Literally meaning ‘the super mountain’ or ‘on the mountain’, Abarkooh in an old town located in central Iran, south-west of Yazd province and en route Yazd-Shiraz road. It hosts a number of interesting attractions and is an ideal breakpoint en-route a trip between Yazd and Shiraz.
In the 10th century CE, Abarkooh was the spot where the roads from Shiraz, Isfahan, and Yazd converged. During this period, the writer Ibn Hawqal noted that Abarkooh was the capital of the nahiyah of Rudan, which had formerly been part of Kerman Province but, by the time of his writing, had become part of Fars under the district of Estakhr. The accounts of Ibn Hawqal and his contemporary al-Maqdisi describe Abarkooh as a prosperous and populous town, fortified with a citadel. The mishmash of narrow streets formed a compact, spontaneous network, and the houses, like those of Yazd were built of sun-dried brick in a vaulted shape. 10th-century Abarkooh had a large Friday mosque, which was a predecessor of the current one, which dates from the post-Mongol period. As the surrounding region was treeless and arid, and thus unable to support much agriculture, Abarkooh imported large quantities of food from elsewhere. It exported cotton cloth. A notable feature mentioned by Ibn Hawqal is a “lofty hill of ashes” (possibly a volcanic remnant) said to be the remains of the fire where Namrud tried to burn Abraham to death.
In the following 11th century, Abarkooh was ruled by the Kakuyid dynasty, who had originally been kinsmen and vassals of the Buyid dynasty but later became independent rivals. Just before 1044 CE the Buyid ruler Abu Kalijar captured Abarquh from the Kakuyid Abu Mansur Faramarz. In 1051, however, Abarkooh came back into Abu Mansur Faramarz’s possession: that year, the Seljuk ruler Tughril Bey conquered Faramarz’s capital of Isfahan, and in compensation granted him the cities of Abarkoouh and Yazd. Around this time, another notable family in Abarkooh was the Firuzanids, originally from Eshkavar in Tabaristan. The oldest surviving structure in Abarkooh today, the Gonbad-e Ali, was built in 1056 CE for a member of this family named Amid al-Din Shams al-Dawla Abu Ali Hazarasp Firuzani. Another early monument is the Seljuk-era tomb of Pir Hamza Sabzpush.
Abarkooh flourished under the Seljuks, as well as under their successors, the Ilkhanids. Most surviving medieval structures in Abarkooh today are from the Ilkhanid period, including the Friday mosque with its four ayvans. Abarkooh served as a mint town under the Ilkhanids and thereafter; coins minted here under them, the Injuids, the Mozaffarids, the Timurids, and the Aq Qoyunlu all survive. Writing in 1340, Hamdallah Mustawfi describes Abarkooh as small but prosperous, with grain and cotton grown here in fields irrigated by both qanats and surface channels. He lists the revenue of Abarkooh and its attached rural districts as 140,000 dinars. Mustawfi also mentions the domeless tomb of the renowned scholar Tavus al-Haramayn (“peacock of the two sanctuaries”, i.e. Mecca and Medina), who probably lived during the Mongol period. A mausoleum attributed to him still exists in Abarkooh, but it is actually the tomb of one Hasan b. Kay Khosrow (d. 1318 CE) and his wife.
Safavid Abarkooh was part of the crown lands, or maḥāll-e ḵāṣṣa, and, together with Yazd, Biabanak, and other towns in the region, constituted a governorship that was granted out to high court officials. In the early 17th century, the Taḏkerat al-molūk describes the local religious judge (ḥākem-e šaṛʿ) as being appointed by the spiritual leader at the royal court (ṣadr-e ḵaṣṣa), and the district of Abarkooh, valued at 711 tomans and 5,300 dinars, was granted to the commander of guard of musketeers (tofanġčī āḡāsī)
Abarkooh was ravaged by the invasion of the Afghan Hotak dynasty in the early 1700s. Later, in 1793 CE Lotf Ali Khan Zand captured Abarkooh’s citadel and held it for a while during the war with the rising Qajar dynasty. During the late Qajar period, Abarkooh acquired a reputation for lawlessness and unrest.