Some science behind the scenes
Sacred geography - ziggurat
A physical ziggurat takes on the symbolism of the symbolic Ziggurat.
A Ziggurat is an artificial mountain. Artificial mountains can take a number of forms. They can be artificially raised hills, or they can be buildings such as pyramids or ziggurats. They can also be temples that look like stepped mountains.
One of the advantages of a constructed symbolic mountain is that many of the ‘features’ of heaven can be built into them. One feature of the spiritual Tower of Babel, for example, is that it has levels and layers and in many of the constructions we see stepped levels with successively receding stories leading to a pinnacle or main platform.
The number of levels in the physical structures varies, but they were once multicolored and decorated with symbols of the ‘things’ to be found at each level. As you wound your way round the levels you were thus presented with the residents of heaven at that level, the minor gods, the major gods or the angels. At the top you were symbolically at the level of ‘God’. Few people other than shamans were allowed on these structures for obvious reasons. The temple at the top in particular was totally out of bounds and it is possible that a temple was built to give the impression of a place shielded from the common eyes. If temples were placed at the top they were also often painted. Indigo, a colour symbolic of the highest levels of attainment was used, but so was white - Light.
Ziggurats (from the Akkadian meaning "to build on a raised area") were huge pyramidal temples built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley and western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels. Ziggurat designs ranged from simple bases with few stories upon which a platform was built, to structures based on complex mathematics and construction which spanned several terraced stories, topped with a temple. In essence therefore a ziggurat is another form of pyramid.
These pyramids were symbolic, but their symbolism became extended over time so that the cultures believed that these pyramid temples ‘connected’ heaven and earth. Because of this, they were not places for public worship, and were accessible only to the ‘priests’ in effect the shamans. Given that some may have been placed over geological fault lines or other geological features that aided trance states, they may have been literally that, in effect serving a double purpose, both a place symbolising a part of heaven - the symbolic dwelling places for ‘the gods’ - but also a place where it was possible to go into the correct visionary state to go travelling into the spiritual world. The ziggurat at Babylon, for example, was known as Etemenankia or "House of the Platform between Heaven and Earth".
There are 32 ziggurats known at, and near, Mesopotamia. Twenty-eight of them are in Iraq, and four of them are in Iran. Notable Ziggurats include:
- the Ziggurat of Aqar Quf near Baghdad, Iraq
- Chogha Zanbil in Khūzestān, Iran
- the most recent to be discovered - Sialk near Kashan, Iran
- the White Temple of Uruk, in ancient Sumer.
- the Marduk ziggurat, or Etemenanki, of ancient Babylon
It is also worth adding that a ziggurat-like building with no known analogs in Europe was erected in 3-2 millennium B.C. in Sardinia near Monte d'Accoddi.
Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy
The ziggurat was properly speaking a Cosmic mountain, a symbolic image of the cosmos; its seven storeys represented the seven planetary heavens (as at Borsippa) or bore the colours of the world (as at Ur). The temple of Borobudur, a veritable imago mundi was built in the form of a mountain. Artificial mountains are attested in India, and are also found among the Mongols and in Southeast Asia. It seems probable that Mesopotamian influences reached India and the Indian Ocean, although the symbolism of the Centre [mountain, tree, pillar] is an organic part of the most ancient Indian spirituality
For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.
- Babylon - The Temple of Ésagila
- Babylon - The Ziggurat of Etemanki 01
- Babylon - The Ziggurat of Etemanki 02
- Babylon - The Ziggurat of Etemanki 03
- Indus valley - Dholavira - 03 Sacred geometry layout
- Indus valley - Dholavira - 04 Water and the step wells
- Indus valley - Mohenjo-Daro - 03 The Citadel
- Jajrom [Jajarm] - Tepe Pahlavan
- Karnataka and South India - 03 Airavatesvara Temple
- Karnataka and South India - 04 Bhoga Nandeeshwara and Arunachaleswara Temples
- Karnataka and South India - 05 Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur
- Karnataka and South India - 06 Ekambareswarar Temple
- Karnataka and South India - 07 Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple
- Kish - The Kish archaeological site
- Lagash - Sacred geography
- Larsa - And the Great Hymn to Shamash
- Malta - 08 Mnajdra Temple
- Mesopotamian - Means of achieving spiritual experience 07 Sex High priestess with phyrigian cap
- Mesopotamian - Means of achieving spiritual experience 09 Creating a sacred geography
- Nineveh - Jonah prophecies the destruction of the city
- Persepolis - And its sacred geography 08 Naghsh-e Rostam
- Sacred geography – Picts – Mark stones
- Shaivism - Concepts and symbols - The Dance floor
- Susa - The meeting place for mystic systems
- Susa - Ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil
- Tepe Anginah
- Tepe Ecbatana
- Tepe Kangavar
- Tepe Marlik 01
- Tepe Pasargadae
- Tepe Sialk
- Tepe Tureng
- Tepe Yahya
- The Means of achieving spiritual experience - Shaivism – 10 Creating a sacred geography
- The Sacred geography of the Amazon basin
- Ur - Ziggurat of Ur
- Uruk - The Anu ziggurat
- Uruk – The Anu district of Kulaba
- Uruk – The Eanna district of Uruk
- Ziggurat of Dur-Kurigalzu
- Zoroastrian - Means of achieving spiritual experience - 12 Creating a sacred geography