Notable Ziggurats of Ancient and Modern Times

Ziggurats are terraced temple tower pyramidal in form each successive storey being smaller than the one below.

Here are some notable architectural ziggurats of the past and present.

Ancient Ziggurats

Chogha Zanbil

One of the world's best-preserved ziggurats is the Dur-Untash, or Choqa Zanbil was built in the 13th century BC by Untash Napirisha and located near Susa, Iran. Chogha Zanbil is an ancient Elamite complex in the Khuzestan. It is one of the few extant ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia. The complex is protected by three concentric walls which define the main areas of the town. The inner area is wholly taken up with a great ziggurat dedicated to the main god, which was built over an earlier square temple with storage rooms also built by Untash-Napirisha. The middle area holds eleven temples for lesser gods. It is believed that twenty-two temples were originally planned, but the king died before they could be finished, and his successors discontinued the building work. In the outer area are royal palaces, a funerary palace containing five subterranean royal tombs.

 Great Ziggurat of Ur

The Great Ziggurat of Ur was dedicated to the moon Nanna, in the Sumeria in ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).
The construct, a huge stepped platform, was built approximately in the 21st century BC by king Ur-Namma. In Sumerian times it was called Etemennigur. Today, after more than 4000 years, the ziggurat is still well preserved in large parts, and partially reconstructed, as the only major remainder of Ur in present-day southern Iraq. Its upper stage is over 100 feet (30 m) high and the base is 210 feet (64 m) by 150 feet (46 m). The ziggurat was a piece in a temple complex,
which was thought to be the dwelling of the moon god, the patron deity of Ur, on earth.


Etemenanki or "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth" was the name of a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the city of Babylon of the 6th century BC Neo-Babylonia dynasty. Originally seven stories in height, little remains of it now save ruins. According to some modern scholars, the biblical story of the Tower of Babel was likely influenced by Etemenanki during the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews, though other scholars contest that the Genesis account, if taken at face value, would predate this structure.


The Esagila, a Sumerian name signifying "E (temple) whose top is lofty", (literally: house of the raised head) was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon. It lay south of the ziggurat Etemenanki, a memory of which has been perpetuated in Judeo-Christian culture as the Tower of Babel. In this temple was the cult image inhabited by Marduk, surrounded by cult images of the cities that had fallen under the hegemony of the Babylonian Empire from the 18th century BC; there was also a little lake which was named Abzu by the Babylonian priests.
This Abzu was a representantion of Marduk's father, Enki, who was god of the waters and lived in such Abzu.

 Sialk Ziggurat

 Sialk is a large ancient archeological site near Kashan, Iran, tucked away in the suburbs of the city of Kashan, in central Iran, close to Fin Garden. The culture that inhabited this area has been linked to the Zayandeh Rud Civilization.

The Sialk ziggurat has 3 platforms, and was built ca. 2900 BC. However, the earliest archeological remains of the north mound date back to the middle of the 6th millennium BC; i.e. about 7,500 years ago.

Modern-day Ziggurats

The Ziggurats

A modern-day resemblance of ancient ziggurat built by ancient people in Mesopotamia is -The Ziggurat. It is a ten-story, stepped pyramidal office building and adjacent 5 story concrete parking structure located in California on the shore of the Sacramento River. The building was built by The Money Store in 1997 and is currently leased by the California Department of General Services, DGS. It is the headquarters to DGS.

SIS Building

Another modern-day ziggurat structure is the SIS Building, also commonly known as the MI6 Building, is the headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service (otherwise known as "MI6"). It is known locally as Legoland and also as Babylon-on-Thames due to its resemblance to an ancient Babylonian ziggurat. It is located at the south western part of central London, on the bank of the River Thames.

John C. Hodges Library

Another modern-day ziggurat is the John C. Hodges Library, the main library of the University of Tennessee. Opened in 1969 (the 1969 structure was encapsulated by the 1987 renovation with which we are familiar), the library houses 3 million library volumes, periodicals, and computer resources. Its rare book collection numbers 51,000 items, the oldest dating from 1481 CE

 University of East Anglia

Another modern-day structure based on ancient ziggurats is the University of East Anglia, a campus-based university located in Norwich, England. This university was founded in 1963. The University was ranked 57th in Europe and one of the top 200 universities in the world.

United States Bullion Depository

Last on our list of buildings whose design is based on ancient ziggurat is the United States Bullion Depository, commonly called Fort Knox. It is a fortified vault building located near Fort Knox which is used to store a large portion of United States official gold reserves, as well as from time to time, other precious items belonging to, or entrusted to, the USA.

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