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Observations placeholder

Ur - Ziggurat of Ur



Type of Spiritual Experience


The Ziggurat (or Great Ziggurat) of Ur (Sumerian: é-temen-ní-gùru "Etemenniguru", meaning "temple whose foundation creates aura") is a Neo-Sumerian ziggurat in what was the city of Ur near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq. The structure was built during the Early Bronze Age (21st century BCE), but had crumbled to ruins by the 6th century BCE of the Neo-Babylonian period when it was restored by King Nabonidus.

Its remains were excavated in the 1920s and 1930s by Sir Leonard Woolley. Under Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, they were encased by a partial reconstruction of the façade and the monumental staircase.

There is every reason, I am afraid, to believe the reconstruction was not accurate.  All pyramids of this type have 5 levels and layers – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Aether – there was possibly a base platform representing the Earth layer that has long since disappeared under debris.  The top level – the Aether level – may have had a further perhaps metallic cone or spire representing the planets and the unmoving mover – the centre.

Seen from above the ziggurat would then have resembled cup and ring marks and been accurate symbolically.

The ziggurat was built by King Ur-Nammu who dedicated the great ziggurat of Ur in honour of Nanna/Sîn, in approximately the 21st century BCE (short chronology) during the Third Dynasty of Ur. The massive step pyramid measured 64 m (210 ft) in length, 45 m (148 ft) in width and over 30 m (98 ft) in height. “The height is speculative, as only the foundations of the Sumerian ziggurat have survived.”  The ziggurat was a part of a larger temple complex.

The construction of the ziggurat was finished in the 21st century BCE by King Shulgi, who, in order to win the allegiance of cities, proclaimed himself a god. During his 48-year reign, the city of Ur grew to be the capital of a state controlling much of Mesopotamia. Many ziggurats were made by stacking mud-bricks up and using mud to seal them together.

The ziggurat was damaged in the Gulf War in 1991 by small arms fire and the structure was shaken by explosions. Four bomb craters can be seen nearby and the walls of the ziggurat are marred by over 400 bullet holes.


A description of the experience

The source of the experience

Mesopotamian system

Concepts, symbols and science items


Cup and rings

Activities and commonsteps