Bam and its Cultural Landscape

Representative of a Constructive Nature and Human Relationship

   Bam and its cultural landscape was inscribed in 2003 in the World Heritage Organization as the first cultural landscape of Iran. The main point in cultural landscapes is how human beings interact with nature, and this method has remained intact or with a minor changes from the past up to now.

  According to archaeological findings Bam city dates back to more than 5000 years ago .This city is situated beside one of the hottest deserts all over the world, Lut desert, although it seems as a big garden which the first job of its inhabitant is agricultural activities. Bam is one the highest density Qanat cities in Iran. In a corner of the city, the ancient citadel of Bam has been built as the largest adobe complex in the world with a history of 2500 years and every year invites a large number of visitors from all over Iran and the world.


   The World Heritage Organization sets ten criteria for the registration of national monuments as a World Heritage. Six cultural criteria and four natural criteria. “Bam and its cultural landscape” has four cultural criteria.

   Bam developed at the crossroad of important historical routs and this caused an interaction between different cultures here in this region. It’s interesting that this highly important trading city was located in a desert area. The heart of the city was a strong, real secure and rare citadel in all central Asia which has been built with Khesht (sun dried bricks which are made from mud clay) and Chineh (walls made of stacking several layers of straw and mud on top of each other).

   Bam and its cultural landscape represent an important example of an interaction between human and the nature in a desert area, based on Qanat systems. The people in this region used to derive the benefit of qanat since at least 2000 years ago and now it continues. Qanat system has been stood on very strong social systems and it is organized by the local people. 


Cultural Landscape of Bam

an outstanding example of successful human settlement in a desert

   The core zone of Bam and its cultural landscape consists of Bam fault and Arg-e Bam. In the area of the fault, some signs of qanats related to the first millennium AD have been found. In addition, in this area, there is an ancient settlement dating back to the early first millennium AD. After many centuries, there are still many qanats in the fault area that irrigate the city of Barvat, 5 km from Bam. In fact, the fault functions as an underground water barrier, causing water to collect on one side.

   The people in this area noticed the secret of the relationship between faults and qanats about 2000 years ago and extracted water from the fault by digging qanats, which is a sign of their high intelligence and creativity. Two qanats of Bam fault area are among the eleven Iranian qanats that have been inscribed in the title of “Persian Qanat” as world heritages. More details of Bam qanats are provided on the Qanat page.