White Temple and Ziggurat
Ziggurats are pyramidal structures with flat tops, usually constructed as portions of a temple complex by many groups within the cradle of civilization. While we only have the stone remains today, they were more than just architectural sights to be seen. The bricks were glazed with different colors according to their level and many of the walls sported astrological artwork. At the top of ziggurats were the actual temples. This positioning was advantageous for the priests living and conducting religious sacrifices there because the one stairway up could be easily guarded, thus protecting the ritual and its secrecy. The ziggurat and White Temple at Uruk (ca. 3200-3000 BCE) and the partially reconstructed large ziggurat of Ur ( ca 2100 BCE) are two examples of the accomplishments of the Sumerians in architecture.
Female head (Inanna), from Uruk (modern Warka), Iraq, ca. 3200-3000 BCE. Marble, 8″ high. National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad. The white marble used for this female head would have been imported at great cost as fine stones for carving were scarce and used sparingly. It’s possible the statue is an image of Inanna since it was found in the sacred precinct of the goddess, but the actual subject is unknown. The head is actually just a face with a flat back; it may have been attached to a wooden body. The appearance originally would have been much more vibrant, the eyes and eyebrows would have been filled with colored shell or stone. A wig, probably made of gold leaf, would have been anchored to the top of the head in the deep groove. The wooden body would have been covered with expensive fabrics and jewels. Statuettes of worshipers, from the Square Temple at Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar), Iraq, ca. 2700 BCE. Gypsum, shell, and black limestone, man 2′ 4 1/4″ high, woman 1′ 11 1/4″ high. National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad. Sculptures such as these were reverently buried beneath the floor of a temple at Eshnunna. These are the...
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