zig·​gu·​rat | \ ˈzi-gə-ˌrat How to pronounce ziggurat (audio) \

Definition of ziggurat

: an ancient Mesopotamian temple tower consisting of a lofty pyramidal structure built in successive stages with outside staircases and a shrine at the top also : a structure or object of similar form

Illustration of ziggurat

Illustration of ziggurat

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François Lenormant and Ziggurat

French professor of archaeology François Lenormant spent a great deal of time poring over ancient Assyrian texts. In those cuneiform inscriptions, he recognized a new language, now known as Akkadian, which proved valuable to the understanding of ancient Mesopotamian civilization. Through his studies, he became familiar with the Akkadian word for the towering Mesopotamian temples: ziqqurratu. In 1877 he came out with Chaldean Magic, a scholarly exposition on the mythology of the Chaldeans, an ancient people who lived in what is now Iraq. In his work, which was immediately translated into English, he introduced the word ziggurat to the modern world in his description of the ziggurat of the Iraqi palace of Khorsabad.

Examples of ziggurat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web My decent-seeming GPA of 3.2 was a red-speckled ziggurat of desperation and deception. Washington Post, "Gene Weingarten: If you’re going to lie on your résumé, why not go big?," 12 Dec. 2019 In the master suite, the fireplace was designed to evoke a ziggurat and features an ornamental stairway that ascends toward the heavens. Los Angeles Times, "Home of the Week: Frank Gehry’s glass box in the sky," 28 Sep. 2019 One of the world’s newest space analogs is inside a white ziggurat on top of a former nuclear bunker in Pila, Poland. Wired, "Bees, Please: Stop Dying in Your Martian Simulator," 29 Oct. 2019 Earlier this month, the doors to the tropical rainforest, enclosed under a ziggurat of glass, were sealed shut. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Unprecedented drought in an artificial ecosystem may reveal how rainforests will cope with climate change," 16 Oct. 2019 The master suite fireplace evokes a ziggurat and features an ornamental stairway to heaven. Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times, "Hot Property Newsletter: Tobey Maguire and Cheryl Tiegs get back into the realty market," 5 Oct. 2019 Crile, a 14-story building shaped like a ziggurat – a stepped pyramid – set the pattern. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Remembering architect Cesar Pelli’s big contributions to Cleveland: An appreciation - Steven Litt," 28 July 2019 The Chand Baori in Abhaneri, east of Jaipur (the capital of Rajasthan), resembles an inverted ziggurat. The Economist, "India’s magnificent stepwells are relics of a nuanced history," 13 July 2019 Love among the ziggurats On this second visit to the ancient Sumerian site, Agatha Christie first met Max Mallowan, Leonard Woolley’s assistant. National Geographic, "Agatha Christie's adventurous 'second act' plays out in Mesopotamia," 21 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ziggurat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ziggurat

1874, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ziggurat

Akkadian ziqqurratu

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The first known use of ziggurat was in 1874

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Cite this Entry

“Ziggurat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ziggurat. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on ziggurat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ziggurat

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ziggurat

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