c. 2100 BCE
Their significance and purpose are not clear but they are believed to have held shrines, although the only evidence for this comes from Herodotus, and no shrines have ever been found on any of the dozens of ziggurats that lie scattered in the deserts of Iran and Iraq. The shrines were believed to be the dwelling places for the gods and each city had its own patron god. Only priests, who were very powerful members of Sumerian society, were permitted on the ziggurat or in the rooms at its base, and it was their responsibility to care for the gods and attend to their needs.
One of the largest and best-preserved ziggurats of Mesopotamia is the great Ziggurat at Ur, near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq. This massive rectangular structure measures 64 meters by 45 meters and has three levels of terraces, standing originally between 20 and 30 meters high, with grand staircases leading to each level. At its highest level supposedly stood the temple of the moon god Nanna, the patron deity of Ur. Unfortunately, the temple has not survived. Some blue glazed bricks have been found which archaeologists suspect might have been part of the temple decoration.
tell el-Muqayyar, Iraq | near Nasiriyah
How far back?
2020 | Present