Arg e Bam

Arg-e Bam

The Arg-e Bam (Bam Citadel) was the largest adobe building in the world, located in Bam, a city in the Kermān Province of southeastern Iran. It is listed by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site “Bam and its Cultural Landscape”. The origin of this enormous citadel on the Silk Road can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries BC) and even beyond. The heyday of the citadel was from the 7th to 11th centuries, being at the crossroads of important trade routes and known for the production of silk and cotton garments.

There is no precise archaeological dating of the buildings of the Citadel of Bam. But through historic sources and ancient texts, the first human settlement in the area can be traced back to the fort built by the Achaemenians around 579–323 BC. Some of the citadel’s features such as its establishment on a platform combining a natural hilltop and a manmade terrace have been compared by archaeologists to the Achaemenian model of Persepolis. During the Parthian rule, the fort was expanded and became Arg-e-Bam, the Citadel of Bam. A comparative study titled “Bam and a Brief History of Urban Settlement and Planning in Iran” concluded that the essential core of the city of Bam and the Governor’s section were built during the Parthian era. Under the Sassanids, the castle was seized by Ardeshir Babakan. New fortifications and walls were constructed between 224 and 637 AD.

After the Mongol invasion of Iran, Bam and the Kerman region were turned over to the Qarakhataian dynasty who ruled the region from 1240 to 1363 AD. Bam benefited from a strategic location on the spice route connecting the region to the Silk Road. The city was renowned for silkworm breeding and a flourishing silk industry.

The entire building was a large fortress in whose heart the citadel itself was located, but because of the impressive look of the citadel, which forms the highest point, the entire fortress is named the Bam Citadel.

Arg-e Bam sites in north-east of Bam. It bounded to north by Bam river or Poshrud river, to east byreminders of Hazrat Rasoul mosque and Baq Darvazeh gardens and to south by new established park and Hafezabad parish and to the west by Khajehmorad parish. Arg-e Bam complex includes old city and the citadel at an area about 20 hectares. The area of citadel is about 6 hectares. The citadel had been the political center of city.

In the architectural form of Bam Citadel there are two different distinguishable parts:

The rulers’ part in the most internal wall, holding the citadel, barracks, mill, 4-season house, water-well (dug in the rocky earth and about 40 metres [130 ft] deep), and a stable for 200 horses.

The ruled-over part surrounding the rulers’ place, consisting of the main entrance of the entire fortress-city and the bazaar alongside of the North-to-South spinal axis (which connects the main entrance to the citadel), and around 400 houses with their associated public buildings (such as a school and sport place).

Among the houses, three different types are recognizable:

Smaller houses with 2–3 rooms for the poor families.

Bigger houses with 3–4 rooms for the middle social class, some of which have also a veranda.

The most luxurious houses with more rooms oriented in different directions suitable for different seasons of the year, together with a big court and a stable for animals nearby. There are few of this type of houses in the fortress.

All buildings are made of non-baked clay bricks, i.e. adobes. Bam Citadel was probably, prior to the 2003 earthquake, the biggest adobe structure in the world.

The only gateway which is used now is the south gateway. Turning from the northern end of Sajadi street to the east of Arg street, you would reach whrere that in the past there had been the moat of citadel and now there is a park with young trees and beautiful white and purple flowers of oleander bushes. This park has established by Bam municipality. The southern gateway of citadel sites in the north side of the park.

According geographers, the most surrounded Bam had been established to defense the city, they filled the moat with water, thus the fence around the city destroyed and the success to go into the city. This fence exposed to changes during history, but according to geographer of 4th century of Hijra, it has been existed at that time which means this fence belongs to the period before Islam. There are two another historical buildings in Bam and near Bam that their historical importance has not yet recognized well and one of them is completely unknown.

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