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Architecture during the Assyrian era

The Sumerian state collapsed around 2004 BC, and the region was swept into a period of chaos that lasted for nearly a century.

After that, the cities of states and small kingdoms in the north of the country began to develop and expand.

This period was characterized by continuous conflict between the Assyrians and Babylonians, as they took turns imposing their control, the Babylonians knew two stages of prosperity, while the Assyrians knew three stages of prosperity

The ancient, middle and modern stages, despite the similarity of the architectural style between the Sumerians and the Assyrians, we can distinguish between them, where the Assyrians added new styles and their own touch to architecture, what distinguished the architecture of the Assyrians?

In the beginning, Assyrian architecture is a reflection of an empire that competed with Egypt, Armenia, Babylon, and Elam for leadership of the entire Middle East (from 934 BC until 612 BC).

Assyrian architecture was established and distinguished primarily.

 four main capitals bearing a military character.· 

main Assyrian cities of middle period were Ashur, Kalhu (Numrud)  and Nineveh, all situated in the Tigris River valley.

Assyrian architecture was characterized by building materials inspired by the surrounding environment, the most prominent of these are mud bricks, mainly due to the possibility of shaping them, and the stones that were used in the Neo-Assyrian era to cover the external and internal walls of palaces and to make huge statues in buildings, in addition to the use of other materials such as wood in roofing, bitumen as an insulating material in floors.iron and gravel

Some characteristics that distinguished Assyrian architecture

  • The Assyrian capitals were distinguished by their military nature, so they were designed either next to the Tigris river, as in the city of Assyria, to be a natural barrier. Or on plateaus and high areas like the rest of the Assyrian capitals.
  •  The buildings were designed to take angular shapes such as square and rectangle, and circular or curved designs of buildings and streets were avoided circular or curved.

  • The entrances and exits of the luxurious Assyrian buildings were distinguished by paving the entrance thresholds with blue alabaster and decorating them with statues, inscriptions, and friezes (protruding decorative bands).

  • Lime plaster was also used to decorate the exterior walls of the building, and clay plaster was used to decorate the interior walls, the use of stones was limited to cover the outer sides of the walls and the floors of some important streets.

  • ·         Regarding to the Assyrian military nature Assyrian architecture had a primarily military character, its capitals were reinforced with walls, doors, huge statues, and temples, not only to protect them, but also to instill fear in the hearts of the kings of the conquered peoples.

  • Assyrian architecture was influenced by the military style, but there is no doubt that it was civilized architecture that reflects the intelligence of an empire that was distinguished by the design of the streets, so that they were like a chessboard, as happened in Nineveh, or the engineering irrigation system, and the scientific and ideological manuscripts that the Ashurbanipal Library carried for all the countries of the ancient world, or the library itself.

  • The expansion of the geographical area of the Assyrian state and thus the diversity of raw materials and their use in their architecture, by bringing artists and architects from the open areas, they brought different types of architecture and applied them in the buildings of the Assyrian state.

  • The kings of Iraq and Iraqi civilizations bragged about  .building their own capital to show off to other civilizations

  • The mountainous nature of the region inhabited by the Assyrians was reflected in the nature of their buildings and thus gave them a military character.

Architectural elements

First - Arches and Lintels 

 The Assyrians used semicircular arches for door and window lintels, for the first time, they used the pointed necklace in the Palace of Khorsabad, they did not use windows for lighting or ventilation, as it was the doors that did this, it is also possible that there were circular holes in the walls and basements.

Second Roofs

. These roofs are used on summer nights for enjoyment, and for this reason the rooftops are raised to block the view

.The dome was used to roof small rooms

 The roofs of Assyrian buildings were constructed in the manner of vaults, with the upper surfaces of these roofs being made flat, and insulating material was used to insulate against rain.

Third Columns 

The Assyrians did not use columns in their buildings, as high towers were the distinctive feature of Assyrian architecture, not columns.

Fourth Ornaments

The Assyrians did not care about ornaments and decorations, but they were the first to adopt long paintings that narrated the historical sequence of victories, and the religious influence did not appear on these drawings.

Fifth Horizontal projections

Assyrian and Babylonian temples and palaces were built on raised artificial terraces made of raw brick, reaching a height of 15 m above ground level.

The upper level can be reached either by terraces or ramps. The high towers were among the distinctive signs of the palace or temple, and at the end of them was a star observatory, with the corners of the tower facing the original directions.

Sixth the thresholds of the openings

To make semicircular and pointed arches for door openings, windows were not used for ventilation and lighting... rather, doors were used for this purpose, with circular openings in the walls and vaults.

Seventh Ceilings

Basements with flat roofs, with a moisture-insulating material, were used in the summer as a place to sit, and the dome was also used to roof small rooms.

Eighth Horizontal projections

Assyrian temples were built on artificial terraces made of raw brick, reaching a height such that the upper level could be reached via terraces or a slope.

The purpose of constructing the terraces was to defend and protect the building from earthly germs such as malaria, the rooms and chambers are grouped around a square inner courtyard, and are rectangular in shape for ease of making a vault for the roof, they are distinguished by high, terraced towers, at the end of which is a star observatory, the corners of the tower are directed to the original directions, not its sides.

Ninth Walls and openings

The walls were built of raw bricks, and were clad on the outside with burnt bricks, alabaster marble was used to clad the walls of the palaces from the inside, and stories of their military and sporting heroism were engraved on them, so they remained immortal.

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