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Great Ziggurat of King Ur-Nammu, Ur, Ca. 2100 Bce

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Meghan Smith

Debra Eck

ARTH 101-01

September 21, 2017

                        Great Ziggurat of King Ur-Nammu, Ur, ca. 2100 BCE

The ziggurats are the most distinctive landmarks of the Ancient Near East. The name ziggurat originated from Assyrian which “high” or “raised up.” The largest and the most well-preserved ziggurat in Mesopotamia is called Great Ziggurat of UR. A temple common for Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians. It is also means “to build on a flat space” (Tristam). Most people get ziggurats and pyramids confused because they resembled each other. But there is a big difference between the two landmarks. Pyramids have smooth, and sloped walls. Another the hand, Ziggurats are stepped pyramids with rectangular boxes and one on the top.

 Ziggurats didn’t have interior passageways or chambers like pyramids (Scribner ). Ziggurat of UR is constructed of a solid core of sun-dried bricks with kiln-dried bricks that were plastered (Ancient Civiliztion: Mesopotamia ). Mud bricks are made from a mixture of mud and small pieces of straw or reeds. Mud and straw mix were pressed into molds, and left to dry in the sun. 7,000,000 mud bricks used to build the first stage of the ziggurat. The ziggurat has three ramps like staircases.  The size of it is two hundred and ten feet by five hundred and sixteen.  It has sixty-four feet smaller platforms. They were normally seven stories high. The staircases allowed the priest to show their importance. Priests were only allowed to direct access to the gods. This a fact that they reinforced by the public to display of religious activity.  Archaeologists discovered nineteen of these building in sixteen cities.

Around 2100 B.C king Ur-Nammu built a ziggurat in honor of the god Sin in the city of UR. Sin, was the name for the moon god (Ancient Civiliztion: Mesopotamia ). Sin was known Nanna. His home was the city of UR. They served as a temple to the gods. Ziggurats was part of the religious architecture in the center of Mesopotamia settlements after 2000 B.C. (Ancient Civiliztion: Mesopotamia ). Only priests were allowed to worship the gods in ziggurats.   Ancient Sumerians worshipped many different types of gods and goddess’s t was a place where their god might come down to earth. The most known ziggurat in Babylon which is two hundred and seventy feet above the streets is called Tower of Babel. For example, The Tower of Babel in the book of Genesis 11:1-9 was quite different (Tristam). In the story of Tower of Babel, the people of the earth wanted to construct and build a city to reach heaven. They were building a tower too pleased themselves instead of giving glory to God.  The Tower of Babel was not finished and Noah’s descendants were scattered all over the face of the earth. The builder of this story said, “let us build a tower whose top may reach unto heaven.”

Inside the ziggurat there were pigs, jewelry, pottery and grain as gifts to the gods. Ziggurats were also known as “waiting rooms” so the gods descended to visit them. They were furnished with furniture and fabrics. In many desserts, people locate their gods in the sky. Priest have enormous power and they control access to literacy, collect taxes and control trade. Ziggurats were not just a religious but also a form of visual propaganda. It is so huge it can be seen all over the city and across the flat plains (Tristam). The exterior of the ziggurat was decorated with glazed tiles, murals, or mosaics, trees and gardens around it.

   Mesopotamia is known as modern day Iraq, it was rich and diverse culture. It is known as “Cradle of Civilization” and also known as “Land Between Rivers.” Mesopotamia is between two rivers called Tigris and Euphrates. These rivers were used to transport, so the people Mesopotamia can live. In ancient Mesopotamia, the people have contributed to the modern civilization (Mesopotamia). Mesopotamians created the world’s first columns, arches, and roofed structures (Mesopotamia). The idea of building a pyramid with steps originated with the Mesopotamian ziggurats and spread to Egypt. Another item that Mesopotamia influence Egypt was the concept of writing (Aleff). Egyptians did not know how to copy any details from the Sumerian invention. But instead, they re-invented it from scratch for their own language, different writing, materials and aesthetic and religious purposes (Aleff).

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