Building a Mesopotamian Watchtower

by Steve May

In this article I will talk you through how to make a mud brick watch tower.

These could be found throughout Mesopotamia in strategic locations to give early warning about invading armies or to keep an eye on neighbouring villages.

Step 1: On a sheet of 5mm Styrofoam I drew a number of circles, each slightly larger in diameter than the last.

I added a small triangular shape to the edge which will be the stairs in the finished piece. I then cut these out using a sharp knife.

Step 2: These were then stacked and glued in the method shown in the picture. You can make the join between the layers stronger with a cocktail stick, like a kebab! Two extra pieces of foam were cut to form a wall around the top.

Note: Use specialist Polystyrene glue (not superglue, Polycement or UHU, these all melt the material!). UHU sell a specialist glue which is very good. White (PVA) glue, doesn’t work too well as the Styrofoam is not porous, and so air cannot aid the drying.

Do not use too much glue, as it will leak out of the joins!

Leave to dry overnight if necessary.

Step 3: When the tower is dry, sand down the outside using a coarse sandpaper until the walls are roughly flat and even.

It can be tricky to sand around the stairs. You can tear a piece of sandpaper off or use a file for this.

Step 4: score some vertical lines between the layers using a ballpoint pen, or similar implement, to represent the mud bricks.

Step 5: The floor of the watch tower was lightly covered with static grass and a frame was constructed from cocktail sticks and glued into place.

Step 6: A reed mat was made for the roof in the method described in the adobe building article. I then based the tower and lightly textured it with polyfilla.

The tower was then painted in the same way as my mud brick buildings. It is unlikely these were white washed as there was no need to deflect the heat. Also, it would make them easy to spot!