Iran's Ancient City of Bam among the 34 new sites inscribed on World Heritage List
Posted: 03 Jul 2004, Contact: WHC
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The rich archaeological remains of the Iranian city of Bam, where 26,000 lost their lives in the earthquake of December 26, 2003, was inscribed on UNESCOs World Heritage List, alongside 12 other new cultural sites listed today by the World Heritage Committee holding its 28th session in Suzhou. This brings to 788 the number of cultural, natural and mixed sites now on the List.
Bam Cultural Landscape was inscribed on the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger. UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Mounir Bouchenaki, expressed the commitment of UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura to continue efforts to salvage the cultural heritage of this devastated city.
Experts from ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, who presented the Bam Cultural Landscape to the Committee, explained that the rich archaeological remains of Bam had been severely hit by the earthquake but not as badly damaged as the new city.
Situated in the desert on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau, Bam developed as a crossroads of trade in silk and cotton. Its origins can be traced to the Achaemenid period (6th-4th century BC) and it reached its heyday from the 7th to 11th centuries. Bam grew in an oasis created mainly thanks to an underground water management system (qanāts), which continues to function. The sites main ancient remains are within a fortified citadel area (Arg), which contains 38 watchtowers, Governmental Quarters, and the historic town with its 8th or 9th century mosque, one of the oldest in Iran. This is the most representative example of a fortified medieval town built in vernacular technique using mud layers. As a result of the destruction, archaeologists have discovered new evidence of the history of the place in the Arg itself and in the surrounding territory. This includes remains of ancient settlements and irrigation systems, dating at least to the Parthian-Hellenistic period, 2nd century B.C.
Bam Cultural Landscape represents an exceptional testimony to the development of a trading settlement where various influences met in a desert environment in Central Asia. It bears an exceptional testimony to the use of mud layer technique (Chineh) combined with mud bricks (Khesht). The qanāts further provide an outstanding representation of the interaction of man and nature in a desert environment.
A total of 34 new sites were inscribed by the 21-member World Heritage Committee during its current session (29 cultural sites and five natural sites). This brings to 788 the number of listed sites (611 cultural sites, 154 natural sites and 23 mixed sites). Iceland had a site inscribed on the List for the first time today. It joined Andorra, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, St. Lucia and Togo as a new entrant on the list.
In addition to Bam, the following new sites were inscribed today:
Cultural sites inscribed from June 28 through July 1: Andorra Madriu-Claror-PerafitaValley; Australia - Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens; China - Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom; Democratic People's Republic of Korea - Complex of Koguryo Tombs. India - Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park; India - Chhatrapati Shivaji Station (formerly Victoria Terminus); Islamic Republic of Iran Pasargadae. Japan - Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range; Jordan - Um er-Rasas (Kastron Mefaa); Kazakhstan - Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly. Mali - Tomb of Askia; Mongolia - Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape; Morocco - Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida); Norway - Vegaøyan the Vega Archipelago; Russian Federation - Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent; Togo Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba.
Natural sites inscribed during the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee : Denmark - Ilulissat Icefjord; Indonesia Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra ; Russian Federation - Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve; Saint Lucia - Pitons Management Area; South Africa - Cape Floral Region Protected Areas. This brings to 154 the number of natural sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The Committee - chaired by Zhang Xinsheng, Vice Minister of Education of China and Chairperson of Chinas National Commission for UNESCO - will continue its work through July 7, notably reviewing the state of conservation of properties recognized as being of outstanding universal value. As part of this work, it will update the List of World Heritage in Danger.