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Old March 6th, 2010, 07:38 PM   #1

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Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


Which ones are older? the pyramids of Egypt? (I mean the Saqarra), or the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia? (Don't know when the first ever was built).

And who influenced the other to build a pyramid? Mesopotamians influenced Egyptians? or Egyptians influenced Mesopotamians?
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Old March 6th, 2010, 08:05 PM   #2

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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


I was always under the impression that the ziggurats predated the pyramids by several hundreds of years, with some "proto-ziggurats" possibly being thousands of years before. I don't know if those should be considered though.
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Old March 6th, 2010, 09:10 PM   #3

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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


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Originally Posted by okamido View Post
I was always under the impression that the ziggurats predated the pyramids by several hundreds of years, with some "proto-ziggurats" possibly being thousands of years before. I don't know if those should be considered though.
Considered what? pyramids?
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Old March 6th, 2010, 09:17 PM   #4

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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


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Originally Posted by Satuf View Post
Considered what? pyramids?

I don't know if the proto-ziggurats of the Ubaid period should be considered in the thread. They would basically predate pyramids by 1500-2500 years, but being just raised structures, it is probably not fair to compare them.
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Old March 6th, 2010, 11:42 PM   #5

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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


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Originally Posted by okamido View Post
I don't know if the proto-ziggurats of the Ubaid period should be considered in the thread. They would basically predate pyramids by 1500-2500 years, but being just raised structures, it is probably not fair to compare them.
Are there any "proto-pyramids" in Egypt?

Do you know whether the big ziggurat of Ur that stands still today older than the pyramids of Giza? or Saqarra?
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Old March 6th, 2010, 11:53 PM   #6

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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


According to the book at my disposal, Ur-Nammu had the Ziggurat at Ur built in the 21st century bce. Khufu lived in the 2500s bce, so I think that makes the pyramids at Giza older by several centuries.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 11:10 PM   #7

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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


Yes, Ur-Nammu (2112-2095) began construction of the first ziggurats including the one at Ur which were completed during the reign of his son, Shulgi (2094-47) which make ziggurats younger than the great Pyramids of Giza.

All scholars virtually agree that both the pyramids and the ziggurats were the result of local developments and neither was inspired by the other. Both of them had very different fuctions. The pyramids were built with internal rooms and catacombs which housed the tombs of Egyptian kings while ziggarats were solid towers which were filled in completely and were meant to be nothing more than an invitation for the gods to descend down to earth while at the same time providing a way for man to reach closer to the gods.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser and the Bent Pyramid of Sneferu, are earlier proto-types of the true pyramids the first being the Red Pyramid.

Last edited by Enlil-An; March 9th, 2010 at 11:35 PM.
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Old March 10th, 2010, 11:12 PM   #8
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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


According to this guy, the pyramid of Saqqara, the earliest found in Egypt, was a step pyramid like the ziggurats of Mesopotamia. The only difference is it was made of tiny stone bricks, rather than mud bricks (the Mesopotamians not having access to large stones). The guy in the video implies that the Egyptians saw the mud brick ziggurats and tried to copy them by cutting stone down into brick form. It took them some time to realize that this wasn't necessary, and constructed their future pyramids out of larger stones.

Not sure how accurate it is, but it's interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/user/DrDavidN.../5/TTsSJ-3rf4Q
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:17 AM   #9

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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


Dr. Neiman from that Youtube video is way off. First, the step pyramid of Djoser predates the first ziggarats by 500 years so the Egyptians couldn't have gotten their inspiration for the pyramids from Sumerian ziggarats.

Second, the technology of building structures out of mud bricks doesn't come from Mesopotamia. It was a technique that was developed in the Neolithic period in Palastine around 9000 BC and then spread throughout the fertile crescent. Egyptians were using bud bricks to line the graves of their cemeteries at least since the Naqada period c. 4000 BC. While it is true that early Mesopotamian temples were built of bud bricks before then, there's no evidence that this technology reached Egypt from their. More likely they were influenced by settlements in Palastine which were already extremely old.

Third, Dr. Neiman implies that the Sumerians were inspired to build ziggurats because there were no mountains in southern Mesopotamia and that they wanted to be reminded of their home somewhere in Mongolia. Aside from the pure nonsensical statement that the Sumerians were originally from Mongolia, the problem is that Sumerians or their ancestors moved into southern Mesopotamia around 5000 BC and hadn't bult the first ziggurat until 2100 BC (a span of about 3000 years). So even if they did originally come from a mountainous region (which there is no evidence of), the Sumerians wouldn't have associated "home" with mountains at that late date.

The technique of building temples on higher and higher platforms developed slowly over centuries. Temples would be built, later leveled several times, and then rebuilt several times until the amount of earth beneath the temple rose higher and higher. When Ur-Nammu finally turned these temple platforms into ziggurats (multi-tiered towers), the temples were no longer built on top but moved to the base of the structure in the ground level complex. The great pyramids at Giza were already over 400 years old by then.

Also, I might of heard wrong, but Dr. Nieman almost implies that the Egyptian system of writing was inspired by the Sumerian system but this isn't true either - at least that's the scholarly consensus. Both systems developed roughly around the same time. Most scholars believe the Sumerian system was created first, some scholars still credit this to Egypt, but all agree that both were local developments and not inspired by one or the other.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 11:22 AM   #10

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Re: Pyramids of Egypt and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia


Two very good posts Enlil-An.
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