The Musalla Complex is located 600 m to the north of the ancient centre of Herat, one of the principal cities of the Timurid Empire. It contains a number of buildings erected in the 15th century. All that remains today of this monumental complex are the Mausoleum of Gowhar Shad, five minarets and the base of the wall of a medieval madrasa – an Islamic religious school. In the 1970s, the complex was still located in a natural environment, but it is now surrounded by dense urban development, and regular use by local inhabitants is accelerating its deterioration. UNESCO asked us to carry out a survey of the visible monuments and the enclosure of the site, and to produce a report evaluating the deterioration and suggesting remedial action.
The Mussala Complex is the largest Islamic site in Herat, and its minarets are 50 m high. Its dimensions meant that carrying out a survey from ground level only would not have been appropriate.
Through the use of a drone we were able to carry out an architectural analysis of each minaret and an overall analysis of the whole of the mausoleum. We then produced a detailed report on the state of deterioration of the site and suggested urban solutions in order to facilitate integration of the site into the city. The project was financed by UNESCO.