Thursday, June 28, 2012

Building A Ziggurat

Another project we had while studying Hammurabi and the Babylonians was to build a Ziggurat. While these structures look a bit like pyramids, especially step pyramids, they served a different purpose. While pyramids were tombs for kings, Ziggurats were temples built for gods to use to descend to earth. They typically had between 3-7 levels which were meant to be stairs for the gods to use to reach earth. We found boxes of various sizes (toothpick, baking soda, cereal, Krispy Kreme donut), wrapped them in brown paper and used tape to stack them to build our Ziggurat structure.

The top level was meant to be a resting place for gods after they descended from heaven and before they continued their journey to earth. Both girls liked the smallest box (because of it's size) and we had a little disagreement before deciding they could put it on top together.
After completing our structure, we mixed our paint. The white you see the girls mixing into the paint in this picture is actually cornstarch. It gave the paint a great texture for our "mud brick" Ziggurat. We had two color options for our Ziggurat. The first was to use a reddish-brown color to simulate the look of dried mud bricks. We also read that they were sometimes painted bright colors. I gave the girls the option and to my surprise they wanted to use brown. I was sure we were going to have a vibrant Ziggurat but I guess this color seemed more realistic to them. 
After completing their color and texture mixture they began the process of painting the Ziggurat.

In order to complete our Ziggurat we also needed stairs the priests would have climbed to reach the different levels. To do this we painted the back side of cereal boxes and put them aside to dry.
The following day was beautiful and since we still had a table set up on the deck from our Memorial Day celebrations we decided to do some schoolwork outside. To make the stairs, the girls cut 2 inch (approximately :) strips off their painted cereal boxes and used a black marker to draw steps for our Ziggurat's staircases.
We started using tape to attach the steps but because of the texture of the cornstarch and paint the tape would not stick at all. We switched to Elmer's glue and that worked slightly better. The girls did a good job working at this but it was a little tricky and something like hot glue would probably have been a better option because of the texture.
Our completed Ziggurat
Kennedy was so adorable hugging the Ziggurat I couldn't resist snapping a picture! :)
The girl's favorite book from the suggested reading for the week was "Abu Ali: Three Tales of the Middle East" by Dorothy Van Woerkom (Crown, 1976). There were three funny stories about Abu Ali and the silly situations he gets himself into. I wish this book wasn't out of print because it is one we would like to add to our own personal collection. I highly recommend checking your local library for this fun (and funny) book!


  1. It looks pretty authentic!

    Sorry -- we're a little behind in commenting and looking.

  2. I like it! looks cool, I'm doing a project for Social Studies and need to build a model ziggurat soon. This really helped me! I will add more things, due to the fact that I'm in Middle School, but it is also cool that these little girls did it! Also, the girls are really cute!