A ziggurat ( // ; Cuneiform: 𒅆𒂍𒉪, Akkadian: ziqqurratum, D-stem of zaqārum 'to protrude, to build high', cognate with other Semitic languages like Hebrew zaqar (זָקַר) 'protrude' ) is a type of massive structure built in ancient Mesopotamia. It has the form of a terraced compound of successively receding storeys or levels. Notable ziggurats include the Great Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriyah, the Ziggurat of Aqar Quf near Baghdad, the now destroyed Etemenanki in Babylon, Chogha Zanbil in Khūzestān and Sialk. The Sumerians believed that the Gods lived in the temple at the top of the Ziggurats, so only priests and other highly respected individuals could enter. Society offered them many things such as music, harvest, and creating devotional statues to live in the temple.
The word ziggurat comes from ziqqurratum (height, pinnacle), in ancient Assyrian. From zaqārum, to be high up. The Ziggurat of Ur is a Neo-Sumerian ziggurat built by King Ur-Nammu, who dedicated it in honor of Nanna/Sîn in approximately the 21st century BC during the Third Dynasty of Ur.
Ziggurats were built by ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, Elamites, Eblaites and Babylonians for local religions. Each ziggurat was part of a temple complex that included other buildings. The precursors of the ziggurat were raised platforms that date from the Ubaid periodduring the sixth millennium BC. The ziggurats began as platforms (usually oval, rectangular or square). The ziggurat was a mastaba-like structure with a flat top. The sun-baked bricks made up the core of the ziggurat with facings of fired bricks on the outside. Each step was slightly smaller than the step below it. 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 floors ranged from two to seven.
According to archaeologist Harriet Crawford,
It is usually assumed that the ziggurats supported a shrine, though the only evidence for this comes from Herodotus, and physical evidence is non-existent ... The likelihood of such a shrine ever being found is remote. Erosion has usually reduced the surviving ziggurats to a fraction of their original height, but textual evidence may yet provide more facts about the purpose of these shrines. In the present state of our knowledge it seems reasonable to adopt as a working hypothesis the suggestion that the ziggurats developed out of the earlier temples on platforms and that small shrines stood on the highest stages ...
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 and Assyro-Babylonian society.
One of the best-preserved ziggurats is Chogha Zanbil in western Iran.The Sialk ziggurat, in Kashan, Iran, is one of the oldest known ziggurats, dating to the early 3rd millennium BCE. 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 Etemenanki, which means "House of the foundation of heaven and earth" in Sumerian.
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.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.
According to Herodotus, at the top of each ziggurat was a shrine, although none of these shrines have survived.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 kilometres, for example, the 1967 flood. Another practical function of the ziggurat was security. Since the shrine was accessible only by way of three stairways, a small number of guards could prevent non-priests from spying on the rituals at the shrine on top of the ziggurat, such as initiation rituals like the Eleusinian mysteries, cooking of sacrificial food and burning 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 spread, as well as a place for the people to worship.
The biblical account of the Tower of Babel has been associated by modern scholars to the massive construction undertakings of the ziggurats of Mesopotamia,and in particular to the ziggurat of Etemenanki in Babylon in light of the Tower of Babel Stele describing its restoration by Nebuchadnezzar II.
The design of Egyptian pyramids, especially the stepped designs of the oldest pyramids (Pyramid of Zoser at Saqqara, 2600 BCE), may have been an evolution from the ziggurats built in Mesopotamia.
The shape of the ziggurat experienced a revival in modern architecture and Brutalist architecture starting in the 1970s. The Al Zaqura Building is a government building situated in Baghdad. It serves the office of the prime minister of Iraq. The Babylon Hotel in Baghdad also is inspired by the ziggurat. The Chet Holifield Federal Building is colloquially known as "the Ziggurat" due to its form. It is a United States government building in Laguna Niguel, California, built between 1968 and 1971. Further examples include The Ziggurat in West Sacramento, California, and the SIS Building in London.
See Category:Ziggurat style modern architecture
Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent. Today, Mesopotamia occupies modern Iraq. In the broader sense, the historical region included present-day Iraq and Kuwait and parts of present-day Iran, Syria and Turkey.
Ur was an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia, located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar in south Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate. Although Ur was once a coastal city near the mouth of the Euphrates on the Persian Gulf, the coastline has shifted and the city is now well inland, on the south bank of the Euphrates, 16 kilometres from Nasiriyah in modern-day Iraq. The city dates from the Ubaid period circa 3800 BC, and is recorded in written history as a city-state from the 26th century BC, its first recorded king being Mesannepada.
Babylonia was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia and parts of Syria. A small Amorite-ruled state emerged in 1894 BC, which contained the minor administrative town of Babylon. It was a small provincial town during the Akkadian Empire but greatly expanded during the reign of Hammurabi in the first half of the 18th century BC and became a major capital city. During the reign of Hammurabi and afterwards, Babylonia was called "the country of Akkad", a deliberate archaism in reference to the previous glory of the Akkadian Empire.
Sumer is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, emerging during the Chalcolithic and early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of the cradles of civilization in the world, along with ancient Egypt, Elam, the Caral-Supe civilization, Olmecs, the Indus Valley civilisation, and ancient China. Living along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Sumerian farmers grew an abundance of grain and other crops, the surplus from which enabled them to form urban settlements. Proto-writing dates back before 3000 BC. The earliest texts come from the cities of Uruk and Jemdet Nasr, and date to between c. 3500 and c. 3000 BC.
Etemenanki was a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the ancient city of Babylon. It now exists only in ruins, located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) south of Baghdad, Iraq.
Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices of the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, particularly Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia between circa 6000 BC and 400 AD, after which they largely gave way to Syriac Christianity practiced by today's Assyrians. The religious development of Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian culture in general, especially in the south, was not particularly influenced by the movements of the various peoples into and throughout the area. Rather, Mesopotamian religion was a consistent and coherent tradition which adapted to the internal needs of its adherents over millennia of development.
The history of Sumer spans the 5th to 3rd millennia BCE in southern Mesopotamia, and is taken to include the prehistoric Ubaid and Uruk periods. Sumer was the region's earliest known civilization and ended with the downfall of the Third Dynasty of Ur around 2004 BCE. It was followed by a transitional period of Amorite states before the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century BCE.
The architecture of Mesopotamia is ancient architecture of the region of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, encompassing several distinct cultures and spanning a period from the 10th millennium BC to the 6th century BC. Among the Mesopotamian architectural accomplishments are the development of urban planning, the courtyard house, and ziggurats. No architectural profession existed in Mesopotamia; however, scribes drafted and managed construction for the government, nobility, or royalty.
Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of Sumer situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates 30 km (19 mi) east of modern Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.
Nippur was an ancient Sumerian city. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the "Lord Wind", ruler of the cosmos, subject to An alone. Nippur was located in modern Nuffar in Afak, Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq. Occupation at the site extended back to the Uruk period, the Ubaid period, and the Jemdet Nasr period.
Kish is an important archaeological site in Babil Governorate (Iraq). It was occupied from the Ubaid to Hellenistic periods.
Chogha Zanbil is an ancient Elamite complex in the Khuzestan province of Iran. It is one of the few existing ziggurats outside Mesopotamia. It lies approximately 30 km (19 mi) southeast of Susa and 80 km (50 mi) north of Ahvaz.
The Zigguratof Ur is a Neo-Sumerian ziggurat in what was the city of Ur near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq. The structure was built during the Early Bronze Age but had crumbled to ruins by the 6th century BC of the Neo-Babylonian period, when it was restored by King Nabonidus.
A step pyramid or stepped pyramid is an architectural structure that uses flat platforms, or steps, receding from the ground up, to achieve a completed shape similar to a geometric pyramid. Step pyramids are structures which characterized several cultures throughout history, in several locations throughout the world. These pyramids typically are large and made of several layers of stone. The term refers to pyramids of similar design that emerged separately from one another, as there are no firmly established connections between the different civilizations that built them.
Babylonian religion is the religious practice of Babylonia. Babylonian mythology was greatly influenced by their Sumerian counterparts and was written on clay tablets inscribed with the cuneiform script derived from Sumerian cuneiform. The myths were usually either written in Sumerian or Akkadian. Some Babylonian texts were translations into Akkadian from the Sumerian language of earlier texts, although the names of some deities were changed.
The Early Dynastic period is an archaeological culture in Mesopotamia that is generally dated to c. 2900–2350 BC and was preceded by the Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods. It saw the development of writing and the formation of the first cities and states. The ED itself was characterized by the existence of multiple city-states: small states with a relatively simple structure that developed and solidified over time. This development ultimately led to the unification of much of Mesopotamia under the rule of Sargon, the first monarch of the Akkadian Empire. Despite this political fragmentation, the ED city-states shared a relatively homogeneous material culture. Sumerian cities such as Uruk, Ur, Lagash, Umma, and Nippur located in Lower Mesopotamia were very powerful and influential. To the north and west stretched states centered on cities such as Kish, Mari, Nagar, and Ebla.
Sumerian religion was the religion practiced by the people of Sumer, the first literate civilization of ancient Mesopotamia. The Sumerians regarded their divinities as responsible for all matters pertaining to the natural and social orders.
The pre-Parsian style is a sub-style of architecture when categorizing the history of Persian/Iranian architectural development.
The art of Mesopotamia has survived in the record from early hunter-gatherer societies on to the Bronze Age cultures of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires. These empires were later replaced in the Iron Age by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires. Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia brought significant cultural developments, including the oldest examples of writing.
Manzat (Manzât), also spelled Mazzi'at, Manzi'at and Mazzêt, sometimes known by the name Tir-anna (dTIR.AN.NA) was a Mesopotamian and Elamite goddess representing the rainbow. She was also believed to be responsible for the prosperity of cities.
It is the largest ziggurat outside of Mesopotamia and the best preserved of this type of stepped pyramidal monument.