Ziggurat of Ur

Ziggurat of Ur

The place of the first geotechnical applications on the planet

The first Geotechnical Applications of Earth Reinforcement can be found at the Ziggurats in ancient Mesopotamia, which were built by the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians in ancient IRAQ in about 4500 years ago.

The ziggurats had walls with buttresses (almost vertical, sloped inwards at a sharp angle) faced with clay bricks in an asphalt mortar with sun dried bricks behind. Layers of reed matting were laid as horizontal reinforcing sheets. They used reed mats to stabilize the foundations and the brick walls as they had already understood that both brickwork and soil had nearly no tensile strength and reinforcement elements were needed to induce tensile forces into their constructions for stabilization.


The Ziggurats were massive pyramid-like structures with the form of terraced steps of successively receding levels. They were constructed of clay bricks varying in the thickness between 13-40 cm, reinforced with woven mats of reed laid horizontally on a layer of sand and gravel at vertical spacings varying between 50 and 200 cm.

One of well-known Ziggurats is the Great Ziggurat of Ur, which was constructed in three layers and the temple was built on the top layer. The lower layer of the Ziggurat was built in a height of about 15 m and its dimensions were approximately 60 *45 m. The second layer was built with a height of about 6 m and dimensions approximately 35 * 25 m, and the third layer with a height of about 3 m, and dimensions approximately 20 * 10 m.