Arg-e Bam information
The ancient mud city of Bam is the largest adobe structure on earth and, until the 2003 earthquake, it was one of the jewels in Iran’s tourism crown. The site has been occupied for almost 2000 years and post-earthquake analysis revealed the walls were first built using Sassanian-style mud bricks.
Bam was a staging post on the trade routes between India and Pakistan at one end and the Persian Gulf and Europe at the other. Visitors, including Marco Polo, were awestruck by the city’s 38 towers, huge mud walls and fairy-tale citadel – the Arg-e Bam.
Today the Arg is the largest adobe building project on earth. Using mainly traditional methods, about 150 archaeologists, engineers and labourers are rebuilding the outer walls, the main citadel and a few buildings in the surrounding town. As team leader Afshin Ebrahimi told us, there is no plan to rebuild everything but by the time you read this, visitors should be able to climb onto the outer ramparts, to reach parts of the main citadel and sip tea in the teahouse above its main gate.
It’s a complex and painstaking job. As a former director of reconstruction told us, ‘every building is different, built at different times using different materials. We must try to rebuild each building using materials as close as possible to those they were originally built with.’ Which when we visited meant work to develop a lighter brick to be used in ceilings while being flexible enough to withstand an earthquake.
It’s a haunting walk, but even after the zelzele (earthquake) the sheer scale of the Arg and the remaining or rebuilt ramparts, arches and supporting walls mean it’s not difficult to imagine its majesty.
There is little shade so go in the early morning or late afternoon.