The Ziggurat: Bastions of Mesopotamia –

What function did the Ziggurat, these mysterious temples, have in the culture of Mesopotamia? In About History we tell you more about these impressive constructions, the ziggurat with videos and above all we explain how they originated.

Ziggurat Function

The great buildings of Mesopotamia were not dedicated to their dead, as in the case of the Egyptian civilization and its pyramids, but to the living.
Perhaps the reason why the ziggurat Sumerians have not been preserved as intact through time as the enormous royal tombs of Ancient Egypt is due to this substantial difference between both architectural philosophies since the temples dedicated to the dead always had a liturgy in which the care and conservation of the themselves was implicit in them.

While the pyramids were built for immortality, the mesopotamian temples they responded to the functions of daily life of each city-state.

The importance of the Ziggurat

For a long time, the Sumerian city was a city-temple, whose life was organized according to the ziggurat temple.
The god was the true lord of the city, and the head of the clergy was only his representative, reigning with this title over all the inhabitants of the city. The authority came from the temple, and all the products of economic exploitation came to it, then redistributed to the urban center.
At the same time there was a prince of the city, but his powers were still limited during the early stages of Mesopotamian history. Centuries later, this dualistic nature of power would be the object of constant bids between the palace and the temple (a situation that was repeated in Ancient Egypt).

The Ziggurat temples

The temples were nerve center of each city, it is not surprising that its construction became increasingly complex. Although earlier examples existed, the first ziggurats of monumental dimensions began to rise during the third dynasty of Ur, around 2100 BC
The temple of the city Ur, perhaps the greatest, was built in honor of the goddess Nannar, a lunar symbol. Although today only part of the monument is preserved, it is known that it originally had a base of 62 meters x 43 meters, reaching an unknown height, although higher than the 15 meters that remain today.. I know It consisted of several superimposed terraces, with the temple proper at its apex.

Most historians maintain that the ziggurat was conceived as a kind of bridge between heaven and earth, a physical point through which the Mesopotamians believed that the wills of the gods were manifested. Its pyramidal structure could also have evoked the primordial mountain, It was part of the Sumerian creation myths.
The famous Tower of Babel described in the Bible, and painted by Peter Brueghel, was nothing more than a Babylonian ziggurat, in this case dedicated to the god Marduk and which is said to have reached 91 meters in height.
Unfortunately, in the construction of the ziggurats, adobe bricks were used joined by a mass of mortar and cane, which is why erosion greatly reduced its dimensionswhen he didn’t make them disappear.
And when the erosion did not wear down their stones, and they still stand silent in the middle of the dust and the desert, foreign troops invade its stairs and terracesdisconcertingly observing such a cultural manifestation of time immemorial, ignoring -probably- the past that neither sand nor war could bury.

The most important ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia

There is still much to learn about the culture, life and history of the ancient Mesopotamia. However, unfortunately, its location in one of the most conflictive areas in recent centuries has made it difficult to investigate this civilization and the different wars have also left a negative mark on Mesopotamian culture by destroying treasures and valuable deposits. incalculable.

But, despite this problem, the wonders of antiquity that are the ziggurats they have managed to survive the passage of millennia, human action and the action of man to continue to amaze us with the deep culture they represented. One of the most important of all those that are preserved, if not the most important, is the magnificent Ziggurat of Urwhich is located near the current city of Nasiriyah in Iraq. This ziggurat is one of the best preserved to date and its impressive architecture still leaves visitors speechless. As the ziggurats are dedicated to the most outstanding god or goddess of the city and whose help they invoked, the one in Ur also has its dedication, specifically to the god Nanna, which was also called Nannar, Sin or Suen. This was the god of the Moon and one of the most important in Sumerian mythology, forming with his children Innana and Utu the most outstanding trinity of the Mesopotamian pantheon that represented life, fertility and the sun that gave them their food.
The ziggurat of Ur would thus become the most prominent place of worship dedicated to Nanna in the entire Mesopotamian civilization. Its impressive size (its base alone measures 61m x 45.7m x 15m, although experts say it could have been larger in the past), its large structure made up mainly of adobe bricks and its over 4,000 years old make of the ziggurat of Ur one of the most important monuments in the history of mankind.

The Ziggurat of Uruk was, together with the one dedicated to Marduk in Babylon, the most important in the Mesopotamian world. However, unfortunately, there are hardly any remains of the aforementioned ziggurat of Babylon, which has also appeared in the previous lines, which from what little we know about it must have been an impressive construction of more than seven floors painted with different colors.
Also noteworthy are the Ziggurat of Nippur, one of the most important religious centers of ancient Mesopotamia, dedicated to the god Enlil, the lord of the Air and one of the most important gods of the classical pantheon as the divinity who decided the destiny of men; the monumental ziggurat of Tell El-Rimah, in Assyriaeven though it was never finished, or the ziggurat of assur, closely linked to nature and the geographical accidents that surround it. Currently 32 different ziggurats are known, located especially in the area of ‚Äč‚ÄčIran and Iraq, although new examples of these ancient constructions are still being found.

Ziggurat video