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Sumerian Religion - the Ziggurat

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late Sumerian ziggurat at Ur
A late Sumerian Ziggurat at Ur, reconstructed

The most prominent Sumerian building was the religious temple, built atop a stepped tower called a ziggurat. Some ziggurats were as high as 70 feet. The temple was dedicated to the patron deity of the city. The people devoted great resources and labor to building these temples and to the houses of priests. The ziggurats housed workshops for craftsmen as well as temples for worship. The ziggurats were built of clay bricks joined together with bitumen, a sticky asphalt like substance. There were artisans who sculpted, cut gems, fullers who stomped on woven wools to soften cloth, and metal workers who crafted weapons as well as artistic creations.

The religious class had a great deal of power, socially, politically and economically. Religion was central to the society.

The Sumerians worshipped a pantheon of gods and goddesses who created humans as servants, but freed them when they became troublesome. Sumerian mythology has a story of a great flood similar to the Biblical story.


Part of The Sumerians a HistoryWiz exhibit

Mesopotamia

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Flood Myth

Ancient Near East

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