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Geographical
• 'Mesopotamia' a Greek word which means 'between rivers'.

• Principal Cities situated in the valley of twin-rivers Tigris and


Mesopotamian Architecture Euphrates.

• One of the earliest seats of civilization, celebrated for its great


West- Asiatic Architecture fertility.

• Cradle and tomb of nations and empires.

• The plain of Mesopotamia was irrigated by numerous canals


between two rivers and was highly cultivated, supporting an
immense population around Nineveh and Babylon.

Geographical
• The earliest buildings erected at the mouth of the great rivers
draining the country.

• Can be compared with Egypt , where the Pyramids and other


early structures were near the delta of the Nile.

• In West Asia the march of civilization spread northwards from


Babylon (the Gate of God) to Nineveh.

• while in Egypt it spread southwards from Memphis to Philse.

• In both cases it developed from the sea inland.

Climate
• Unhealthy exhalations from vast swamps and swarms of
venomous insects in the entire region during the long summer
and floods during rain.

• It rendered the construction of elevated platforms for the


towns and palaces desirable and essential.

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Babylonian deed of sale


Religion
• This deed graphically shows the
• People were worshippers of heavenly bodies such as sun, impressions made by the stylus in the
soft clay.
moon; powers of nature such as wind, thunder and fire.
• The cuneiform or wedge-shaped
• Temples or images do not seem necessary, as sacrifices and characters from the inscriptions
worship of fire, sun appear to have been conducted in open consist of groups of strokes placed in
different positions.
air.
• These characters were impressed on
clay tablets or cylinders, while still
moist, with a triangular ended
instrument of wood, bone, or metal.

Social and Political Building Material


• Assyrians were sturdy, warlike and cruel people. • Lower Mesopotamia is alluvial, formed of thick mud or clay
deposited by Tigris and Euphrates.

• Thousands of prisoners during battles were employed in • Soil containing no stone and bearing no made bricks a usual
raising the enormous mounds used to elevate land for building material.
building activity.
• Clay compressed in flat square moulds and dried in the sun were
used to form huge platforms upon which temples and palaces were
built.
• The Assyrian sculptures show costumes of the time and
military character of the period. • First faced with sun-dried bricks and subsequently with kiln-burnt
bricks.

• For strength and better binding they were tempered with straw.

• Wood suitable for building was rare

Social and Political Building Material


• The Mesopotamian civilization took several years to shape • As a cementing material, bitumen or pitch, applied in a
and bring with it the perfection in the art of writing and the heated state, obtained from bitumen springs found in the
full development of urban life. district on the Euphrates.

• Mortar made of calcareous earth was used in the later


periods.

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ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER:
Building Material TEMPLE
• In Assyria, where stone was not scarce, walls were faced
internally and externally, with alabaster or limestone slabs. • Temple-complexes and palaces were outstanding
constructions.
• On them were carved the bas-reliefs or inscriptions.
• Temples were typical of Babylonian architecture (raised on
great platforms and were in the town center.
• Walls were cased with alabaster or with a skin of glazed
brickwork of many colours.
• The ancillary buildings formed the forecourts to the temple
court.

• Temple stood at the climax, with courts rising as terraces


towards it.

ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER:
Historical TEMPLE
• B.C. 4500: The earliest Babylonian king Eannadu reigned, the empire • The ancient people thought Gods resided in heights.
gradually extended northwards following the course of great river Tigris.

• B.C. 1700: Assyria, northern part of early Babylonian empire asserted her • To approach the Gods they built temples on great elevated
independence and became the great power of Western Asia. platforms, believed these to be holy mountains, with a shrine
at the apex.
• B.C. 722-705: Assyrian king Sargon erected the great palace at Khorsabad
• The temples were simple, one roomed square towers.
• B.C. 609: Destruction of Nineveh took place and great Assyrian kingdom
was divided among its conquerors.
• Buildings were raised on crude- brick platforms.
• Assyria was handed over to the Medes and Babylon took the leading
place. • Chief temples had ziggurats-artificial mountains.
• Made by tiered rectangular stages.
• B.C. 539: Conquered by the Persians under Cyrus.

ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER:
Phases in Mesopotamian Architecture TEMPLE
• Western Asiatic Architecture can be divided into three distinct • Chief temples had ziggurats-artificial mountains.
periods : • Made by tiered rectangular stages.
• The archaic ziggurat had only one flat topped rectangular
(a.) Old Babylonian period mound carrying the temple.
• Buildings were superimposed on the ruins of the
(b.) Assyrian period predecessors. That is how the development took the logical
shape of ziggurats.
(c.) Neo-Babylonian period

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ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER:
Buildings
• Buildings of all types were arranged around large and small
courts. Rooms were narrow and thick walled.

• Roofs were flat outside.

• Towers or flat buttress strips relieved the bare walls.

• In Assyrian architecture they were commonly vertically


paneled.

ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER: ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER:


TEMPLE Towns
• the whole body of temples arranged on a single axis. From • The ‘archaic’ stage c. 3500-3000 B.C. has remains of several
the gate way to the court and to the sanctuary. important buildings.

• Corners of the temple were oriented towards the cardinal • Towns were walled and were a maze of streets and crude
points. brick buildings elevated above threat of flood upon the spoils
• The plan was rectangular and the ascent was made from one of the buildings of many bygone generations.
of the longer sides by three very steep single flight stairways,
two adjacent to the ziggurat and one on the axis, all meeting
at a single landing.

• In neo-Babylonian times plan became square and there were


as many as seven tiers.

ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER: THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN PERIOD


TEMPLE (c. 3000-1250 B.C.).
• In the later temples the mud plastered external facades were • Grew in south. The people were known to have come from Sumer (north
relieved by the use of alternating buttresses and recesses. west) and were known as Sumerians.

• First people in the world to become civilized who left some form of
• This type of buttressed façade became the most distinctive written records. Skillful people- builders as well as farmers
feature of all religious buildings in Mesopotamia and was also
copied in contemporary Egypt. • Amongst the prominent cities was Ur.

• Sumerians were conquered, although the civilization did not die out, a lot
of it was absorbed in the new Babylonic period.

• At this time Europe was inhabited by Neo-lithic men who were not yet
civilized.

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THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN


THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN PERIOD
PERIOD
• It was a temple-building epoch, the principal remains are : Uruk
– White Temple at Uruk • Another famous Sumerian city was the city of Uruk. It had a lot of temples
(dedicated to the seven heavenly spheres)
– Ziggurat at Ur.

• Every city had its "ziggurat“ (holy mountain), surmounted by


a richly decorated temple chamber,

• It served as a shrine and observatory from which astrological


studies could be made.

A view of the site of Uruk. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/uruk/hd_uruk.htm

THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN


THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN PERIOD
PERIOD
• These temples were several stories in height, constructed in • The white temple at Uruk
receding terraces, and each of different colored glazed bricks.
• Raised upon the earliest form of Babylonian ziggurat, flat topped.

• A walled enclosure surrounded the whole structure. • It was located on a ziggurat rising 12 metres above ground and
plastered with white so it would be visible from far away.

• Angles of these temples were made to face the cardinal points, in • In the centre was a long room bordered on each side with smaller
contrast to the Egyptian pyramids, whose sides were so placed. rooms.

Ziggurat Pyramid

THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN


PERIOD PERIOD
Examples: Eridu The white temple at Uruk

• Oldest holy city of southern Mesopotamia, located 12 km southwest of Ur

• Had a lot of mud brick temples.

• Started with a tiny chapel with an altar in a niche facing the doorway. later
sanctuary was elongated and chambers added on either side.

Plan of the "White Temple" on its ziggurat (after H. Frankfort)

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THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN


PERIOD
The temple Oval at Khafaje:

• A Small number of temple complexes contained in an Oval


enclosure.

• There was one enclosure within another.

• Within the oval the layout was rectilinear, corners oriented


N.E.S.W

THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN


PERIOD PERIOD
The temple Oval at Khafaje:

Remains of the “White Temple” on its ziggurat. Uruk (Warka), Iraq

THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN


PERIOD PERIOD
The Precinct at Ur:

• Ur was built on the eastern bank of Euphrates.

• City was encircled by a high brick wall and wide canal which was used for
defense and transport.

• City was threaded with narrow streets, paved with sun baked earth. Along
the streets there were houses and shops.

• A Sumerian house had no windows.

Interior of the cella of the "White Temple

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THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD


(c.1250-612 B.C.).
• Assyrians came from north eastern Mesopotamia when Sumerian
greatness ended and Babylon was the ruling power.

• After incessant battles they developed an independent state in the upper


Tigris region.

• It was a palace -building epoch

• Sargon II was supposed to be the most powerful Assyrian king.

Plan of Ur

THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN


THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD
PERIOD
The Ziggurat at Ur:
• He was a great builder and built the palace and city of khorsabad.
• In the middle of Ur was a large temple (temple of the moon god) complex.
• A mighty palace at Nineveh.
• Comprising the complex were the Ziggurat and its court
• Terminated with the destruction of Babylon by Cyrus, B.C. 539.
• a secondary court attached to it; two great temples and a palace (for the
reigning king), • The principal remains are the palaces at Nineveh (or Koyunjik), Nimroud,
and Khorsabad.
• all raised on a platform at the heart of an Oval shaped, walled city of tight
packed houses.

• Babylonian features in the temple.

THE FIRST OR OLD BABYLONIAN


THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD
PERIOD • Human-headed winged lion (lamassu),
Assyrian 883–859 B.C

• Winged Assyrian Bull c.721-705 BCE

Ziggurat at Ur

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THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD


The Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad
The Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad (B.C. 722-705) The palace had three distinct groups of apartments:
• Best example and most completely studied.
a) The Seraglio: including the palace proper, men's
• Erected about nine miles north- north-east of the ancient city apartments, reception rooms for visitors, in all containing 10
of Nineveh courts, and no less than 60 rooms or passages

• Area of 25 acres with various courts, chambers, and corridors b) the Harem: with the private apartments of the prince and
his family
• Raised upon a terrace or platform of brickwork faced with
stone, 46 feet above the plain c) the Khan or service chambers: arranged round an immense
courtyard of about 2 ½ acres, and forming the principal court
of the palace.
• Reached by broad stairways, ramps.

THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD


The Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad
• There was also a temple observatory on the western side of
the platform.

• The great entrance portals on the south-east facade led into


the great court.

• These portals formed most impressive creations of Assyrian


Architecture

• Were rendered imposing by ten human-headed winged bulls,


19 feet in height

Reconstruction drawing of the citadel of Sargon II, (Khorsabad), Iraq

THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD THE SECOND OR ASSYRIAN PERIOD


The Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad

A, Principal courtyard.
B, The harem.
C, The offices.
D, The halls of state.
E, Official residences.
F, The king’s residence.
G, The ziggurat or temple.

Plan of the Palace at Khorsabad.


Gate of the Citadel of Sargon II, (Khorsabad), Iraq
The History of Art in Chaldaea and Assyria, by permission of Chapman & Hill, Ltd

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ASSYRIAN ARCHITECTURE
The Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad

• Within the mud brick platforms of the palace there were


jointed terracotta drains to carry away rainwater, joining
larger drains of burnt brick covered with vaults.

• Each building was raised on a terrace.

ASSYRIAN ARCHITECTURE
The Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad

• The city was strategically placed and heavily fortified.

• It stands on a prominent outcrop of limestone overlooking the


Tigris.

• Mud bricks in city walls were laid when partially dry so that
they solidify under their own weight.

ASSYRIAN ARCHITECTURE
City of Nineveh:

• The first capital, had


numerous palaces.

• Was enclosed by a wall.

Imperial Palace of Nineveh, capital of Assyria

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Neo-Babylonian (625–538 BC)


• Temple complex at Ishchali
• It had a large main terrace court and an upper one in which
the temple lay at right angles to the chief axis.

• On the corresponding side of the main court there were two


minor courts, and all were lined with rooms.

Neo-Babylonian (625–538 BC) Neo-Babylonian (625–538 BC)


• After collapse of Assyrian empire power shifted from upper City of Babylon:
Tigris to lower Euphrates and city of Babylon was built.
• It had an inner and outer part, each heavily fortified (double
wall with navigable moat).
• One of the villages captured on the river Euphrates grew into
the great city called Babylon.
• The inner town was approximately square in plan, containing
• First library in the world established in Babylon. the principal buildings,

• Most powerful ruler of Babylon was Hammurab. • Euphrates river formed the west side, the river divided it into
two unequal parts.
• He improved Babylon, built a wall around the city.
• Few main streets intersected at right angles, terminating in
• He extended the canal system. tower framed bronze gates where they met the walls.

Neo-Babylonian (625–538 BC)


• To check the inundation and to irrigate the plains, the ancient
Mesopotamian people constructed a network of canals,
storage basins and ditches.

• These checked floods and also gave a marvelous fertility to


the land and also served as water ways.

• Mesopotamian plain is most alluvial. The region was rich in


agricultural produce.

• Trading became a major activity as land was devoid of


minerals and stones.

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Neo-Babylonian (625–538 BC)


• City of Babylon:

• Approach to the city was from north by a broad street known


as processional path (this was a preplanned civic layout).

• Principal sites lined the river front and behind them ran a
grand processional way.

• Its vista closed on the North by Ishtar gate

• Conscious design and disposal of bldgs. was practically non


existent in the cities of ancient near east. The Hanging Gardens Today

Neo-Babylonian (625–538 BC) Babylonian (625–538 BC)


• Babylonians practised all the
• Babylon came to artistic prominence in the 6th century BC, Mesopotamian arts and
when it flourished under King Nebuchadnezzar II. excelled in brightly coloured
glazed tiles, used to create
• He built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a series of terraced relief sculptures.
gardens.
• An example is the Ishtar Gate
(about 575 BC) from the
Temple of Bel.

Ishtar Gate (restored), from Babylon, Iraq.

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Babylonian (625–538 BC)


• A Babylonian relief sculpture of a bull made of brightly glazed
tiles on the restored Ishtar Gate on the gate of the Temple of
Bel,
• The biblical Tower of Babel in Babylon.

ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER:
THE ARCH
• The arch applied to important openings and also to vaults.
• In some cases it was not a true arch, but one formed by
corbelling or projecting horizontal courses.
• True arch also practised, being probably accidentally hit
upon through the use of small units.
• Unable to support walls over openings upon beams of
stone or timber.
• Owing to the lack of these materials in suitable forms, they
had to devise some other means for doing so.

• Arches in the absence of piers, rested on thick and solid


walls.

ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER:
THE ARCH
• Held a space of extreme importance in the style :
– formation of vaulted drains under the immense platforms
– to form imposing entrances of colored and glazed brickwork in
elaborate facades.

• Isolated supports found in the hypostyle halls of Egypt and


Persia, or in Greek temples and Latin basilicas, were not used.

• stone scarcely ever used constructively except as the


envelope for a brick wall

A reconstruction of Babylon's center in a museum in Berlin, Germany

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History continued….
• It may be said, that Greece took from Assyria the
idea of the sculptured friezes, the colored
decorations, and the honeysuckle and guilloche
ornaments.

• Greece adopted much of her decorative art from


the preceding styles of Egypt and Western Asia,
which are thus of extreme interest in enabling the
evolution of architectural forms from the earlier
periods to be traced.

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