The Nine Domes of the Universe

Built between the early 8th century and the first half of the 9th century, the Noh Gunbad Mosque is believed to be the oldest and most important early Islamic-era building in Afghanistan. It stands out as an early example of an innovative style for mosques, influenced by pre-existing Irano-Sassanid patterns. The remaining, rare, stucco decorations are believed to be in early Abbasid or Samanid styles. With all nine domes collapsed, the three standing columns and two arches constitute the architectural and artistic core of the site. Badly damaged by time, the risk of structural failure of the arches in the event of an earthquake is extremely high. The publication highlights the study and conservation of this early Islamic monument at Balkh. 

Table of Contents: 

Institutional Texts 9

  • Abdul Bari Jahani, Minister of Information and Culture, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  • Michael P. McKinley, U.S. Ambassador, Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Abdul Ahad Abbasi, Director of the Department of Afghanistan’s Historic Monuments
  • Julio Bendezu-Sarmiento, Director of Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan=
  • Ajmal Maiwandi, Chief Executive Officer of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture
  • Bonnie Burnham, World Monuments Fund
  • Lanfranco Secco Suardo, President of Associazione Giovanni Secco Suardo
  • Saverio Mecca, Dean of the Department of Architecture, University of Florence
  • Paolo Fontani, Director and Representative, UNESCO Office in Afghanistan (2012–2015)


Between Balkh (Noh Gonbad) and Isfahan 35

Lisa Golombek


Haji Piada/Noh Gonbad: Works Carried out by the French Archaeological Delegation 49

Philippe Marquis, Julio Bendezu Sarmiento, Thomas Lorain, Nader Rassuli

The Nine Domes of the Universe 61

Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani

History and Crucial Aspects of Strengthening the Arch System 75

Arash Boostani, Ugo Tonietti

Characteristics of the Various Building Materials Used in the Noh Gonbad Mosque in Balkh 123

Fabio Fratini

Consolidations of the Stuccoes at Noh Gonbad Mosque in Balkh 133

Nathalie Bruhière, Daniel Ibled, Fanny Kurzenne

Three-Dimensional Laser Scan Survey 151

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Appendix 158

Contributors’ Biographies

Photographic Survey 161

Simon Norfolk

Previously Published Articles 169

“Les monuments peu connus de l’architecture medievale  de l’Afghanistan” by Galina A. Pougatchenkova 171

Afghanistan, vol. XXI, no.1, 1968

"Abbassid Mosque At Balkh” by Lisa Golombek  173

Oriental Art, vol. XV, no. 3, 1969

“La Mosqué ˉe Haji-Piyˉadah / Noh-Gonbadan” by Chahryar Adle 201

Comptes rendus de l’Académie des inscriptions, no.1, 2011

Josephine Powell’s Photographs  263

"How Josephine Powell’s Photographs Came to Harvard" by András Riedlmayer

Texts and Essays: Dari Language Translations 

ﻓﻬﺮﺳﺖ ﻣﻄﺎﻟﺐ

 ﻣﻘﺎﻻﺕ ﻧﻬﺎﺩﻫﺎ 6


23  ﺑﻴﻦ ﺑﻠﺦ (ﻧﻪ ﮔﻨﺒﺪﺍﻥ) ﻭ ﺍﺻﻔﻬﺎﻥ

ﻟﻴﺴﺎ ﮔﻠﻮﻣﺒﻚ


31 ﺣﺞ ﭘﻴﺎﺩﻩ/ ﻧﻪ ﮔﻨﺒﺪ: ﻛﺎﺭﻫﺎﻱ ﺍﻧﺠﺎﻡ ﺷﺪﻩ ﺗﻮﺳﻂ ﻫﻴﺄﺕ ﺑﺎﺳﺘﺎﻥ ﺷﻨﺎﺳﻲ ﻓﺮﺍﻧﺴﻪ

ﻓﻠﻴﭗ ﻣﺎﺭﻛﻮﺱ، ﺧﻮﻟﻴﻮ ﺑﻮﻧﺪﻭﺯﻭ ﺳﺮﻣﻴﻨﺘﻮ، ﺗﻮﻣﺎﺱ ﻟﻮﺭﻳﻦ، ﻧﺎﺩﺭ ﺭﺳﻮﻟﻲ 

40 ﻧﻪ ﮔﻨﺒﺪ ﮔﺎﺋﻨﺎﺕ 

ﻋﺒﺪﺍﷲ ﺳﻮﺭﻥ ﻣﻠﻴﻜﻴﺎﻥ ﺷﻴﺮﻭﺍﻧﻲ

 ﺗﺎﺭﻳﺦ ﻭ ﻇﺮﺍﻓﺖ ﻫﺎﻱ ﺍﺳﺘﺤﻜﺎﻡ ﺑﺨﺸﻲ ﻛﻤﺎﻥ ها 53

ﺁﺭﺵ ﺑﻮﺳﺘﺎﻧﻲ، ﺍﻭﮔﻮ ﺗﻮﻧﻴﺘﻲ 

67 ﺧﺼﻮﺻﻴﺎﺕ ﻣﻮﺍﺩ ﺳﺎﺧﺘﻤﺎﻧﻲ ﺑﻜﺎﺭ ﮔﺮﻓﺘﻪ ﺷﺪﻩ ﺩﺭ ﺳﺎﺧﺖ ﻣﺴﺠﺪ ﻧﻪ ﮔﻨﺒﺪ بلخ

 ﻓﺎﺑﻴﻮ ﻓﺮﺍﺗﻴﻨﻲ 

85 ﺗﺤﻜﻴﻢ ﮔﭽﺒﺮﻱ ﻫﺎﻱ ﻣﺴﺠﺪ ﻧﻪ ﮔﻨﺒﺪ ﺩﺭبلخ 

 ﻧﺎﺗﺎﻟﻲ ﺑﺮﻭﻫﻴﻪ، ﺩﺍﻧﻴﻞ ﺍﻳﺒﻠﺪ، ﻓﺎﻧﻲ ﻛﻮﺭﺯﻥ


94 ﺍﺳﻜﻦ ﻟﻴﺰﺭﻱ ﺳﻪ ﺑﻌدى 

ﺑﻨﻴﺎﺩ ﻓﺮﻫﻨﮕﻲ ﺁﻗﺎﺧﺎﻥ 

95 ﻋﻜﺴﻬﺎﻱ ﮔﺮﻓﺘﻪ ﺷﺪﻩ ﺗﻮﺳﻂ ﺟﻮﺯﻓﻴﻦ ﭘﺎول

 ﺑﺎ ﻣﻘﺪﻣﺔ ﺍﺯ ﺁﻧﺪﺭﺍﺵ ﺭﺩﺍﻟﻤﺎير


97 ﻧﺪﮔﻴﻨﺎﻣﺔ ﻧﻮﻳﺴﻨﺪﮔﺎﻥ ﻣﻘﺎﻻﺕ 


The Nine Domes of the Universe. The Ancient Noh Gonbad Mosque. The Study and Conservation of an Early Islamic Monument in Balkh, Kabul/New York/Lurano/Bergamo: Aga Khan Trust for Culture/Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan (DAFA)/World Monuments Fund/Associazione Giovanni Secco Suardo/Bolis Edizioni, 2016.

Associated Sites
Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Délégation archéologique française en Afghanistan
World Monuments Fund
Associazione Giovanni Secco Suardo
Bolis Edizioni srl
English section 199 pages; French section 93 pages; Dari section 100 pages
Building Usages