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ziggurat(zĭg`o͝orăt), form of temple common to the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians. The earliest examples date from the end of the 3d millenium B.C., the latest from the 6th cent. B.C. The ziggurat was a pyramidal structure, built in receding tiers upon a rectangular, oval, or square platform, with a shrine at the summit. The core of the ziggurat was of sun-baked bricks, and the facings were of fired bricks, often glazed in different colors, which are thought to have had cosmological significance. Access to the summit shrine was provided by a series of ramps on one side or by a continuous spiral ramp from base to summit. The number of tiers ranged from two to seven. Notable examples are the ruins at Ur and Khorsabad in Mesopotamia. Similar structures were built by the Mayan people of Central America.
(Akkadian), a cultic structure in ancient Mesopotamia. It was a sun-dried brick tower formed from stepped parallelepipeds or truncated pyramids (from three to seven); these contained no internal chambers except for the uppermost, which contained a shrine. The ziggurat’s terraces, which were painted in different colors (mainly black, red, and white), were connected by stairways or ramps. The walls were divided by rectangular recesses. A temple was usually located next to the ziggurat. Ziggurats have been preserved in Iraq (in the ancient cities of Borsippa, Babylon, and Dur-Sharrukin; all dating from the first millennium B.C.) and Iran (at the site of Choga Zambil, second millennium B.C.).