One of the world’s best reconstructed ancient ziggurat served as the religious and administrative centre of Ur, with a shrine to moon god Nanna, Ur’s patron deity.
The Great Ziggurat of Ur, is a well-preserved Neo-Sumerian ziggurat, and most spectacular remains of the ancient city of Ur. The Great Ziggurat, situated in the temple complex was the administrative heart of Ur. Today, it is located in Dhi Qar Province, in the south of Iraq.
The construction of the Great Ziggurat of Ur, began under the Sumerian King Ur-Nammu, the Third Dynasty of Ur (about the 21 st century B.C.). It was completed by his son, King Shulg who, in order to win the allegiance of cities, proclaimed himself a god. During his 48-year reign, the city of Ur grew to be the capital, controlling much of Mesopotamia.
Like most ziggurats, the massive step pyramid, took the form of a terraced, mud-brick tower with successively receding levels. Its central feature was a series of monumental 100-step staircases, which converged on an upper platform where it housed a shrine to the patron deity, the moon god, Nanna. Today, only the bottom stages of the structure remain, but in its heyday, the Great Ziggurat stood some 100 feet (30 m) high and measured about 210 feet (64 m) in length and 150 feet (46 m) in width.
The site has undergone two major overhauls in its 4,000-year history. The first came in the 6th century B.C., when the Babylonian King Nabonidus repaired its decaying foundation and replaced its upper terraces. In the 1980’s, the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, restored its outer facade and completely rebuilt its three main staircases.