Great Ziggurat, Tower of Babylon, and Ancient Buildings Literature Review

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Great Ziggurat

The Great Ziggurat was first constructed in 2100 B.C. By King Ur-Nammu who named it 'Etemennigur' that translates into the house that causes fear. The name was appropriate at the time as the King had built it to pay homage to the god of Sin. The Ziggurat was first excavated by John G. Taylor during the 1850s and eventually led to the find of the city of Ur (Sollberger, 1972). The earlier excavations after the First World War were conducted by Henry Hall and Reginald Campbell Thomson, even though it had been previously excavated as well in the 1920s and 1930s. The ziggurats of Ur are perhaps best conserved as one of the constructions at the Neo-Sumerian city of Ur. Besides this, other well-conserved ziggurats were the Palace of Ur-Nammu and the Royal Mausolea.

Usually, the ziggurats are three-tiered buildings with the ground level being the original construction and foundation laid during the King's reign and the first and second floors added on as mere restorations in the Neo-Babylon era. The material used primarily for the ziggurat of Ur was mud and bitumen (Woolley 1939). The foundation as well as the staircase and numerous other parts of the structure have been rebuilt and re-preserved quite a few times since the structure was excavated; especially after 1991 and the first Gulf War, the structure had undergone numerous damages due to the bullet holes and bomb explosions which called for efforts of preservation under different governments (Woolley, 1939).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Literature Review on Great Ziggurat, Tower of Babylon, & Ancient Buildings Assignment

There are many who believe that the ziggurat was primarily designed to represent the archaic foundation which was used as the base to form and place the universe on. There are still many who at the time believed that due to the way that it was designed and constructed that it was in fact the path that connected the earth to the heavens. In fact the structural temples of the Sumerians, part of the ziggurat complex, were thought to be the centre of the cosmic construction and served as the binding vertical force between the underworld and the earth and the binding horizontal force between all the lands and across all the waters. With the changes and additions made to the ziggurat, the eventual seven levels added to the ziggurat were believed to be literal representations of a) the seven heavens; b) the seven planets; c) the seven metals and their respective colors.

Joseph Campbell in his Masks of God books says that "there is archaeological evidence supporting a direct link between Mesopotamian ziggurats and the pyramids of Egypt. Campbell also states that from Egypt, the Mesopotamian culture was passed on almost simultaneously on two separate fronts to Crete and India. From India it reached China and from there it crossed the ocean to the pre-Columbian societies of Central and South America, which could explain the similarities between ziggurats and Mayan pyramids" (Campbell, 1991). The ziggurat and its construction hence lives on not only as part of the archaeological finds but also as part of the modern architectural structures as well.

Tower of Babylon

The tower of Babylon has a very interesting story behind it as written in the Genesis, chapter 11. The story goes that it was after the Great Flood, when a great human race came together from the east to reside in the land of Shinar. They spoke one language and aimed to build a large, harmonious city built around a tower "with its top in the heavens...lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the Earth. God came down to see what they did and said: 'They are one people and have one language, and nothing will be withholden from them which they purpose to do.' So God said, 'Come, let us go down and confound their speech.' And so God scattered them upon the face of the Earth, and confused their languages, and they left off building the city, which was called Babel 'because God there confounded the language of all the Earth'." (Genesis 11:5-8).

It was Alexander the Great who flattened out the tower and the ziggurat at Babylon in order to rebuild it from the beginning in his lifetime. The tower at Babylon itself had been compared to quite a few famous and respected buildings like the Etemenanki. This was a notable ziggurat that had initially been constructed for Marduk by Nabopolassar in 615 B.C. The ziggurat at Babylon was a squared construction totaling 91 meters in height but was never rebuilt in the same way once Alexander the Great had it demolished. The authenticity of this is doubtful though as similar stories exist for numerous other structures in Lord of Aratta and the Enmerkar (Rohl, 1998).

Hanging gardens

Another important and significantly famous structure of the Mesopotamian ear were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Even though there is conflict on whether they actually existed or were mere poetic creation, there are many accounts that describe the hanging gardens as a heavenly depiction. The hanging garden had humungous walls that stood 30 meters high and at a thickness of 25 meters. The top of the walls had terraces which were 122 meters wide and long with lush gardens and seasonal plants. The architecture was such that the terraces and gardens were sloped on the walls like a hill, and the dense plants and gardens hid all forms of machinery used to water them.

"The gardens were supposedly built by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC. He is reported to have constructed the gardens to please his homesick wife, Amytis of Media, who longed for the trees and fragrant plants of her homeland Persia" (as cited in Foster, 1998). There was a lot of damage done to the gardens due to the numerous earthquakes in the years following the 2nd century BC. The Greeks have often referred to the gardens as Strabo and/or Diodorus Siculus and there is evidence of the hanging gardens also being mixed up with the gardens at Nimrud.

Great pyramid of Giza

Perhaps the most famous of all locations for pyramids is the Giza. It is the prime example of how a monument can give fame to a place that was virtually unknown before. The pyramid at Giza is actually called the Pyramid of Khufu and is also known more popularly as the "Great Pyramid" and/or "Pyramid of Cheops." The pair of pyramids at Giza includes the Great Pyramid and smaller pyramids like the Pyramid of Khafre and Pyramid of Menkaure as well as the Great Sphinx. The Family of pyramids is known as "Queen's Pyramids." Of the entire family of pyramids at Giza, it is only the Pyramid of Khafre with most of it original building material of the original polished limestone. Even though the pyramid at Khafre is the smallest in height and volume from the other pyramids, it still looks bigger than all except for the Great Pyramid, because it is situated at a slightly higher plain field than the others (Smith, 1990).

"The pyramids at Giza -- descendants of primitive 'stepped' prototypes built in superimposed layers -- are gigantic prisms unique in world architecture, mathematics at an ultimate scale. It is quite possible that Cheop's Great Pyramid consumed more dressed stone blocks than any structure ever built, an estimated 2,300,000 of them, averaging 2.5 tons each. It is generally thought that the blocks were moved on log rollers and sledges and then ramped into place" (Smith, 1990).

The construction techniques used for the building of these pyramids have been varied according to the records shown in the annals of pyramids. The primary and most popular construction technique that is found in almost record is the use of quarries to move large stones from one place to where the pyramids is and also using the quarries to drag the stones in place and lift when needed. The difference in records for the construction of these pyramids exists when talking about the way in which the stones were placed and the method or procedure used to so (Smith, 1990).

"To ensure that the pyramid remained symmetrical, the exterior casing stones all had to be equal in height and width. Workers might have marked all the blocks to indicate the angle of the pyramid wall and trimmed the surfaces carefully so that the blocks fit together. During construction the outer surface of the stone was smooth limestone; excess stone has eroded as time has passed" (Miroslav, 1997). When looking at the Great Pyramid of Giza specifically, the structural foundation and records show that most of the stone for the interior had been brought in from the south end of the construction site. The stones used for the exterior was brought in from the river Nile and the transported to the construction site at Giza. In today's time, only a few remnants of the exterior stones remain (Miroslav, 1997).

The Egyptian Project Management stepped in willingly and efficiently when the analysis for the structural intensity and style of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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