The Ziggurat at Ur

The Ziggurat at Ur

The Ziggurat one of the last standing monuments of the Sumarians.  Built sometime in the 21st century BCE by King Ur-Nammu and his son Shulgi, this particular ziggurat was meant to honor the city’s patron god Nanna.  The ziggurat was meant to be Nanna’s dwelling place and as such, it stood in the center of the city and was the center of all administration.

The ziggurat was built by stacking a total of sixty four stone and mud platforms that progressively shrunk until the ziggurat was the shape of a tower like pyramid, though with a flat top for a temple.  It was built so that each corner faced a cardinal point and showed solidity by building the walls facing slightly inward so that it would appear eternal.  The monument was then covered in a thick layer of burnt brick in order to protect it from the elements.

The top of the ziggurat was devoted solely for Nanna’s use-there was a bedchamber for a woman of the village and the priests would bring things for the god’s use.  The walls of the ziggurat were covered in names of kings and glazed in different colors.

The inside of the ziggurat has no chambers, just a thick core of mud and brick to form a ‘spine’ for the monument.  The bricks were made of dried reed and mud and each weight about four and half kilograms.  The ziggurats were meant to be meeting places between heaven and earth and thus, the stairs that came about as a result of construction were able to be traversed by humans.

Ziggurats were probably very common in ancient Sumaria, but the ziggurat at Ur is the last one standing and so gives us the most information about Sumaria.

Architecture History:


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