Ziggurat - what is this?

ziggurat - a massive architectural structure consisting of several layers.Its base is usually square or rectangular.This feature makes the ziggurat like a step pyramid.The lower levels are built terraces.The roof of the upper tier is flat.

Builders ancient ziggurats were the Sumerians, the Babylonians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and the inhabitants of Elam.The ruins of their cities preserved in the territory of present-day Iraq and western Iran.Each ziggurat was part of a temple complex that included other buildings.

Historical overview

Facilities in large towering platforms began to build in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC.Their purpose is not known anything.According to one version, such artificial elevation used to save the most valuable property, including sacred relics, during the river flooding.

Over time, architectural technology improved.If the stepped structure of the early Sumerians were bunk, the ziggurat at Babylon had seven levels.The inner part of these structures were made of sun-dried building blocks.For the external cladding used burnt brick.

last ziggurats of Mesopotamia were built in the sixth century BC.It was the most impressive architectural structures of its time.They struck his contemporaries not only in size, but also a wealth of outdoor decoration.Not casually built in this period ziggurat Etemenanki became the prototype mentioned in the Bible, the Tower of Babel.

Purpose ziggurats

In many cultures housing higher powers were considered the top of the mountains.It is well known that, for example, the gods of ancient Greece lived on Mount Olympus.The Sumerians probably had a similar outlook.Thus, the ziggurat - a man-made mountain, which was created to settle where the gods were.After all, in the desert of Mesopotamia had no natural hills that height.

At the top of the ziggurat was a sanctuary.Public religious ceremonies held there.For this temple existed at the foot of the ziggurat.Back then we could climb only priests, whose duty was to take care of the gods.The priests were the most respected and influential estate of Sumerian society.

Ziggurat of Ur

far from the modern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah are the remains of the most well preserved structures of ancient Mesopotamia.This ziggurat, built in the 21 th century BC ruler Ur-Nammu.The grandiose building has been the base of 64 to 45 meters, towering more than 30 meters and consisted of three levels.At the top of the sanctuary was located the moon god Nanna, who was considered the patron saint of the city.

to the sixth century BC, the building has strongly decayed and partially collapsed.However, the last ruler of the kingdom of Babylon Nabonidus Second ordered to restore the ziggurat at Ur.Its appearance has undergone significant changes - instead of the original three had been built seven tiers.

The remains of the ziggurat were first described by European scientists in the early 19th century.Large-scale archaeological excavations were carried out by experts at the British Museum from 1922 to 1934.During the reign of Saddam Hussein was renovated facade and staircase leading to the top.

most famous ziggurat

One of the greatest architectural structures in the history of mankind is a Tower of Babel.Dimensions buildings were so impressive that the legend was born, according to which the Babylonians wanted to use it to reach the sky.

Today, most researchers agree that the Tower of Babel - not fiction, but actually existed Etemenanki ziggurat.Its height is 91 meters.This building would have looked impressive even by today's standards.After all, it was three times higher than our usual nine-panel.

When it was built the ziggurat of Babylon, is unknown.Mention of it is contained in the cuneiform sources, dating from the second millennium BC.In 689 BC, the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib destroyed Babylon and finds a ziggurat.After 88 years, the city was rebuilt.Etemenanki was also rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar II - ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

Finally ziggurat was destroyed in 331 BC by Alexander the Great.Demolition of the building was to be the first stage of its extensive renovation, but the death of the commander prevented the implementation of these plans.

Appearance Babel

ancient books and modern excavations have allowed fairly accurately reconstruct the image of the legendary ziggurat.It was a structure with a square base.The length of each of its sides, as a height of 91.5 meters.Etemenanki consisted of seven tiers, each of which had a different color.

To climb to the top of the ziggurat, it was necessary first to climb on one of the three central staircases.But this is only half way.According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, went up on the big ladder, you can relax in front of a further rise.To do this, it has been equipped with special places that are protected from the scorching sun awnings.Steps to further climb the walls encircled the upper levels of the ziggurat.At the top stood a spacious temple dedicated to Marduk - patron god of Babylon.

Etemenanki was famous not only for its incredible dimensions of time, but also a wealth of external decoration.By order of Nebuchadnezzar II as finishing materials for the walls of the Tower of Babel to use gold, silver, copper, stones of various colors, enameled brick and fir and pine.

first bottom tier of the ziggurat was black, the other - white, the third was painted in purple color, the fourth - in blue, the fifth - in the red, the sixth was covered with silver, and the seventh - gold.

religious significance

Babylonian ziggurat was dedicated to Marduk, who was considered the patron saint of the city.It is the local name of the Mesopotamian god Bel.In the Semitic tribes, he was known as Baal.In the upper tier of the ziggurat housed the sanctuary.Priestess lived there, and his wife is considered Marduk.Every year on the role of elected new girl.It was bound to be a beautiful young virgin from a noble family.

On election day, the bride of Marduk in Babylon grandiose festival, an important element of which was the massive orgy.By tradition, every woman should have at least once in life to indulge in love with a stranger who will pay her money.At the same time from the first sentence could not give up, no matter how small the sum was.After all, she was not to celebrate for earnings, but only to the will of the gods.

Such practices have met many peoples of the Middle East and were associated with the cult of fertility.However, the Romans, who wrote about Babylon, saw in such rituals is something obscene.Thus, the historian Quintus Curtius Rufus condemning mentions feasts, during which the ladies of noble families dancing, gradually shedding his clothes.A similar view rooted in the Christian tradition, not for nothing that in Revelation there is such a phrase as "Babylon the great, mother of harlots and abominations of the earth."


Symbolics architecture ziggurats

Any tallest building is associated with the human desire to get closer to the sky.A step-shaped structure resembles a staircase leading upstairs.Thus, the ziggurat primarily symbolizes the link between the world of celestial deities and human beings living on the earth.But, in addition to a general sense of high-rise buildings, the ancient Sumerians had invented the architectural form has other unique features.

In today's picture of a ziggurat, we see them from the top or side view.But the Mesopotamians looked at them, while at the foot of the majestic buildings.From this viewpoint ziggurat - a few sprouting one after the other wall, the top of which is so high that it seems as if she touches the sky.

What kind of impression on the observer such a spectacle?In ancient walls surround the city to protect it from enemy troops.It is associated with power and inaccessibility.Thus, the number of consecutive vysyaschihsya huge walls to create the effect of absolute inaccessibility.No other architectural form could not have been so convincingly demonstrate unlimited power and authority dwells atop the ziggurat deity.In addition to the non-criminal

walls were gigantic staircase.Usually ziggurats were three of them - one central and two lateral.They demonstrated the ability to dialogue with the gods of man.Priests raised them to the top to talk to the higher powers.Thus, the symbolism of architecture ziggurats emphasized the power of the gods and the importance of the priestly caste, designed to talk to them on behalf of all the people.

Making ziggurats

Not only the enormous size facilities were designed to surprise the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, but also their exterior design and layout.For facing ziggurats used the most expensive materials, including gold and silver.The walls are decorated with images of plants, animals and mythological creatures.At the top was a golden statue of the god in whose honor was built a ziggurat.

path from the bottom to the top has not been straightforward.It was a sort of three-dimensional maze ups, long jumps and numerous turns.The central staircase led at first or second tier.Then we had to move in a serpentine pattern - round the corners of the building, up the side stairs, and then, on a new tier, go to the next span, located on the other side.

The purpose of this plan was to make a long ascent.Priest during the ascent had to get rid of worldly thoughts and focus on the divine.Interestingly, the temple maze existed in ancient Egypt and medieval Europe.

Ziggurats Mesopotamia were surrounded by gardens.Shade trees, the scent of flowers, the splashing fountains create a sense of serenity paradise, which, according to the architects, was to testify to the favor of the deities that lived on top.Also, do not forget that the ziggurat was located in the city center.Residents came there to indulge in a friendly chat and entertainment joint.

Ziggurats in other parts of the world

Not only rulers of Mesopotamia erected majestic buildings, trying to use them to keep your name in centuries.In other parts of the world, too, there are facilities whose shape resembles a ziggurat.

most famous and well-preserved buildings of this type are located in the Americas.Most of them look like a step pyramid.Ziggurat as an architectural form, was known to the Aztecs, Maya and other civilizations of pre-Columbian America.

biggest step pyramids, collected in one place can be found on the site of the ancient city of Teotihuacan, which is located about fifty kilometers from the capital city of Mexico.The architectural form of the ziggurat is clearly recognized in the form of the famous temple of Kukulcan, also known as El Kastlo.This building is a symbol of Mexico.

In Europe there are also ancient ziggurats.One of them, named cancho roano, located in Spain and is a monument once existed on the Iberian Peninsula tartessiyskoy civilization.It is assumed that it was built in the sixth century BC.

Another unusual for European construction is a Sardinian ziggurat.This is a very ancient megalithic structure, erected in the fourth millennium BC.Sardinian ziggurat was a cult place for centuries where religious rites were performed.The base of his platform was the length of almost 42 meters.

Modern ziggurats

invented in ancient times an architectural form inspired and modern designers.The most famous "ziggurat", built in the twentieth century, is the Lenin Mausoleum.This form of the tomb of the Soviet leader has spawned conspiracy speculation about the relationship of the Bolsheviks with the ancient Mesopotamian cults.

In fact, the similarity of the Lenin Mausoleum with ziggurat - most likely - is dictated by the artistic preferences of its architect Alexei Shchusev.To see this, just look at the building of the Kazan railway station in Moscow, the draft of which the master introduced in 1911.Its main building also has a characteristic stepped structure.But then he served as the prototype of architecture not ziggurats of Mesopotamia, and the appearance of one of the towers of the Kazan Kremlin.

But not only Russian in the twentieth century came up with the idea to build a ziggurat.In the US, too, there is a building of similar design.It is located in West Sacramento, California.So called "Ziggurat Building."Its construction was completed in 1997.This eleven-tall office building 47 and a half meters covers an area of ​​seven acres (28,000 m2) and has underground parking for more than fifteen hundred cars.