Ziggurat | Definition, History, & Facts

Every significant city in Mesopotamia had a massive building known as a ziggurat in the middle of it. The city’s chief deity was honored by the construction of the ziggurat. Other Mesopotamian civilizations, like the Akkadians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians, continued the tradition of ziggurat construction that was initiated by the Sumerians.

What did they look like?

Ziggurats had a step-pyramid appearance. They could have two to seven tiers or steps. The size of each level would decrease as they went up. Typically, the base of the ziggurat would be square.

Get Free Counseling

What size did they reach?

It’s thought that certain ziggurats were very large. It’s possible that Babylon’s ziggurat was the biggest. It had seven stories and a height of around 300 feet, according to the measurements that have been taken. At its base, it was square and measured 300 feet by 300 feet.

Why did they construct them?

The city’s chief deity had a temple inside the ziggurat. In Mesopotamia, every city had a chief deity. For instance, Enki was the deity of Eridu, Murdock was the god of Babylon, and Ishtar was the goddess of Nineveh. The ziggurat was evidence that the city served that deity.

A shrine to the god was located at the pinnacle of the ziggurat. Here, the priests would carry out sacrifices and other ceremonies. They constructed them high because they wanted the temple to be as near as possible to the heavens.

Are any ziggurats still standing?

Over the past few thousand years, several of the ziggurats have been demolished. By the time Alexander the Great took control of the city in 330 BC, it is believed that Babylon’s renowned enormous ziggurat was in ruins. One of the remaining ziggurats still in existence is the one in Chogha Zanbil. Some ziggurats have undergone renovation or rebuilding. A ziggurat in the city of Ur has been partially restored.

Ziggurat Facts That Are Interesting:

The Etemenanki ziggurat was located in Babylon. In Sumerian, this phrase was translated as “Foundation of heaven and Earth”.

The ziggurat’s height may have also been advantageous during the yearly flooding.

Typically, there were only a few ramps going to the ziggurat’s peak. This made the top simple to protect and, if the priest so desired, helped keep the rituals private.

The ziggurat and the early Egyptian pyramids were both step pyramids.

Stepped pyramids were also created for the gods by the Mayans and Aztecs. This occurred over a period of thousands of years on a different continent.