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Dilmun Burial Mounds

Dilmun Burial Mounds
The Dilmun Burial Mounds, built between 2200 and 1750 BCE, span over 21 archaeological sites in the western part of the island. Six of these sites are burial mound fields consisting of a few dozen to several thousand tumuli. In all there are about 11,774 burial mounds, originally in the form of cylindrical low towers. The other 15 sites include 17 royal mounds, constructed as two-storey sepulchral towers. The burial mounds are evidence of the Early Dilmun civilization, around the 2nd millennium BCE, during which Bahrain became a trade hub whose prosperity enabled the inhabitants to develop an elaborate burial tradition applicable to the entire population. These tombs illustrate globally unique characteristics, not only in terms of their number, density and scale, but also in terms of details such as burial chambers equipped with alcoves.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Tombes de la culture Dilmun
Les tombes de la culture Dilmun, construites entre 2200 et 1750 AEC, s’étendent sur 21 sites archéologiques dans la partie occidentale de l’île. Six de ces sites sont des nécropoles comprenant de quelques dizaines à plusieurs milliers de tumuli, soit un total de 11 774 tombes qui, à l’origine, avaient la forme de tours cylindriques basses. Les 15 autres sites comprennent 17 tombes royales construites comme des tours sépulcrales à deux niveaux. Les tombes témoignent de la civilisation Dilmun précoce, autour du IIe millénaire AEC, pendant laquelle Bahreïn devint un carrefour commercial dont la prospérité permit aux habitants de développer une tradition d’inhumation complexe appliquée à l’ensemble de la population. Ces tombes présentent des caractéristiques uniques au monde par leur nombre, leur densité et leur échelle, mais aussi par la présence de détails tels que des chambres funéraires dotées d’alcôves.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

مدافن دلمون الأثرية
تتكوّن مدافن دلمون، التي شُيّدت بين عامي 2200 و1750 قبل الميلاد، من 21 موقعاً أثرياً تقع في الجزء الغربي من الجزيرة. تعد ستة من هذه المواقع مقابر تتألف من عشرات إلى عدة آلاف من المدافن، إذ يبلغ إجمالي عددها 11774 قبراً تتخذ شكل أبراج أسطوانية منخفضة. وتشمل المواقع الخمسة عشر الأخرى 17 مقبرة ملكية شُيّدت على شكل أبراج منفصلة مكونة من مستويين. وتقف هذه المدافن شاهداً على ازدهار حضارة دلمون في وقت مبكر في الألفية الثانية قبل الميلاد، إذ اكتسبت البحرين أهمية اقتصادية كمركز تجاري، الأمر الذي أتاح للسكان تطوير تقاليد دفن معقدة لجميع السكان. وتتميز هذه المدافن بخصائص فريدة من نوعها على مستوى العالم من حيث عددها وكثافتها وحجمها، وكذلك تفاصيل بناءها على غرار حجرات الدفن المجهزة بالأقبية. 

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

迪尔穆恩墓葬群
迪尔穆恩墓葬群于公元前2200年至1750年间建成,位于巴林西部,包含21个遗产点。其中6个遗产点是由数十至数千个坟冢组成的墓园,这些墓园内共有11774座低圆柱形坟墓。其余15个遗产点内则有17座王室双层墓塔。这些墓葬群是公元前2世纪的早期迪尔穆恩文明的遗存。当时的巴林已成为重要的商业中心,城市的繁荣催生了适用于所有居民的复杂墓葬传统。这些墓群的数量、密度和规模在全球范围均属罕见,其某些细节(如带凹壁的墓室)亦是极具特色。

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Могильные курганы Дильмуна
Объект «Могильные курганы Дильмуна» относится к периоду 2200-1750 гг. до н.э. и включает 21 археологический памятник в западной части острова. Шесть из этих объектов представляют собой курганные поля, в состав которых входит от нескольких десятков до нескольких тысяч курганов. В общей сложности насчитывается около 11 774 мест захоронения, первоначально построенных в форме невысоких цилиндрических башен. Другие пятнадцать объектов включают семнадцать королевских курганов, возведенных в форме двухуровневых погребальных башен. Эти курганы свидетельствуют о существовании примерно во II тысячелетии до н.э. древней цивилизации Дильмун, во времена которой Бахрейн служил торговым центром. Процветание города позволило жителям развить сложную погребальную практику, распространенную среди всех групп населения. Курганы Дильмуна по-настоящему уникальны и отличаются своим масштабом, количеством, концентрацией, а также наличием неповторимых деталей, как, например, погребальные камеры с альковами.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Tumbas de la cultura dilmun
Construidas en el periodo 2200-1750 a.C., las tumbas de la cultura dilmun se extienden por un total de 21 sitios arqueológicos situados en la parte occidental de la isla principal de este país. Seis de estos sitios son necrópolis que albergan entre algunas decenas y varios miles de túmulos funerarios, sumando en total 11.774 sepulturas cuyas construcciones originales revestían la forma de torres cilíndricas poco elevadas. Los quince sitios restantes contienen 17 sepulcros regios construidos en forma de torres con dos niveles. Todas esas tumbas constituyen un testimonio de la primigenia civilización dilmun que floreció hacia el segundo milenio a.C., época en la que Bahrein llegó a ser una encrucijada comercial próspera, lo cual propició el surgimiento de un complejo sistema tradicional de inhumación del conjunto de su población. Por su número, densidad y magnitud, así como por la existencia de cámaras funerarias peculiares dotadas de alcobas, estos sepulcros presentan características únicas en su género en el mundo.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

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Madinat Hamad 1 Burial Mound Field © Think Heritage
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Dilmun Burial Mounds is a serial property formed by 21 archaeological sites located in the western part of the island of Bahrain. Six of the selected site components are burial mound fields consisting of some dozen to several thousand tumuli. Together they comprise about 11,774 burial mounds. The remaining 15 site components consist of 13 single royal mounds and two pairs of royal mounds, all embedded in the urban fabric of A’ali village.

The Dilmun Burial Mounds were constructed during the Early Dilmun Period over a period of 450 years, approximately between 2200 and 1750 BCE. The property encompasses the most representative sites of Early and Late Type Dilmun Burial Mound construction. The burial mounds bear witness to the flourishing of the Early Dilmun civilization around the 2nd millennium BCE. During that period, Bahrain gained economic importance on an international level as a trade hub which led to population growth and, as a consequence, to a more diversified social complexity. The latter is best reflected in the extensive necropoli with their variety of graves, comprising burial mounds of various sizes, as well as chieftain mounds and the grandest of them all, the royal mounds.

Archaeological evidence shows that the burial sites were originally not constructed as mounds but as cylindrical low towers. The royal mounds, characterized by their pronounced sizes and elaborate burial chambers, were constructed as two-storeyed sepulchral towers forming a ziggurat-like shape. Two of the last Dilmun kings have been identified as Ri’ Mum and Yagli-‘El in relation to the royal mounds 8 and 10.

The Dilmun Burial Mounds illustrate globally-unique characteristics not only with regards to their numbers, density and scale but also in terms of construction typology and details, such as their alcove-equipped burial chambers.

Criterion (iii): The Dilmun Burial Mounds represent unique sepulchral testimony to the Early Dilmun civilization over a period of 450 years. As remains of settlements are scarce and buried under thick layers of soil, the Dilmun Burial Mounds are the most extensive and most apparent evidence of the Early Dilmun culture. At the time, the newly gained prosperity allowed the island’s ancient inhabitants to develop an elaborate burial tradition applicable to the entire population. The excavated mounds provide a cross section of various social groups in the Early Dilmun society, attesting to thousands of individuals of different age, gender, and social class. They also offer crucial evidence on the evolution of elites and ruling classes. The ancient inhabitants of Bahrain understood the special geological configuration of the island and used less fertile land for the development of these extraordinary cemeteries.

Criterion (iv): The evolution of the Early Dilmun civilization is reflected in the architecture of the Dilmun Burial Mounds. Five different mound types give clues about the emergence of social hierarchies. Even though the burial mounds can be divided according to variations in size and interior design, the basic layout of the mounds remains the same throughout the 450-year period. The construction typology is exceptional. The majority of the tombs were constructed as single-storeyed small cylindrical towers while some of the bigger two-storeyed examples were built in a ziggurat-like shape. A very particular and unique characteristic of the Dilmun tumuli construction is the presence of alcoves. Depending on the occupant’s social status there can be up to six of such alcoves which were usually filled with mortuary gifts.

Integrity

The serial property displays the original distribution of Early and Late Type Dilmun Burial Mounds, organized in individual cemeteries. It excludes two fields which provide evidence of the great majority of Early Type Early Dilmun Burial Mounds (Wadi as-Sail and Umm Jidr) which are planned to be nominated as an extension in a second nomination phase. The five distinct types of burial mounds reflect a hierarchy of the ancient population and present a cross section of various social groups of the Early Dilmun society.

Most of the tumuli have not been excavated and their fabric is completely intact, solely impacted by occasional ancient looting and natural erosion that has transformed the once sepulchral towers into mounds. As a result of previous development activities, the setting has lost parts of its integrity. In particular the direct vicinity of residential developments affects the visual integrity of some of the property components. However, urban developments have come to a halt due to effective arrangements in the protection and management of the site. Corrective measures are underway and include the introduction of green belts around the ancient cemeteries in order to improve their visual setting.

Authenticity

The serial property is authentic in terms of its location, function, material and substance, form and design, as well as density. Despite having been impacted by erosion and partially by looting in ancient times, the mounds’ architecture, layout and interior design remain intact. The particular characteristics and distribution of Early and Late Types of Early Dilmun Burial Mounds within the cemeteries are excellently displayed. The density of fields in a limited area is exceptional as well as the unique concentration of burial mounds within each cemetery.

Management and protection requirements

All site components of the Dilmun Burial Mounds serial property are registered as National Monuments and are protected according to the Kingdom of Bahrain Legislative Decree No. 11 of 1995 concerning the Protection of Antiquities. The restrictions for urban development within the buffer zones of the site components are integrated in the Land Use and Zoning regulations which are subcategories of the Physical Planning Legislation of 1994. Site administration is carried out by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities. A unit with the Directorate has been designated for the administration of the property.

The Dilmun Burial Mounds Management Plan has been approved and effective since January 2018 for a period of five years, including long-term objectives for the site. It is envisioned as an integrated management and action plan with the following key strategic themes: administration and finance, land ownership and development, research, conservation, awareness-raising and community involvement, as well as interpretation, presentation and visitor management. The management plan works also as a protection plan as it addresses the main threats to the site components, which are development pressures, pollution and erosion.