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WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE

CONTENTS

FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE OF WEST ASIA DEVELOPED


FROM 3000B.C. 330B.C.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT
GEOGRAPHICAL CONDITION
The West Asiatic civilization mainly spread in the
fertile lands of the two long rivers Tigris and
Euphrates.

The district was named as Mesopotomia


(Messos = middle, potamos = river).

The rich alluvial lands of mesopotamia stretched in


from the persian gulf and known as Fertile
Crescent which formed the cradle of
civilization
CLIMATIC CONDITION
GEOLOGICAL CONDITION
Extreme hot in summer and severe cold in
The Mesopotamian plain mainly alluvial winter

Clay abundantly and cheaply available Columned Halls and Porticoes were
building materials. common protect from sever heat

Brick manufacture sun dried or Kiln-burnt High platforms or dadoes were provided
for buildings protect from heavy floods
Bricks glazed in different colors
decorative works
WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE
FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT
RELIGIOUS CONDITION
Religion dominated their life

Gods were thought to reside in the height

Temples were built on elevated platforms usually


provided with holy mountains Ziggurats with
the shrine at the top

Each city had at least one Ziggurat.

The Mesopotamian civilization is supposed to have


left some thirty Ziggurats.

SOCIAL CONDITION
The homes of the poor were simple with a central coutyard. Flooring consisted of paved bricks or
mud plaster.

The rich had two storeys with sleeping rooms, kitchens, wash room, servants quarters and a family
chapel.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT

The ancient architecture of West Asia developed from 3000 B.C. to 330 B.C. in the following
period

SUMERIAN PERIOD (3000-2000 B.C.)

OLD BABYLONIAN (2016-1595 B.C.) NEO BABYLONIAN


(626-539 B.C.)

ASSYRIAN (1859-626 B.C.)

PERSIAN (750-330 B.C.)

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


SUMERIAN PERIOD
Mesopotamia formed a fairly homogeneous culture
even though it was never a unified nation.

From about 3000 B.C. onwards, many cities grew up


in Sumer such as Ur, Uruk, Eridu, Mari and others.

The Sumerians became powerful under the


Third Dynasty ruler Ur-Nammu
who reigned from 2113-2046 B.C.

He constructed the famous Ziggurat at Ur.

The city of Ur was at its highest glory as an imperial


capital of Sumer.

It was the light of the Known world.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


THE CITY OF UR SUMERIAN ARCHITECTURE
Ur had three levels.

The richer, like governemnt officials priests and


soldiers, were at the top.

The second level was for merchants, teachers,


laborers, farmers & craftmakers.

The bottom were for slaves captured in battle.

The entire city was surrounded by a canal


acting as a moat. The streets of Ur were narrow.

The ziggurats stood like modern skyscrapers over the city. Some ziggurats stood 70 feet tall.

There were big staricases to get up and down. The only level that remains today is the bottom.

Sumerians had no tools and machinery like us. Brickmakers formed mud bricks there were perfect.
After drying they take them to the site and set them in place with bitumen. Bitumen is a thick sticky
black stuff.

River Euphrates which had bought so much glory, prosperity to Ur, suddenly changed its course
and started running some 14km east to the city. As a result the canals became dry, lost its shipping
trades and ultimately the city lost its value.
WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE
ZIGGURAT OF UR-NAMMU SUMERIAN ARCHITECTURE
(2125 B.C.)
The Ziggurat or holy mountain was erected by the
Mesopotamian King Ur-Nammu, a founder of Third Dynasty
of Ur.

This ziggurat was erected to the moon god Nanna,


the patron deity of the city of Ur.

It is the most preserved of all ziggurats in Mesopotamia and


has been partially reconstructed reaching a height of 11 m.

It stood within a rectangular plan of 60 m x 45 m and 17m high.

The whole mass was solid, with a core of sun dried bricks and outer covering of burnt bricks of 2.5m thick
cemented with bitumen.

It was composed of three stages. Access to the ziggurat was through three converging ramps from where
a central stairway continued to the second stage. The shape of the staircase to the third stage is unclear.

Large Courtyard around its base and surrounded by shrines, among which one was dedicated to the
goddess Ningal, the wife of Nanna.

The temple had inner courtyard surrounded by a no. of rooms cooking, animal sacrifice, workshops, sotre
rooms.

There was also a palace within the courtyard for the King and his family members.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


BABYLONIAN PERIOD
Babylonian civilization mainly developed in the central southern region of the Mesopotamia.
(Present day Iraq)

The Amorites, a nomadic People from syrian desert founded


The first royal dynasty in Babylon in the 19th Century B.C.

The fifth king of the first Dynasty was Hammurabi(1792-1750B.C.)

About 1595B.C. Mursilis I, King of the Hittites captured Babylon.

However, he was defeated by Kassites whose rule lasted until 1171 B.C.

From 1300-1900B.C. it was under Assyrians.

In 1612 B.C. the governor Nabopolassar defeated Assyrians and captured


the city of Nineveh.

Nebuchadnezzar II ascended the throne in 605 B.C. (Neo-Babylonian empire)

His empire spread from Jerusalem to the Persian Gulf.

Trade Links were Improved. His reign was undoubtedly glorious.

There were the World famous Hanging Gardens.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


THE CITY OF BABYLON BABYLONIAN ARCHITECTURE
Babylon Gateway of the God (Bab = Gate and ili = God)

The city had a circumference of at least 18 km and the river Euphrates


was once running through it.

The city was destroyed by Assyrians once in 13th and again in 7th Century B.C.

The city was surrounded by a canal acting as a moat.

It was also protected by huge rampart walls which were more than 86km. In length and provided
with hundred bronze gateways.

Each of its eight gateways was protected by different gods, the main palace and gate were
dedicated to Ishtar, the goddess of love and battle.

The Ishtar gate was patterned by horned dragons; yellow and white bulls in reilef on a blue
background
The Horned Dragon
the symbol of Warrior
the God Marduk.

He was worshipped
in the Temple of
Esagila.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


THE CITY OF BABYLON BABYLONIAN ARCHITECTURE

The gate consisted of two portals one behind the other, each flanked by huge
towers. It was built in Kiln-burnt bricks, cemented with pitch.
The outer surface was covered by enamelled bricks with colored figures of
dragons.
HANGING GARDENS(600B.C.)
Built by King Nebuchadnezzar, to please his persian wife

They occupied an area of 275mx183m and situated near


Euphrates river.

The terraced gardens planted with flowers and trees,


With the beautiful fountains were 25m to 100m above the
Ground.

Water was stored in the reservoir and supplied through pipes

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


Assyrians were Originally Semitic Akkadians. ASSYRIAN PERIOD
They were warriors and Huntsmen. Their campaign ranged all throughout the Middle East.

They founded their capital at Ashur (named after the God), a city on the bank of river Tigris.

They kept fighting wars to keep their trade routes open. They were opposed by Hittite empire in
the beginning.

After its fall in 1200B.C. their empire spread rapidly.

Assyrian history really commenced under the reign of Takulti-Ninurta I(1250-1210B.C.) who
captured Babylon.

After the reign of ShalmaneserIII(859-824B.C) the Assyrians power declined.

Then followed the reign of Sargon II(722-705B.C.) founded the capital city of Khorsabad.

There was the main Ziggurat temple of Ashur which was restored by
Tukulti-Ninurta.

The city had two large palaces built one for the living and other for the
Administration.

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THE CITY OF KHORSABAD ASSYRIAN ARCHITECTURE
The city stood on a rectangular plan of 2.6
sq.km.

There were several office buildings including


a temple.

Palace of Sargon II was the most splendid


structure, occupying an area of nearly 23
acres.

It had large and small courts, corridors and rooms


was approached by broad ramp.

The palace was divided into three parts.

On its left wing, there were six temples, and on its


right wing were service rooms and administrative
offices, and on the opposite wings, were residential
quarters followed by royal apartments.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


THE CITY OF KHORSABAD ASSYRIAN ARCHITECTURE
The royal apartments had dadoes nearly 2m high. At the end was the throne room about
49mx11m.

The high plinths of the temple courts were decorated with polychrome glazed bricks.

At one corner there stood a Ziggurat on square base of about 45m side rising in seven tiers to a
Height of 45m with shrine at the top.

It had a winding ramp of 1.8m wide by which one could reach on its top. Each of the seven tiers
was painted in different colors.

Main gateway to the grand court was flanked by imposing towers and guarded by the
man-headed winged bulls as a symbol of adad the god of thunder.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


PERSIAN PERIOD
In about 1000B.C. Aryans from Caucasus region settled in Medes and Persia.

The founder of this empire, Cyrus the Great (559-530B.C.) captured medians and Assyrians.

After conqureing the Greek colonies of western Asia minor, he next subjugated Babylon in
539B.C.

After his death at pasargadae, his son Cambyses II(530-522B.C.) extended the kingdom upto the
borders of Egypt. In his reign, the persian architecture was largely influenced by the Egypts
splendid buildings of Thebes.

He was succeeded by Darius I(522-486B.C.)

He founded two new capitals one at Susa and one at Persepolis the Gateway of all Nations

He constructed the splendid palace at Persepolis

He constructed many arterial roads and planned to connect Red Sea and Nile by a canal.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


THE PALACE OF PERSEPOLIS
PERSIAN ARCHITECTURE
Persepolis was used as a showpiece of imperial grandeur of his empire.

It was also executed by Xerxes I(486-465B.C.) and completed in 460B.C. by Arta-XerxesI.

The entire building stood on a rectangular plan 460mx275m over a rising terrace of 15m above
the ground.

The approach was provided at north-west by magnificent steps 6.7mwide and shallow enough
for the horses to ascend.

The gateways were flanked by imposing towers and guarded


by man-headed winged bulls.
The gateway on the south opened to the Apadana or
Audience hall nearly 76sq.m with 36 slender columns, 20m
high 1.5m dia and place at 6m centre to centre.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


THE PALACE OF PERSEPOLIS
PERSIAN ARCHITECTURE
The stairway of Apadana has bas-relief showing the delegates, nobles, advancing in dignified
procession.

The delegates can be easily identified from their national costumes.


Next his son Xerxes I added his palace
together with womens quarters Harem on the south end.

The throne room the famous Hall of Hundred Columns situated on the
east end, was commenced by Xerxes I and completed by Arta-XerxesI.

The throne room was set up on a high platform with columns 11m high
supporting the flat roof.

The columns had moulded base, fluted shaft and decorative capitals with
continuous vertical scrolls.

The top brackets of the columns were in the form of twin bulls, or dragons the
Symbol of power.

Alexander the Great defeated the last king Darius III and put the city including
the palace to the torch. Now it stands in ruins state.

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CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE
Builders in West Asia always had a serious problem - there was not enough stone or wood.

But there was lots and lots of clay. So their buildings were usually built of brick, or mud-brick.

Another thing which made West Asian people build a certain way is the constant arrival of
nomadic people into the area: the Persians, the Parthians, the Arabs. All of these people were
used to living and entertaining in tents, and they built their houses and palaces kind of like tents,
so they would feel at home.

The Assyrians unlike the Babylonians produced Mural decoration. Often the gates of the palaces
were flanked by imposing towers and guarded by man-headed winged bulls.

They provided bas reliefs on walls showing scenes of fighting, hunting and ceremonies of states.

The chief form of ornmentation was lotus flowers, buds and band of rosettes

The temples, houses and palaces had rectangular plan and were built on high dadoes to
protect from heavy floods.

Persian Architecture was columnar

Double walls were more common. Doors and Windows were square headed.

They used relief slabs for parapets and surface decoration for the lower portions of the buildings.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


IMAGE OF TODAYS
RUINS OF PERSEPOLIS BABYLONIA

The Persians were eventually defeated by Alexander the Great in 331 BC,
which led to a great many Greek temples and theaters and gymnasia being built all over
West Asia and even into India in the Hellenistic period.

WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE


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WEST ASIATIC ARCHITECTURE