Topic: DesignConstruction

Last updated: March 23, 2019

Structures built during the Neolithic era reveals complex architectural knowledge that has been existent in human history. People from different cultures have created different structures yet through similar foundations for their cities. The Sumerians are famous for their ziggurats while the Egyptians are known for their complex pyramids. All these structures either served as temples for worshipping gods, as burial sites for Kings and rulers.

In common, they all served as symbols of power and prestige (Alienasoul; WiseWanderer1)The Egyptians built the Giza Pyramids to last for eternity and more than forty-five centuries later the pyramids are still existing. Egyptologists argue that in reference to the interior makings the pyramids were built for over ten years. At 481 feet, the pyramids were the tallest structure for over three thousand years to represent the status of power as they were burial sites for Pharaohs. They were built at a time when the workers did not have sophisticated tools yet they managed to construct a thirteen-acre structure with 2,300,000 blocks each weighing between 2.5 to 80 tons. This shows the high level of skills and architectural knowledge that the Egyptians had.

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Moreover, John Taylor proved that the workers incorporated the mathematical pi in the construction of the structure (WiseWanderer1).Archaeologists and scientists have alternative theories regarding the techniques that were used to construct the Giza Pyramid. The underlying premise in all the theories is that the structures were built by moving heavy blocks from a quarry and lifting them into place. Still, scientists can’t conclusively determine the engineering that the Egyptians used to build the pyramids. However, archaeologists have gathered more information on the political power that enabled the completion and the laborers that built the pyramids. It’s determinable that the workers were highly skilled, well-fed and they must have lived in a nearby temporal city. Furthermore, to build such a labor-intensive structure, the communities must have been highly organized with plenty of resources led by strong central leadership (Handwerk).

The Sumerians of the Ancient Near East, currently known as Iraq and Iran regions, built ziggurats monuments mostly for religious purposes. The ziggurat of Ur is the most outstanding architectural structure that is still inexistent although upper parts of the monument have not withheld the test of time. It was built by King Ur-Nammu and his son Shulgi in the 21st century BCE. The Ziggurat is an extensive rectangular structure that is oriented towards the north. It lies in an area of 210 by 150 feet and was originally about one hundred foot in height. The structure was built in three levels of terrain connected by three monumental staircases. The uppermost platform was reserved for the moon god Nanna, who was Ur’s patron deity (Buman). The people believed that the gods like humans had needs hence the temple at the top of the monument, which also served as an administrative center for the city.

The temple had a kitchen that was used to prepare food for the god. Just like the Egyptian pyramids, the ziggurats had four sides that rose to the heavens. However, unlike the pyramids, the exterior of Ziggurats was rugged at the edges (Alienasoul).The cultural practices and religious beliefs of the Egyptians who built pyramids and the Sumerians who built the ziggurats and were very different. This reflected in the functions and structures of the ziggurats and pyramids structures.

However, the two structures are similar in terms of symbolism (Buman: Handwerk). The structures are also different in the architectural designs and scales. The ziggurat of Ur were big stepped structures built in three layers with a rectangular base. The levels were connected by stairs that converged on the first platform. On the other hand, the pyramid at Giza was a massive structure with a square base and four slanting sides that perfectly converge at the top. There was also a significant difference in scale with the Ur ziggurat covering 28,905 square feet and vertically going up to 100 ft. tall.

The pyramid at Giza covered 566,280 square feet and had a height of about 481 feet (Buman; Handwerk). The ziggurats had temples at the very top and archaeologists have not located any remains at the structures suggesting that they were used for worship and burial purposes. Meanwhile, the Giza pyramids were built for the burial of the Egyptian pharaohs (Buman). The materials used to build the structures were very different. The mud bricks used by the Sumerians created similar lines as the ones observed in pyramids, however, it also resulted in a difference in the exterior look as well. Furthermore, the mud bricks were more susceptible to erosion compared to the granite and limestone used by the Egyptians.

This is the reason why most pyramids still exist while only the Ur ziggurats remain (Buman; Handwerk). Nonetheless, besides all the structural and functional difference, symbolism played a crucial role in the building of the ziggurats and the pyramids as both had common features in the beliefs of the peoples and the message the rulers were trying portraying. They were all used to show the wealth, stability and prestige of rulers. Also, they were built above flat plains surrounding them to symbolize “the bridges between the earth and the heavens – a meeting place for humans and their gods”. They also required extensive and skilled labor force to build and construct the structures.

A factor that would require both the Sumerians and Egyptians to possess numerous wealth to pay the laborers (Buman; Handwerk).


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