Mesopotamian Architecture
This is a Mesopotamian city. You can see the temple and a ziggurat and all of the homes.

Mesopotamian Architecture is an ancient form of architecture from the Tigris-Euphrates River System from about 3500 BCE. Sumarian architecture is one of the oldest known architecture types in the world. For its time, the architecture was characterized by large, grand and ornate temples and palaces. Early architects did not know how to make hollow buildings which would stay up so the first big buildings were solid inside. Sumarians were the first society to create a city as built form.

Urban Planning

The typical Sumarian city was divided into residential, mixed use, commercial and civic spaces.The residential areas were grouped by profession. The more wealthy people and families were, the closer they were housed to the temple and the bigger their homes were. In every Sumarian city, there was a high temple always placed slightly off the geographical center. The transportation network was organized in three tiers: wide professional streets, public through streets and private blind alleys. The cities were about 10% street and 90% buildings. Sumarians built mud brick walls around their towns for protection. Every Mesopotamian city were planned and placed in the same way.

Building Materials

The materials that Mesopotamian people used to build there homes are basically the same materials that we use to build are homes today. The materials used to make a Mesopotamian house include mud bricks, mud plaster and wooden doors that were available at local stores. To make a mud brick was very labour intensive. Mud needed to be gathered then shaped or formed into a brick like shape. The brick would be placed in the sun to harden. The bricks would be layered and plastered together to make walls.

A Typical Mesopotamian Home

A typical Mesopotamian house size was about 90m2. Since there was not much building stone around, most buildings and houses were made from mud or clay bricks. The homes were about 2-3 stories depending on your profession and wealth. Most of the homes had a square shaped main room, along with other rooms attached to it. Residential mud brick buildings were very basic with straight brown walls. Builders would make the homes look more interesting by making areas of light and dark on the walls. The walls went in and out at regular intervals making some sort of pattern. In a mud brick home there would be a fire pit in the middle of their home for cooking. Separate areas would be made for sleeping and other necessary home life needs.


Typical people did not live in palaces only the Kings did. Mesopotamian palaces were also made from mud or clay bricks.
These palaces were not only just to live in, they were also storehouses for wheat, barley and cloth and all kinds of things that the Kings collected as taxes. Early Mesopotamian palaces were large scale complexes and were often lavishly decorated. These palaces have become famous because of their pictorial and textual programs and designs on their walls all of which were carved on stone slabs known as orthostats. These programs either were cultic scenes or the narrative accounts of the kings' military and civic accomplishments. The architectural arrangements of these palaces were organized around large and small courtyards. Usually the king's throne opened up to a massive courtyard where important state council met and state ceremonies were performed.


Sumerian temples were made from more advanced materials and techniques,like buttresses, recesses, and half columns. As a temple aged and was slowly weathered, it would be replaced by a new temple which would be built on the old foundations of current temples. This saved time and energy. Many temples had inscriptions engraved into them showing important dates and beliefs. Sumarian temples grew from small one room structures to elaborate multi complexes. The large doors were an entry point for the Gods. Architects took on a variety of new configurations including courtyards, walls, basins, and barracks. In the Early Dynastic period temples began to make a series of platforms creating a stepped pyramid.


Ziggurats were huge pyramidal temple towers built as religious architecture used for worshipping Gods and found in the centre of Mesopotamian cities. Unlike pyramids, the top of a Ziggurat was flat. The step pyramid style began near the end of the Early Dynastic Period. Ziggurats were built in recending tiers over a rectangular, square or oval platform. A Ziggurat could have up to 2-7 tiers. One of the largest uncovered to date measured 64 by 46 metres at base and originally some 12 metres in height with three storeys. Millions of mud or clay bricks made up the core of the Ziggurat with facings of fired bricks on the outside. The outside bricks were often glazed in different colors and may have had a significance. The King's name was sometimes engraved on these glazed bricks. People say that Ziggurats were built to resemble mountains. Ziggurats may also have been viewed as a stairway to heaven or the point where heaven and earth met. They would have been an ideal place to view the stars, but there is no evidence that they were ever used for this purpose.


Hello, my name is Nigmah. I work here at the palace of Sumer as an assistant for the King. I am speaking on behalf of the King. I want to complement the architect, Hazi, on the design of the new palace. The palace is so grand and beautiful. It was a wonderful idea to use the old foundation to save time. Before the King made a decision to knock down and re-build the palace it used to be so dark, now it is more open and bright. I beileve that the architect has put more window spaces on the palace walls. The ceilings are so much higher and raised. It feels so much more spacious even though the new palace is the same size as the old. You also re-designed the roof, the old palace had bricks crumbling and falling down. I now feel more safe and secure in the palace as well as everyone else. The art and programs that have been engraved into the walls are absolutely stunning and so meaningful. The engraved cultic scenes and the narrative accounts of the Kings' military and civic accomplishments are astoundingly accurate.

The outside of the palace looks so new and clean. The architecture of the building is so magnificent. The texture and pattern that you have designed with the mud and clay bricks makes the palace look very strong and royal. Parts of the wall has areas where it goes in and out to make a pattern in the wall, the arches in the walls tie the whole look of the palace together. The stairs that you designed up to the palace is so magnificent it almost looks like the are floating. The huge door to enter the palace is stunning. The lovely arch of the door is so astonishing. The whole outside of the palace just fits well together. The new designed throne area is pleasing to the eye. The courtyard that is opened up from the King's throne is very elegant. Overall, the King is very pleased with your architectural skills.