Religious given to the hemispherical mound with a solid

Religious
buildings have played an influential role in history in terms of the
development of architecture. Civilisations used their built environment as a
way to communicate meaning through material, form, and design. In ancient
Mesopotamia the ‘ziggurat’ was a massive step tower believed to be a dwelling
space for the gods. In India, Buddhist monks would use hemispherical structures
called ‘stupa’ as a place of meditation and preservation of relics. These two
monumental buildings played a crucial role in society as they persevered the
important religious acts of their civilisation during that time in history.

The
ziggurat is a stepped temple tower built by Sumerians and Babylonians, among
the few, across Mesopotamia. The ziggurat developed from earlier raised temples
and could only be accessed by a series of ramps, and it was also only a
fraction of a temple complex. The purpose of these temples was to create a
platform which connected the heavens to earth. The best example of this ancient
temple is the Ziggurat of Ur in present day Iraq. It is believed that ziggurats
held a shrine at the very top of the steps, but like the Ziggurat of Ur, most
of these temples are left as layered solid mass of mud brick.

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The
Buddhist stupa is a hemispherical structure used as a place of mediation and
sometimes pilgrimage. There are various types of stupas which have been
classified into five categories; the relic, object, commemorative, symbolic,
and votive stupa. In general, the stupa originated as a building which represented
the Buddha’s burial mound and evolved into being a building which commemorated
other sacred saints and concepts. The Great Stupa in Sanchi (India), served as
a prototype for the countless stupas which followed and spread all throughout
southern Asia. The ‘anda’ is the name given to the hemispherical mound with a
solid core that contains relics of the Buddha. Over time, the mound has been
given a greater symbolic association; the “replica of the infinite dome of
heaven”. The stupa is now considered to be pointing to the centre of the
universe; a place for the gods.

The
similarity between the Mesopotamian ziggurat and the Buddhist stupa is that
they were both constructed as a place of worship and connection between the
heavens and earth. These buildings are shaped, used and accessed differently,
but they were at some point in their history, erected to commemorate a divine
figure. Secondly, they were both constructed out of bricks. The brick plays a
crucial role in architecture, and today we can appreciate how numerous
civilisations shared the same technique in their built environment. The
ziggurat is a stepped temple formed by layering mud-bricks and using mud to
seal them together. In contrast, the traditional stupas were also made out of
brick but they are a dome-like platformed structure.