Ribat-i Sharaf

Date: 1114 to 1155
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Iran
Description: The Ribat-i Sharaf is a fortified Seljuq caravanserai (ribat is Persian for caravanserai) built in 1114 in northeastern Iran and named after a local governor. Preceded by a large underground cistern, the baked-brick structure is accessed through a tall pishtaq. It has two courtyards, each with a four-iwan plan, and staircases indicate that it was originally at least two storeys high. Rooms for travelers and their goods line the courtyards, supplemented by functional spaces (kitchen, latrine, stable). A collection of metal dishes was found in one of the rooms, datable from the Seljuq to the Safavid periods. There are mosques off each courtyard and an additional mihrab on the pishtaq exterior so travelers would know the proper (southwest) direction of prayer. By order of Turkan Khatun, wife of the reigning sultan, the complex received elaborate brick and stucco decoration in 1154/55. The sultan and his entourage probably stayed in the larger northern courtyard on occasion, away from the rest of the travelers. By constructing ribats at regular intervals along travel routes, the Turkic Seljuqs facilitated long-distance trade across their growing empire.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 7
Repository and Online Resources: • Read more about the Ribat-i Sharaf on ArchNet.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons; Navid Jamali

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Ribat-i Sharaf, plan Ribat-i Sharaf, pishtaq Ribat-i Sharaf, northern domed mosque, carved stucco with inscription over mihrab