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Ancient Man and His First Civilizations

The Ziggurat



Since very ancient times, man has tried to get as close as possible to his gods. The people of Southern Mesopotamia and Elam; and later the Americas, did this by building monumental structures that reached upward to heaven to house their gods and to be Temples for their gods worship. {The Pyramids of Egypt are Tombs not Temples}. Though Human bodies are almost always found buried beneath ancient Temple structures, sometimes a great many.

Here we will trace the history of the great Ziggurat of Ur. Beginning at about 5200 B.C. the first Ur Ziggurat was built. It is believed to have resembled the later Eridu Ziggurat (pictured below) which was built in 4100 B.C.










Over the many thousands of years, successive kings added to the Ziggurat, so that by the time of king Ur-Nammu, thirteen layers of temples had been added; with material from each previous addition, used as a platform for the next; one on top of the other.

Ur-Nammu, wishing to build the greatest Ziggurat yet built, directed that previous construction be dug away to form the platform for his new ziggurat.














Construction Note: The core of a Ziggurat is solid and made of mud brick, the sides and tops (or terraces) is made of waterproof baked brick. The Temples on the top of the Ziggurat had colorful glazed bricks and tiles.

The terraces were often decorated with trees and other flora planted in containers.

Each king who built an addition, had each and every brick stamped with an inscription identifying himself as the builder of the addition.



Ur-Nammu did not live to see the completion of his Ziggurat, It was completed by his son Shulgi in about 2100 B.C. The Ziggurat was dedicated to the Akkadian Moon God "Sin", and was called 'Etemennigur', which means 'House whose foundation creates terror'.




In 1854 the British Consul at Basrah, J.E. Taylor began an excavation of the ziggurat area. Taylor found four clay cylinders, one at each corner of the ziggurat, which identified the site as Ur.

These cylinders were written for the Babylonian king Nabonidus who reigned from about 555 B.C. to 539 B.C. The text on these cylinders revealed that the ziggurat had been rebuilt by Nabonidus.




The cylinder reads;
I am Nabonidus, king of Babylon, patron of Esagila and Ezida, devotee of the great gods. E-lugal-galga-sisa, the ziggurat of E-gish-nu-gal in Ur, which Ur-Nammu, a former king, built but did not finish it (and) his son Shulgi finished its building. On the inscriptions of Ur-Nammu and his son Shulgi I read that Ur-Nammu built that ziggurat but did not finish it (and) his son Shulgi finished its building.

Now that ziggurat had become old, and I undertook the construction of that ziggurat on the foundations which Ur-Nammu and his son Shulgi built, following the original plan with bitumen and baked brick. I rebuilt it for Sin, the lord of the gods of heaven and underworld, the god of gods, who lives in the great heavens, the lord of E-gish-nu-gal in Ur, my lord.

Sin, lord of the gods, king of the gods of heaven and underworld, god of gods, who lives in the great heavens, when you enter with joy into this temple may the welfare of Esagila, Ezida and Egishshirgal, the temples of your great divinity, be always on your lips. And let the fear of your great divinity be in the heart of your people so that they will not sin against your great divinity.

Let their foundations be established as the heavens. As for me, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, save me from sin against your great divinity, and give me life until distant days. And as for Belshazzar my firstborn son, my own child, let the fear of your great divinity be in his heart, and may he commit no sin; may he enjoy happiness in life.

It cannot be discounted that the Hebrew myth of the Tower of Babel was inspired by Nabonidus's additions to the Ur-Nammu Ziggurat, rather than the Ziggurat of Eridu, as suggested by David Robl. Upon completion, the Ur Ziggurat was indeed a huge structure.

Nabonidus was ethnically an Amorite, just like the Hebrews, Cyrus will free the Hebrews from Nabonidus's Babylonian captivity.



King Nabonidus, after "finding little left but the last stage and nothing to guide him as to the monument's original appearance", had it restored in seven stages rather than three.