In each city, one structure was likely to stand out from the rest. The temple was the largest and most significant edifice in a Sumerian city. It was known as a ziggurat. Around 2200 BCE, the first ziggurats were created. They were simple structures with several floors made of clay bricks. Each floor was about 20 feet high with an entrance on the ground floor. The higher up you went, the smaller the rooms became until you reached the top where the king or priest lived.
Ziggurats were built across Sumerian territory over a period of more than 500 years. They can be found as far north as Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) and as far south as what is now Nigeria. But they are most numerous in southern Mesopotamia near the Persian Gulf. There are approximately 150 known sites with these buildings.
The people who built the ziggurats were called "sumero-accadic" which means "lordly builder". They may have been kings or priests who wanted to show off their power and importance. In any case, they had a huge influence on ancient history because almost every major city in the old world at some point had a ziggurat. Some even say that Jerusalem's Temple was based on a ziggurat design!
The first ziggurats were probably just large temples where many different gods could be worshipped.
Ziggurat of Sumer The biggest Sumerian and Mesopotamian constructions were ziggurats, which were mud brick tower-like stepping pyramids topped by temples to gods and goddesses. Around 3500 B.C., they first emerged. Every major Mesopotamian city had at least one in ancient times. They are believed to have been used for religious purposes as well as for entertainment. The people who built them may have been priests or artists.
Bab-i Shahid (the Gate of All Saints) is a large sandstone gate dating from the Timur (1336-1405) era in Central Asia. It stands on the edge of Teheran, about 2 miles from the center of the city. This impressive structure has two entrances, with a passage between them wide enough for four carriages to pass. Each side of the gate is decorated with carved panels depicting scenes from the life of Christ.
The Great Wall of China is a long wall that extends more than 4000 kilometers (2500 miles) from the north Chinese border with Russia to the Gulf of China. It was built over a period of several centuries and transformed early imperial China into a formidable military power. The wall consists of rows of stone tiles about the size of a fist held together with mortar, known as "wattle and daub". It was originally made to protect against invasion from northern tribes such as the Mongols but has since become an iconic image of Chinese culture.
Sumerian temples were originally basic, one-room constructions placed on raised platforms. These temples evolved into ziggurats, which were towering, pyramidal constructions with sanctuaries at the summits, at the end of Sumerian civilization. The earliest known ziggurat was built in Ur around 2450 B.C. Ancient writers described the Babylonians' ziggurat as having ninety-six steps to the top.
People came from far and wide to climb the stairs and pray at the top of the temple where an image of their god was kept. The earlier Sumerian temples did not have any interior rooms; instead, there were only open spaces with furniture such as benches and barrels for people to sleep on if they stayed inside too long. But over time these simple enclosures became more complex, with additional rooms added on. By the time of Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.), many cities had buildings with up to seven floors.
The word "ziggurat" comes from the Assyrian language and means "mountain fortress". In ancient times, these structures were often used by kings as a place to make religious offerings and ask for blessings before going into battle. However, not all cities with Sumerian temples were as powerful as those who built them.
The basic construction blocks were mud bricks. Ziggurat A temple with a pyramid form (City centers were dominated by their temples, the largest and most impressive buildings in Sumer.) The Sumerians were the first to construct great temples in Mesopotamia. They built them as high as 15 meters (50 feet) and endowed them with religious meanings. The earliest ziggurats were made of sun-dried mud bricks that archaeologists can still see in museums. But the Sumerians also used stone as a building material, especially for important structures such as bridges or walls. They cut the stones with water-powered tools.
Ziggurats were usually placed near large rivers so they could be easily supplied with water. Some cities had several ziggurats because they came with royal funds to build them. The Sumerians believed that the gods needed temples where they could live in happiness and receive offerings from their followers. So they built these magnificent buildings where the gods could watch over them and protect them from evil spirits.
In addition to temples, kings also built palaces for themselves. These often had many rooms with different purposes including living quarters, offices, and storage areas. Palaces usually had gardens outside the walls where the king could spend time in peace with his friends and family.
Sumer was a city-state system made up of small kingdoms that shared power through an alliance system.
The massive ziggurat at Ur (C22 BC) had massive damaged walls, mammoth flights of stairs, and a temple on the platform's peak. Around 2000 BC, the Assyrians from Northern Mesopotamia assimilated the essential ideas of Sumerian architecture. However, they also developed distinctive styles of their own.
The Babylonians took inspiration from both Sumer and Assyria and developed their own style that was influenced by both previous cultures.
Babylonian architecture is characterized by its use of brick and stone as building materials which it imported from all over the empire. It also used wood, clay, and papyrus in place of some materials. The builders used geometry and mathematics to design their buildings which made them very efficient usage of space.
In conclusion, Sumerian and Babylonian architectures were significant influences on later civilizations including those in Egypt and India.