From threat to opportunity: The case of Bam

Eskandar Mokhtari Taleghani, Rasool Vatandoust, Glavije Amirjamshidi

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The earthquake of December 2003 in Bam should be considered the worst hazard to befall the oldest standing mud brick structure of the world. The disaster severely affected its historical and cultural landscape and destroyed a significant amount of national heritage. This heritage was comprised of religious buildings, residential buildings and public buildings, as well as the ancient city of Bam. The tragedy not only ruined the character of the buildings from their core, but also made earthen resources a distrusted category of building materials in people’s minds. Subsequently, the culture of building with earthen architecture lost its good traditional reputation with the risk of irreplaceable tragedies in an earthquake. Six years of hard work after the earthquake which started with the creation of the Recovery Project of Bam’s Cultural Heritage (RPBCH) and help of other national and international partners, made it possible for conservators, engineers and architects to rebuild the lost trust in the public mind. In the aftermath of the earthquake, some major opportunities for meaningful progress in conservation presented themselves. The development of new guidelines for crisis management in Cultural Heritage, valuable identification of Bam’s heritage, recognition of different aspects of the existing earthen architecture, assessment of new technology for conserving earthen monuments and learning the techniques to use them in other historic earthen heritage were among the results of capitalisation on these opportunities. In addition to these achievements, educating and training the elderly craftsmen and combination of scientific methods with traditional methods also helped to draw the trust of residents. This paper reviews these activities and presents the results within a research framework; it identifies good practices in using the opportunities and proposes new ideas to tackle the potential future challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventXIth International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architectural Heritage, Terra - Lima, Peru
Duration: 1 Apr 2012 → …


ConferenceXIth International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architectural Heritage, Terra
Period1/04/12 → …


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