8.4 Intra-mural gardens, orchards and fields

Our expectations and assumptions of what might have been present within an early Islamic city lead us to examine the unbuilt spaces within the Sultan Kala. Clearly many of these were square or rectilinear, bounded by substantial building complexes, and while some may have contained formal gardens, most probably functioned as courtyards. Elite gardens spaces, however, probably did exist within the city, and strong candidates include the areas around the later palace complex in Shahriyar Ark (Fig. 26) and perhaps some of the areas in the south-east of the city, where substantial buildings appear to sit in large areas of open spaces (Fig. 39a and 39b).

There are two groups of less regular, but substantial, open spaces within the area encompassed by the 11th-century city walls: one to the west and one to the east (Fig. 39a and 39b). It seems possible that these are a reflection of the earlier boundary to the city, with less built-up areas outside it, which were not fully built-up even after their subsequent inclusion within the walled area. However, these do not appear to have been derelict or unused spaces, but rather structured spaces, with clear boundaries. Their edges are demarcated by the surrounding building complexes, which, perhaps not surprisingly, give them a regular appearance, but within the areas there are also clear signs of rectilinear organisation, and single lines on the aerial images that might be indicative of dividing walls or perhaps water features (Fig. 38 - opens GIS). Do these open spaces represent horticultural areas, for private production, or are they civic and communal arrangements?

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