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Reconstruction of Bam Citadel Needs Time and Patience

Tehran, 18 February 2006_ Soudabeh Sadigh (CHN) -- Mike Corfield, a heritage science and conservation consultant from Britain, who was previously the Chief Scientist for English Heritage, came to Iran by the invitation of UNESCO office in Tehran to reconsider the situation of Bam Citadel and the reconstruction process after the earthquake.

It was his second visit to Bam Citadel after the earthquake of January 2003. In an interview with CHN, Corfield expressed his satisfaction about the restoration process in Bam Citadel; meanwhile he strongly insisted that such a mega project needs a lot of time to be completed.

Bam Citadel was one of the largest adobe structures in the world and one of the most beautiful historical sites in Iran, which dates back to 2000 years ago. Unfortunately, more than 80 percent of this magnificent citadel collapsed when a massive earthquake hit the city of Bam more than two years ago which brought the city to ruins, leaving tens of thousands dead and homeless.

The inscription of the Bam Citadel on the World Heritage list at the 28th session of the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in China was a giant step towards renovating this historical site.

The cooperation of several countries in the reconstruction of Bam Citadel has changed this project into an international one. Japan, Italy, and France are among countries which started their cooperation with this project from the very beginning. Japan has granted some 1,300,000 US dollars to Iran for the reconstruction of Bam Citadel, besides it has supported Iranian government in this project with sending some equipments and creating the 3D plan of Bam Citadel to increase the accuracy of the renovation and salvation activities of the citadel. Italy has funded 300,000 US dollars in the Salvation Project of Bam. It has also dispatched a team of Italian experts to restore the main tower of Bam. France has also helped the government of Iran by providing the map of Bam Citadel. World Bank has also granted a large sum of money to this project.

According to Corfield, a number of good steps have been taken so far for the reconstruction of Bam Citadel, and a large amount of debris has been removed. "Altogether, it seems to me that Bam is rapidly coming back to life," said Corfield.

He also mentioned that a lot have been done to prevent the danger of collapse of the citadel, and there is less risk of the building's collapse compared to last year when he had visited the citadel for the first time. "My feeling is that it is a project that is progressing and developing successfully," said Corfield to CHN correspondent.

Corfield also explained that during the archeological excavation for Bam Salvation Project they have found out how the history developed in the region over the course of history. "I think as well the tremendous impetuous of the work led to exploration of the countryside. This plus the discovery of archeological remains from 5000 years ago helped us to understand how Bam was supported by different towns and villages around from ancient times to today. All of these indicate the good management in reconstruction of Bam Citadel," added Corfield.

According to Corfield, there are many historical sites around the city of Bam, such as the magnificent fortress of Darestan is eastern Bam. He also explained that much historical evidence from different periods of time including the Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanid, and Islamic periods have been discovered in the vicinity of Bam which indicated the flourishing of this city during the ancient times.

"The most important is the system of quanat (aqueduct) and how they were useful in maximizing the water supply. Discovery of some very ancient aqueducts show that it is even possible that this rich technique spread to other places from Bam," said Corfield.

Corfield strongly believed that determining a definite time by which the reconstruction of Bam Citadel is completed is just impossible and that is due to the large amount of work which should be done in this respect. According to Corfield, the accuracy in reconstruction of Bam is more important than speed. "It is much depending on how much evidence we can find by looking through photographs and maps. It is also important to try to maintain its original structure to represent its past," said Corfield.

Corfield believed that Bam Citadel will regain its original splendor again; however, it will take a long time. "The people and the government of Iran should be patient in this respect. It may seem easy to try to be quick and to implement rapid ways in the reconstruction of Bam Citadel, but it is really dangerous to act this way. There has to be a compatibility of material use in the restoration to use appropriate and strong materials in an appropriate way." added Corfield.

All regional and international teams active in reconstruction of Bam Citadel are trying to understand the method and technology which was used during the past to reuse them in the reconstruction of Bam Citadel and the surrounding areas.

Considering the importance of being accurate in the reconstruction of Bam Citadel, Corfield explained that the salvation team is trying to do research to identify the correct form of Bam Citadel and to make sure to undertake an accurate archeological study on this historical site. They are also trying to get the position of Bam regularized to save it from being placed in the endangered heritage list of UNESCO.

According to Corfield, it is normal when dealing with a mega projects such as that of Bam for such a project to be done in a long term management to consider all aspects and discover all sites and to study the accurate architectural style before restoring them. "Sometimes it is necessary to foresee the situation of the project for the 30 years ahead," said Corfield.

Mike Corfield and Ms. Junko Taniguchi, programmer specialist for culture in UNESCO cluster office in Tehran were both satisfied with the cooperation of Iran's government, NGOs and the people of Iran in the Bam Salvation Project. They also appreciated the efforts of some Iranian experts such as Eskandar Mokhtari, head of Bam Salvation Project who has made great contributions in reconstruction of the ancient citadel of Bam as well as rebuilding the city.

Corfield also talked about how the local people of Bam show enthusiasm toward the Bam Salvation Project and follow the case despite the tremendous human disaster which resulted in the death of thousands of their friends and family members in Bam, "To see so much enthusiasm from the people who had suffered a lot during the earthquake is really very encouraging for us to follow the project as best as possible," said Corfield.

At the end, he explained that Bam's Salvation Project is a humanitarian issue and it is absolutely independent from political quarrels and the foreign teams that are currently working on this project are trying to do their best to bring back the glory of the past to this city with the help of Iranian government and experts.

... Payvand News - 2/23/06 ... --

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