TEHRAN – Experts, researchers and academia will discuss arenas of troglodytic architecture in Iran during an international conference, which will be held in Hamedan in October.
The 3rd International Troglodytic Architecture Conference aims to explore topics ranging from fundamentals, technologies, culture to the nature of troglodyte architecture.
“Heritage of Troglodytic Architecture for Generations” has been adopted as the theme of the conference, which is organized by the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism.
“These structures were not considered as the creative artistic masterpieces of their builders. Troglodytic structure became forgotten while many other native assets were lost … though they were filled with life and creativity,” says an introduction to the conference.
“We hope that through holding the third international conference on troglodytic architecture in Iran, that is a rare phenomenon globally, the researchers pay even more attention to this creative art of the human being… it helps to understand our invaluable heritage better… something that our architecture and urban planning is in dire need of.”
During the times that mountains and high areas dominated the plains as a symbol of power and dominance, the caves and natural rock shelters protected humans from their enemies. This is a period that has been mentioned in the mythical poetry book of Shahnameh:
Kioomars became the king of the world
First he carved a place inside the mountain
This was a period when the humans settled down in villages and started practicing agriculture and animal husbandry. One of the most prominent types of structures that were built during this period, were the troglodytic forts on top of the mountains.
These defensive forts that were more formidable than the ones built with building materials, provided a safer place for their residents and consequently settlements and agriculture besides animal herding became more prevalent. Subsequently spaces related to agricultural activities, such as grain storage spaces and mills were also built in these structures. Building forts that dominated the villages, the presence of large storage jars in the troglodytic houses in the Meymand village, large holes carved inside the wall in between the indoor and outdoor spaces in the village of Javin, troglodytic birdhouses in the Ürgüp valley in Cappadocia, and the water management system in the Sassis of Matera in Italy are all evidences for this process.
On the other hand during the cold season, humans migrated to the plains from the mountains. During this time humans began to build houses with building materials more than the previous times. But even during this time in areas where the arable land is limited or climatic condition makes it difficult to live above the ground, troglodytic spaces under the ground can be the solution to the problem. Instances of these spaces are: the pit gardens inside the heart of the Iranian desert, buried houses in the Yellow River’s sediments in the Shanxi region in China, and Matmata houses in Tunisia. If the natural environment facilitated, the on the ground forts were be built under the ground, and this way the underground troglodytic spaces were shaped.
Unlike the defensive forts that had to be large and intimidating, these spaces were completely hidden under the ground and there was no sign of them visible on the surface. Most of them had secret entrances known by only few native people. This is one of the reasons these structures were forgotten through time. Also since these structures were exposed to the floods, many of them were filled up with water through the time and were forgotten eventually. The underground city in Nooshabad, Samen in Malayer , Arzanfood in Hamedan and the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu in Turkey , and Naours in France are among the invaluable underground troglodytic architectural structures that have been recovered and studied only in recent years.
We aim to take a positive step toward a better understanding of this type of architecture through holding these conferences.
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