Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Structure Research Vol.1

Elamite Architecture

The oldest documents related to the Elamite dynasty go back to 2nd millennium BC which was on an old scroll by the Sumerian king “Anmabaragisi”.

The only information left from Elamite architecture is on a printing scroll which goes back to the first era of Elamite dynasty which there is a figure of an Assyrian’s temple. In this figure the temple is in square shape which includes balcony which openings. At the back possibly there are stairs to reach to the temple upstairs. The left side of the temple seems to be protected which Nili designed curtain.

The most interesting part of the temple is the three horns which are located on both sides of building. Later on finding texts on stones from Elamite Empire determined those horns play an important role in the temples. They were the symbol of divinity. Elamite people paid enormous respect to temple, religions and worshiping. Most of important and huge monuments that they build during their era were temples.

Ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil

The ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil was excavated between 1951 and 1962 and considered to be the best preserved example in the world and was listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The site is more than three-thousand years old, and is in remarkably good condition. It is also one of the only ziggurats built outside of Mesopotamia. The ziggurat is located in 30 Km away from the ancient city Susa of Khuzestan province, Iran. Ziggurats were constructed by a number of the people who inhabited Mesopotamia, including the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Sumerians, all of whom constructed enormous examples. The oldest ziggurats reach back to the 4th millennium BCE, and they were no longer built after about the 6th century BCE. In that three-thousand year span of time, more than thirty known ziggurats were constructed, and Chogha Zanbil is one of the greatest examples of its kind, and the largest in modern-day Iran.

By building a ziggurat near a major city, the rulers could ensure that the gods stayed near, offering their aid in battle and keeping the crops growing. Ziggurats were essentially large pyramids, with anywhere from three to seven stories. The ziggurats were closed to all but the priests of these Mesopotamian societies, who made offerings at a shrine that was located at the top of the ziggurat. Chogha Zanbil is one of the most intact ziggurats left in the world, and as such offers an excellent opportunity to view this fascinating bit of history from thousands of years ago.

Chogha Zanbil was built sometime in the 13th century BCE, by king Untash-Napirisha. The ziggurat was constructed as a dwelling for Inshushinak, one of the three major Elamite go. Inshushinak was also known as the Father of the Week, and was looked at as a wise and generous god, judging the dead in the underworld along with the goddess Lagamal.

Inshushinak was also known as the Lord of Susa, where his major temple was. Some people believe that Untash-Napirisha constructed Chogha Zanbil in an effort to turn the region into a new religious hub, taking the place of Susa. The grand project was abandoned, however, upon Untash-Napirisha’s death; although Chogha Zanbil continued to be occupied and used until the 7th century BCE, when it was damaged by the Assyrians.

The entire complex of Chogha Zanbil contains eleven minor temples, in addition to the ziggurat of Inshushinak, a royal palace, various tombs, and a three-tiered wall guarding the area. Originally it appears the complex was meant to house a full twenty-two temples, each devoted to a various minor god of the Elamites. Because of the breadth of gods represented, it is possible Untash-Napirisha intended Chogha Zanbil to help unite the religions of the highlands and lowlands in Elam.

The ziggurat at Chogha Zanbil has five stories, and although it has collapsed over the years from wind and water, and from earlier attacks, it is still remarkably preserved. The entire shape can still be seen quite clearly from a distance, inscriptions are still found on many stones, water channels made of brick are still fully intact, and a number of carved visual elements are still found in situ.

The Chogha Zanbil ziggurat is has exotic features which could be compared with Egyptian pyramids. This enormous structure has build in cubic squarely pyramid style. There is no adequate water source near Chogha Zanbil, and in order to secure a supply to the town's inhabitants, the king dug a great canal from a river many kilometers away. This canal was a massive work at the time, and a length of it is yet in use.

The line on the side view of structure on top left, shows what is left of the structure today

For building such huge structure millions of mud-bricks needed to be prepaid. Thus first materials such as mud and soil were pretty close to the area. The water was brought from the closest river which river about 1/5 KM away. However the material for baking the bricks was time-taking and tough. There was not much of trees around the area therefore needed trees had to be cut and brought down from Lorestan (100 KM away) mountains.

There were many engineers, painters, designers and writer used to paint and write on mud-bricks and stones that been used in the structure.

The main plan for Chogha Zanbil is square in 105x105 m in 52 m height. The ziggurat is surrounded by the wall which has the measurement of 1200x800 m. There is an interior wall around the temple is in 400x400 m. There are 7 gates on this wall. The main and most important gate known as king’s gate is located on south east of the ziggurat. There are 14 (7 on right hand side and 7 on left hand side) place of sacrifice on the entrance after the gate close to the ziggurat.

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