University of Duhok College of Engineering Department of Architecture

History of Architecture I
Second Class 2010-2011 Architecture of Ancient Mesopotamia Lecture 3 & 4
Assistant Lecturer:

Shermeen A. Yousif M. Arch. Anhalt University, Germany

Architecture of Ancient Mesopotamia Early Mesopotamian & Sumerian Architecture -ExamplesWarka (Uruk), 2900-2340 BC Was the largest of the Sumerian cities which eventually had a perimeter of over 9 km. About one-third of this great area was occupied by temples and other public buildings. The two major areas of the city with important buildings were the Eanna and the Anu districts, associated with mother goddess and the sky god respectively. The Eanna district had become an impressive grouping of temples, larger than any previously built. Cones of baked clay were set in mud plaster over many of the walls faces in the Eanna district temples, forming a distinctive mosaic decoration.

Eanna temple, Uruk

One of the most important examples of this is so-called Pillar-Temple, which stood on a terrace or platform and included two rows of massive columns, 2.6m in diameter. The great way, in which the columns are constructed, with bricks laid radially to form an approximate circle, suggest an experimental approach to an advance in building techniques, this being the oldest surviving evidence of free-standing columns. However, the pattern of cone mosaics clearly suggests imitation of palm body.

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Eanna temple, Uruk

The Anu Ziggurat is more typically Mesopotamian in its tripartite ( ‫ )ا ا‬plan for the temple: it is in fact not a ziggurat at all, but a series of temples, each built on top of the previous one and each on a high platform.

Anu temple, Uruk
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Anu temple, Uruk

White Temple, the best preserved in the Anu series, may be said to illustrate the origin of the ziggurat, or temple-tower in the prehistoric Mesopotamian temple set on its platform. The concept of the ziggurat may well have combined two separate functions, the religious one being the recreation of a sacred mountain in the flat alluvial plain and the secular one being to provide a permanent reminder to the populace of the political, social and economic of the temple.

White Temple, Uruk

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White Temple, Uruk

The white temple platform had sloping sides, three of which had flat buttresses; a subsidiary square platform of similar height overlapped the north corner, served by a long flight of easy steps from which a ramp led off from an intermediate landing. The temple, originally whitewashed, had an end to-end hall with a span of 4.5 m, flanked on both sides by a series of smaller rooms, three of which contained stairways leading to the roof. Of four entrances, the chief was placed asymmetrically on one long side, giving a bent-axis approach to the sanctuary, marked by an altar platform 1.2m high in the north corner of the hall. Centrally nearby was a brick offering table, adjoined by a low semicircular hearth (fireside). Shallow buttresses formed the principal decoration of the hall and external walls. The platform stood 13m high. Sumerian architecture, the Ziggurat and City of Ur Already very old, were extensively re-modeled by Urnammu and his successors. The complex comprised the ziggurat and its court, a secondary court attached to it, and three great temples. All these stood on a great rectangular, platform at the heart of an oval-shaped walled city, itself about 6.1m above the surrounding plain. The ziggurat of Ur, 62m *43m at its base and the ziggurat height 21m

Carried the usual temple on its top. The ziggurat at Ur had a solid core of mud brick, covered with a skin of burnt brickwork 2.4m thick, laid in tar (‫ ) ر‬and with layers of matting at intervals to improve pastiness. Its sides were slightly bent, giving an added effect of mass, with wide shallow corner buttresses, Weeper-holes through the brickwork allowed for drainage and the slow drying out of the interior: this is a likelier explanation than the theory of “trees were planted on the stages of the ziggurat as the sacred mountain, and required regular watering”.
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Ziggurat of Urnammu

Close to the ziggurat zone at Ur stood a building with rooms corbel-vaulted in fired brick and approached down long flights of steps. The floors had to be raised to avoid the Euphrates flood water. This is usually described as the mausoleum (shrine) of the kings of the powerful Third Dynasty of Ur, although there is no proof that they were buried in the city.

Complex of Ziggurat of Urnammu

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City of Ur, 2100-1900 BC

The temple Oval at Khafaje, north east of Baghdad, was an unusual complex dating from the Early dynastic and subsequent periods. Within the ovals the layout was rectilinear, the corner oriented to the four cardinal points. Of three ascending terrace levels, the lowest made a forecourt approached through an arched and towered gateway from the town, with a many-roomed building on one side, either administrative or a dwelling for the chief priest. The second terrace, wholly surrounded by rooms used as workshops and stores, had at its further end the temple platform about 3.6m high.

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The temple Oval at Khafaje

Near its staircase, against the side of the side of the temple terrace, was an temple external altar; while elsewhere in the court were a well and two basins for ritual ablutions.

• The usual plan of Mesopotamian temple before the end of the dynastic period had an indirect or “bent axis” approach, with the entrance in one of the longer walls. But later it became normal to have the entrance at one end, giving a long straight approach to the altar. alta
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Kassite Architecture The four centuries of Kassite rule in Babylonia (1595-1171 BC) were undistinguished in art and architecture generally, being marked by restorations at Ur and elsewhere, but at the new capital of Dur Kurigalzu, 32km west of Baghdad, the royal palace has some new features including a court bordered on two sides by an ambulatory ( ‫ ) ص‬with square pillars.

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