Bam (bäm) [key], town (1996 pop. 70,100), Kerman prov., SE Iran, on the intermittent Bam River. Located on the western edge of the Dasht-e Lut, Bam is a trade center in a henna-growing region. Dates and other fruits are also grown; camels are raised. Its historic fortress, established 2,000 years ago, is one of the world's largest mud-brick buildings. Other noted buildings date from the Safavid period (1499–1736). Bam declined after the Afghans invaded in 1722, and from 1890 to 1932 was a military garrison, but has been restored since. Much of the town, including its historic monuments, was devastated by an earthquake in Dec., 2003; more than 26,000 people died.