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The Physical Expression of Power in Military Architecture: A Structuralist Analysis of Historic Fortified Palaces and Forts in the Middle East

Maryam Ashkan


This interpretative qualitative analysis of morphological and typological aspects of forts and fortified palaces in the Middle East from the period 230–940 is grounded theoretically in a specialized premise of structuralism. Based on fourteen selected cases, the paper addresses the origins and moderated development of forts and fortified palaces in Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Oman, and Syria. It goes on to examine primary and secondary built-up zones, the diversity of defensive tower shapes, U-shaped and L-shaped system typologies, and four geometrical ordering principles that inform the different layouts. This systematic typological and morphological investigation sheds new light on the physical expression of power in the architecture of this region and has wide application to preservation studies.

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