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072. Ghazni:
Bahram Shah Minaret

See also Tepe Sardar

Ghazni Province. 136 kilometers south of Kabul. The remains of the old city stretch eastwards between the new city and the village of Rauza.

Dates: Ghaznavid & Ghurid, 11th-13th century (ceramic, documentary,
           stylistic, evidence);  
           Timurid, 15th-16th century (stylistic evidence)

Ghazni is a large urban site consisting of a vast area of mounds, ruins littered with sherds and building debris and four identifiable structures:

The most conspicuous remains are two elaborately decorated brick minarets or victory towers — Mas'ud III Minaret and Bahram Shah Minaret — situated east of Ghazni, north of the road toward Kabul.

Other remains at Ghazni include: the Mas'ud III Palace (now ruined), the tomb of Sebuktegin on the hillside to the north of the minarets; the mausoleum of Shah Shahid or Muhammad Sharif Khan, a plain brick octagonal tomb, on a spur near the western minaret; the tomb of Mahmud, a modern building housing an extremely beautiful carved marble grave cover, in the village of Rauza; and the mausoleum of Abdur Razzaq, a plain brick building now used as the Museum of Islamic Art, also in Rauza. In addition, there are many elaborately carved grave stones on and near the site. Excavations have revealed two additional buildings: a domestic dwelling and a palace complex surrounding a central, marble paved courtyard. The most significant find was a long, decorated marble frieze with an inscription in Persian, 250 meters in length. Other finds include objects of glass, ceramic and bronze, decorative stuccos, paintings, marbles and tilework.

Bahram Shah Minaret

Ghazni Province, on the Kabul-Kandahar Road, east of Ghazni
Date(s): Ghaznavid, between 1118 and 1152
Client/Patron: Bahram Shah b. Mas'ud III


The Archnet Digital Library describes the Bahram Shah Minaret in the following manner: "The minarets erected by Ghaznavid Sultan Mas'ud III (reign: 1099-1115) and his son and successor Bahram Shah (reign: 1117-1157) stand 600 meters apart on a plain to east of their capital Ghazni, near the Palace of Mas'ud III (b. 1114)." The easternmost minaret was built by the Mas'ud III; the other was raised by Bahram Shah, whose reign ended with the sacking of Ghazni by Alauddin of Ghor. According to Archnet: "Both minarets — which served as models for the spectacular tower of Jam which in turn inspired the Qutob Minar at Delhi — once rose to a height over forty-four meters; their cylindrical upper halves have collapsed, leaving their lower stelliform shafts." Now only a fraction of their original height (only the first story is still standing), the minarets are capped with modern tin roofs.

According to Nancy Dupree, "the intricate decoration of minarets is in raised brick, without color, and includes epigraphic friezes in square Kufic and Naskh script in addition to panels with floral and geometric designs. Mounds of ruins at the foot of both minarets indicate that they were once a part of two large buildings. Evidence from these mounds supports the theory that these buildings were mosques." [Dupree, N., An Historical Guide to Afghanistan, Kabul, 1977, p. 182]

The lack of archaeological studies has left their function uncertain; they may have been built as victory towers, or as minarets accompanying mud-brick mosques.

Source: Archnet

See also:"Minarets of Ghazni". Website of the Society for the Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage (SPACH). [Accessed August 19, 2005]

Pinder-Wilson, Ralph. 2001. "Ghaznavid and Ghurid Minarets." Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies 39, 155-186.

Bailey, Martin. 1997. "War Damage: Afghanistan's Sites Devastated." in The Art Newspaper, no. 66 (Jan 1997).

Knobloch, Edgar. 2002. The Archaeology and Architecture of Afghanistan. Stroud, Gloucestershire, Charleston, SC: Tempus, 115-116.

Bruno, Andrea. 1962. "The Planned and Executed Restoration of Some Monuments of Archaeological and Artistic Interest in Afghanistan," in East and West 13, 99-185.

Knobloch, Edgar. 1981. "Survey of Archaeology and Architecture in Afghanistan, Part I: The South-Ghazni, Kandahar and Sistan," in Afghanistan Journal, v. 8, issue 1, pages 3-20.

  33° 34' N
  33.56667º N
  68° 27' E

68.45º E


Ghazni is found at the above
coordinates on JOG map

Click here to view the Google
Earth satellite image of the
minarets at Ghazni