1.         Samarra Archaeological City (Iraq) (C 276rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2007

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2007-present

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 identified

 Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet established

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/276/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/276/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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

Previous monitoring missions

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

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/276/

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 Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

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.

Decision Adopted: 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 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.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 8C.2

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: