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Samarra Archaeological City

Iraq
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • War
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Weathering and lack of maintenance affecting the fragile structures
  • State of conflict in the country that does not allow the responsible authorities to assure the protection and management of the property
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

State of conflict in the country that does not allow the responsible authorities to assure the protection and management of the property.

Corrective Measures for the property

 Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
Not yet established
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2015

Total amount granted: 100,000 USD from the Nordic World Heritage Fund for training and documentation aiming at the preparation of the Nomination File.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

June 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 12 April 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report for the four World Heritage properties in Iraq, as well as for ten of the eleven sites included in the country’s Tentative List. The report is available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/276/documents/.

The State Party reports that an attack perpetrated by ISIL partly damaged the Dome Crusade, located 600 m from Al-Maashook Palace. A second attack in July 2014 caused damage to the fixed walls. The Eshnass fence was partly damaged by a car bomb. The State Party reports that the rest of the property has not suffered from any damage.

Other sources report that in November 2014, a black banner was hang on the Spiral Minaret (Al-Malwiyah), while clashes were going on between local armed groups and ISIL outside the town. In March 2015, part of the Spiral Minaret (Al-Malwiyah) was covered with black and red graffiti. On 26 March 2015, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the Permanent Delegation of Iraq to UNESCO concerning the local armed groups surrounding the property, with religious signs displayed within the latter and notably at the Spiral Minaret (Al-Malwiyah). The World Heritage Centre expressed its concern about these signs which can transform the site into a military target and therefore requested clarifications about the on-going situation. At the time of drafting this report, no response had been received yet.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

On 17 July 2014, an expert meeting, held at UNESCO Headquarters, led to the adoption of an Emergency Response Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Iraq’s Cultural Heritage (also see Part I of Document WHC-15/39.COM/7).

The property seems to be still under the control of the responsible authorities despite the incidents of the banner and the graffiti. However, this kind of incident can put the property at high risk due to the presence of ISIL around the city of Samarra. In October 2014, one of the most important shrines, the Shrine of Al-Douri (Imam Dur Shrine), located north of Samarra, and built in 1085, was deliberately destroyed by ISIL.

Concerning the graffiti, a rapid consultation carried out by the World Heritage Centre with an expert in mural paintings and based on the pictures sent by the responsible authorities led to the elaboration of a technical note. The latter lists a series of recommendations for the treatment of the graffiti, with a necessary preparatory work, advice on the technics and materials to be used and proposal of long-term solutions. This note was sent to the Permanent Delegation of Iraq to UNESCO on 10 April 2015.

Considering the prevailing situation in the country and the potential risk for the property, it is recommended that the responsible authorities take all possible measures to secure the site. It is also highly recommended that the necessary efforts be made in order to preserve the property from ostentatious religious signs, which are likely to increase the risk of deliberate damage.

While giving priority to the protection of the property from the effects of the prevailing situation, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to try, as far as possible, to implement the measures requested at its 38th session (Doha, 2014) and listed in Paragraph 4 of Decision 38 COM 7A.3.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7A.26
Samarra Archaeological City (Iraq) (C 276 rev)
The World Heritage Committee,
  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.3, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Commends the State Party for its efforts to ensure the protection of the property in spite of the difficult prevailing situation and requests it to reinforce this protection by ensuring that no ostentatious religious signs are displayed at the property;
  4. Also requests the State Party to implement, as soon as possible, the measures recommended in the technical note elaborated in view of addressing the graffiti issue;
  5. Further Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016;
  6. Decides to retain Samarra Archaeological City (Iraq) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
39 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of the World Heritage in Danger

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-15/39.COM/7A and WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 39 COM 7A.38)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 39 COM 7A.39)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 39 COM 7A.18)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosi (Decision 39 COM 7A.44)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.1)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 39 COM 7A.45)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.2)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.3)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.4)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.5)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.8)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 39 COM 7A.24)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.10)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 39 COM 7A.40)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 39 COM 7A.41)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.20)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 39 COM 7A.15)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 39 COM 7A.25)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 39 COM 7A.26)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 39 COM 7A.27)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 39 COM 7A.11)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 39 COM 7A.21)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 39 COM 7A.22)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 39 COM 7A.12)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 39 COM 7A.28)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 39 COM 7A.29)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 39 COM 7A.46)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 39 COM 7A.47)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.13)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 39 COM 7A.42)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 39 COM 7A.16)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 39 COM 7A.30)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 39 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 39 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 39 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 39 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 39 COM 7A.35)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 39 COM 7A.23)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 39 COM 7A.43)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.14)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.17)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 39 COM 7A.48)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 39 COM 7A.37)
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.26

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.3, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Commends the State Party for its efforts to ensure the protection of the property inspite of the difficult prevailing situation and requests it to reinforce this protection by ensuring that no ostentatious religious signs are displayed at the property;
  4. Also requests the State Party to implement, as soon as possible, the measures recommended in the technical note elaborated in view of addressing the graffiti issue;
  5. Further Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016;
  6. Decides to retain Samarra Archaeological City (Iraq) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2015
Iraq
Date of Inscription: 2007
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Danger List (dates): 2007-present
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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