Saddam Hussein: 1937-2006


Saddam Hussein was born in a mud brick house to a family of sheep-herders in Tikrit, Iraq on April 28, 1937. He grew up in the town of Al Dawr, a mud brick town on the banks of the Tigris River.

Iraq is home to some of the most enduring wonders built in mud from the ancient world include the Ziggurat at Ur and the Ctesiphon Arch, the largest single-span vault of un-reinforced mud brick in the world. Adobe dwellings in Iraq date back as far as 8000 b.c. and the earliest known form molded adobe blocks are also in Iraq (5600 b.c).

The ruins of the ancient city of Babylon are also found in Iraq. Herodotus, the ancient Greek scholar, was so wowed that he wrote Babylon “surpasses in splendor any city in the known world.” Most of the splendor was made from mud and virtually all buildings in Babylon are constructed in mud brick. It was been an old Mesopotamian custom to impress the bricks, mainly those destined for public buildings, with the king’s seal.

Saddam Hussein wanted to be seen as the modern version of Nebuchadrezzar the Great, who ruled Bablyon in the 6th Century B.C.E. and is famous for bringing the city back to power and prosperity after a century of foreign rule by the Assyrian Empire. To make the connection clear, Saddam had a historically incorrect version of a 6th Century temple built atop the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar’s old temple. Walls more than 12 meters high and stamped with Saddam’s name replaced the stumpy mounds of biblical-age mud. Just as the ancient temple’s bricks bore the old king’s name, the new bricks said, “This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq.” Following this, Saddam built a copy of a Sumerian ziggurat built on the mud brick ruins of the city. Modern archeologists frowned heavily upon him for building on top of old ruins.

Saddam Hussien was executed today, December 30, 2006 for crimes against humanity.

House of Earth and Light


The House of Earth and Light, a private residence designed by Iraq-born, Phoenix Architect Marwan Al-Sayed uses a 3-layer fabric roof to bring tension and lightness to the thick poured gypsum walls. Computer renderings of the building show the proposed quality of the architecture. More information can be found here in an article by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (.pdf format).

Ziggurat at Ur

One of the most intriguing monuments still standing in Iraq is the Ziggurat at Ur. A ziggurat is a colossal stepped platform; and it is thought that ziggurats supported temples at their tops. These ziggurats were built during the third millennium B.C. Archaeologists don’t know for certain what the purpose of these ziggurats was; however, it is speculated that they had some connection with religion. There are several ziggurats visible throughout Iraq, the most famous of which is the ziggurat at Ur in the south of Iraq. The core of the ziggurat at Ur was constructed using mud bricks which were then covered with baked bricks. The mud bricks were made out of mud and reed; the reed was pressed into moulds that had been left to dry in the sun. Each brick measured around 25 x 16 x 7 centimeters and weighed around 4.5 kilograms.

Ctesiphon Arch


The Ctesiphon arch is considered as one of the many architectural wonders of Mesopotamia. This arch was built in 400 A.D. by the Parthian Persians to be the largest single-span vault of un-reinforced brickwork in the world. The arch has a span of seventy-five feet and is about 110 feet high.It stands in the ancient city of Ctesiphon. Ctesiphon is a historically significant city that lies on the east bank of the Tigris River just south of Baghdad. The Ctesiphon arch is a pointed ovoid peculiar to Mesopotamian architecture; it was built using unfired, thin mud bricks which were laid on a slant.

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was born in Tikrit, Iraq on April 28, 1937 and grew up in the town of Al Dawr, a mud-brick town on the banks of the Tigris River. Adobe dwellings in Iraq date back as far as 8000 b.c. The earliest known form molded adobe blocks are also in Iraq (5600 b.c).