A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Ghams"clay"houses in Hama and its countryside

Issue 32

Sallum Dirgham Sallum

Architectural heritage, which represents man’s ability to control his surroundings, is one of the key indicators of human civilisation. Heritage that is passed down from generation to generation is not limited to language, literature and thought; it also includes the material and non-material, including philosophy, religion, science, art and architecture.

One of the basic components of heritage, architecture is distinguished by its physical presence. Architecture reflects the ways in which cultural, social and religious experiences and values changed from generation to generation.

The existing architecture offers a comprehensive and integrated depiction of traditional architecture, which was shaped by the climate and by geographic and social conditions. Houses were also constructed to fit individual and community needs and traditions.

What existed before Bait Al Ghams (clay houses)? What types of shelter did man use before clay houses? Why did he make the transition to Bait Al Ghams? The answers may be found in looking at homes in our area that were built in different time periods.

Our interest in Bait Al Ghams stems from the need to develop ways to preserve traditional architecture. Heritage preservation can be carried out by both official organisations and individuals in the interest of national identity. If we can preserve heritage, it will help us create a new Arab identity, one that includes the glory of the past and the power of the future.

In difficult times, man holds on to his heritage and to folk culture, because a threat to heritage and culture is a threat to one’s identity.

When I watch a house fall into disrepair, I feel very sad. How many of our grandparents’ memories have disappeared with these houses? In Hama city and the surrounding countryside, many houses are falling apart with no one to repair them; Bait Al Ghams is disappearing and being replaced by multi-storey houses.

Built with local materials and designed to meet people’s needs and tastes, these houses reflect love, simplicity, spontaneity and tranquility.

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