Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mesopotamian Glazed Bricks

Fig. 1 - Khorsabad glazed mud bricks, now in the Oriental Institute
     Of course not all buildings in Khorsabad were lined with reliefs carved on large stone slabs, and even the ones that were were still primarily built using baked mud bricks. Figure 1 shows some glazed mud bricks from the temple of the god Sin (the moon god, Nanna in Sumerian) at Khorsabad. The bricks were covered in a decorative glaze and used to embellish the exterior of major buildings.

Fig. 2 - Glazed brick lion from Babylon (now in Oriental Institute)
     The decoration in figure 1 is hard to see, so I have also included an example that is much easier to see, and much more famous, the lion which was made from glazed mud bricks (figure 2) and used to decorate the processional way in front of the Ishtar Gate in Babylon (see figure 3 for a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate).

     These examples of glazed bricks are from the Oriental Institute in Chicago. A full reconstruction of the Ishtar gate itself can be seen at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

     The gate fronted on a processional way would have seen statues of Babylon's major deities paraded as a part of the new year celebrations. The walls of the processional way were also decorated with bulls, dragons and flowers.

Fig. 3 - reconstruction of Ishtar gate (in Oriental Institute)

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