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Alamut

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The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture What is This? Provides in-depth historical and cultural information on over a thousand years of Islamic art and architecture

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Alamut

[Alamūt].

Mountainous valley in Iran, 35 km northeast of Qazvin, and the name of one of the fortresses that defended the valley. From 1090 to 1261 it was the main headquarters of the Nizari branch of the Isma῾ili Shi῾ites, a religious community organized on a military basis. Their rigid hierarchy, esoteric practices and use of terrorism encouraged the development of romantic tales about them. Reputed to use hashish, they became known in the West as “Assassins” (Arab. hashhīshiyyīn). Like all Isma῾ili fortresses, Alamut is strategically located on rocky heights and has an elaborate storage system for water and provisions so that the fortress was never taken by force. It consists of two parts: a higher and larger western fort and an eastern one.

Bibliography

  • Enc. Iran.; Enc. Islam/2 Find it in your Library
  • F. Stark: The Valley of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels (London, 1934/R New York, 2001) Find it in your Library
  • W. Ivanow: Alamut and Lamasar (Tehran, 1950) Find it in your Library
  • P. Willey: The Castles of the Assassins (London, 1963/R Fresno, CA, 2001) Find it in your Library
  • W. Kleiss: “Berichte über Erkundungsfahrten in Iran im Jahre 1970,” Archäol. Mitt. Iran, iv (1971), pp. 88–96 Find it in your Library
  • F. Daftary: The Ismā῾īlīs: Their History and Doctrines (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 324–434 [extensive bibliog.] Find it in your Library
  • P. Willey: Eagle's Nest Ismaili Castles of Iran and Syria (London, 2005) Find it in your Library
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