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Achaemenid Settlement Discovered near Bam


02 September 2004



Iranian archeologists have managed to discover some signs of Achaemenid dynastic settlements near the ancient southern city of Bam, almost completely ruined in a horrendous earthquake last December.

Archeological studies, including aerial photos and geophysical surveys, have revealed over the past few months some historical sites with relics ranging from the Achaemenid dynasty to the Islamic era, stretched on a 20-square-km patch of land, south of the Iranian capital city of Tehran.

“One of the major finds has been the foundations of a castle with an area of 400 square meters, surrounded with remains of some houses,” Shahryar Adle, an expert with the Bam project.

Based on pottery relics and Kariz also known as Qanat (aqueduct) irrigating system found in the Achaemenid settlement, he e stimates the area has been an agricultural and industrial city, dating back to 6th or 7th millenniums BC.

“Right now we have no detailed information on the creation of Bam and we hope our studies and excavations would lead to gaining some insights into how the ancient city was developed, from the Achaemenid Empire to later eras,” Adle added.

Situated in the desert on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau, Bam developed as a crossroads of trade in silk and cotton. Its origins can be traced to the Achaemenid period (6th-4th century BC) and it reached its heyday from the 7th to 11th centuries. Bam grew in an oasis created mainly thanks to an underground water management system (qanāts), which continues to function. The site’s main ancient remains are within a fortified citadel area (Arg), which contains 38 watchtowers, Governmental Quarters, and the historic town and its 8th or 9th century mosque, one of the oldest in Iran. This is the most representative example of a fortified medieval town built in vernacular technique using mud layers. As a result of the destruction, archaeologists have discovered new evidence of the history of the place in the Arg itself and in the surrounding territory. This includes remains of ancient settlements and irrigation systems, dating at least to the Parthian period, 2nd century B.C.

Bam Cultural Landscape represents an exceptional testimony to the development of a trading settlement where various influences met in a desert environment in Central Asia. It bears an exceptional testimony to the use of mud layer technique (Chineh) combined with mud bricks (Khesht). The qanāts further provide an outstanding representation of the interaction of man and nature in a desert environment.




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