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 In the children scaling the ziggurat, indulging concrete’s imaginative possibilities. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, "Brutalist buildings aren’t unlovable. You’re looking at them wrong.," 25 Mar. 2021 The meeting was taking place in the shadow of Ur’s magnificent ziggurat, the 6,000-year-old archaeological complex near Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. Chron, "Pope Francis delivers sermon in Baghdad church," 6 Mar. 2021 The meeting was held in the shadow of Ur’s magnificent ziggurat, the 6,000-year-old archaeological complex near the modern city of Nasiriyah. Time, "Pope Francis and Top Iraq Shiite Cleric Hold Historic Meeting," 6 Mar. 2021 The meeting was held in the shadow of Ur’s magnificent ziggurat, the 6,000-year-old archaeological complex near the modern city of Nasiriyah. Fox News, "Pope, top Iraq Shiite cleric hold historic, symbolic meeting," 6 Mar. 2021 On the horizon, military members paced the top of a 4,000-year-old mud-brick Mesopotamian ziggurat, the lone remnant of the ancient civilization. Louisa Loveluck, BostonGlobe.com, "In Iraq, Pope Francis holds historic talks with Shi’ite ayatollah, decries religious violence," 6 Mar. 2021 Ur, with its ancient ziggurat, is the traditional birthplace of Abraham, prophet common to Christians, Muslims and Jews. Anmar Khalil, USA TODAY, "Pope Francis, Iraqi Shiite leader deliver unifying message after historic meeting," 6 Mar. 2021 The location of the ziggurat said to have been the Tower of Babel described in the Old Testament has also never been established. New York Times, "In Beleaguered Babylon, Doing Battle Against Time, Water and Modern Civilization," 6 Feb. 2021 Los Angeles designer Kimberly Biehl chose a vintage carpet whose pattern softens the ziggurat lines of the midcentury lamp’s Devo-hat shade and nods to its quatrefoil curves. Courtney Lichterman, WSJ, "How to Create a Chic Home Office Out of Random Furniture," 1 Oct. 2020

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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Last Updated

6 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ziggurat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ziggurat. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ziggurat

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