ANCIENT EAST AND ITS ARCHITECTURE, Architecture of Mesopotamia (4th millennium BC - IV century BC) - Fundamentals of Architecture and Building Constructions

ANCIENT EAST AND ITS ARCHITECTURE

The great migration of peoples - a process that took place over several centuries - was caused primarily by global processes of changing climatic conditions. In the course of this process, unique civilizations of India, China (preserved until our time), Mesopotamia and unique architecture arise in the fertile valleys of the rivers Indus, Ganges, Yangtze, Mesopotamia (Tigris and Euphrates).

Some of the most ancient civilizations of the East were formed approximately in the same period (over 5000 years ago) and covered the territories of modern Dagestan and Azerbaijan (the state of Caucasian Albania), Armenia (the kingdom of Urartu) and the territories between the Tigris and the Euphrates. In the south, along the shores of the Persian Gulf, the Sumerian tribes (the Asian subgroup) lived, and in the north of modern Iraq there are tribes of Semitic Akkad (their descendants are many historians called the tribes of the Khazars, mixed with the Turkic peoples, and now the Dagestan Lak people, mixed with the Aryan tribes) .

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The Sumerians are now considered the creators and bearers of the Mesopotamian cultural tradition and civilization. And although 4,500 went back Sumerians were conquered by more numerous Akkadts, their civilization had a huge impact on later cultural traditions.

The architectural development of Mesopotamia is divided into four main periods according to how statehood developed on the territory of Mesopotamia. In the middle of 3 thousand BC. There was a union of several states, and in the beginning of 2 thousand there is the Babylonian empire. In the early 1st millennium BC. Assyria captures Mesopotamia, and a new state arises with its capital in Nineveh. By 612 BC. The Assyrian state is finally dying, the New Babylonian kingdom (625-539 BC) appears and Babylon again becomes the capital. In the years 539-525. BC. the conquest of Babylon by the Persians takes place and a powerful Persian empire emerges.

The architecture of the Mesopotamia (4 thousand BC - IV century BC)

In the 4th millennium BC. the center of Mesopotamia culture becomes one of the oldest cities in the world of Ur, mentioned in the Old Testament. The city was dominated by a two-story building. The houses of wealthy people and well-to-do craftsmen had a high level of amenities, bathrooms, restrooms, terraces, enclosed courtyards were common for the houses of Ur. From the street the houses were separated by thick, blind walls, and city walls were also separated from each other.

Temple complexes were interesting architectural forms. The center of such a complex, its dominant was Ziggurat - a high multi-stage tower structure. At the top of such stepped towers were temples, which could simultaneously be observatories. Near the temple complex was located and the royal palace. Civilizations of this period already had a harmonious religious and ethical system, therefore in the cities at the temples there were numerous priestly colleges, however, unlike the civilization of Ancient Egypt, the power of the ruler in the states of Mesopotamia was not deified.

As the ziggurat becomes the leading architectural type, the compositional center of the early cities of Mesopotamia, it can be regarded as the main architectural dominant.

Ziggurat in the city of Ure had a main platform 15 m high and a plan size of 62.5 x 43 m; the faces of the platform are faced with burned brick, slightly inclined into the house - for greater stability (Figure 3.1). Upstairs a ziggurat could be led by three staircases connected by a stone terrace. In order to go up to the temple itself, it was necessary to go two more platforms. Very little is known about the funerary structures of this period. One can only mention the royal burials in sarcophagi, placed in underground chambers, over which mounds were poured.

Ziggurat Platform in Ur (Iraq)

Fig. 3.1. Ziggurat platform in Ur (Iraq)

The main building materials were clay, reed, small river bush. Mat and wicker fences from reeds and vines, coated with clay, were used as enclosing structures of houses. For the palace facilities, raw brick, burned and glazed brick was used, which was laid in a wall without a mortar. As it dries, it is compressed and caked in a homogeneous monolithic mass. The basis of all the structures were powerful multi-meter walls. The outer sides of these walls were dismembered by projections, and the upper part had a serrated finish. Such a wall profile was not so much decorative as it allowed to facilitate laying without losing strength, and also avoided overheating of the wall, as it created a combination of illuminated and shaded areas. For greater strength, the walls could be reinforced with palm trunks or reed mats. The outer walls were faced with glazed bricks, which formed a certain geometric ornament or images of animals.

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Bitumen was used for waterproofing. It was also used as a binder for brickwork, for painting walls and installing asphalt floors. Double thick walls protected the houses from solar overheating. The roofs were mostly earthen and were planted with grass, evaporation from which gave the effect of cooling. The roof could also be covered with canopies. In order to strengthen the air exchange in the dwellings, over them, instead of the roof, they could erect clay domes of elongated silhouettes. Unlike Egypt, Mesopotamia often had vaulted brick ceilings.

Also, unlike Egypt, urban development in Ancient Mesopotamia was conducted for three millennia at a very rapid pace. Therefore, we can talk about the civilizations of Mesopotamia as urban civilizations. It is a civilization of urban culture, which creates its own writing, literature and architecture.

The cities of Mesopotamia arose on a fairly flat terrain, which was deprived of natural barriers. Therefore, all cities were protected by powerful fortress walls. Babylon had the most powerful fortifications. They were erected in the VII century. BC. king

Nebuchadnezzar. In terms of the city had the shape of an irregular rectangle, lying on the left bank of the Euphrates River, but gradually the city spread to the right bank. All this space was encircled by a fortified wall 18 km long. The walls were double. The external (external) wall is 3.5 m thick, the inner wall is more powerful, 6.5 m thick. The height of the inner wall was about 25 m. The walls were fortified with towers that were located 25 m apart. And in relation to each other they were located with a shift. The scale of the structure was enormous. We can judge this, including the number of towers. On the outer walls there were 240 towers, on the inner walls - 360. Outside, in front of the outer wall of the city, there was a large moat 25 meters wide (Figure 3.2).

Babylon (reconstruction)

Fig. 3.2. Babylon (reconstruction)

The architectural and town-planning core of the city in the initial period of development was the traditional ziggurat for Mesopotamia. Later it was turned into a kind of palace and temple complex. The structure of this complex included a temple in honor of the Babylonian deity Marduk, the tower-ziggurat and the royal palace. From the east to this complex was the central street of Babylon - the "procession road", which led to the central sacred northern gate dedicated to the goddess of fertility Ishtar. It was the central district of the city. It is interesting that in Babylon the town-planning laws that were adopted by King Hammurabi still governed the building of the city center and subordinated the entire town planning plan to the general principles of regular building methods. In 707 BC. Under the reign of King Sargon II near Babylon, the new city of Dur-Sharrukin was built, which many architectural historians call the Babylonian Versailles. In this city-residence, a fundamentally different decision was made to erect and arrange the palace and temple complex. The complex was not located in the center, but on the outskirts of the city near the city wall, and it was placed on a high artificial bulk platform at a height of 14 m. The platform was faced with a stone. Thus, the palace and the temple were protected from external enemies by the city wall, and from possible uprisings of citizens by the platform and the blind walls of the palace complex itself (Figure 3.3).

City of Dur-Sharrukin (reconstruction)

Fig. 33. City of Dur-Sharrukin (reconstruction)

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