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Ali Shojaee Esfahani


This article presents an exposition of the fortifications around Isfahan based on fieldwork and a thorough analysis of written sources and the available satellite images, processed with new GIS technologies. The fortress of Šāhdiz, of Ismaili fame, is well known and documented in the written sources, however the major conclusion of the current research is that in fact a network of fortifications was developed, strategically located to afford observation and communication. The heights surrounding Isfahan were exploited to full potential, gaining security over roads and settlement processes, which in turn contributed to urban growth. The evolution of this network conformed with the trends of urbanisation: as long as the main towns remained Qih and Jayy, it was the mountains in the east of the rustāq of Isfahan that played the decisive role. But from the fourth/tenth century onward, with the growth of Yahūdiyya and the integration of the southern province of Fars and Khuzistan in the Buyid and Saljuq polities, it was the fortified of sites in the mountainous areas south of Zāyanda-rūd that were key to securing the access roads.