The ruined city of Bam is located in southeastern Iran. It is made entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw, and the trunks of palm trees. The city was originally founded during the Sasanian period (224-637) and while some of the surviving structures date from before the 12th century, most of what remains today dates to the Safavid period (1502-1722). During Safavid times, the city occupied six square kilometers, was surrounded by a rampart with 38 towers, and had between 9000 and 13,000 inhabitants.
Bam was a commercial and agricultural center on the famous silk road. It was also a stopping off place for pilgrims visiting its Zoroastrian fire temple.
Bam declined in importance following an Afghan invasion in 1722 in 1722 and another invasion in 1810. The city was used as a barracks for the army until 1932 and then completely abandoned.
Intensive restoration work began in 1953 and continued until December 26, 2003 when the city of Bam was devastated by a massive earthquake of about 6.6 in magnitude. The earthquake killed more than 26,000 people and resulted in the near total destruction of the ruins.