Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Entire Country Of Iraq Remains On New York City's World Monument Fund List Of World's Most Endangered Historic Sites

Iraq Cultural Heritage Sites

"Ten thousand years ago, the foundations of human civilization were laid in the fertile floodplain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what was Mesopotamia and is now the modern nation of Iraq. Within its borders are an estimated 10,000 sites that chronicle thousands of years of human history, including many great cultural achievements. It was in this ancient land that the Sumerians wrote humanity’s first words and planned its first cities and the Babylonian king Hammurabi enacted the first-known code of law. In the millennia that followed, Roman, Arab, and Ottoman architects and engineers and urban planners each left their mark on this extraordinary landscape in the form of temples, schools, and townscapes.

Decades of political isolation, a protracted war with Iran, and, more recently, the invasion and continuing conflict, which began in 2003, have put this extraordinary heritage at risk. Today, such famous sites as the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, the ziggurat at Ur, the temple precinct at Babylon, and a ninth-century spiral minaret at Samarra have been scarred by violence, while equally important ancient sites, particularly in the southern provinces, are being ravaged by looters who work day and night to fuel an international art market hungry for antiquities. Historic districts in urban areas have also suffered from vandalism, looting, and artillery fire.

In response to such widespread damage and continuing threats to our collective cultural heritage and the significance of the sites at risk, WMF has taken the unprecedented step of including the entire country of Iraq on its 2006 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. In addition, WMF is working with the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), which presented the nomination, to assess and document what has survived and plan for its long-term preservation, an effort undertaken in partnership with the Getty Conservation Institute and supported by the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), UNESCO, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and other concerned citizens and organizations."

Source: World Monuments Fund, New York City

2006 World Monuments Watch 100 Most Endangered Sites. [The next list is due to be announced in June 2008. Nominations and applications are being accepted now.]

Photo credit: (c) World Monuments Fund. All rights reserved. With thanks.


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