3000-1500BCE- Cities of Mesopotamia

After the prehistory, in the period 3000-1500 BCE, humans continued to dwell and produce. But this time they somehow started to live in some areas together. The most well-known city states in Bronze-Age was Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was located on a delta region between the Tigres and Euphrates. The meaning of Mesopotamia is “the land between two rivers” in antique Greek. In the era there are many other civilizations which are important for human kind. They invented the written language and laws etc. One of the first urban monuments sprouted through Mesopotamia and people started to begin permanent in fifth millennium BCE. This town’s people considered their city as a sacred place like before and gave the name of the god that they wanted to protect them. They built up towers of ziggurat for their gods by using mud-bricks.

 One of the important civilization in Mesopotamia is Sumer. Because Sumer had a lot of city-states like Eridu, Ur, Uruk and even though those cities somehow similar, they have many other aspects to discuss. Sumerian invented the written language and the city itself creates a language about the organization. Religious hierarchy in its temples, military duty in its walls, water management in its canals and the circulation of goods and people in streets. When you examine the city organization, you will see the sacred place of the city is in the middle and the city around it and the walls for protection around the city. The temples have a vertical focus and the religious historians calls them as axis mundi, which is indicating the center of the world according to citizens.

The Sumerian architects designed sacred enclosures which is called temenos in Greek. Ziggurats which are the examples of axis mundi have a very important place in Sumerian culture. It literally meant “bond between heaven and earth” The ziggurat is somehow coming in ancient Jericho which they built their houses on top of the other. In Eridu there are some examples of temples such as Temple VII but that time they are not called as ziggurat. Uruk’s White Temple, dedicated to Anu, was the first true ziggurat. It was 13 m above the skyline. White Temple was orthogonal like Temple VII. The city produced many other types of temples t important cults. Sometimes king of the city put some sculpture to inside of the temple and it shows us the Sumerians invented not only written language but also architectural graphic conventions.

The other big city in Mesopotamia was Ur. Ur’s temples, palaces and other common dwellings offers a unique vision of the urban fabric. The city was an oval organization and has canals that are surrounding the city and the ziggurat was again in the center. Like the Jericho, the houses of the Ur were rising street level and the lower steps for the burial. The houses generally were two-story. First floor for slave or the servants and the second floor for owners. After Ur, many cities were established and the main common point about those cities was Ziggurat.

Great-Ziggurat-of-Ur                                                        (Great Ziggurat of Ur)

Reference: Richard Ingersoll-Spiro Kostof, World Architecture: A Cross-Cultural History, p. 34-47

Photo Rights: (https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/great-ziggurat-ur-001767)


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