. The number of tiers ranged from two to seven. It is assumed that they had shrines at the top, but there is no archaeological evidence for this and the only textual evidence is from Herodotus.[3] Access to the shrine would have been by a series of ramps on one side of the ziggurat or by a spiral ramp from base to summit. The Mesopotamian ziggurats were not places for public worship or ceremonies. They were believed to be dwelling places for the gods and each city had its own patron god. Only priests were permitted on the ziggurat or in the rooms at its base, and it was their responsibility to care for the gods and attend to their needs. The priests were very powerful members of Sumerian society.

CAD rendering of Sialk's largest ziggurat based on archeological evidence.

One of the best-preserved ziggurats is Chogha Zanbil in western Iran. The Sialk ziggurat, in Kashan, Iran, is the oldest known ziggurat, dating to the early 3rd millennium BC. Ziggurat designs ranged from simple bases upon which a temple sat, to marvels of mathematics and construction which spanned several terraced stories and were topped with a temple.

An example of a simple ziggurat is the White Temple of Uruk, in ancient Sumer. The ziggurat itself is the base on which the White Temple is set. Its purpose is to get the temple closer to the heavens,[citation needed] and provide access from the ground to it via steps. The Mesopotamians believed that these pyramid temples connected heaven and earth. In fact, the ziggurat at Babylon was known as Etemenankia or "House of the Platform between Heaven and Earth".

An example of an extensive and massive ziggurat is the Marduk ziggurat, or Etemenanki, of ancient Babylon. Unfortunately, not much of even the base is left of this massive structure, yet archeological findings and historical accounts put this tower at seven multicolored tiers, topped with a temple of exquisite proportions. The temple is thought to have been painted and maintained an indigo color, matching the tops of the tiers. It is known that there were three staircases leading to the temple, two of which (side flanked) were thought to have only ascended half the ziggurat's height.

Etemenanki, the name for the structure, is Sumerian and means "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth". The date of its original construction is unknown, with suggested dates ranging from the fourteenth to the ninth century BC, with textual evidence suggesting it existed in the second millennium.[4]

Interpretation and significance[edit]

According to Herodotus, at the top of each ziggurat was a shrine, although none of these shrines have survived.[1] One practical function of the ziggurats was a high place on which the priests could escape rising water that annually inundated lowlands and occasionally flooded for hundreds of miles, as for example the 1967 flood.[5] Another practical function of the ziggurat was for security. Since the shrine was accessible only by way of three stairways,[6] a small number of guards could prevent non-priests from spying on the rituals at the shrine on top of the ziggurat, such as cooking of sacrificial food and burning of carcasses of sacrificial animals. Each ziggurat was part of a temple complex that included a courtyard, storage rooms, bathrooms, and living quarters, around which a city was built.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Crawford, page 73
  2. ^ Crawford, page 73-74
  3. ^ Crawford, page 85
  4. ^ George , Andrew (2007) "The Tower of Babel: Archaeology, history and cuneiform texts" Archiv fuer Orientforschung, 51 (2005/2006). pp. 75-95. [1],
  5. ^ Aramco World Magazine, March–April 1968, pages 32-33
  6. ^ Crawford, page 75
  7. ^ Oppenheim, pages 112, 326-328

Bibliography

  • T. Busink, "L´origine et évolution de la ziggurat babylonienne". Jaarbericht van het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap Ex Oriente Lux 21 (1970), 91-141.
  • R. Chadwick, "Calendars, Ziggurats, and the Stars". The Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies Bulletin (Toronto) 24 (Nov. 1992), 7-24.
  • R.G. Killick, "Ziggurat". The Dictionary of Art (ed. J. Turner, New York & London: Macmillan), vol. 33, 675-676.
  • H.J. Lenzen, Die Entwicklung der Zikurrat von ihren Anfängen bis zur Zeit der III. Dynastie von Ur (Leipzig 1942).
  • M. Roaf, Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East (New York 1990), 104-107.
  • E.C. Stone, "Ziggurat". The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East (ed. E.M. Meyers, New York & Oxford 1997), vol. 5, 390-391.
  • J.A. Black & A. Green, "Ziggurat". Dictionary of the Ancient Near East (eds. P. Bienkowski & A. Millard, London: British Museum), 327-328.
  • Harriet Crawford, Sumer and the Sumerians, Cambridge University Press, (New York 1993), ISBN 0-521-38850-3.
  • A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia, University of Chicago Press, (Chicago 1977), ISBN 0-226-63187-7.
  • Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. 
  • Leick, Gwendolyn (2002). Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-026574-0. 

External links[edit]


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Bleeding Cool News
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 21:30:00 -0700

If you're tired of the same stock standard military first person shooters, Ziggurat might be worth a try. By developer, Milkstone Studios, Ziggurat is a first person shooter mashed-up with a dungeon crawler with players tackling a procedurally ...
 
ArchDaily
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 06:52:30 -0700

The resulting handdrawn illustrations are fascinating: the future of architecture—at least in North Korea—looks a lot like yesterday's future, where tourists travel in hovercraft RVs, and workers live in ziggurat-shaped hotels inspired by mountains ...
 
No Frag
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 03:07:30 -0700

Un peu à l'instar de Lichdom, Ziggurat est un FPS proposant d'incarner un sorcier pouvant projeter boules de feu et autres projectiles. Cela dit, Ziggurat s'inspire davantage du roguelike, vos armes et sorts étant générés aléatoirement à chaque ...
 
CityLab
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:13:11 -0700

I'm nearly 30 years too late for this zany ziggurat, and still I demand to be taken there immediately. (Lego Group). Of course it's going to be fun, you might say: It's a museum for Lego! But whimsy is never a given in contracts and construction, and ...

Daily Beast

Daily Beast
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 02:51:13 -0700

Ain Kawa is known as a Christian district, with Ziggurat-style churches dotting the horizon. It serves as home base for the United States Consulate and other foreign offices. With its countless bars and liquor shops, it's the location of choice for ...
 
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Tue, 19 Aug 2014 12:07:30 -0700

This is partly because, like some elongated ziggurat, the tower steps down in bulk as it reaches ever higher above Fifth Avenue, but also because there was, and is, a safe limit for lifts determined by the strength of the steel cables that raise and ...

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Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:48:45 -0700

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Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:03:45 -0700

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