Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 101

Ancient Near East

History of Architecture 1

Cradle of First Civilization

Historical Background

Mesopotamia is a Greek word that originated

from Meso which is between and Potamos
which is river. also known as between the
rivers, specifically, the area between the Tigris
River and Euphrates River (present day Iraq)


Located in and around the valley of

Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern
The land had poorly defined edges.
The land stretches from
Mediterranean to eastern borders of
present Iran.


Over the centuries, many different people

lived in this area creating a collection of
independent states

4500 to 2000 BC Sumerian culture,

peaking in 3300 BC
2350 2200 BC Akkadian Period
2000-1600 BC Babylonian Culture

1600 1717 BC Kessites and Hittites

1350 612 BC Assyrian Culture
612 539 BC Neo Babylonian culture
539 330 BC Persian culture

Architecture of the Civilization


Assyrian Architecture
Babylonian Architecture
Persian Architecture

Sumerian Architecture
Mud was their main building material
Mud was formed into brick, sun dried
and built into massive walls
Walls were thick to compensate the
weakness of mud
They were reinforce with buttresses

Spaces were narrow because of the

walling material
Faade of buildings were whitewashed
and painted to disguise the lack of
attraction of the material
Buttresses and recesses also relieve
the monotony of the plastered wall

Temples was their major building type

Cities were enclosed in walls with
Ziggurat temples and palace as
centers of the city
Fabric of the city is made up of
residences mixed with commercial
and industrial buildings

The houses are densely packed with

narrow streets between them.
Streets were fronted by courtyard
houses of one story high
The houses streets were usually
punctuated by narrow openings that
serve as entrance to houses

Sumerian Architecture
White Temple of Uruk

White Temple of Uruk

The white temple was built around 3000 BC

The white temple is an example of earliest
development of Sumerian temples and
The temple is place on a great mound of earth
called Ziggurat, rising more than 12 meters
above ground
The white temple was built by the ruler

The temple is
rectangular in
In the inner part of
the temple was a
long sanctuary,
that contains an
altar and offering

Rooms oblong and in

shape and vaulted
surrounded the long
side of the sanctuary
The temple had
imposing doorways
located at its either

Series of staircases
and stepped levels
lead worships to the
entrance of the
The temple was
plastered white
externally, making it
visible for miles in the

Great Ziggurat at Ur

Ur was a Sumerian city located near

the mouth of the Euphrates river.
The city was a thriving place by 2600
It was considered sacred to Nnanna,
the moon god
It was considered sacred to Nnanna,
the moon god

It was built on the

ruins of previous
temples and
incorporated their
It was constructed of
mud bricks reinforced
with thin layers of
matting and cables of
twisted reeds

The Great Ziggurat

was located as part of
a temple complex
The complex
comprised of the
ziggurat and its court
and a secondary court
attached to it called
the court of Nannar

The temple sits on a

three multi-tiered
Ziggurat mountain
Access to the temple
is through triple
stairways that
converge at the
summit of the first

From this stage, one

passed through a
portal with dome roof
to fourth staircase
The fourth staircase
gave access to the
second and third
stages of the ziggurat
and to the temple

The temple is usually

access only by the
priest, where gods are
believed to come
down and give
Most of what is known
about what exist on
top of the ziggurat is

Oval Temple of Khafaje

Oval Temple

Oval temple is an
example of second type
of Sumerian temples
It was constructed
around 2600 BC
The temple is named
oval because of its
massive oval walls
surrounding the temple

Located in the city,

emphasis in its
organization is on
enclosing space within
Space is enclosed to
create island of peace
from a busy city
It had subsidiary
chambers at the ground

The temple is raised

on a simple platform
enclosed within the
oval walls
The outer wall was
extended to protect a
priestly residence with
its own chapel

The inner court had

an offering table and
showed evidence of
animal sacrifices
The inner court also
had basins for
ablution as well as
workshops and
storage rooms

Assyrian Architecture

is the name for a part of ancient

Mesopotamia located on the upper Tigris
The principal cities of Assyria were
Nineveh, Dun, Khorsabad, Nimrudand Assur
During the Assyrian periods, temples lost
their importance to palaces


Assyrian kings built walled

cities, in which palaces
took precedent over
religious buildings
Palaces were raised on
brick platforms, and their
principal entrance ways
were flanked by guardian
figures of human headed
bulls or lions of stone

Their halls and

corridors were lined
with pictures and
inscriptions carved in
relief on stone slabs
up to 9 feet high
The interiors were
richly decorated and

The walls of cities

were usually
strengthened by many
towers serving as
defensive positions
The city of Khorsabad
demonstrate the
might and authority of
the Assyrian kings

City of Khorsabad

Khorsabad was
designed as the royal
capital of Assyria
The city was built on a
flat land with an area
of about a square mile
and was enclosed by a
double wall with seven
city gates

Only a part of the city

including palaces, temples
and administrative
headquarters was built
The city was built on a flat
land with an area of about
a square mile and was
enclosed by a double wall
with seven city gates
The palace was located on
the north west side of the

Palace of Sargon

Palace of Sargon

The palace is approached

at ground level through a
walled citadel
Within the citadel is found
the main palace, two
minor palaces and a
temple dedicated to Nabu
The main palace was set
on a platform located on
the northern side of the

The palace was arranged

around two major
courtyards about which
were grouped smaller
The palace consisted of
large and smaller rooms
with the throne room
being the largest
The building was
decorated with relief
sculpture and glazed brick

Babylonian Architecture

the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC and the

end of the Assyrian civilization, focus of
Mesopotamian civilization shifted to old
A new dynasty of kings, including
Nebuchadnezzar, revived old Babylonian
culture to create a Neo-Babylonian civilization

The capital old

Babylon was enlarged
and heavily fortified
Traditional building
was enhanced by a
new form of faade
ornament consisting
of figures designed in
colored glazed brick

City of Babylon

The city of Babylon is shaped in the form

of a quadrangle sitting across and pierced
by the Euphrates
The city was surrounded by a fortification
of double walls
These had defensive towers that project
well above the walls

The walls also had a large moat in

front, which was also used for
The length of the wall and moat is
about five and a quarter miles
The city had a palace,
Nebuchadnezzars palace, located on
its northern side on the outer wall

Ishtar Gate

From the palace originated a

procession street that cuts through
the city raised above the ground to
the tower of Babe
The Ishtar gate is built across the
double walls of the city fortification
The gate had a pair of projecting
towers on each wall

All the facades of gates and adjoining

streets were faced with blue glazed
bricks and ornamented with figures of
heraldic animals-lions, bulls, and
None of the buildings of old Babylon
has survived to the present age

Architecture in the city of Babylon

Babylonian Architecture
Nebuchadnezzars palace covered a
land area of 900 feet by 600 feet
It had administrative offices, barracks,
the kings harem, private apartment
all arranged around five courtyards
The palace is also praised for its
legendary hanging garden

This is recorded as one of the seven

wonders of the ancient world, but exact
knowledge of the nature of this garden is
not known
Temples and towers were also prominent
architectural elements of Babylon
The legendary tower of Babel located at the
end of procession street is mentioned in
the Christian bible

There is also no information about the

design and construction of the tower
Most of what is available on the tower is

Persian Architecture

Persian empire started in about 560 BC

when Cyrus the great from the province of Fars
swept over the region with his powerful cavalry
By the end of the century, Cyrus and his
successors, Darius 1 and Xerxes had
conquered the entire civilized world from Indus
to Danube River with the exception of Greece

It was the wish of the Persians to

construct great buildings
They were to achieve greatness with
their architectural solutions
The architectural solutions were a
synthesis of ideas gathered from
almost all parts of their empire and
from the Greeks and Egyptians

Their materials of construction was

also from different locations
Material included mud-brick from
Babylon, wooden roof beams from
Lebanon, precious material from India
and Egypt, Stone columns quarried
and carved by Ionic Greeks

Despite sourcing materials and ideas from

different areas, their architecture was
original and distinctive in style

Palace at Persepolis

Persian architecture achieved its

greatest monumentality at Persepolis
It was constructed as a new capital
for the Persian Empire
The city was started 510 BC and
finished in 460 BC

It is set along the face of a mountain

leveled to create a large platform
1800 feet by 900 feet
It was surrounded by a fortification
The site was more than half covered
by buildings

The palace consisted of three parts:

An approach of monumental staircases,
gate ways and avenues
Two great state halls towards the
center of the platform
The palace of Xerxes, the harem, and
other living quarters at the south end
of the site

Structurally, the buildings relied on a

hypostyle scheme throughout
Some of the spaces were very big and
generally square in plan
The spaces were enclosed by mud brick
The most impressive aspect of the
palace was the royal audience hall

The Royal audience hall was a square

250 feet in length
It contained 36 slender columns widely
space & 67 feet high
The columns had a lower diameter of
only 5 feet
The centers of the columns were
spaced 20 feet or 4 diameters apart


Persepolis included a massive columned hall used for

receptions by the Kings, called the Apadana. This hall
contained 72 columns and two monumental stairways.
The walls of the spaces and stairs leading up to the
reception hall were carved with hundreds of figures,
several of which illustrated subject peoples of various
ethnicities, bringing tribute to the Persian king.

Persian Column
The column was the greatest invention of
the Persians
The columns were fluted and stand on
inverted bell shaped bases
Their capital combine Greek motifs with
Egyptian palm leaf topped by an impost of
paired beast

Hall of 100 Columns

Another famous aspect of the palace at

Persepolis was the throne room
This was also known as hall of a 100
The columns in the room were 37 feet
high, with a diameter of only 3 feet
They were spaced 20 feet apart or
seven diameters from axis to axis

The Halls of 100 Columns at Persepolis,

measuring 70 x 70 meters was built by
the Achaemenid king Artaxerxes I. Many more
Persian examples can be found throughout the
rich history of Persia and its many empires, as
they conquered more and more neighboring
kingdoms it took in much of the know how of
many civilizations and erected different styles of

Persepolis Staircase
The monumental entrance to
Persepolis is also one of the unique
aspects of the Palace
The monumental gateway ensure a
dramatic entry to the Palace
It was heavily adorned with relief
sculpture ornamenting its stairway

The relief structure addresses different

themes relating to the role of Persepolis as
the capital of the Persian Empire
In some places, the sculpture shows
delegates from the different parts of the
Persian bringing gifts and rare animals to
the king during celebrations
In some places, royal guards and nobles of the
imperial court are shown

Ruins of Persepolis

The ruins of Persepolis have survived to the

present day
Existing ruins however give a faulty
expression of the citys original appearance
Some columns supporting the halls of the
great halls have survived
The mud brick fabric of the palace and its
enclosing walls have perished completely


the sculptures which adorn

doorways or windows and
openings and the relief
ornamenting its entrance way

Buildings and other

Ancient Near East Period

Architectural Characteristics

Types and Other elements

Temples and palaces were the most outstanding buildings

Significant development in house organization and city
fortification was also witnessed
Houses formed the dominant buildings of the city with
narrow passages to distribute people
Across all the civilizations, cities were usually walled
The walls were of massive brick material, with evenly
distributed towers serving as buttresses.

The chiefs house at precinct of the Great

Ziggurat and the Palace at Persepolis were
also fortified with brick walls.

Building Types
Temples and Palaces

of temples and palaces varied during the

different periods of the ANE
The Sumerian temples had chief temples located
outside the city and the city temple located within the
fabric of the city
Neo-Babylonians also built great palaces. The
legendary palace of Nebuchadnezzar with its hanging
garden is widely reported in history

Temple building declined during the

Assyrian period, when palaces took over as
the prominent building type
The Palaces at Khorsabad and Persepolis
shows the rise of the palace as the focus of
architectural development over the temple

Stone and timber suitable for building was
rare in the plains of the Tigris and Euphrates.
Clay was however in abundance
This was compressed in moulds and dried in
the sun to provide bricks for all buildings
Sun dried brick became the standard building

Wood was scarce but was imported from

Wood was probably applied mainly for
roofing or for producing tools and
Stone was used by the Assyrians but only
for relieve carving and for columnar support

It was in ancient Persia that extensive use

of stone witnessed
The Babylonians introduce glazed brick,
which was used in the faade of their gates
and prominent buildings

The abundance of mud brick led to the
development of construction methods
appropriate to its physical properties.
Structurally Mud brick is weak when
compared to stone
To compensate, walls were very thick and
reinforced with buttresses.

This construction system is evident in the

Sumerian temples
Vaulting was known and used during the
Mesopotamian period
Rooms were usually roofed with domes or
Tunnel vaults were used to cover long
narrow oblong spaces.

Columnar construction was not very popular

in the ANE
It was used in few instances in the late
Assyrian and Neo-babylonianperiods.
Persian architecture, was an architecture
that borrowed from other cultures in the
region, including Egypt and Greek sources

Two technologies appear to have been
commonly used in the Ancient Near East;
passive cooling and water supply
The evolution of courtyard in Mesopotamia
was probably a product of its desert
environment and the need for climate

Courtyards were used for cooling to create

livable environments in houses
The thick walls of houses may also have
served as a thermal storage
They help to mitigate against the wide
fluctuations of temperature
People of the ancient Near East also
mastered the earth of water supply

Channels were used to move water and

supply it to agricultural fields and houses.
Ancient Babylon was said to have an
aqueduct that supplied water to the city.
The hanging garden in Nebuchadnezzars
palace would also be impossible without a
means of transporting water from the
ground to the garden

History of Architecture 1