Relationship Between Architecture and Ancient Beliefs

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The relationship between the architecture of religious buildings and a culture’s spiritual conception of god, the afterlife, or the path towards enlightenment is extremely evident in the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Buddhist cultures. The structures that these people built, were not made just for a place to worship. They represented many things to their builders, but mostly they represented the way to “heaven.” To the people of ancient Mesopotamia, their temple was the home of their god. The temples were built on top of large “stepped” brick structures called ziggurats. On the outside, they might have covered the lower “steps” with dirt and planted trees and bushes to give the illusion of a temple on top of a mountain. In the inner sanctuary of the temples they would place a statue of the god that that temple was dedicated to. The temple was believed to be the dwelling place or home of the gods. It was the priest’s responsibility to care for the gods and attend to their needs, and only the priests were allowed to enter the temple. As a result the priests were very powerful members of the Mesopotamian society. The main idea of raising the temple on this structure was to bring the worshipper closer to the gods. One prominent belief is that the ziggurat provided a bridge between heaven and earth. The priest’s ascent up the stairway to the temple represents the ascent to heaven. The ziggurat was usually placed at the center of the city, making it a central part of everyday life. The people most likely felt a certain connection, a closeness to the gods that was not present before the ziggurat. In the ancient Egypt, death was not the end of life but rather the beginning of a new form of existence. The Egyptians believed that a person was made up of a ba, a ka, and a body. The body was the vessel that the ba and ka resided in. The ba was the personality of the person, and the ka was the spirit of life that was transferred from the creator to each living person. When...
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