The ziggurat was always constructed with a mud brick core and an outside coated in baked brick. It had no internal chambers and was typically square or rectangular in shape, averaging 170 feet (50 metres) square or 125 x 170 feet (40 x 50 metres) at the base. There were three levels to the building with each level slightly smaller than the previous one. The top platform was usually about 35 feet (10 metres) high.
The first ziggurats were probably built by the early Chaldees in approximately 5500 B.C. However, it was not until much later that they were adopted by other nations of Asia Minor. The Akkadians are said to have built the first true ziggurats in what is now Iraq. The Egyptians also built several thousand-year-old ziggurats, some of which still stand in Egypt today. The Babylonians are known to have built many ziggurats, some of which survive today in various parts of the world. The Persian builders even improved on their Egyptian counterparts by using large stones instead of bricks for the foundation layer of the pyramid.
A ziggurat is a stepped pyramid or tower used for religious purposes. They were important elements in the religion of the ancient Sumerians and Assyrians. Ziggurats were commonly built by kings as symbols of their power and often included numerous rooms for housing sacred objects such as statues and tablets used in worship rituals.
There are around 25 known ziggurats, which are evenly distributed across Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria. No ziggurat has been rebuilt to its original height. The largest known structure is that of Nanna at Ur, which was 315 feet (97 metres) tall.
The ziggurat was originally designed as a temple for the city-state's main god. It was usually built near a river or other water source, since this was viewed as beneficial for agriculture. As time went on, however, other gods became popular throughout Mesopotamia, so more and more ziggurats were built. A typical city might have several dozen or even hundreds of these monuments.
Each region of Mesopotamia had its own unique building techniques and materials available. For example, the Babylonians used white clay rather than mud for most of their structures because it was easier to work with. They also used brick instead of stone for their buildings because it was much cheaper. Finally, they often inserted wooden beams into the walls to increase their strength.
The ziggurat was destroyed during the invasion of Sennacherib in 689 B.C. He burned many of them down to prevent their cities from rebelling against his rule. However, some were left standing as a reminder of his brutality.
The ziggurat was constructed by stacking sixty-four stone and mud platforms that gradually shrank until the ziggurat was the shape of a tower, similar to a pyramid, but with a flat top for a temple. The construction of the Ziggurat of Babylon is estimated to have taken about ten years.
In modern times, builders create artificial hills or mountains as landmarks and signs of prestige. These are called "monuments" and can be seen all over the world. In ancient times, monuments were built from hard stones which could not be dug out of the ground or collected after a flood. But now we know much more efficient ways to build with soil and sand, so these days's monuments are usually made of concrete or other materials that can be destroyed or removed.
There are many examples of ziggurats in ancient Iran and Iraq, some of which are shown below:
Ziggurat of Ur: This is one of the earliest known ziggurats and it is said to have been built by Lugalanda around 2900 B.C. It is located about fifty miles south of Baghdad, Iraq.
Ziggurat of Gugara Ishtar: This monument is thought to be from around 1800 B.C. and it is located about seventy-five miles north of Baghdad, Iraq.
Brick made of mud The ziggurat's core is composed of mud brick, which is coated with baked bricks placed with bitumen, a naturally occurring tar. Each baked brick measured around 11.5 × 11.5 x 2.75 inches and weighed up to 33 pounds. The exterior of the ziggurat was made of sun-dried mud brick.
Stone The ziggurat was also made of stone. The most important type of stone used by the Mesopotamians was limestone, but they also used granite, dolomite, and quartz. The stones were cut into blocks that usually measured around 1 meter square or more. Some buildings had several layers of stone veneer to make them look like the ziggurat.
Wood The parts of the ziggurat that were not stone included its roof and floor. These were made of wood, mostly pine. The roof was covered in shingles made of sheepskin or acacia bark.
The first ziggurats were built around 3500 B.C. by the people who lived in the cities along the lower Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. They probably grew in size over time until they became large structures that you could see from far away. There are still many ziggurats in Iraq today.