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Committee Decisions

36 COM 8B.24

Cultural Properties - Gonbad-e Qābus (Islamic Republic of Iran)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Documents WHC-12/36.COM/8B and WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B1,

2.   Inscribes Gonbad-e Qābus, Iran (Islamic Republic of), on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv);

3.   Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

Visible from great distances in the surrounding lowlands near the ancient Ziyarid capital, Jorjan, the 53-metre high Gonbad-e Qābus tower dominates the town laid out around its base in the early 20th century. The tower’s hollow cylindrical shaft of unglazed fired brick tapers up from an intricate geometric plan in the form of a ten pointed star to a conical roof. Two encircling Kufic inscriptions commemorate Qābus Ibn Voshmgir, Ziyarid ruler and literati as its founder in 1006 AD.

The tower is an outstanding example of early Islamic innovative structural design based on geometric formulae which achieved great height in load-bearing brickwork. Its conical roofed form became a prototype for tomb towers and other commemorative towers in the region, representing an architectural cultural exchange between the Central Asian nomads and ancient Iranian civilisation.

Criterion (i): Gonbad-e Qābus is a masterpiece and outstanding achievement in early Islamic brick architecture due to the structural and aesthetic qualities of its specific geometry.

Criterion (ii): The conically roofed form of Gonbad-e Qābus is significant as a prototype for the development of tomb towers in Iran, Anatolia and Central Asia, representing architectural cultural exchange between the Central Asian nomads and ancient Iranian civilisation.

Criterion (iii): Gonbad-e Qābus is exceptional evidence of the power and quality of the Ziyarid civilisation which dominated a major part of the region during the 10th and 11th centuries. Having been built for an emir who was also a writer, it marked the beginning of a regional cultural tradition of monumental tomb building including for the literati.

Criterion (iv): The monument is an outstanding example of an Islamic commemorative tower whose innovative structural design illustrates the exceptional development of mathematics and science in the Muslim world at the turn of the first millennium AD.

Integrity

The property expresses its value as an exceptional geometric structure and icon in the small town of Gonbad-e Qābus, clearly visible from many directions. It continues to express features of an Islamic commemorative monument combining traditions of Central Asia and Iran. The exterior flanges and inscription bands are in good condition, but the insertion of the ramp and the design of the retaining wall on the hillside have slightly damaged the form of the mound on which it stands.

Authenticity

The monument retains its form and design, materials, visual dominance in the landscape, and continues as a holy place visited by local people and foreigners, and as a focus for traditional events.

Protection and management requirements

Gonbad-e Qābus is protected under the Law for Protection of National Heritage (1930) and was inscribed on Iran’s list of national monuments in 1975 as number 1097. Regulations pertaining to the property provide that damaging activities are prohibited and any intervention, including archaeological investigation, restoration and works to the site must be approved by the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO). The tomb tower and surrounding area are managed jointly by the Municipality and ICHHTO in accordance with the Master Plan for Gonbad-e Qābus town (1989) and the detailed plan (2009), which aim to preserve the historic and visual characteristics of the city. Protection measures controlling heights in the buffer zone and landscape zone are supported by the Master Plan. The management plan should be extended to include a conservation programme.

4.   Recommends that the State Party extend the Management Plan to integrate a conservation programme for the property, to be implemented under the guidance of the Steering Committee. This should cover:

a)   Completion of the geotechnical research programme concerning the consolidation of the mound and the building itself,

b)   A detailed record of the existing condition of the structure as a basis for the conservation programme,

c)   Guidelines for interventions to the monument and regular monitoring and feedback to the Steering Committee as a basis for ongoing maintenance,

d)   A risk preparedness strategy,

e)   Review of the landscaping of the mound in conjunction with developing a strategy for dealing with the rising damp problem,

f)    A tourism management strategy.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List, Outstanding Universal Value
States Parties: Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Properties: Gonbad-e Qābus
Session: 36COM