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Babylon

Iraq
Factors affecting the property in 2023*
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of a comprehensive conservation plan for the property, including a priority intervention scheme for the most urgent conservation measures needed
  • Need to augment the management plan to include the comprehensive conservation plan
  • Need to research the relationships between the Neo-Babylonian capital and its wider landscape as the basis for consideration of further extension of the buffer zone to address challenges in the setting
  • Need to better communicate to visitors the revised boundary concept and the explicit exclusion of 20th century additions from the property
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2023

N/A

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2023
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2023**

Two missions to Babylon for the preparation of the “Final Report on Damage Assessment in Babylon”, by the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Iraq – Sub-Committee on Babylon (2008-2009)

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 30 November 2022 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, an executive summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/278/documents/. Progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in the report, as follows:

  • The activities undertaken under the project Babylon, the cultural capital of Iraq include tarring streets, constructing sidewalks and work on the ‘Babylonian Amphitheatre’, the acting palace, and the presidential cabin. The headquarters of the Babylon Inspectorate of Antiquities (BIA), a storage building and vehicle garage have been upgraded and vehicles have been provided. Fire extinguishing systems were supplied, and electrical installations have been completed. The city was fenced off. Wooden paths and shades were provided for visitors, and a paved and lit path links the temples area and the Babylon tower;
  • BIA worked to reduce urban encroachment on protected areas through several measures, including bolstering the role of the legal department as advisor to the court, as well as increasing the number of civilian guards and Antiquities Police through mobile check points. Fixed and mobile cameras have been installed. The provincial authorities have been informed that building permits and property transactions require the approval of BIA. BIA received training through professional development courses, in excavation, visitor management and guidance;
  • Some preparatory work appears to have been done on issues pertaining to the conservation of specific structures;
  • Maintenance and infrastructural work were carried out by the World Monument Fund (WMF) and the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) at the Ishtar Gate and the Ninmakh Temple. The work at the Ishtar Gate included stabilisation and consolidation actions. The work at the Ninmakh Temple focused on specific areas of the temple, documenting structural conditions and damage, identifying materials used in previous conservation work and identifying the character of the original mud (adobe) bricks and binding materials. Staff from the BIA were trained to distinguish between different materials and in the manufacture of adobe bricks.

The State Party report includes a brief discussion of the cultural landscape of Babylon with suggestions for further work.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2023

The State Party report underscores its awareness of key issues and commitment to maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. A series of actions are reported, but there has been limited progress in relation to the Committee’s past recommendations. While it is not clear whether all the work under the Babylon, the cultural capital of Iraq project is relevant to maintaining the OUV of the property, the work on the BIA facilities and provision of service vehicles is welcome, as is the provision of visitor facilities and work on electricity, sanitary and fire extinguishing systems.

Initiatives taken by the BIA in responding to encroachment on the property, the professional development of staff and preparatory work on the conservation of specific buildings are recognised and welcomed. It would be helpful to clarify if the newly installed fence follows the boundary of the property.

The first phase of the Ishtar Gate maintenance and infrastructure works element of the project was the subject of an ICOMOS Technical Review in September 2022, in which ICOMOS supported the project and concluded that the new and more adapted infrastructure was to be encouraged since it contributes to the sustainable protection and management of the site, enhances visitors experience and ensures safety. ICOMOS Technical Review also emphasized the importance of differentiating new material from original archaeological material both on the ground and in reports.

The Committee, at the time of inscription (Decision 43 COM 8B.13) and in Decision 44 COM 7B.14, emphasized its concern for the state of conservation of the property and determined that the absence of a coordinated, programmed conservation approach with urgent priority interventions constituted an ascertained danger to its OUV. This was the context in which the Committee recommended the development and finalization of a comprehensive conservation plan.

It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to submit such a comprehensive plan, as part of an augmented Management Plan, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to its adoption.

There is mention of a suggestion to extend the archaeological survey within the property and in the buffer zone. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate the importance of this research as the basis for consideration of extension of the buffer zone to address actual and potential future challenges to the integrity of the wider setting of the city.

It is also recommended that the Committee reiterate that the management of the 20th century constructions located in the buffer zone on top of archaeological remains in the property, as presented by the three-dimensional buffer zone would be critical to the preservation of the fragile condition of integrity. It may also wish to reiterate its request that the three-dimensional boundary concept be communicated to visitors.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2023
45 COM 7B.139
Babylon (Iraq) (C 278rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.14 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Notes the progress made by the State Party in continuing conservation activities and in augmenting the management and presentation of the property;
  4. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to:
    1. Develop and finalize the comprehensive conservation plan for the property, and within this, address the various risk factors identified in the risk map previously provided. This should include proposals of concrete measures towards their effective reduction and mitigation as well as the establishment of a priority intervention scheme for the most urgent conservation measures needed,
    2. Augment the Management Plan to include the comprehensive conservation plan so as to allow the management team to focus on priority, emergency interventions, and providing detailed implementation-oriented guidance as well as quality indicators for its successful implementation,
    3. Research further the relationships between the Neo-Babylonian capital and its wider landscape, in particular towards the Euphrates River, and based on the outcomes of this research, consider further extending the buffer zone in order to address actual and potential future challenges which can be identified in the wider setting of the archaeological city,
    4. Communicate to visitors the three-dimensional boundary concept and the explicit exclusion of 20th century additions from the property;
  5. Reminds the States Party to inform the World Heritage Centre in due course about any major development project that may negatively impact the Outstanding Universal Value of a property, before any irreversible decisions are made, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Welcomes again the willingness of the State Party to host as soon as possible a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission to assist the State Party to develop a phased action plan for the conservation of the property;
  7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 47th session.
Draft Decision: 45 COM 7B.139

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.14, adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Notes the progress made by the State Party in continuing conservation activities and in augmenting the management and presentation of the property;
  4. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to:
    1. Develop and finalize the comprehensive conservation plan for the property, and within this, address the various risk factors identified in the risk map previously provided. This should include proposals of concrete measures towards their effective reduction and mitigation as well as the establishment of a priority intervention scheme for the most urgent conservation measures needed,
    2. Augment the Management Plan to include the comprehensive conservation plan so as to allow the management team to focus on priority, emergency interventions, and providing detailed implementation-oriented guidance as well as quality indicators for its successful implementation,
    3. Research further the relationships between the Neo-Babylonian capital and its wider landscape, in particular towards the Euphrates River, and based on the outcomes of this research, consider further extending the buffer zone in order to address actual and potential future challenges which can be identified in the wider setting of the archaeological city,
    4. Communicate to visitors the three-dimensional boundary concept and the explicit exclusion of 20th century additions from the property;
  5. Reminds the States Party to inform the World Heritage Centre in due course about any major development project that may negatively impact the Outstanding Universal Value of a property, before any irreversible decisions are made, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Welcomes again the willingness of the State Party to host as soon as possible a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission to assist the State Party to develop a phased action plan for the conservation of the property;
  7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 47th session.
Report year: 2023
Iraq
Date of Inscription: 2019
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2022) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 45COM (2023)
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.