A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Architecture

By Gwendolyn Leick | Go to book overview
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In the context of Ancient Near Eastern architecture, this Greek term signifies a container for the cult statue in an Egyptian temple. It probably derived from archaic tent or hut shelters. A naos could be made in wood like a box, or in stone, put together from different slabs. In the late Graeco-Roman period the whole naos was cut from a monolith of hard stone (eg EDFU). It had wooden doors which were kept closed, except for certain limited times when the High Priest opened them. The roof was either flat, sloping, domed, or surmounted by a pyramidion.

Nimrud (ancient Kalkhu or Kalakh)

Mesopotamia, see map p. xviii. Assyrian royal residence and administrative centre. It was founded by Shalmaneser I (c. 1274-1245 BC) but reached its greatest extension in the reign of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC). When the Neo-Assyrian empire collapsed under the combined onslaught of Babylonians and Medes in 612 BC, Kalakh was destroyed. The town covered an area of some 350ha, but only a small part, the citadel, has been excavated. It was discovered in 1845 by Layard, who shipped quantities of carved slabs and several colossal winged bulls to London where they are still exhibited in the British Museum.

The North-West Palace was originally built by Ashurnasirpal II and extended by

Monolithic naos (Cairo Museum)

his successors. The whole complex measured 200m×120m. Although the plan has only partially been recovered, it shows the division into various sectors characteristic of Assyrian palaces. The administrative quarter was situated to the north; the royal offices, reception halls and the treasury in the centre. The residential area was accommodated in the south. These units were arranged around two great courts. The throne room was reached directly from the babanu, the great


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A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Architecture


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