« coughing, quoting, cave-bombing | Main | psa »

Bam: Past, Present, Future

[Please note that I knew little about Bam before this week, save for what my children learned about from their history books. My research today turned up many conflicting facts about dates and periods. I did my best to gather what I hope is correct information about the history of Bam]

The human toll in the devasting Iranian earthquake seems almost unfathomable. It's hard to comprehend so many people - over 20,000 - dying in one day, in one place.

Photos can show you the wreckage. They can show you the crumbled buildings, the flattened homes, the roads that have all but disappeared. bam3.jpgYou can see the human wreckage as well; tiny bodies wrapped in colorful blankets, laid out on the roadside awaiting burial. You see the anguished faces of men and women praying over the corpses of their relatives.

You look at these pictures and you try to imagine these people before the quake. You see a small child smiling, a mother cooking, a father working. At some point you stop looking at the photos. You stop watching the sweeping, panoramic shots of the devastion and turn off the tv, close the newspaper, shut down the computer. You go about your day and maybe you don't think about the quake and its victims again because it's too much. Your brain will not let you imagine the scope of so much death in one place, so many lives ruined and families lost.

While the human loss is a tragedy so enormous we may not want to think about it, their is the historical loss to ponder as well.

bam1.jpgBam was founded in a time so ancient, the years are accounted for with only three digits. Some of the structures in Bam dated back to the Sassanian period, from 224-637 AD. Imagine that. Structures made of nothing more than clay, straw, mud bricks and tree trunks withstood the rigors of so much time and now, in 2003, they are gone.

There was the Zoroastrian fire temple, which was the commercial center of Bam, as well as a site visited by many pilgrims during that time. Later, a mosque was built there, as well a the tomb of an astronomer.

Most of Bam was actually built during the Safavid period, from 1502-1722. In 1722, Bam was invaded by Afghans. In 1810, it was invaded again, this time by an army from Shiraz. Bam was then used as an army barracks and then abandoned sometime around 1850.

Look at this before (1975) and after (12/26/03) comparison of Bam from Getty Images to understand the magnitude of destruction.

The ancient citadel (over 2,000 years old) of Arg-e Bam and the ruins of the surrounding town is a tourist destination for those who are interested in viewing history. A deep moat that surrounds the citadel has kept it from being damaged. Inside the walls of Arge-e Bam were the original public bath, gym, garrison, stable, jail and the governor's house. [Many photos of historical Bam can be found here]
I was searching for photos of Bam while writing this and came across this one and thought, they are probably dead.

Despite our political differences with Iran, you cannot help but feel sorrow for these people. bam4.jpgThere are those who want to deny aid to the people of Bam simply because of the ideology of their government. We can't turn our backs on people in need on the basis that their leader is a hateful, dangerous man. If we can send doctors, food, medicine, clothing and comfort to those who need it and we don't, that makes us just as despicable as the Iranian government. And we are not like that.

Where to go if you want to help:

Activistchat.com, an Iranian activist site, has many photos, complete coverage and a forum about helping the citizens of Bam.

Iranian blogger Pedram has some poignant words as well as links to sites where you can donate money towards relief.

Alireza of Persian Blogger Chronicles has encouraging news about the structure of the citadel, as well as links to relief organizations.

Mercy Corps has a list of ways that you can help the victims.

Red Cross/Red Crescent
Direct Relief
NIA Council

Also, Matthew Stinson has a news-filled, frequently updated post about the earthquake.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bam: Past, Present, Future:

» Bam, in Iran from random ruminations
I’ve had a bone to pick with Iran for decades. In fact, ever since the occupation of the American embassy in Tehran and the holding of American hostages, I’ve been angered by Iran. But, it’s not the Iranian people that I’m angry... [Read More]

» Second time's the charm from Amish Tech Support
After yesterday's ODBC error, today the $100.00 finally went through to Magen David Adom. Take THAT, you filthy dirty Iranian anti-Semites! Sure, you may have tugged at Michele's heartstrings, but not mine. Maybe those Shiite pigfuckers should have spe... [Read More]

» Perspective from Beth's Contradictory Brain
Michele has a great post about the enormous earthquake tragedy in Iran. I keep trying to wrap my mind around [Read More]

» Bam, Damn. from Sgt Hook
Michele has an excellant post on the tragic loss of life and history in the wake of the Iranian earthquake. Go read it now, that's an order soldier! Sgt Hook out.... [Read More]

» Because Even the Axis of Evil Deserves Compassion from Matthew J. Stinson | weblog
As Robert Tagorda has noted, President Bush has wisely announced plans to aid Iran in the wake of today's horrific earthquake in the southern Iranian city of Bam. Here's how the AP is covering the story: WASHINGTON — The United... [Read More]

» How We Can Help from CALIFORNIA YANKEE
Aid is arriving in Iran from many countries, including the U.S. U.S. planes carrying food and other aid landed in Iran early Sunday, the first American aircraft to land in Iran in more than a decade. According to the Associated [Read More]

» Sunday Sermon #1 from Solonor's Ink Well
Here's a New Year's Resolution that some of you will like and others will despise. Good thing it's my blog... [Read More]

» Iran update from Swanky Conservative
Michelle's got a great informative post on the earthquake in Iran at A Small Victory.... [Read More]

» I, Shitmagnet... from Amish Tech Support
Or perhaps am I the shit? Michele gets generous. I get nauseous. Michele gets righteous. Andrea gets cooking. Meryl gets in the middle. How far will this get? Feedback should continue to be interesting. So many angles to explore. As... [Read More]

» Iran from Sheila Astray's Redheaded Ramblings
Just because I haven't been blogging about world events doesn't mean I am not aware of what is going on. It just seems that everybody else has it sufficiently covered. I cannot even get my mind around the number of... [Read More]

» Tragedy in Bam from Freedom Lives
When one sees a tragedy as it what has happened in Bam the first reaction is to help in some way as Michele proposes. There are other considerations in any decision as Laurence points out here and Meryl expands on... [Read More]

» My Two Cents from JimSpot
This and this and this attitudes and NOT this one are what will keep the conflict in the Middle East... [Read More]


Sorry, Michele, but I've donated $100 to Magen David Adom in response to their "NO JEWS!" policies.

Maybe when they take the shattered rebar and concrete and beat down their disgusting tyrannical Mullahs, those that spent their country's oil-wealth on Palestinian terrorists and mssiles instead of earthquake-proof housing in an earthquake-prone part of the globe, they might get my sympathies.

It is a nice thought that we can't turn our backs on people because of the ideology of their government.

Too bad their own government doesn't agree as they have specifically rebuffed an offer of aid from Israel because they are Israel.

I know that they turned Israel's offer of aid down, and I think that is despicable, as I said here. But that does not mean we should let the poorest people in Iran suffer when we can help them out.

Thanks for the info, Michele. I expected nothing less than a thoughtful, compassionate response from ASV.
It's sad that many people on both sides can't resist the urge to try to use a tragedy of this magnitude for their own craven political purposes. Iran's mullahs certainly are corrupt and despicable, but that doesn't mean that tens of thousands of Iranian citizens deserved to die. Nor does it mean that the survivors (a great many of whom do not support the mullahs) don't deserve our help in this dire situation.

I hate seeing that kind of destruction. I grew up in earthquake prone Los Angeles, shook through several large ones myself. What i have such a hard time grasping is this-

2 days or so earlier, a 6.5 quake in Paso Robles killed 2 people. TWO. The Bam quake, 6.3, killed 20,000 (or more). The Paso Robles quake was about 3 times more powerful (going by the generalization that from one whole number on the scale to the next is about 30 times more damaging than the lesser of the two)

The gap in numbers is mindboggling. To me, at least.
Of course the differences in depth and ground type make a huge difference, but still... 2 vs. 20,000- i can't imagine. An incredible tragedy. Moreso because it might have been preventable.

Pril, I think that gap is mostly attributable to the predominant mud and straw construction in that area of Iran. Not only is it vulnerable to earthquakes, but when those buildings collapsed the immense weight of the rubble meant there would be few survivors. Earthquake-resistant buildings are essentially a first-world phenomenon. If the Iranians can manage to ditch the mullahs - as many of them are now trying to do - maybe they can begin moving toward a healthy, modern economy.

With the mockup missiles that Iran just paraded around (saying Israel and USA on the side), the refusal scares me. Those mullas want blood so badly, I'm afraid they'll do something terrible. I still remember Rafsanjani (SP?), former president of Iran saying that Iran would nuke Israel the second they have working nukes.

Now I don't think they'll send missiles, more likely they'll smuggle a bomb in anonymously...

I don't think I was ever so nervous during the cold war as Iran makes me today.

Thanks for locating all that info on how we can help. I may be a cynic, but there is no circumstance when the pointless deaths of 40,000 people, the injury of scores more, and the destruction of a city does not require from every decent human being that aid which can be provided.

Actually, Sean, you sound like a humanitarian to me. Hope that is not an embarrassing term in your circles.

I can add nothing to what you and Michele have said except total support and agreement.