An Introduction to the History of the City and Urbanisation in Iran

سلطان‌زاده، حسين. مقدمه ای بر تاریخ شهر و شهر نشینی در ايران. تهران: نشر آبی ، ١٣۶۵، چاپ اول، ۴٠١ص.


Sultanzadah, Husayn. Muqaddimahʹi bar Tarikh-i Shahr va Shahrnishini dar Iran. Tehran: Nashr-i Abi, 1986, 1st ed., 401pp.




An Introduction to the History of the City and Urbanisation in Iran


مقدمه ای بر تاریخ شهر و شهر نشینی در ايران


In this book, Husayn Sultanzadah traces the reciprocal and compatible relationship between the “city’s physical spaces” and economic, social, and environmental changes. To this end, he outlines the creation, changes, and destruction of the city’s physical spaces from the time before Islam through the late twentieth century.


According to the author, prior to the twentieth century, the development of urban spaces in Iran showed transformations that were organic and in harmony with social changes. Following the arrival of modern technology and the ensuing changes in social norms, older structures lost their ability to coordinate with the city’s modern spaces. This initial assessment, however, is left behind in the introduction, and the book proceeds without arguing for a particular theory to provide brief descriptions of factors that impacted the formation and changes in cities and in the urbanisation of the Iranian plateau. Some of the cities he covers, such as Baghdad, Kufa, Balkh, and Bukhara no longer fall within contemporary Iran’s political borders.


The book uses a great number of remarkable and diverse sources including literary and historical texts and travelogues. Among these, very few are foreign sources.


The first chapter covers the role of administrative, military, religious, and trade factors that had an impact on urbanisation prior to the advent of Islam. It then goes on to describe urban elements such as old forts, counties, suburbs, markets, and squares. The second and third chapters consider the overall and physical characteristics of cities in Tehran after Islam until 1976. Chapter four addresses the crucial role of schools and mosques in reflecting or creating social change. It also emphasises the connections among the function and nature of a range of physical spaces such as neighbourhoods, mosques, schools, squares, and markets. The final chapter covers how the construction, form and landscape of a city become distinguished from another. The appendices cover the different characteristics of urban and rural areas.


This book is currently among the academic sources assigned in Iranian universities in the fields of city planning and city building.


Iradj Esmailpour Ghouchani

Translated by Niki Akhavan


Esmailpour Ghouchani, Iradj. “English abstract of 'of An Introduction to the History of the City and Urbanisation in Iran'". Translated by Niki Akhavan. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 88. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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