The citadel and old city of Bam, Iran

BAM_IR2726 Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

The citadel and old city of Bam in Iran has been inhabited since the time of the Parthian Empire, which was between 247 B.C.E to 224 C.E. However, the city became an important stop on the silk and cotton trade route, specialising in garments sewn from the imported textiles during the 7th to 11th century C.E.

Bam has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as being one of the best fortified city and citadel built with layers of mud and mud bricks. It is also an oasis area of the Kerman Province with underground irrigation pipes that can be dated from the time of original settlement.

Unfortunately in 2003 there was a major earthquake that severely damaged the old city and citadel.
Destruction_of_the_Bam_Citadel Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Since 2004 UNESCO and the Iranian Government have had a reconstruction plan in place to rebuild the city using traditional techniques with only a few modern additions.

The Roman Synagogue of Hammam-Lif

In 1883 French soldiers uncovered the ruins of a 1st-6th century synagogue in Tunisia, in a town called Hammam-Lif. Originally thought to have been a church due to the structure, it became obvious what the original site was once the floor mosaics were uncovered.
hammamlifmenorah This mosaic is of a menorah, made of stone and mortar. The size is 4.4cm by 89.5cm by 57 cm and dates to the 6th century C.E.
hammamlifetroglulav This mosaic is a menorah with an etrog and lulav. The size is 4.4 cm by 88.7cm by 57.5cm and also dates to the 6th century C.E.

The synagogue was built over the Roman and Byzantine time period. Rome was also personified in a mosaic.
hammamlifroma This particular mosaic dates from the 1st-2nd century C.E. and the size is 3.2cm thick with a 53.9cm diametre. Many of the mosaics can be seen on the Brooklyn Museum website.

Recommended reading
The Mosaics of Hammam Lif by Franklin M. Biebel. JStor article.

Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Diaspora by Rāḥēl Ḥa̱klîlî. Via Google Books.

The Ancient Synagogue: The First Thousand Years by Lee I. Levine. Via Google Books.

Inscribing Devotion and Death: Archaeological Evidence for Jewish Populations by Karen B. Stern. Via Google Books.

Synagogue at Hammam-Lif by Yitzchak Schwartz. Exhibition blog entry for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The spiral minaret of Abbasid Samarra

This picture is from the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This spiral minaret was built out of mud brick in the 9th century, when Samarra was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. It is in Iraq, 125 kms north of Baghdad. The minaret is part of the Abbasid palace complex, which is still has over 80% of the structure to be excavated. The site is on the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger list.

Persian Gardens

Earlier this year UNESCO added nine places to the World Heritage list from Iran. These had already been added to the Iranian National Heritage list, but now got World protection. These Palaces were saved specifically for their gardens, as formal gardens have been in Persia for the last two millennia.
The influence of Zoroastrianism in the 7th century C.E. meant that trees became sacred in gardens, as well as life-giving water. The gardens are walled and inward looking, a retreat from the outside world. The Mongol invasion of Persia in the 13th century brought the idea of structural and ornate design to the Persian garden, creating a very formal style. The Gardens are split into four parts, to represent the world while also being a retreat from it. The Persian word for such gardens is “pairi-daeza” which was transliterated into Paradise in English. The designs are classical, formal or casual, public or private. The Mongols took the design and idea of Persian gardens back throughout their Empire, which in turn influenced many gardens in India, with the Taj Mahal the most well known example. These Gardens are known literally as paradise on earth, which brings a new meaning to this flask. The influence can be seen as far away as the Al-Andalus, such as the Huerta de la Alcurnia and the Alhambra. Please see the previous post The Alhambra for more details and a visual tour.
History of Persian Garden Design on The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies.
Persian Gardens by Firouzeh Mirrazavi. On Iran Review.
The Persian Garden by K. Kianush. On Iransaga.
The Mughal Garden: Gateway to Paradise by James Dickie (Yaqub Zaki). JStor article.
A History of the Sanctuary Garden by Mac Griswold. JStor article.
The Hispano-Arab Garden: Its Philosophy and Function by James Dickie. JStor article.
A Sasanian Garden Palace by Arthur Upham Pope. JStor article.
The Islamic Garden in Oman: Sanctuary and Paradise by John Alexander Smith. JStor article.
Garden Agon by Susan Stewart. JStor article.
A Persian Garden Carpet by Martin Conway. JStor article.

The Alhambra

This is only a quick post about the great palace of the Alhambra, as it can be studied over a lifetime and still have more to study.There is a virtual walking tour of the Alhambra available called A Virtual Walking Tour: The Alhambra done through Saudi Aramco World. There is also another virtual tour through Columbia University. Tour the Alhambra requires Quicktime & Flash plugins.

The Alhambra by Robert Irwin. A Scribd document.
Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada on UNESCO.
If you are interested in any article on the topic of the Alhambra, has many articles available here.

Bahla Fort, Oman

Made of unbaked mud brick (just like the city of Shibam) but built in the 13th century by the Banu Nebhan tribe. They ruled this area in Oman for around 300 years but there is little information on them. It is a fortified oasis, where the theology of Ibadism was centered and controlled from. Much of the 12kms of wall had fallen down and been washed away before it was placed on the UNESCO Endangered Places list. The Omani government spent $9 million to upgrade the fort between 1993-1999. It has since been taken off the Endangered list but is still Heritage listed.This is a YouTube clip showing a tour of the Bahla Fort. However, the Government of Oman also has a Virtual Bahla tour.
Restoration of the Bahla Fort– Oman Information Centre.
The history of Mohammedanism and its sects by William Cooke Taylor. Free book on Google Books.

The Walled City of Shibam

The walled city of Shibam is in Yemen. Known to have been inhabited since the third century CE, it is also known as the “Manhattan of the Desert”. It was the capital of the Hadhramaut empire.
The buildings seen today date from the 16th century, built out of unbaked mud bricks. There had been a flood in the 16th century and the city had been extensively rebuilt. Around 500 buildings are tower high-risers, from five to eleven floors. This was done to help defend the city from Bedouin attacks.
This YouTube clip was done by UNESCO, as the walled city is on their heritage list. It has a tour through the city.

Contested Townscapes: The Walled City as World Heritage by Oliver Creighton.