1.         Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Iraq) (C 1130)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2003

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2003-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

This will be defined as soon as the situation allows it.

Corrective measures identified

a) Relocation or cancellation of the dam project;

b) Emergency excavations and protective measures against seepage;

c) Establishment of a local management unit on the site;

d) Preparation and implementation of a conservation and management plan;

e) Protection and consolidation of fragile mud brick structures.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

No specific timeframe has yet been set by the World Heritage Committee or State Party, which mainly depends upon the evolution of the situation in the country.

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1130/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2003-2003)
Total amount approved: USD 50,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1130/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 6,000 from the Italian Funds-in-Trust

Previous monitoring missions

November 2002: UNESCO mission for the Makhool Dam project

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Partial flooding and seepage due to a dam building project;

b) Fragile mud brick structures;

c) Absence of a comprehensive conservation and management plan. 

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1130/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), the World Heritage Committee noted its concern for risks of damage due to the rising waters of the Tigris River and requested the State Party to take possible emergency measures and carry out maintenance work. It also recalled the identified corrected measures to be implemented, notably the establishment of a local management unit, the preparation of a conservation and management plan as well as the protection and consolidation of fragile mud brick structures. It had also requested the State Party to invite, should the situation allow, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive monitoring mission. Due to the security constraints, such a mission was not possible.

However, within the framework of UNESCO’s assistance to the Iraqi authorities, a member of the UNESCO-Iraq office visited the property in November 2008 for a few hours. The report of this visit notes the acceptable state of conservation of the property but stresses the lack of maintenance and the decay of building materials. The report recommends regular maintenance and cleaning, the recording of possible risks and the establishment of paths for visitors. Concerning the issue considered as the most alarming by the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage - the destruction of the site by the raising level of river water during the rainy seasons, the report does not record any specific damage to the site but notes however that 2008 was particularly dry.

The State Party submitted a report dated 8 March 2009, in Arabic. It notes that the property is in good condition in terms of security and confirms the establishment of an administrative unit on the property, composed of an archaeologist, an administrator, and other specialists in documentation, restoration and research.  12 permanent guards are assigned to the fenced property. The report also notes that a specialised team has started gathering documentation on all archaeological and conservation works previously carried out at the site in view of a publication.

However, as in its 2008 report, the State Party mentions the collapse of some parts of the eastern bank of the property on the shore of the Tigris River. It recalls the correspondence between the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and the Ministry of Water Resources, requesting the building of stone barriers that could not be implemented due to the lack of funds. The State Party continues to request technical assistance and scientific advice from the World Heritage Committee regarding the issue of subsidence.

Regarding the conservation of the fragile mud brick structures, the report mentions a restoration project at Tabira Gate, the only part of the “city” described in the report as not in good condition, and for which funds have been allocated for a project to begin “soon”. .

 

The State Party report provides a verbal description of the property in response to the World Heritage Committee’s request for details concerning the property’s boundaries, but does not provide the needed map.

 

The State Party report also indicated its intention to establish an archaeological school in Ashur to benefit all governorates in training future archaeologists and conservation specialists, to take advantage of the ongoing conservation work.

Finally, concerning the project to build a dam south of the site that would cause severe damage, the State Party report mentions that the project has been put on hold for five years and that it might never be resumed.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies commend the State Party for its efforts to set up a management structure at the property but are concerned by the lack of conservation and security measures established on site. In light of the urgent needs of the property, the establishment of an archaeological school at the site should only proceed if this can be ensured without diverting resources from needed conservation work.

 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7A.16

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7A.16, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Notes the efforts of the State Party to set up a management structure on site;

4. Requests the State Party to take all possible emergency measures to protect the eastern part of the property from the rising waters of the Tigris River, to undertake necessary maintenance and conservation work to avoid further damage, and to ensure continuing site security;

5. Encourages the State Party, should the situation allow it, to implement the corrective measures previously identified:

a) Relocation or cancellation of the dam project;

b) Emergency excavations and protective measures against seepage;

c) Preparation and implementation of a conservation and management plan;

d) Protection and consolidation of fragile mud brick structures.

6. Reiterates its request to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and a proposal for the desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010, as well as to provide a detailed map of the boundaries of the property;

7. Calls upon the international community to provide the necessary assistance to the State Party for the protection of this property;

8. Also requests the State Party, should the conditions allow it, to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to Ashur to assess the state of conservation of the property;

9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a report for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

10. Decides to retain Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Iraq) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-09/33.COM/7A, WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Add and WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Corr),

2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: