On December 23rd, an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale struck the city of Bam and surrounding areas. The destruction was large scale--to the historic and contemporary built fabric of the city, the regional heritage sites, and in terms of human loss.
Just prior to the earthquake, I presented a paper with Pamela Jerome at the Terra 2003 Conference
held in Yazd, Iran. Our hosts at the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization
sponsored a series of visits to cultural sites in conjunction with the conference, and I was lucky enough to visit the city of Bam just before the devastating earthquake. Four months later, Dr. Rasool Vatandoost, Director of RCCCR/ICHO and the Department of International and Cultural Cooperation/ICHO, invited me to attend a second conference where a group of international specialists and their Iranian colleagues were to develop a series of guidelines for the recovery of Bam's cultural heritage. I took a series of photographs and QuickTime Virtual Reality Nodes (a technique of cubic photography) on both trips, and I have put this site on line to disseminate these materials as quickly as possible.
Bam is a cultural landscape of great significance, with the Citadel and the archaeological remains of the medieval city (Arg-e Bam
) at its heart. Archaeological contexts present at the Citadel date back to the Sasanian period, although the site is still under study and may be even older. The form of the site was set into place during the Timurid period, but the majority of the standing remains were build during the Safavid, Zand, and Qajar Periods. Conservation efforts at the Citadel began in the 1950s, while and extensive work was also completed in the 1990s.
There are also heritage sites surrounding the citadel and the contemporary city, including Qale-ye Dokhtar
, most likely dating to the late Sasanian and early Islamic periods. In addition to these sites, several historic houses from the nineteenth century as well as the urban topography of living Bam help define the significance of the cultural landscape. As equally important as these individual monuments and urban spaces are the traditional subterranean irrigation system (qanat
), the extensive date-palm orchards, earthen building techniques and other social practices.