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Decision : 35 COM 8B.28
Cultural Properties - Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai (Mongolia)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-11/35.COM/8B and WHC-11/35.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Inscribes the Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai, Mongolia, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (iii);

3. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:


Brief synthesis

The Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai Mountain consists of three rock art sites which display large concentrations of petroglyphs and funerary monuments linked to the development of human culture over a period of some 12,000 years. The earliest images reflect a time during the Middle Holocene (c. 11,000 - 6,000 years BP) period when the area was partly heavily forested and the valleys provided an ideal habitat for hunters of large wild game. Later images reflect the late middle Holocene (c. 6,000 - 4,000 years BP) period when the Altai landscape assumed its present mountain steppe character, and the herding of large and small animals emerged as a dominant economic way of life, with the high valleys used for summer pastures. The most recent images show the transition to horse-dependent nomadism when the significant populations grazed the high valleys in both summer and winter during the Early Nomadic period (early 1st millennium BCE), the Scythian Period (1st millennium BCE), and the later Turkic Period (7th-8th c. CE). Historically and culturally, the three properties complement and extend each other; together they represent the most complete and undamaged representational documentation of the ancient cultures associated with a large region at the intersection of Central and North Asia. In these respects, the properties together are of outstanding universal value.

Criterion (iii): While a few other sites in North Asia include imagery from a period considerably earlier than the Bronze Age, none have the number of images or the integrity of imagery to compare with these sites.  The Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai Mountain provide an exceptional testimony to understanding of pre-historic communities.  The images of mammoths, rhinoceros, and the ostriches that has been identified with the "mammoth steppe": a period when North Asia was significantly colder, drier, covered by rough grasses and forbs rather than forest, when it supported a very different fauna. Images of elk executed in a typically archaic style reflect the transition to a more forested environment in the Early Holocene.


The boundaries of the three sites encompass all the key images. The three sites are, to a certain degree, complementary with Aral Tolgoi presenting a unique array of early images and the other two sites reflecting the highpoint of Bronze Age cultures.


There has been no action ever taken or human process ever applied that impinges on the authenticity of the rock art images in question.

Protection and management requirements

The three sites of Tsagaan Salaa-Baga Oigor of Ulaankhus soum and Upper Tsagaan Gol (Rock arts of Shiveet mountain) and Aral Tolgoi of Tsengel soum of Bayan-Ulgii are included on the list of historical and cultural properties under state protection as listed in 2008 under the provisions of the Law on Protecting Cultural Heritage of Mongolia, 2001.

Under the Mongolian Law on Special Protected Areas, 1994, the whole of Aral Tolgoi and half of the Upper Tsagaan Gol Complex are included within the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. This offers protection to the natural aspects of the area, including water sources, and controls the development of villages and the construction of facilities for camping sites to pasture cattle permanently. An amended version of the Law on Protecting Cultural Heritage of Mongolia which has specific articles concerning management of cultural and natural heritage inscribed in the National Tentative list as well as those inscribed in the World Heritage list has been approved by the cabinet of the government and pending approval by the Parliament.


4. Recommends the State Party to give consideration to the following :

a) Establishing a database system for the property, and a timescale for populating this database through assembling the existing material for the sites,

b) Ensuring the effective implementation of the management plan for the three sites,

c) Extending the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park to cover all of the three nominated sites,

d) Assuring that mining will be banned in the inscribed areas,

e) Assuring that illegal road building activities will be stopped.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Mongolia
Year: 2011
Decision Code: 35 COM 8B.28