- (In ancient Mesopotamia) A rectangular stepped tower, sometimes surmounted by a temple. Ziggurats are first attested in the late 3rd millennium BC and probably inspired the biblical story of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1–9).
“I need to pick up supplies for my son to build a model of an ancient ziggurat for history class.”
“A ziggurat has stepped levels, but it’s the general shape of a pyramid.”
“Remains of the ancient ziggurats built by Mesopotamians are still present in Iraq.”
Assyrian, late 19th century
Why this word?
Pyramids don’t exist only in Egypt. A ziggurat is a type of pyramid built in ancient Mesopotamia; instead of the straight angled sides seen on the Great Pyramid, a ziggurat had multiple levels with stairs between each incline. These massive structures were built to worship the gods and usually housed a tower on top. The word “ziggurat” can be used today for anything of a similar stepped, pyramid shape, but the original usage was in the Akkadian language, one of the oldest recorded languages in the world.
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