Mud City Of Bam
in South Eastern Iran, 200 kilometers south of Kerman, the ruined
city of Arg-e-Bam is made entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw
and the trunks of palm trees. The city was originally founded
during the Sassanian period (224-637 AD) and while some of the
surviving structures date from before the 12th century, most
of what remains was built during the Safavid period (1502-1722).
During Safavid times, the city occupied six square kilometers,
was surrounded by a rampart with 38 towers, and had between
9000 and 13,000 inhabitants.
dynasty citadel, Bam
prospered because of pilgrims visiting its Zoroastrian fire
temple (dating to early Sassanian times) and as a commercial
and trading center on the famous Silk Road. Upon the site of
the Zoroastrian temple the Jame Mosque was built during the
Saffarian period (866-903 AD) and adjacent to this mosque is
the tomb of Mirza Naiim, a mystic and astronomer who lived three
hundred years ago. Bam declined in importance following an invasion
by Afghans in 1722 and another by invaders from the region of
Shiraz in 1810. The city was used as a barracks for the army
until 1932 and then completely abandoned. Intensive restoration
work began in 1953 and continues today.
city of Bam
buildings of Bam
buildings of Bam
walls of Bam
lake of Takht-e-Suleiman
in a mountainous area of northwestern Iran and 42 kilometers
north of the village of Takab, Takht-e Suleiman (the Throne
of Solomon) is one of the most interesting and enigmatic
sacred sites in Iran. Its setting and landforms must certainly
have inspired the mythic imagination of the archaic mind. Situated
in a small valley, at the center of a flat stone hill rising
twenty meters above the surrounding lands, is a small lake of
mysterious beauty. Brilliantly clear but dark as night due to
its depth, the lakes waters are fed by a hidden spring
far below the surface. Places like this were known in legendary
times as portals to the underworld, as abodes of the earth spirits.
Ruins of Takht-e Suleiman
studies have shown that human settlements existed in the immediate
region since at least the 1st millennium BC, with the earliest
building remains upon the lake-mound from the Achaemenian culture
(559-330 BC). During this period the fire temple of Adur Gushasp
(Azargoshnasb) was first constructed and it became one of the
greatest religious sanctuaries of Zoroastrianism, functioning
through three dynasties (Achaemenian, Parthian, Sassanian) for
nearly a thousand years. In the early Sassanian period of the
3rd century AD, the entire plateau was fortified with a massive
wall and 38 towers. In later Sassanian times, particularly during
the reigns of Khosrow-Anushirvan (531-579 AD) and Khosrow II
(590-628), extensive temple facilities were erected on the northern
side of the lake to accommodate the large numbers of pilgrims
coming to the shrine from beyond the borders of Persia. Following
the defeat of Khosrow IIs army by the Romans in 624 AD,
the temple was destroyed and its importance as a pilgrimage
destination rapidly declined. During the Mongol period (1220-1380),
a series of small buildings were erected, mostly on the southern
and western sides of the lake, and these seem to have been used
for administrative and political rather than religious functions.
The site was abandoned in the 17th century, for unknown reasons,
and has been partially excavated by German and Iranian archaeologists
in the past 100 years.
of Takht-e Suleiman
Musa, also called Mount Nebo
Musa, also called Mount Nebo, lies to the northwest of Madaba,
Jordan and is the alleged site of the tomb of Moses. The principal
ruins are at a place called Syagha and consist of a church and
an adjacent monastery. The first historical mention of the church
is in the account of the famous pilgrim, Lady Egeria (Aetheria)
who visited the site in 394 AD. She describes a small church
containing the tomb of Moses, the place having been miraculously
revealed in a vision to a local Shepard. In the late fifth or
early sixth century the shrine is mentioned in the biography
of Peter the Iberian. The building is now described as a "
very large temple, named after the prophet Moses and many monasteries
which are build around it", which seems to indicate that
an enlargement of the complex since the time of Egeria. Writing
of the power of the holy place, Peter the Iberian says,
temple was built in the name of the great prophet and lawgiver,
and he proclaims this publicly and to every man, so that no
doubt is possible in the signs and wonders and cures, which
since that time have occurred at this place without interruption.
For it is a place of cure for both the souls and for the bodies,
and a place of refuge for all those, who come here from all
places and are afflicted in the soul and affected with many
kinds of sufferings of the body.
Portuguese Franciscan monk visited the site in 1564 but by then
the buildings on the peak were ruined and abandoned, though
a small church at Ayun Musa (Moses' Springs) in a valley to
the north, was still in use. Mt. Nebo is again mentioned in
a document of the 17th century but the writer does not mention
either buildings or ruins at the site. Beginning in 1933, the
Franciscan Biblical Institute of Jerusalem has conduced extensive
excavations upon the summit of Jebel Musa, revealing the church
and monastery described by the early pilgrims. The church is
the usual basilica type and corresponds almost exactly with
the tomb of Moses that Egeria had described in 394 AD. The floors
of the sanctuary were decorated with wonderful mosaics and many
inscriptions. Judging from the size of the ancient monastery,
there was a considerable community living upon the mountain.
the terrace to the west of the church it is sometimes possible
on clear days to have a view across the Jordan valley all the
way to the Mount of Olives. The River Jordan is hidden from
view in a deep canyon but the Dead Sea gleams in the sunlight
over 3500 feet below. It must have been somewhere in this vicinity
that Moses stood and gazed upon the Promised Land. Long before
the time of Moses, however, Mt. Nebo was already a sacred site
and remains of pagan temples of the Phonecian god Baal have
been found around the peak.
Prophet Aaron(Harun bin Imran) was the elder brother of Prophet
Musa/Moses and Miriam, and the descendant of the Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham
through his grandson Jacob. While Moses was both a messenger
and a prophet, Aaron was a prophet only. He shared with his
brother in the missions to the Pharaoh and in leading the tribes
of Israel out of Egypt. Tradition holds that Aaron often acted
as the voice of Moses who had a distinctive stammer to his speech.
Aaron was buried by Moses on the summit of Mount Hor, near the
ruins of Petra.
Also called El-Barra, the mountain is 4580 feet (1350 meter)
and the highest in the Petra
region; it has
twin peaks with the grave of Aaron perched on the cone of the
higher peak. Religious buildings have stood upon the peak since
at least as early as the Byzantine era, when Christians began
to associate the mountain with the site of Aarons burial.
During the 7th century Greek Christians administered the site
and local legends tell that the ten-year-old prophet Mohammed
visited the shrine with his uncle. Muslim pilgrims, in homage
to the prophet, often drape the shrine with green and white
pieces of fabric. Given its present form in 1459, the shrine
is a small, domed mosque which is rarely opened. The shrine
was until recent times jealously guarded by the Bedouin and
non-Muslim travelers were forbidden to ascend the peak.
The peak of Jebel Haroun and the shrine of (Harun bin Imran),
Jebel Haroun and the shrine of (Harun bin Imran), brother of
Shrine of (Harun bin Imran), brother of Moses
View from the roof of (Harun bin Imran)s shrine
Ararat and the Armenian Christian monastery of Khor Virap
Ararat, the traditional resting place of Noahs Ark,
is located in eastern Turkey near the Armenian and Iranian borders.
The summit of Mt. Ararat is 5,165 meters (16,946 feet) above
sea level. Ararat is a dormant volcano and its last eruption
was on June 2, 1840. At present the upper third of the mountain
is covered with snow and ice throughout the year. The Turkish
name for Mt Ararat is Agri Dagi (which means mountain of pain).
Adjoining Mt. Ararat, and 4000 feet lower, is the peak known
as Little Ararat. Classical writers considered Ararat impossible
to scale and the first known ascent was that of Frederic Parrot,
a German physician, in 1829. Prior to the fall of the Soviet
Union, Armenia was part of the Russian state and border conflicts
between the Turkish and Soviet authorities often made it impossible
for climbers to gain access to the mountain. Armenia has now
regained its freedom but continuing conflicts with the Turkish
government and the Turkeys own conflicts with local Kurdish
tribes have continued to limit further exploration of the great
peak. If one is able to gain permission to climb, it is best
to start from the Turkish town Dogubayazit on the south side
of the mountain. The average climber who is experienced in high
altitudes can complete the trek in three days, but it is better
to allow four or five days so that exploration of the peak can
be included. Late August is the best season for climbing.
of Prophet Noah
the years various groups have explored Ararat in the hopes of
finding remains of Noah's Ark. Both Josephus in about 70 A.D.
and Marco Polo about 1300 A.D. mention the Arks existence
on the mountain, but their reports are based on others' accounts.
The story of Noah's ark, as it is told in the Old Testament,
is a reworking of an earlier Babylonian myth recorded in the
Gilgamesh Epic. The hero of the earlier version is called Utnapishtim.
It seems probable that the Babylonian story was based on a devastating
flood in the Euphrates River basin, and that the ark in that
story was grounded on the slopes of one of the Zagros mountains.
According to Old Testament passages, God became so dismayed
with the wickedness of the human race that he decided to wipe
it out with a cataclysmic flood. Only a man named Noah was to
be spared. So God warned Noah to build a boat to house his family
and the birds and animals of the earth. Genesis (8:3-4) relates:
And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and
after the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters decreased.
And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth
day of the month, upon the mountain of Ararat.
For this Section goes to
: Mr. Martin Gray, SacredSites.com