The Helmand Sistan Project
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Shahr-i Gholghola: Wall Systems

Latitude: 30.57893266   Longitude: 62.09031513

Map Number: 24  Go to the MAP

Wall Systems. The defensive nature of the site is apparent from the existence of five different wall systems and three moats protecting the Citadel Palace at the center. Medieval documents describing the Sistan fortress of Taq match what we found on the ground quite closely.

The Outer Wall, over a km in length on each side, is not regular in shape, with one wall convex, another concave, and the south and east sections a continuous curve. The wall sits on a platform to raise it above the level of the plain. Walls still stand 10 m high in some places and, in the best-preserved section along the east, show corbelled decorations at the top that are found elsewhere during the Ghaznavid period occupation of the site. Four gates pierce the 4 m wide wall that also supports at least 25 semicircular defensive towers. A moat 30-40 m wide surrounds this wall system. Canals dug through the wall and later buildings constructed atop its remains suggests this wall went out of use before the 15th century.

Inside the Outer Wall is the Circular Wall, the most imposing of the site. It is over 2 km long and surrounds an oblong compound 460 x 530 m in size. The wall currently stands 1-2 m in width and rises as high as 8 m, but sits on a broad, tall platform as much as 20 m wide. The Circular Wall is dotted with 56 exterior towers, and is surrounded by a moat 25-30 m wide and 3 m deep. Entrance through this wall is only possible through heavily defended gates on the north and south sides over the moat.

The Citadel inside the Circular Wall compound is surrounded by a defensive wall at its base and another at the summit, surrounded by a third moat 22 m wide and 4-4.5 m in depth. A single gate on the north side of each wall allows entrance to the interior. The Palace on the summit of the Citadel is surrounded by yet another defensive wall.

The best-preserved stretch of the Outer Wall on the east side of the site with the East Gate at the far right. Corbelled decoration at the top of the wall is identical to parts of the Circular Wall and the Lower Palace, suggesting a Ghaznavid date for all.
One of four entrances through the Outer Wall, the North Gate, was decorated with a baked brick arch.
The southeastern stretch of the Circular Wall. One part of the wall is much lower than the rest and appears to never have been finished (upper right).
A southwestern part of the Circular Wall with regular circular towers protruding.
The elaborate interior of the South Gate of the Circular Wall, features two-story buildings.
The 25 m high Citadel with its three defensive walls: a badly destroyed lower wall surrounded by a moat, a second wall that surrounds the crest of the Citadel, and a third wall that protects the Palace atop the eastern half of the Citadel.
The Upper Gate leading into the Citadel was highly fortified, including a narrow walkway (far left) that allowed guards to observe (or fire arrows at) anyone going through the S-shaped entryway.

Citadel Palace

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