Magazine article UN Chronicle

The Bam Earthquake: The Tragedy of a Cultural Treasure 'Depicted in the Faces of People'

Magazine article UN Chronicle

The Bam Earthquake: The Tragedy of a Cultural Treasure 'Depicted in the Faces of People'

Article excerpt

At 5:27 a.m. on 26 December 2003, an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale struck southeast Iran. At its epicentre was the historic city of Bam, whose historical, social and cultural character and the area's population were dramatically affected. The tremors severely damaged Bam Citadel--or Arg-e Bam--the largest citadel of its kind in the world.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Dating back to 250 BC, Bam has been an important pilgrimage site and trading centre, connecting the Occident and the Orient. Famous for its silk and textiles, it became known as a tourist attraction. The city and the original Citadel were founded during the Sassaniate period (224-637 AD). While some of the surviving structures date from before the twelfth century, most of what remains was built during the Islamic Safavid Empire (1501-1722). The spectacularly shaped adobe structure, made of mud, clay, straw and the fibers of palms, came to symbolize Bam's unique cultural and spiritual character.

In July 2004, the United Nations formally recognized Bam's cultural value at the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), declaring the city a "World Heritage site". United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Coordinator Frederick Lyons affirmed the UNESCO decision, stating that "Bam is not an ordinary city; it epitomizes a civilization of which Iranians are justifiably proud".

The early morning earthquake, according to structural engineer Farzad Naeim of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, was the worst disaster in Iranian history in terms of human lives lost and structural damage. Visiting the city in January 2004, European Common Foreign and Security Policy Chief Javier Solana noted "the dimension of the tragedy". Overall, some 30,000 persons died during the quake, while another 30,000 were injured.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As World Relief President Clive Calver reported, around 80 to 90 per cent of the houses were destroyed and 50 per cent of the qanat (horizontal aqueduct) system used to irrigate Bam's famous dates was deemed useless. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.