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caravanserai. A place of refuge (also called funduq, khan, or ribat) for caravans (companies of merchants, pilgrims, or others travelling in groups for security) in North Africa or West Asia providing accommodation. The usual form was a rectangular fortified walled enclosure with a large court, water-supply, kitchens, a mosque, and sleeping-accommodation. An early surviving caravanserai is the Ribat-i-Sharaf (1114 and 1155), Iran, on the route from Central Asia to Northern Persia: it had four iwans and was richly decorated.
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