Ancient Pyramids Around the World
No matter if the civilization was Mesopotamian, Egyptian, or Mayan, its legacy today is in part marked by towering pyramids
- By Amanda Bensen
- Smithsonian.com, November 20, 2009
(Robert Harding Picture Library Ltd / Alamy)
The word ziggurat (from a Babylonian word for “tall or lofty”) is used to describe tiered temples like this one in Mesopotamia, but the design of successively receding layers could also be called a step pyramid. This ziggurat, built for the Sumerian king Ur-Nammu in the mid-21st century B.C., once had three stories of terraced brick connected by staircases and topped with a shrine to a moon god. It eroded over time and was restored by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II in the 6th century B.C., then again by archaeologists in the 20th century. Tallil Airbase is now located nearby.