Religious temples were built on flat platforms, growing higher and bigger, until eventually the Mesopotamians built stepped temples. Over hundreds of years, these temples grew significantly in size. These mud-brick towers were called ziggurats and were being constructed in Sumerian cities by 2000 B.C. The ziggurat was a huge platform, often decorated with mosaic or trees, with a series of smaller platforms on top. The stepped pyramid had stairs leading to the top, the sacred spot, where there were shrines. The legendary "Tower of Babel" was one such ziggurat. Rather than the enormous stonework that was used on Egyptian pyramids, ziggurats were built of smaller sun-baked bricks. There was significance in the number of levels on the way to the top, and the placement and incline of the ramps. One of the oldest ziggurats was discovered at Eridu and had burnt fish inside it, giving archeologists the impression that they were religious temples and the fish was an offering to the gods. The people of Mesopotamia wanted the homes of the gods to be higher than their own houses. Sumerians believed the gods came from the mountains and some believe the ziggurats were shaped like mountains due to this reason. Each ziggurat was dedicated to the city's most important god or goddess, and was given a name. For example the ziggurat at Ur was the home of the moon god Nanna, while Enki, the god of wisdom and fresh water, lived at Eridu. Ur-Nammu built ziggurats in the Sumerian cities of Uruk, Eridu and Nippur, but the best preserved is at Ur. His empire lasted about 100 years and then other people controlled the cities but ziggurats continued to be built or rebuilt. All cities had their own ziggurats and they were built in Mesopotamia until Persian times when new types of religious buildings became popular. Gradually the ziggurats decayed and their bricks were robbed for other buildings. Many southern Mesopotamia cities were abandoned, and ziggurats were...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document