Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& CULTURAL NEWS©
on Old Silk Road Now Lies in Ruins
old part of Bam was one of the world's most spectacular
and best-preserved deserted medieval cities.
In architectural and archaeological terms, the ancient
Middle Eastern palace city was of major international
importance. Surrounded by a magnificent 16th-century
city wall, and entered into through complex gateways,
the old town has long been famous in Iran for its vast
urban landscape of abandoned houses, shops and mosques.
At the heart of the medieval city, inner ramparts
enclosed the spectacular palace citadel. It lies on the
Old Silk Road, the ancient trading route that connected
East Asia to Europe by camel caravans, and flourished as
a trading centre and pilgrimage site.
Bam was founded more than 1,500 years ago, and in
pre-Islamic times was a centre for the ancient Persian
religion of Zoroastrianism. However, many of Bam's old
buildings actually date from somewhat later - the 16th
and 17th centuries. The thousands of deserted buildings
in the old city (which once covered 6 sq km and had a
population of up to 13,000) are all made of mud-brick,
clay and palm tree timber.
The new town - adjacent to the old one - is densely
inhabited and was constructed in the 19th and 20th
centuries after its predecessor had been attacked by
Afghan and other invaders in the 18th and early 19th
The deserted parts of the old city were regarded by
archaeologists and architectural historians as one of
the most complete surviving records of a medieval/early
modern urban environment anywhere in the world.
It was used as an army barracks until 1932, after which
it was abandoned.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies