New Inscribed Properties (2012)
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The following cultural properties have been inscribed on the World Heritage List
Situated in the lush Lenggong Valley, the property includes four archaeological sites in two clusters which span close to 2 million years, one of the longest records of early man in a single locality, and the oldest outside the African continent. It features open-air and cave sites with Palaeolithic tool workshops, evidence of early technology. The number of sites found in the relatively contained area suggests the presence of a fairly large, semi-sedentary population with cultural remains from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages.
The site, located in south-east Senegal, includes three geographical areas: the Bassari–Salémata area, the Bedik–Bandafassi area and the Fula–Dindéfello area, each with its specific morphological traits. The Bassari, Fula and Bedik peoples settled from the 11th to the 19th centuries and developed specific cultures and habitats symbiotic with their surrounding natural environment. The Bassari landscape is marked by terraces and rice paddies, interspersed with villages, hamlets and archaeological sites. The Bedik villages are formed by dense groups of huts with steep thatched roofs. Their inhabitants’ cultural expressions are characterized by original traits of agro-pastoral, social, ritual and spiritual practices, which represent an original response to environmental constraints and human pressures. The site is a well-preserved multicultural landscape housing original and still vibrant local cultures.
The inscribed property is situated 10 km south of Jerusalem on the site identified by Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus since the 2nd century. A church was first completed there in ad 339 and the edifice that replaced it after a fire in the 6th century retains elaborate floor mosaics from the original building. The site also includes Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian convents and churches, as well as bell towers, terraced gardens and a pilgrimage route.
Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana PhilosophyIndonesia
The cultural landscape of Bali consists of five rice terraces and their water temples that cover 19,500 ha. The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, that dates back to the 9th century. Included in the landscape is the 18th-century Royal Water Temple of Pura Taman Ayun, the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. This philosophy was born of the cultural exchange between Bali and India over the past 2,000 years and has shaped the landscape of Bali. The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago despite the challenge of supporting a dense population.
Seven timber houses are listed in this site located in the east of Sweden, representing the zenith of a regional timber building tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages. They reflect the prosperity of independent farmers who in the 19th century used their wealth to build substantial new homes with elaborately decorated ancillary houses or suites of rooms reserved for festivities. The paintings represent a fusion of folk art with the styles favoured by the landed gentry of the time, including Baroque and Rococo. Decorated by painters, including known and unknown itinerant artists, the listed properties represent the final flowering of a long cultural tradition.
The site, extensively fortified from the 17th to 19th centuries, represents the largest bulwarked dry-ditch system in the world. Within its walls, the town contains barracks and other military buildings as well as churches and monasteries. While Elvas contains remains dating back to the 10th century ad, its fortification began when Portugal regained independence in 1640. The fortifications designed by Dutch Jesuit padre Cosmander represent the best surviving example of the Dutch school of fortifications anywhere. The site also contains the Amoreira aqueduct, built to enable the stronghold to withstand lengthy sieges.
The 53 m high tomb built in ad 1006 for Qābus Ibn Voshmgir, Ziyarid ruler and literati, near the ruins of the ancient city of Jorjan in north-east Iran, bears testimony to the cultural exchange between Central Asian nomads and the ancient civilization of Iran. The tower is the only remaining evidence of Jorjan, a former centre of arts and science that was destroyed during the Mongols’ invasion in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is an outstanding and technologically innovative example of Islamic architecture that influenced sacral building in Iran, Anatolia and Central Asia. Built of unglazed fired bricks, the monument’s intricate geometric forms constitute a tapering cylinder with a diameter of 17–15.5 m, topped by a conical brick roof. It illustrates the development of mathematics and science in the Muslim world at the turn of the first millennium AD.
The property includes the mining sites of Almadén (Spain), where mercury (quicksilver) has been extracted since antiquity, and Idrija (Slovenia), where mercury was first found in AD1490. The Spanish property includes buildings relating to its mining history, including Retamar Castle, religious buildings and traditional dwellings. The site in Idrija notably features mercury stores and infrastructure, as well as miners’ living quarters, and a miners’ theatre. The sites bear testimony to the intercontinental trade in mercury which generated important exchanges between Europe and America over the centuries. Together they represent the two largest mercury mines in the world, operational until recent times.
The first capital of Côte d’Ivoire, the Historic Town of Grand-Bassam, is an example of a late 19th- and early 20th-century colonial town planned with quarters specializing in commerce, administration, housing for Europeans and for Africans. The site includes the N’zima African fishing village alongside colonial architecture marked by functional houses with galleries, verandas and gardens. Grand-Bassam was the most important port, economic and judicial centre of Côte d’Ivoire. It bears witness to the complex social relations between Europeans and Africans, and to the subsequent independence movement. As a vibrant centre of the territory of French trading posts in the Gulf of Guinea, which preceded modern Côte d’Ivoire, it attracted populations from all parts of Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean Levant.
Situated in the southern Minas Basin of Nova Scotia, the Grand Pré marshland and archaeological sites constitute a cultural landscape bearing testimony to the development of agricultural farmland using dykes and the aboiteau wooden sluice system, started by the Acadians in the 17th century and further developed and maintained by the Planters and present-day inhabitants. Over 1,300 ha, the cultural landscape encompasses a large expanse of polder farmland and archaeological elements of the towns of Grand Pré and Hortonville, which were built by the Acadians and their successors. The landscape is an exceptional example of the adaptation of the first European settlers to the conditions of the North American Atlantic coast. The site – marked by one of the most extreme tidal ranges in the world, averaging 11.6 m – is also inscribed as a memorial to Acadian way of life and deportation, which started in 1755, known as the Grand Dérangement.
The four sites of the property form a strip 170 km long by 3–15 km wide, crossing Belgium from east to west, consisting of the best-preserved 19th- and 20th-century coal-mining sites of the country. It features examples of the utopian architecture from the early periods of the industrial era in Europe within a highly integrated, industrial and urban ensemble, notably the Grand-Hornu colliery and workers’ city designed by Bruno Renard in the first half of the 19th century. Bois-du-Luc includes numerous buildings erected from 1838 to 1909 and one of Europe’s oldest collieries dating back to the late 17th century. While Wallonia had hundreds of collieries, most have lost their infrastructure, while the four components of the listed site retain a high measure of integrity.
A masterpiece of Baroque theatre architecture, built between 1745 and 1750, the Opera House is the only entirely preserved example of its type where an audience of 500 can experience Baroque court opera culture and acoustics authentically, as its auditorium retains its original materials, i.e. wood and canvas. Commissioned by Margravine Wilhelmine, wife of Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg–Bayreuth, it was designed by the renowned theatre architect Giuseppe Galli Bibiena. As a court opera house in a public space, it foreshadowed the large public theatres of the 19th century. The highly decorated theatre’s tiered loge structure of wood with illusionistic painted canvas represents the ephemeral ceremonial architectural tradition that was employed in pageants and celebrations for princely self-representation.
Located in the historic centre of Isfahan, the Masjed-e Jāmé (‘Friday mosque’) can be seen as a stunning illustration of the evolution of mosque architecture over twelve centuries, starting in ad 841. It is the oldest preserved edifice of its type in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia. The complex, covering more than 20,000 m2, is also the first Islamic building that adapted the four-courtyard layout of Sassanid palaces to Islamic religious architecture. Its double-shelled ribbed domes represent an architectural innovation that inspired builders throughout the region. The site also features remarkable decorative details representative of stylistic developments over more than a thousand years of Islamic art.
Two hills form the 37 ha site on the Southern Anatolian Plateau. The taller eastern mound contains eighteen levels of Neolithic occupation between 7400 bc and 6200 bc, including wall paintings, reliefs, sculptures and other symbolic and artistic features. Together they testify to the evolution of social organization and cultural practices as humans adapted to a sedentary life. The western mound shows the evolution of cultural practices in the Chalcolithic period, from 6200 bc to 5200 bc. Çatalhöyük provides important evidence of the transition from settled villages to urban agglomeration, which was maintained in the same location for over 2,000 years. It features a unique streetless settlement of houses clustered back to back with roof access into the buildings.
Remarkable as a landscape shaped over three centuries of coal extraction from the 1700s to the 1900s, the site consists of 109 separate components over 120,000 ha. It features mining pits (the oldest of which dates from 1850) and lift infrastructure, slag heaps (some of which cover 90 ha and exceed 140 m in height), coal transport infrastructure, railway stations, workers’ estates and mining villages including social habitat, schools, religious buildings, health and community facilities, company premises, owners and managers’ houses, town halls and more. The site bears testimony to the quest to create model workers’ cities from the mid 19th century to the 1960s and further illustrates a significant period in the history of industrial Europe. It documents the living conditions of workers and the solidarity to which it gave rise.
The site consists of seventeen buildings in Muharraq City, three offshore oyster beds, part of the seashore and the Qal’at Bu Mahir fortress on the southern tip of Muharraq Island, from where boats used to set off for the oyster beds. The listed buildings include residences of wealthy merchants, shops, storehouses and a mosque. The site is the last remaining complete example of the cultural tradition of pearling and the wealth it generated at a time when the trade dominated the Gulf economy (2nd century to the 1930s, when Japan developed cultured pearls). It also constitutes an outstanding example of traditional utilization of the sea’s resources and human interaction with the environment, which shaped both the economy and the cultural identity of the island’s society.
Located on the Atlantic coast in the north-west of Morocco, the site is the product of a fertile exchange between the Arabo-Muslim past and Western modernism. The inscribed city encompasses the new town conceived and built under the French Protectorate from 1912 to the 1930s, including royal and administrative areas, residential and commercial developments and the Jardins d’Essais botanical and pleasure gardens. It also encompasses older parts of the city dating back to the 12thcentury. The new town is one of the largest and most ambitious modern urban projects built in Africa in the 20thcentury and probably the most complete. The older parts include Hassan Mosque (begun in 1184) and the Almohad ramparts and gates, the only surviving parts of the project for a great capital city of the Almohad caliphate as well as remains from the Moorish, or Andalusian, principality of the 17thcentury.
The site consists of an exceptional urban setting encompassing the key natural elements that have shaped and inspired the development of the city: from the highest points of the Tijuca National Park’s mountains down to the sea. They also include the Botanical Gardens, established in 1808, Corcovado Mountain with its celebrated statue of Christ, and the hills around Guanabara Bay, including the extensive designed landscapes along Copacabana Bay which have contributed to the outdoor living culture of this spectacular city. Rio de Janeiro is also recognized for the artistic inspiration it has provided to musicians, landscapers and urbanists.
North of the Great Wall, the Site of Xanadu encompasses the remains of Kublai Khan’s legendary capital city, designed by the Mongol ruler’s Chinese advisor Liu Bingzhdong in 1256. Over a surface area of 25,000 ha, the site was a unique attempt to assimilate the nomadic Mongolian and Han Chinese cultures. From this base, Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty that ruled China over a century, extending its boundaries across Asia. The religious debate that took place here resulted in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism over north-east Asia, a cultural and religious tradition still practised in many areas today. The site was planned according to traditional Chinese feng shui in relation to the nearby mountains and river. It features the remains of the city, including temples, palaces, tombs, nomadic encampments and the Tiefan’gang Canal, along with other waterworks.
Situated on the western slopes of the Mount Carmel range, the site includes the caves of Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad and Skhul. Ninety years of archaeological research have revealed a cultural sequence of unparalleled duration, providing an archive of early human life in south-west Asia. This 54 ha property contains cultural deposits representing at least 500,000 years of human evolution demonstrating the unique existence of both Neanderthals andEarly Anatomically Modern Humans within the same Middle Palaeolithic cultural framework, the Mousterian. Evidence from numerous Natufian burials and early stone architecture represents the transition from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to agriculture and animal husbandry. As a result, the caves have become a key site of the chrono-stratigraphic framework for human evolution in general, and the prehistory of the Levant in particular.
The following natural properties have been inscribed on the World Heritage List
A hilly 512 ha site in Yunnan province, Chengjiang’s fossils present the most complete record of an early Cambrian marine community with exceptionally preserved biota, displaying the anatomy of hard and soft tissues in a very wide variety of organisms, invertebrate and vertebrate. They record the early establishment of a complex marine ecosystem. The site documents at least sixteen phyla and a variety of enigmatic groups as well as about 196 species, presenting exceptional testimony to the rapid diversification of life on Earth 530 million years ago, when almost all of today’s major animal groups emerged. It opens a palaeobiological window of great significance to scholarship.
The site includes eighteen interconnected lakes in the hyper arid Ennedi region of the Sahara desert covering an area of 62,808 ha. It constitutes an exceptional natural landscape of great beauty with striking colours and shapes. The saline, hyper saline and freshwater lakes are supplied by groundwater and are found in two groups 40 km apart. Ounianga Kebir comprises four lakes, the largest of which, Yoan, covers an area of 358 ha and is 27 m deep. Its highly saline waters only sustain algae and some microorganisms. The second group, Ounianga Serir, comprises fourteen lakes separated by sand dunes. Floating reeds cover almost half the surface of these lakes reducing evaporation. At 436 ha, Lake Teli has the largest surface area but is less than 10 m deep. With their high quality freshwater, some of these lakes are home to aquatic fauna, particularly fish.
Lena Pillars Nature Park is marked by spectacular rock pillars that reach a height of approximately 100 m along the banks of the Lena River in the central part of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). They were produced by the region’s extreme continental climate with an annual temperature range of almost 100 degrees Celsius (from –60 °C in winter to +40 °C in summer). The pillars form rocky buttresses isolated from each other by deep and steep gullies developed by frost shattering directed along intervening joints. Penetration of water from the surface has facilitated cryogenic processes (freeze-thaw action), which have widened gullies between pillars leading to their isolation. Fluvial processes are also critical to the pillars. The site also contains a wealth of Cambrian fossil remains of numerous species, some of them unique.
Situated in the north-western Congo Basin, where Cameroon, Central African Republic and Congo meet, the site encompasses three contiguous national parks totalling around 750,000 ha. Much of the site is unaffected by human activity and features a wide range of humid tropical forest ecosystems with rich flora and fauna, including Nile crocodiles and goliath tigerfish, a large predator. Forest clearings support herbaceous species and Sangha is home to considerable populations of forest elephants, critically endangered western lowland gorilla, and endangered chimpanzee. The site’s environment has preserved the continuation of ecological and evolutionary processes on a huge scale and great biodiversity, including many endangered animal species.
Older than the Himalaya mountains, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the site presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet. It also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. The forests of the site include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.
The following mixed property has been inscribed
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon covers 100,200 ha and includes 445 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin. Many of them display unique mushroom-like shapes in turquoise lagoons surrounded by coral reefs. The aesthetic beauty of the site is heightened by a complex reef system featuring over 385 coral species and different types of habitat. They sustain a large diversity of plants, birds and marine life including dugong and at least thirteen shark species. The site harbours the highest concentration of marine lakes anywhere, isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers. They are among the islands’ distinctive features and sustain high endemism of populations which continue to yield new species discoveries. The remains of stonework villages, as well as burial sites and rock art, bear testimony to the organization of small island communities over some three millennia. The abandonment of the villages in the 17th and 18th centuries illustrates the consequences of climate change, population growth and subsistence behaviour on a society living in a marginal marine environment.
In 2012, the World Heritage Committee added sites to the World Heritage List.
New in 2012
- Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley
- Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes
- Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem
- Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy
- Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland
- Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications
- Gonbad-e Qābus
- Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija
- Historic Town of Grand-Bassam
- Landscape of Grand Pré
- Major Mining Sites of Wallonia
- Margravial Opera House Bayreuth
- Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan
- Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük
- Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin
- Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy
- Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage
- Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea
- Site of Xanadu
- Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves
- Chengjiang Fossil Site
- Lakes of Ounianga
- Lena Pillars Nature Park
- Sangha Trinational
- Western Ghats
- Rock Islands Southern Lagoon