Sunday, October 02, 2005

Even though the news below are related to Bam Reconstruction, workshop on Adobe Preservation and constructing Adobe building, is not only beneficial to Bam.

Adobe buildings, particularly earthquake-proof ones have been a challenge of architects and engineers for a long time. Whatever these workshops and building experiences can offer to rebuilding Bam citadel, will have influences beyond the Bam project and can have many applications in different parts of Iran. --Siamak D. Ahi

French Institute Constructs
Adobe Building in Bam

CRAT Institute of France constructs a building with laboratory-made adobe in Bam city.

Tehran, 1 October 2005 (CHN) – CRAT, a French adobe architecture research institute, will build an adobe building to encourage this style of architecture in Bam. The adobes used in the building are examples of adamant clays produced in the laboratory in Bam Citadel.

The protection of adobe structures is a new field and that has faced experts of cultural heritage with some problems in dealing with this kind of architecture.

“Centre de recherche sur l'antiquité tardive” (CRAT, the research center for late antiquities), an institute of Université Stendhal Grenoble, is currently engaged in building an adobe structure to promote this style of architecture in the earthquake stricken city of Bam. Concrete is also used as a material for construction of the building,” says Eskandar Mokhtari, head of Bam Citadel salvation project.

“This project,” he added, “is an example of adobe structure with concrete horizontal and vertical foundation, but the main body of the building is made of adobe.

”CRAT is one of the institutes that became active in rehabilitation of the Citadel after the earthquake hit the area in 2003, bringing down the Citadel and living tens of thousands dead and homeless.

According to Mokhtari, “besides engaging in the construction of the building, Iranian experts will be educated for restoration of adobe structures. Three experts from Bam Salvation Project will also participate in the construction”.

The 2 thousand-year Bam Citadel is one of the biggest adobe complexes in the world, 60 percent of which was ruined by the earthquake of 2003. In the last year’s UNESCO Cultural Heritage Conference in China, Bam city and its historical, cultural landscape was registered on the World Cultural Heritage List. The Citadel Salvation Project is underway with financial and expertise aid from international organizations and bodies.

Bam Citadel to Host Workshop

A joint team of Iranian and Italian experts will hold a workshop in Bam Citadel for adobe preservation and restoration.

Tehran, 25 September 2005 (CHN) -- A team consisting of Italian and Iranian experts will hold training classes for preservation and restoration of adobe sites in Bam Citadel in February/March 2006.

Restoration and preservation of adobe structures is a new domain, therefore experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran have faced many problems in this regard.

“Iranian and Italian experts will hold two training courses for preservation and restoration of adobe sites in Bam Citadel at the end of the coming winter,” said Eskandar Mokhtari, head of Bam Salvation Project.

Mokhtari explained that based on meetings held by the attendance of the Italian team during this week, the classes will be held for experts and craftsmen both in theory and practice.

By the time the classes are held, the restoration of one of the towers of Bam Citadel, its Tekieh (the place for holding religious ceremonies), and Sistani house is expected to be finished.

Mokhtari described these classes as a valuable opportunity for the trainees.

The earthen city of Bam is one for the most important historical and cultural cities in the world which dates back to 2000 years ago. The site was almost destroyed in the earthuake that hit the area in 2003. Bam and its cultural landscape were registered on World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2004.

Underground Cubbyholes

Surface in Bam Citadel

Two adjacent underground rooms now filled with debris have been discovered in Bam Citadel.

Tehran, 7 September 2005 (CHN) -- Excavations in Bam Citadel led to the discovery of two underground cubbyholes in the barrack section of the Citadel.

According to experts, the historical Bam Citadel, which is one of the biggest earthen structures in the world and was registered on UNESCO World Heritage List dates back to the Sassanid era, but the exact time of it is not yet known.

“In excavations of the east side of the main gate of the barrack, we discovered two closed doors. After opening them, two small underground cubbyholes were discovered,” says Eskandar Mokhtari, head of Bam Salvation Project.

According to him, the rooms are connected to each other and due to the destruction of their roofs, they have been filled with soil and debris. The original body of the rooms had been made of adobe on which some brick reconstructions have been done.

One of the discovered rooms is 225x252 square centimeters and the other 323x252 square centimeters. Of the first room just some small parts are left intact. Due to the dampness, the adobe structure of the rooms has decayed. A shell and a piece of metal have been found in the room.

After the earthquake that hit Bam two years ago, the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran with the cooperation of some of the world organizations such as UNESCO have started some activities for the salvation of the historical sites of Bam city.

In the 29th session of UNESCO World Heritage committee which was held in Durban in South Africa, UNESCO praised the so-far attempts of Iranian officials and countries helping in the project including Japan and Italy.

The earthen city of Bam is one for the most important historical and cultural cities in the world which dates back to 2000 years ago. Last year in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee held in China, some decisions were made for Bam Salvation and Bam was registered in UNESCO World Heritage List.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The oldest drawing of Firuzabad, by Flandin Lacoste,19th century

Firuzabad Area Plan

Part Two

The first fully developed Chaar-Taagh seem to have been the now ruined Takht-e Nishin, probably the fire temple that Ardeshir is reported to have built in Bishapour.
Archeological evidence, combined with description in medivial texts (Ebn al-Balkhi), permits reconstruction of cubical building with walls of cut stone, a brick dome, and an eyvan projecting from each side.

Ebn al-Balkhi’s Fars-nameh and other medieval reports have confused and combined the Takht-e Nishin and the nearby tower-like minar, called Tirbal in ancient times.

Herzfeld, assuming that thiss name belonged to Takht-e Nishin, suggested that it was a derivation of Greek word tetra pylon, the equivalent of Persian Chaar-Ghapoo. This unjustified hypotheses led to the erroneous reconstruction of the ruin as an open canopy, reflecting a Roman quadruple gate like the lanus Quadroons (Godard, 1938).

Largest Sasanian Chaar-Taagh

Probably the largest Sasanian Chaar-Taagh ever built was the hall of so-called “Palace of Shapour I”, Ardeshirs son and successor, in Bishapour. The dome of which spanned 22.75m.

It seems to have been the first Chaar-Taagh to be surrounded by an ambulatory, which separated the central cruciform unit from the other room of the complex, the function of which is still debated (Girshman 1956).

From the later Sasanian period examples of the simple cruciform Chaar-Taagh and Chaar-Taagh surrounded by ambulatory are all known in various permutations.

For example, those excavated at Kouhe Khajeh, Takht-e Soleyman, Ghal’e-ye Yazdgerd, all with ambulatories and additional rooms, and the one in Tureng Tepeh -a simple closed cube, possibly with an entrance room or shelter. Countless others have been reported from surveys, but the majority are only superficially documented, and traces of enclosure walls, Surrounding corridors, or adjacent rooms have frequently been overlooked. Furthermore, as attribution to Sasanian period has not been confirmed by excavation or other archeological evidence and as Sasanian building techniques did not change fundamentally in Iran with Arab conquest, dating such buildings to one period or other is often problematic.

Chaar-Taagh and Atash-gaah

Andre Godard and Kurt Erdman , who misunderstood the remaining cores of ruined Chaar-Taaghs, suggested that the main element of Sasanian fire sanctuary was a “canopy Chaar-Taagh”, a free-standing, domed baldachin with arches open to the outside.

They assumed that the sacred flame was brought from a hypothetical repository, atash-gaah (or atash-dan) to canopy for worship during ceremonies. The term Chaar-Taagh thus became nearly synonymous with “Fire Temple” in architectural and art-historical literature. There is no archeological evidence that a canopy Chaar-Taagh existed in Sasanian period.
Furthermore, the transfer of fire does not accord with fundamental Zoroastrian ritual.

Firuzabad Reconstruction of Front

Firuzabad Section Parallel to front

Firuzabad Side Elevations

Friday, July 29, 2005

Firouzabad Palace
(read Chaar-Taagh article)

Ardeshir in Bas Relief commemorating his victory near Firouzabad.

Firouzabad, means "place of victory" and located sixty kilometer south of Shiraz in central Iran. Here in 224AD Ardeshir ended the Roman rule in a battle.

Above: Palace overlooks a small lake
Below: The throne room

Close up of a wall with niche

Exterior walls

Will continue with drawings and second part of "Chaar-Taagh" article.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

In search for Chaar-Taagh in reliable sources, I use encyclopedia iranica as the first step. Here, in case of Chaar-Taagh, I treated iranica text in the same way I treated it in history of Bam for page. I try to transfer the whole text of iranica to an easy to read article. Paragraphs, emphasizes, titles or subtitles are mine. Thanks to computer and internet these days, I can continue working on them, reflecting your comments and adding pictures and maps. --Siamak D. Ahi



Chaar-Taagh, literally "four arches", is an equilateral architectural unit consisting of four arches or short Barrel vaults between four corner piers, with a dome on squinches over the central square; this square and the lateral bays under the arches or barrel vaults together constitute a room of cruciform ground plan, Chaar-Taagh is the most prominent element in traditional Iranian architecture after Eyvan. (I agree with the ones who believe Chaar Taagh is the most prominent element in traditional Iranian architecture. --Siamak D. Ahi).

The term Chaar-Taagh probably originally became current because it seems descriptive of many ruins that can be observed in Iran. Most of these ruins are, however, only the surviving core of more complex buildings, from which surrounding walls, ambulatories, and subsidiary rooms have disappeared.

As the domed unit with four axial arches has been in continuous use in both religious and secular context, over a period of more than 1,500 years, the term cannot be considered to define a single functional building type:

Chaar-Taagh must be used only in its literal sense, to identify specific architectural form.


The origins of the Chaar-Taagh are still a matter of debate. It has been suggested that the dome on squinches originated in the mud-brick architecture of eastern Iran. Where it may have been developed from the simple pitched-brick dome or squinch vault.

The earliest definite archeological evidence of pitched-brick vaulting, like those found above some tombs at Ur, are dated to the first half of the third millennium B.C. These evidences may be the forerunners.

In Iran there is no evidence of Chaar-Taagh earlier than the beginning of the Sasanian period. The cruciform ground plan appeared in rudimentary form in Parthian buildings like Ghaleh-ye Zah-haak. In Azerbaijan, which where influenced by Roman architectural forms. It was fully developed in structures roofed with pendent domes, circumscribing the square; which were popular in 2nd and 3rd century Roman Syria. For example the western baths at Jerash and the so-called Ghasr-e Noveyjis at Amman.

It may be assumed, that the first step in development of Chaar-Taagh in Iran, was taken at Firooz-abaad about 2nd decade of A.D. In 3rd century, in buildings erected by Arde-sheer before he become king in 224.

Chaar-Taagh and Chaar-Ghapoo

Both the earlier Clifftop fortress of Ghal-e Dokhtar, and the later nearby Great Palace contained domed cubes, each with four axial doors. This type, which is essentially a square room with plain walls, may correctly be called Chaar-Ghapoo , literally, "four doors"

Chaar-Ghapoo is sometimes applied to Chaar-Taagh structures as well. Although Chaar-Taagh may have developed from the Chaar-Ghapoo. In the strict sense, the terms are not interchangeable. But neither are they entirely antithetical. They may describe different aspects of the building.

The term Chaar-Ghapoo characterizes the connective possibility of layout, whereas Chaar-Taagh primarily denotes the system of construction.

Under the first aspect Chaar-Taagh may be called a Chaar-Ghapoo, if there are opening doors in the enclosure walls or in the back walls of the four bays. Otherwise the term Chaar-Ghapoo should be applied only to those buildings, where there are comparatively small openings that justify the designation door or gate.

This condition is fulfilled in the so-called Chaar-Ghapoo at Ghasr-e Shirin, which has to be dated to the time of Khosrow Parviz II. Although an early Islamic date has been also suggested; the so-called fire temple of Anahita at Bishapour can be called Chaar-Ghapoo as well. Its roofing, however, is debated and there was certainly no dome. The archeological evidence seem to indicate that the Chaar-Ghapoo, with simple square interior without bay was rare In monumental pre-Islamic architecture in Iran.

Will continue

Friday, July 15, 2005

Chaar Taagh in
Encyclopaedia Iranica Italic

The link above takes you to Entries in alphabetical order. For the title Chahar Tagh click on letter "C".

Chaar Taagh appears similar to UAHAURTAUQ , because of phonetics. There is also a serial number next to each title. The serial numbers 3112 and 3113 are both about Chaar Taagh. The first one is about the pre-islamic period and the second one is about Islamic period.

Chaar Taagh in Encyclopaedia Iranica starts on page 634, if you like to go with page numbers. Pages are in pdf format (total of 9 pages). Click on "Read" to open the pdf file.

Monday, July 11, 2005

راستی را دوست دارم و از دروغ روی گردانم

" به خواست اهورامزدا، من چنينم که راستی را دوست دارم و از دروغ روی گردانم. دوست ندارم که ناتوانی از حق کشی در رنج باشد. همچنين دوست ندارم که به حقوق توانا به سبب کارهای ناتوان آسيب برسد. آن چه را که درست است من آن را دوست دارم. من دوست برده ی دروغ نيستم. من بدخشم نيستم . حتی وقتی خشم مرا مي انگيزد آن را فرو مينشانم. من سخت بر هوس خود فرمانروا هستم".
از سنگ نبشته های داريوش بزرگ

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Chahar taghi-e Kheir-abad
Kohgiluyeh va Boyer-ahmad -chn