The Evolution of the Temple-Palaces in Mesopotamia
The constructions of the temple-palace had large scale implications for the Mesopotamian landscape. It served as a symbolic entity for the city and towns that it was located in due to the tremendous height of these buildings that served as beacons that loomed over villages. These temples were perceived by many individuals who resided in these villages as homes for the deities. A wide cross section of villagers from various social backgrounds belonged to a particular temple in which they would worship. “The temple community comprised a cross section of the population: officials, priests, merchants, craftsmen, food-producers and slaves.” (174 Temple-Palace) Due to the great spiritual investment that was placed within these temples it prompted much time and labor to be invested into their construction. These temples also served as an outlet in which to take care of underprivileged citizens who were poor, orphaned or physically incapable of earning a living. Besides the fact that these temples provided support to the community it also supported the government sector as well. “The activities of the temple coordinated the construction of irrigation canals that often involved the cooperation of several communities.” (174 Temple-Palace) The temple-palace served a variety of integral roles to the villages and cities located within Mesopotamia. Temples intially did not immediately serve all these features within communities in Mesopotamia. Through examining specific periods on the Mesopotamian plain we will further understand how the temple-palaces evolved over the centuries within Mesopotamia and how they eventually became centralized within the community.
Before we dissect how temples took over the Mesopotamian landscape we first have to examine some of the earliest evidence that was produced by archaeologists. In the 1930s an American expedition excavated the small village of Tepe Gawra they were unable to continue their research due to limited funds. The archeologists from the Tepe Gawra site used the limited archeological evidence they did gather to construct surveys and understand overall patterns within the community. While, this site did not fully disclose all of the remains of Tepe Gawra it did contribute to other Mesopotamia archeology projects methods of interpreting information. This method of using limited archeological evidence to create understand patterns and create surveys of the area emerged specifically when dealing with large urban sites, such as Uruk. Smaller villages in many instances are actually more difficult to understand since there are few instances of smaller sites being surveyed or excavated.
Some of the finest examples of temple building during the Uruk period came from the north Syrian sites of Habuba Kabira and Jebel Aruda. Both of these sites are similar in regards to their limited excavations by archeologists. These sites are both located near the Euphrates river and...