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                Laureates 2005


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Laureates 2005 

The 2005 Melina Mercouri International Prize, which is awarded every two years by UNESCO and Greece in recognition of outstanding examples of action to safeguard and develop cultural landscapes, this year goes to the historic village of Maymand (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Entrance to mountain dwellings © ICHTO

Maymand village (population 140) is situated at an altitude of more than 2200 metres in Kerman province close to the city of Babak-Shahr. The climate is mountain temperate with exceedingly hot summers and hard winters. Rainfall is variable, fluctuating between 300 and 500 mm per annum so that the village has to be kept supplied by two underground aqueducts (qanats). Maymand is built on the mountain in an arid zone where water resources have had to be channelled using unique forms of hydraulic construction.

The vegetation is sparse and the horizon interrupted here and there by scattered trees. Pistachios and wild almonds grow on grassland covered mainly by plants of the Astragalus family. The vegetation on the whole is suited to the dry conditions.

Some of the vegetation was planted, particularly plants of a sacred nature. The ravines are dotted with tiny oases where hazel trees, vineyards, jujubes, almonds and other trees are grown. The oases are surrounded by tilled fields some of which have suffered from successive periods of drought. Sheep-raising is a major activity.

To sum up, the Maymand landscape is of the agro-pastoral type. The inhabitants are semi-nomadic shepherds, some of whom own village land that is occupied in winter, whereas in summer the population moves to higher pastures.

However, the kinds of dwelling-place dug out of the mountains are not of a temporary nature but rather are permanent homes (having been lived in for the last 2000 or 3000 years). The pastoral type architecture (shepherd huts known as kapar or gambeh, and barns or sheepfolds) can be seen here and there about the landscape and is part of the built heritage.

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