ZIGGURAT, ZIGGURRAT zĭg’ ŏŏ răt (“temple tower, high building”). A staged or stepped temple tower.
This architectural form was developed in the third millennium b.c. in Babylonia from a low temenos or platform supporting a shrine (as at Erech and ’Uqair) to the massive seven-story brick towers like Etemenanki “Building which is the foundation platform of heaven and earth” associated with the temple of Marduk at Babylon named Esagila (“whose top is [in] heaven”) measuring 295 square ft. at the base and about the same height. Access to each level was by a ramp or stairway (which some link with the ladder of Jacob’s dream in
Bibliography C. L. Woolley, Excavations at Ur (1954), 125-135; A. Parrot, The Tower of Babel.