A pyramid-like structure erected in many ancient Mesopotamian cities, usually near a temple or as part of a temple complex, and used for religious ceremonial purposes. The modern term is derived from the Akkadian word ziqqurratu. Although they superficially resemble Egyptian pyramids, Mesopotamian ziggurats were different in some important ways. First, whereas Egyptian pyramids were primarily used as tombs for kings or other noble persons, ziggurats were seen as dwelling places of gods and were used by Mesopotamian priests during religious worship. Also, zig-gurats were solid structures having no internal chambers, unlike Egyptian pyramids, which were honeycombed with passageways and burial chambers. In addition, Egyptian pyramids had no stairways on the outside and came to a point at the top. In contrast, a ziggurat had a large stairway, or in some cases a ramp, for priests or kings to walk upward, and at the top of a ziggurat was a small chapel or temple. one way in which ziggurats were similar to Egyptian pyramids is that both kinds of structures were viewed as symbolic representations of the primeval, or very ancient, mound of creation, the first land to appear on Earth.
   Typically, ziggurats were constructed of dried mud bricks, sometimes with a layer of more durable oven-baked bricks on the outside. Evidence also indicates that they were multicolored, each succeeding level painted in a different, usually bright color. In general, most Babylonian ziggu-rats were freestanding and separate from other buildings in a temple complex. Assyrian ziggurats, by contrast, were usually attached directly in some way to a ground-level temple. overall, these structures were intended as "ladders to the gods" or "stairways to heaven," so to speak, so that the priests who ascended the steps or ramp could be nearer to divine forces than ordinary people. Ziggurats also had a political dimension. In this regard, they were signs of the wealth, power, and prestige of the city-states, nations, or empires that could afford to erect them. Indeed, they were extremely expensive to build because each one took thousands of laborers many years to complete.
   So far, archaeologists have found the remains of thirty-two ziggurats in and around the Mesopotamian plains. Of these, four are in southern Iran; most of the rest are in Iraq. The earliest examples were erected in the third millennium b.c., and the last appeared in the sixth century b.c. Among the best-preserved examples is the ziggurat at Choga Zanbil (or Dur-Untash), near Susa in southwestern Iran. The ziggurat at Ur in southeastern Mesopotamia, investigated in detail by the great Assyriologist Charles Leonard Woolley in the 1920s, is also fairly well preserved. In contrast, little is left of one of the greatest of all the ziggurats. This was the Ete-menanki, dedicated to the god Marduk, in Babylon. Today, only a few sections of the base survive, but experts believe that in its heyday it had three large staircases leading to the upper temple, and that the temple was painted a bright indigo.
   Interestingly, a number of modern architects have admired the ziggurat and copied its style in their own buildings. One of the more striking examples is the University of Tennessee's Hodges Library in Knoxville, completed in 1987; it features a series of stepped levels that resemble those of an ancient ziggurat.

Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary. . 2015.

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  • Ziggurat — ig gu*rat, n. A temple tower of the Babylonians or Assyrians, consisting of a lofty pyramidal structure, built in successive stages, with outside staircases, and a shrine at the top; called also {zikkurat}. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ziggurat — Ziggurat, monumentale tempelbygninger i Mesopotamien. Er fra 3. årtusinde f.Kr …   Danske encyklopædi

  • ziggurat — (n.) 1858, from Assyrian ziqquratu height, pinnacle, from zaqaru to be high …   Etymology dictionary

  • ziggurat — [zik′oo ratzig′oo rat΄] n. [Akkadian ziqqurratu, temple tower < zaqru, high, massive] a temple tower of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, in the form of a terraced pyramid with each story smaller than the one below it: also zikkurat… …   English World dictionary

  • Ziggurat — Une ziggurat, ou ziggourat, (prononcer /zi.gu.ʁat/), est un édifice religieux mésopotamien à degrés, présent aussi en Élam, constitué de plusieurs terrasses supportant probablement un temple construit à son sommet. Le terme vient de l akkadien… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ziggurat — A ziggurat (Akkadian ziqqurrat , D stem of zaqāru to build on a raised area ) was a temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley and Iran, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories or levels. Some modern buildings… …   Wikipedia

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  • ziggurat — /zig oo rat /, n. (among the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians) a temple of Sumerian origin in the form of a pyramidal tower, consisting of a number of stories and having about the outside a broad ascent winding round the structure, presenting… …   Universalium

  • Ziggurat — Choghazanbil Ziggurat, Iran Ein Zikkurat, Ziqqurrat, Zikkurrat, Ziggurat oder Schiggorat (babylonisch „hoch aufragend, aufgetürmt“; „Himmelshügel“; „Götterberg“; Plural: Zikkurate) ist ein pyramidenartiger Stufentempel in Mesopotamien. Die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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