Word of the Day : November 10, 2011

ziggurat

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noun ZIG-uh-rat

Definition

: 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

Did You Know?

French professor of archaeology Francois 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 a civilization that goes back 5,000 years. Through his studies, he became familiar with the Akkadian word for the towering Assyrian temples: "ziqqurratu." In 1877 he came out with Chaldean Magic, a scholarly exposition on the mythology of the Chaldeans, a people who lived 2700 years ago in what is now modern-day 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 palace of Khorsabad.


Examples

"The [dietary] guidelines will be turned into something like the familiar food pyramid. The new pyramid could be a circle or a ziggurat." -- Richard Knox, quoted on NPR News, January 12, 2005

"Just shy of the Euphrates River, we could see the landmark that signaled the end of the trip: the ziggurat, a monument that has stood mute witness to 4,000 years of human conflict." -- From an article by Michael Taylor in Archaeology, March 2011



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