The Oval Temple at Khafaje

Topics: Mesopotamia, Sumer, Ancient Near East Pages: 3 (1038 words) Published: June 5, 2013
The Oval Temple at Khafaje.
A critical response.

"Discuss critically important architectural principles and urban layouts in Mesopotamia between 4th and 2nd millennia B.C., citing specifically The Oval Temple at Khafaje. Furthermore, consider how the cultural values of the Protoliterate period were reflected in the architecture and spatial qualities of the time and site."

Corresponding to modern-day Iraq, the north eastern section of Syria and to a lesser extent south eastern Turkey and smaller parts of south western Iran, Mesopotamia situated between the Tigris and Euphrates river systems (fig.1). A gulf was formed from a deeper penetrating sea line in earlier geographical periods, creating a plain of silt deposits that spanned the area between the two rivers, eventually populated by the Akkadians in the north and the Sumerians to the south. A heavily fluctuating environment proved difficult terrain to establish architectural settlement in the area; however an ingenious method of developing bricks was established through the utilisation of abundant mud and bitumen resources. At early stages of development in Mesopotamian architecture a type of plano-convex brick and rectangular one (fig .2) were invented.1 Used in the construction of platforms or walls, the rectangular brick was often baked, set in bitumen and faced with terracotta tiles and rows of pegs.1 Further required construction materials such as timber and metals were often imported from neighbouring areas.

As a result of brick construction, architectural examples of the period are monolithic in appearance, often with rectangular ascending platforms and harshly angled stairs, exemplified in the strict geometry of the Temple of Ur (fig.3). These structures are known as ziggurats, originating from the Akkadian word ziqquratu, meaning summit or height. An interesting design emerges with The Oval Temple at Khafaje(fig.4). Although no archaeological ruins of the Oval Temple remain for examination,...
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