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Decision : 34 COM 8B.25
Cultural Properties - Proto-urban Site of Sarazm (Tajikistan)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8B and WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Inscribes Proto-urban Site of Sarazm, Tajikistan, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii) and (iii);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

The proto-urban site of Sarazm is an archaeological site which bears witness to the development of settlements in Central Asia from the 4th millennium BCE to the late 3rd millennium BCE. The Proto-urban Site of Sarazm illustrates the early rise of proto-urbanization in this region, reflected in the sophistication of the dwellings, infrastructures, and archaeological findings. It came into being as the result of the complementarity initially between pastoralism and early agrarianism, and subsequently between the exploitation of mineral resources in the Bronze Age and the development of handicrafts. Sarazm demonstrates the existence of inter-regional trade and cultural interchanges over long distances across Central Asia. This was a long-lasting and prosperous proto-urban metropolis, at the north-eastern extremity of a vast area stretching from Mesopotamia to the Indus and the Iranian plateau.

Criterion (ii): The Proto-urban Site of Sarazm bears testimony, from the 4th millennium BCE, to trade and cultural interchanges between the pastoral nomads of the mountains of Central Asia and the agrarian peoples of Transoxiane. Later, particularly in the Bronze Age, the Proto-urban Site of Sarazm complemented and extended its activities with metallurgy and handicrafts, demonstrating the existence of a network of a diversity of interchanges on a very large scale. The Proto-urban Site of Sarazm had connections with the steppes of Central Asia, and in addition with the Turkmenian, proto-Elamite, Mesopotamian, and Indus worlds. 

Criterion (iii): The Proto-urban Site of Sarazm constitutes a remarkable human settlement, exceptional in its geographical situation, in Central Asia, in the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE, to which its proto-urban and architectural remains and its archaeological findings bear witness. The town played a regional role over a long period and on a very large scale in the working of metals, particularly tin and copper, and the associated development of handicrafts to produce tools, ceramics, and jewellery. The Proto-urban Site of Sarazm is one of the places that gave birth to and saw the development of the major trans-Eurasian trade routes.

Integrity and authenticity

The integrity of the property is acceptable and under control, as a result of the current conservation works and programmes, but it is still ill-defined because of uncertainty about the precise boundaries of the proto-urban site.

All the original elements are in their initial location, where they were left when the site was abandoned, and the only deterioration of these elements is the result of natural processes.

Protection and management requirements

The Proto-urban Site of Sarazm has the legal status of a "Historical and Archaeological Reserve," as defined by the resolutions of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan No 391 of 21 September 2000 and No 198 of 19 April 2001. It is managed by the Penjikent Archaeological Base under the supervision of the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences. The protection of the property is satisfactory. The system for the management of the property is in place. It has begun to be expanded and to operate satisfactorily. A certain degree of fragility remains, however, as the presence of the management system on the site of the property itself is inadequate. The management authority must make sure that it produces a report on the initiatives carried out and strengthens the human resources of the Sarazm Archaeological Reserve, in terms of both the number of staff and the level of training. International cooperation for scientific research and for the conservation of the property remains crucial, and must proactively participate in the training of local personnel.

4. Recommends that the State Party:

a) Continue and reinforce the upcoming archaeological programme in the context of the international cooperation projects currently under way, in particular through the use of non-invasive geophysical techniques, and to try to determine the boundaries of the the proto-urban site of Sarazm to further the knowledge in relation to the recent discoveries ; 

b) Continue and systematize the efforts being made to improve the conservation of the property (the CRATerre programme in particular), examine whether new protective shelters are necessary, and raise awareness of the annual conservation monitoring report; 

c) Draw up a report of actions completed or under way as the 2006-2010 management plan comes to an end, including initiatives carried out under international cooperation projects, and submit a new management plan, based on this report, for future years; 

d) Reinforce the Sarazm Archaeological Base with permanent staffing and open the property and the site museum to visitors, while ensuring that the values of the property are appropriately presented; 

e) Strengthen the training of the personnel employed by the Reserve, particularly in connection with international scientific and conservation cooperation projects; 

f) Extend the monitoring of the property to include control of agricultural and housing development inside the buffer zone and of the use of the roads that cross the property and the buffer zone.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Tajikistan
Year: 2010
Decision Code: 34 COM 8B.25