By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq poised for ambitious plan after Babylon listed by UNESCO

After 36 years of lobbying by Iraq, the ancient Mesopotamian city of Babylon was designated in JulyUNESCO World Heritage Site.

But this may mean even harder work for Baghdad and the local administration, which now have to implement a tough plan for the management and protection of the site that was the seat of successive empires under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar.

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By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Can Iraq get its water wheels on UNESCO World Heritage List?

Iraq has been working for the last three months to rehabilitate its historical norias in Hit, a city located in western Iraq on the banks of the upper Euphrates River.

The Iraqi government aims to inscribe these water wheels, which played an important role in the irrigation of the land for centuries, on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

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By John Lee.

Iraq’s ancient city of Babylon has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated 85 km south of Baghdad, the property includes the ruins of the city which, between 626 and 539 BCE, was the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

It includes villages and agricultural areas surrounding the ancient city. Its remains, outer and inner-city walls, gates, palaces and temples, are a unique testimony to one of the most influential empires of the ancient world.

Seat of successive empires, under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon represents the expression of the creativity of the Neo-Babylonian Empire at its height.

The city’s association with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Hanging Gardens—has also inspired artistic, popular and religious culture on a global scale.

(Source: UNESCO)

By Hassan al-Shanoun for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi government is committed to keeping the Mesopotamian Marshes on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Located in the southern part of the country, the marshes were added to UNESCO’s list in July 2016. Previously listed Iraqi World Heritage sites are the city of Ashur, the city of Hatra, the Erbil Citadel and the city of Samarra.

Although the Iraqi parliament voted to put an end to encroachments against the marshes May 14, many fear the possibility of Iraq’s losing its position on the World Heritage List and being denied the international recognition that would have been of great benefit for the country, especially since previously agreed-upon service and construction programs were not established.

First off, there are concerns about the Water Resources Ministry’s continuing to build settlement islands in the Chibayish marshes, south of Dhi Qar, which UNESCO considers to be a clear violation of the conditions the marshes need to meet in order to stay on the World Heritage List.

In this context, Ajial al-Musawi, the chairman of the Committee on Tourism and Antiquities in Dhi Qar’s provincial council, told Al-Monitor over the phone that UNESCO’s objection is to the nature of the mechanisms used in building these islands in the marshes since they pose a direct threat to biodiversity in the area.

Musawi said, “The government’s reluctance to implement the programs it promised worries us, and we fear the marshes would lose the chance to join the World Heritage List for good, especially since a UNESCO delegation is scheduled to visit us in the coming months.”

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The Karbala Provincial Council announced March 3 the formation of a committee to follow up on the issue of adding the city — which is home to about 300 archaeological sites — to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.

The Fortress of al-Ukhaidir (built in 778) was included on the UNESCO agenda during a July 2016 meeting. The site, however, did not meet all the conditions and was not considered for the list.

The council also hopes to include Caesar’s Church, which is located 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Karbala, to the list of World Heritage sites since it is the oldest eastern church in history.

It was built in the fifth century, more than 120 years before the emergence of Islam. Today, the church is considered of exceptional importance as it represents a Christian landmark, and promotes shared living and cultural coexistence in an Islamic milieu.

The council also seeks to add to the list al-Tar Caves, located 45 kilometers (27 miles) southwest of Karbala. These rocky formations date back to 1300 B.C. and are believed to have served as a passage for people who used to roam the Iraqi desert heading toward neighboring countries.

Khan al-Utaishi is also nominated for the list of World Heritage sites. It is one of the many archaeological khans, such as Khan al-Nakheel and Khan al-Rabeh. It was established during the Ottoman rule in Iraq (1532-1918) and served as a rest house for travelers from Baghdad and Karbala all the way to Najaf, 160 kilometers (99 miles) south of Baghdad.

By John Lee.

The World Heritage Committee of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added The Ahwar of Southern Iraq to its World Heritage List.

The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities is made up of seven sites: three archaeological sites and four wetland marsh areas.

The archaeological cities of Uruk and Ur and the Tell Eridu archaeological site form part of the remains of the Sumerian cities and settlements that developed in southern Mesopotamia between the 4th and the 3rd millennium BC in the marshy delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

UNESCO highlighted that the Ahwar of Southern Iraq – also known as the Iraqi Marshlands – are unique, as one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, in an extremely hot and arid environment.

More pictures here.

(Source: United Nations News Centre)