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Tuesday, 27-Mar-2007 17:41 Email | Share | Bookmark
The Bam Citadel, After earthquake- Fotos by Saman

The Arg-é Bam (ارگ بم in Persian, "Bam citadel") was the largest adobe building in the world, located in Bam, a city in the Kerman province of southeastern Iran. It is listed by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site "Bam and its Cultural Landscape". This enormous citadel, situated on the famous Silk Road, was built some time before 500 BC and remained in use until 1850 AD. It is not known for certain why it was then abandoned.
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.
On December 26, 2003, the Citadel was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake, along with much of the rest of Bam and its environs (see the article on Bam for details). A few days after the earthquake, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami announced that the Citadel would be rebuilt
Citadel design and architecture
The planning and architecture of the citadel are ingeniously thought out from various different points of view. From the present form of the citadel one can see that the planner(s) had foreseen the entire final form of the building and city from the first steps in the planning/drawing process. During each phase of building development the already-built part enjoyed a complete figure, and each additional part could be "sewn" to the already-built section seamlessly.

The citadel is situated in the center of the fortress-city, on the highest place to enjoy the longest and widest view for security reasons. The notable impression left by the citadel caused the entire surrounding fortress structure to be included under the name "Bam Citadel" as well.

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-sezonan house, water-well (dug in the rocky earth and about 40 metres deep), and a stall 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 big a court and a stall 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.
When the gate of the city was closed, no human or animal could enter. The inhabitants could continue living for a long period of time in isolation as they had access to a well, gardens, cattle and other domestic animals inside. When the fortress-city was besieged the inhabitants could remain in the city while the soldiers could suitably defend it, protected by the high walls and towers

Air conditioning
Besides the watch towers and ornamented tops of the high walls on the skyline of the fortress, the wind-catchers or wind-towers (in Persian: badgir بادگير) are also remarkable. They are special structures sticking out of the different buildings in order to catch the pleasant wind and lead it down into the internal spaces of the buildings. Sometime the captured wind is passed over the surface of a water basin in the building to cool it, and to remove the dust and dryness of the desert air. Different types of wind-towers are utilized for different buildings. For example there are 4-directional wind-towers for bigger and more important buildings, which are able to catch the winds which blow from different directions during different times in the day and night in all seasons, and there are 1-directional wind-towers for smaller buildings

The modern Iranian city of Bam surrounds the Bam citadel. Before the 2003 earthquake the official population count of the city was of around 78,400. There are various opinions about the date and reasons for the foundation of the citadel. Some people believe that Bam city was founded during the Parthian empire, a very powerful Persian empire, that ruled from 250 BCE to 226 CE. Economically and commercially, Bam occupied a very important place in the region and was famed for its textiles and clothes. Ibne-Haugal (943-977), the Arab traveller and geographer, wrote of Bam in his book Surat-ul-`ard
Over there they weave excellent, beautiful and long-lasting cotton cloths which are sent to distant countries and cities. There they also make excellent clothes, each of which costs around 30 dinars; these are sold in Khorasan, Iraq and Egypt.
The ancient citadel of Arg-é Bam probably has a history dating back around 2000 years ago, to the Parthian dynasty (248 BC-224 AD), but most buildings were built during the Safavid dynasty. The city was largely abandoned due to an Afghan invasion in 1722, which overcame a weak Iranian government and ended Safavid rule. Subsequently, after the city had gradually been re-settled, it was abandoned a second time due to an attack by invaders from Shiraz. It was also used for a time as an army barracks.
The modern city of Bam was established later than the old citadel. It has gradually developed as an agricultural and industrial centre, and until the 2003 earthquake was experiencing rapid growth. In particular, the city is known for its dates and citrus fruit. The city also benefited from tourism, with an increasing number of people visiting the ancient citadel in recent years.

Etymology of the word Bam
About the origin of the word Bam, there are some links even to the mythical history of Iran, namely according to some sources[attribution needed] “Bam” is metamorphosis of the word “Bahman”, which is the name of a king, about whom Ferdowsi (940? -1020?), narrated in his most famous work Shahnameh (The Book of Kings). In the poem, Bahman was the son of Esfandiyar who had fought against Rostam, one of the chief heroes in the Shahnameh. As Ferdowsi epically narrates, Bahman fights against one of the sons of Rostam, who was called Faramarz. A sandstorm hindered Faramarz and Bahman defeated him; as a triumph he built a fortress on the rock hill there, where the Bam Citadel is now situated
2003 earthquake
On December 26, 2003 at 1:56 AM UTC (5:26 AM local time) Bam Citadel -- "the biggest adobe structure of the world" -- and most of the city of Bam proper were devastated by an earthquake. The United States Geological Survey estimated its magnitude as 6.6 on the Richter scale. The BBC reported that "70% of the modern city of Bam" was destroyed. Death toll numbers as high as 80,000 were rumoured on the street and 70,000 reported in the media. However, the total death toll was given as 41,000 on January 17 and the latest estimate from Tehran has halved previous estimates to 26,271 deaths. An additional 10,000 - 50,000 were reported injured (this number is very uncertain, the most reported number is 30,000, which may have originated from an early Reuters account. According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, the old Bam Citadel was "levelled to the ground"
An international relief effort to help the survivors got under way as soon as news of the scale of the disaster reached the outside world. Rescue efforts quickly became a body recovery exercise, with many of the dead being buried in mass graves with the mullahs sanctioning abbreviated Islamic burial rites due to the huge numbers and fear of disease. The high death toll occurred because very few people who were trapped when their mud-brick homes collapsed managed to survive. Rescue workers reported that the collapsing mud-brick structures had completely disintegrated and buried people in piles of earth, rather than trapping them in voids or air pockets between building slabs, as would happen in a concrete building collapse. Those few who did survive being trapped were generally rescued within the first few hours, after being dug out by local survivors, or were trapped in ventilated air pockets. Among the survivors of the earthquake was 97-year-old Sharbānou Māzandarānī (شهربانو مازندرانی in Persian), who was trapped in her home for eight days. Rescue workers took three hours to dig her out after sniffer dogs found her. She survived by being under a table near a ventilation pipe.
The international relief effort staged in the earthquake's aftermath helped to thaw relations somewhat between Iran and western countries. Numerous countries (including the United States and UK) sent supplies and search-and-rescue teams including the International Rescue Corps. In February of 2004 Bam was visited by Charles, Prince of Wales, a further indication of the improvement of international relations following the disaster.

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