United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Emergency Inscription of Bamiyan and Ashur on World Heritage List

The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley and Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat) in Iraq were simultaneously inscribed on both World Heritage List and on List of World Heritage in Danger, during the 27th session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, meeting since June 30 at Organization Headquarters under the chair of Vera Lacoeuilhe (Saint Lucia).

The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley and Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat) in Iraq were simultaneously inscribed on both World Heritage List and on List of World Heritage in Danger, during the 27th session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, meeting since June 30 at Organization Headquarters under the chair of Vera Lacoeuilhe (Saint Lucia).

Cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan. This site showcases the artistic and religious developments, which - from the 1st to the 13th centuries - characterized ancient Bakhtria, integrating various cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist art. The area contains numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries, as well as fortified edifices from the Islamic period. The site symbolizes the hope of the international community that extreme acts of intolerance, such as the deliberate destruction of the Buddhas, are never repeated again.

The property is in a fragile state of conservation considering that it has suffered from abandonment, military action and dynamite explosions. The major dangers include: risk of imminent collapse of the Buddha niches with the remaining fragments of the statues, further deterioration of still existing mural paintings in the caves, looting and illicit excavation. Parts of the site are inaccessible due to the presence of antipersonnel mines.

Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat), Iraq. The ancient city of Ashur is located on the Tigris River in northern Mesopotamia in a specific geo-ecological zone, at the borderline between rain-fed and irrigation agriculture. The city dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. From the 14th to the 9th centuries BC, it was the first capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city-state and trading platform of international importance. It also served as the religious capital of the Assyrians, associated to the god Ashur. The city was destroyed by the Babylonians, but revived during the Parthian period in the 1st and 2nd century AD.

When the property was nominated before the conflict, a large dam project threatened the site, which would have been partially flooded by a reservoir. While the dam project has been suspended by the current administration, the Committee considered that its possible future construction, as well as the present lack of adequate protection, justified the inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.



 
Author(s) UNESCOPRESS
Source Press Release N° 2003-39
Website 1 (URL) UNESCO and Afghanistan
Website 2 (URL) UNESCO and Iraq
Website 3 (URL) World Heritage News
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Editorial Contact: Sophie Boukhari,Tel.: +33(0)1 45 68 17 03
- Email s.boukhari@unesco.org
Audiovisual Contact: Carole Darmouni,Tel.: +33(0)1 45 68 17 38
- Email c.darmouni@unesco.org
Publication Date 02 Jul 2003
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