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As seen in the figure to the right, when a large force is applied downward, the lintel beam is alternately compressed on the upper side and pulled outwards on the bottom.
Rock is very incompressible but often has small imperfections that allow cracking on the bottom, leading to failure.
The architectural technology of Mesopotamia is most often illustrated by the massive mud-brick ziggurat.
While the ziggurat is a visually striking structure, it in no way demonstrates the varied methods of construction available to the ancient builder.
This vertical orientation of the courses, in addition to the tip or pitch, distinguishes the pitched vault from radial construction where the vault merges into the wall surface.
A pitched vault is always identifiable by a change in the orientation of the brick courses in the interior of the vault Unless obscured by the plaster, the springing point of the vault is marked by the juncture of the horizontal wall courses and the vertical vault rings.
The thickness of the walls was so great that the mudbrick Bronze Age gate had a stone-lined tunnel-like barrel vault, coated with white plaster, to support the superstructure: it is the oldest such vault ever found.
Notice that the arch is not circular but instead parabolic.
The site is halfway Susa and Choga Zanbil and dates back to the fifteenth century BCE.
Three parts have been identified: a temple with the royal tomb, the palace area, and the artisans' quarter.