In the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian periods of W Asia the temple, or ziggurat, was a square pyramidal structure about 300 ft (90 m) high built up in successive, inclined terraces, sometimes as many as seven; with accessory buildings it was enclosed by walls. At its summit was a chamber that served both as a shrine and for astronomical observations. Glazed colored bricks faced the walls.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.