Isometric Reconstruction of the Temple Oval Khafajah, Iraq
Hamilton D. Darby
Pencil and charcoal on paper
P. 24174f/N. 12990/London # 14/S. 4796


This drawing is an artist's reconstruction of the Temple Oval at Khafajah, Iraq, as it may have looked around 2700 B.C. The remains of the temple and its surrounding community were excavated by the Iraq Expedition of the Oriental Institute between 1930 and 1934. The temple is surrounded by sturdily built mud-brick homes which were packed closely together along the narrow, winding city streets. The thick walls of the houses provided good insulation against the elements, and flat rooftops provided extra living space.

The climate and readily available natural resources determined building styles and construction techniques in ancient Mesopotamia. These factors not only influenced the appearance of buildings and how they were decorated but also their survival in our archaeological records.

The arch and column were developed by the ancient Mesopotamians, and they were also familiar with the use of domes. They were masters of construction using bricks made of mud, their one abundant, but impermanent, building material. Brick making was a major Mesopotamian industry, especially in the south, where wood was in short supply and stone was non-existent. Over the centuries, torrential rains and shifting sands destroyed much of southern Mesopotamia's mud-brick architectural heritage. Only crumbled mounds remain as evidence of the great cities that once stood in the deserts of southern Iraq.