Ziggurat of Ur and Stepped Pyramid of Djoser: A Comparison
Art History 100-26
Dr. Karl F. Schuler
Title: Ziggurat of Ur
Provenance: Ur, Iraq
Date: 2150 BC
The “Ziggurat of Ur” was built in 2150 BC by the Gutians. First, let’s discuss what exactly a ziggurat is. A ziggurat is a superstructure built on top and around a mountain. On the very top was a temple. Ziggurats were made out of only mud brick. One may ask, why use mud brick? Compared to other materials such as limestone it is a terribly weak building material. The reason was because of the location of Ur. Ur did not have limestone anywhere near it so mud brick was the practical choice. Viewed from the outside, the giant mud structure looks like a towering fortress. Huge bulking walls rise hundreds of feet up and while one may think that a city lies inside but it is just mountain. Three sets of stairs, each containing exactly 100 steps ascends the mountain to a single entrance. Worshipers would make this tiring climb and be met by a long, indirect walk around that circled the entire temple. It is widely believed that this was done to give the people more time to reflect upon themselves spiritually before they entered the temple. While the Ziggurat was the center of attention, there was also a huge city surrounding it. The governmental system was called theocratic socialism. What this meant was that everyone worked for god. Whatever was farmed was put into a collective crop that was distributed among the citizens.
Title: Stepped Pyramid of Djoser
Period: Early Dynasty
Provenance: Saqqara, Egypt
Date: 2630 BC
The “Stepped Pyramid of Djoser” was built by Imhotep around 2630 BC in Saqqara Egypt. This is the first pyramid ever built. The pyramid evolved from its predecessor the “mastaba” which is an underground burial chamber with a small mound above it. It looks as if there are mastabas stacked on top of each other getting smaller...
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