Mesopotamian architecture c. 4000–1250 bc. Early inhabitants of the region were the Sumerians, who, as early as the fourth millennium, had evolved a sophisticated architecture using brick, and who set the architectural agenda, virtually until Hellenistic times. They built arches with voussoirs and vaults, and used cedarwood in great quantities. In important buildings, walls were decorated with coloured terracotta cones placed in geometrical patterns, while other characteristic elements were walls with slightly projecting decorative buttresses, vertical channelling, and stepped or triangular battlements. Staged towers, known as ziggurats, and resembling a pile of diminishing square platforms, each stage smaller than that below, were associated with temples: an impressive example was the enormous ziggurat at Ur (C22 bc), with huge staircases giving access to the sanctuary on top. The main characteristics of Babylonian architecture were absorbed by the Assyrians near the end of the second millennium bc.
Cruickshank (ed.) (1996);Lampugnani (ed.) and Muthesius (1986)