Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Formal Analysis of Nanna Ziggurat

Sponsored by King Urnamu of Ur, 2112 BCE, Nanna Ziggurat is a magnificent, mud-brick building that was dedicated to the moon god Nanna.

The viewpoint suggeseted by this structure is from a frontal distance. The 3 sets of diagonal stairs, one in the front and one on either side of the building, lead the viewer's gaze and attention to the top, where they are coming together at an imposing entrance gate atop the first of three platforms. This structure doesn't seem like it wants the viewer to look at it from different angles and sides, instead it makes one want to go straight to the top and of it and see the surroundings from above.

The building is made of mud brick, which gives it an earthly color and makes the structure seem very ancient and dull in appearance. But the composition of the bricks, which are stacked on one another to form a block-like, rectangular looking shape with a base of 205 by 141 feet, gives the structure a very stable and powerful look.

This structure gives a great emphasis of volume when looked at directly from the front, especially with the grand staircase diagonally leading to the top and covering a great distance from front to back, also adding motion to the building. But as you look towards the sides of the building, they appear more flat and more two dimensional in appearance with no sense of motion at all, but rather a very stable look.

The surface structure of Nanna Ziggurat is very rough. Like i mentioned above, the texture and the color add to its roughness and war-like look that makes the structure look very powerful and undefeated. If there was more color added to the building, i think it would soften it and highlight some of the interesting parts, but at the same time, it will weaken the appearance of the structure. It is very interesting how This construction is so boring, and yet so powerful in appearance with some sense of movement at the staircase.


  1. Every time I see ancient infrastructures from any culture, I am dumbfounded at how well they handled their limitations. To come up with a building such as this, in a time where computers, machinery, and any type of extremely advanced tools, is quite fascinating. The amazing part about this is that it doesn't look like it's made in a time where they lacked all of this. The Nanna Ziggurat seems well-thought out, smooth, aligned, mathematically precise, and just plain beautiful. Although it lacks color, perhaps it's been worn out, it still looks very nice. On top of that, it doesn't simply look like it's sturdy, but actually is sturdy and powerful since it has been able to withstand mother nature. Great analysis!

  2. This structure gives me the impression of power and strength, too. The ramps of the structure were composed of very strong, diagonal lines that seem very dynamic and powerful. Some of these lines are even reinforced with extra brick, which makes the lines (and therefore strength) more apparent.

    Like you, I think that the heavy, geometric shape of the structure gives off a sense of solidity.

    -Prof. Bowen

  3. Your post was very detailed and descriptive. I especially liked how you described the texture by backing up the warlike and powerful look it gives it. Like Prof Bowen said in lecture about this formation, that it is completely solid and no one can really walk inside like a pyramid, instead it is one giant brick! I think that adds to the feeling of solidarity and stableness that this formation creates and may reflect in the civilization it is a part of. That they purposely made it that solid to create that feeling that their government is that stable as well.

  4. I agree that it's so magnificent that these ancient cultures could create such huge and solid structures. This temple is great testament to the moon god it's dedicated to. It's solid and , obviously, will out last time. It represents the power of the god.

  5. I think just looking at the structure alone allows a projection of power. I can only imagine if the viewer is standing in front of it and that sheer scale would overwhelm them and demonstrate how powerful the architecture is. Not just as a holy/sacred place, but as an impression held by the Sumerians.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I like the idea of softening the edges of the building since it is dedicated to the God of the Moon. In reading about how the look of the exterior with its hard, strong lines and their effect to pull the eye and the body directly to the top. So it is for this reason that I would have to disagree that the building is boring in the sense of being static. Instead I would say that it is exciting in its pull on the human body and mind.

  8. Looking at ancient buildings and structures can sometimes be more interesting and amazing for me than looking at ancient sculptures and pieces of art. These old ziggurats are like enormous pieces of artwork; still so mysterious and beautiful yet on a magnificent scale. The idea of an entire structure being built in dedication to just the moon god makes me wonder how many other buildings were constructed merely out of dedication? I see so much beauty in the efforts that were devoted in making something so large and tedious just to display devotion.

    Although vIsually this particular ziggurat does not display aesthetic pleasure in the same sense as say, an ancient Roman Catholic cathedral, but the idea that motivated it's construction, along with the sweat and tears that went into every square inch, make architecture like this just as beautiful in my eyes as any old Roman Catholic church. Being aware of the lack of materials and resources that were available in that time period for construction make this building even more amazing and stimulating to look at. It's construction process must have been creative in ways we will never know of, because we will never experience building in the ways and constraints they once did; that to me is what makes this true artwork, and extremely beautiful.