Babylon added to UNESCO's World Heritage List

Babylon (AFP/File)

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SULAIMANI — UNESCO has announced that it has inscribed Babylon on its World Heritage List in a move that will help to protect the site for future generations.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the UN cultural and educational agency’s World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan on Friday (July 5).

The site is located 85 kilometers south of Baghdad and is one of the most important heritage sites in the country. The ancient city was the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire between 626 and 539 BCE.

“Seat of successive empires, under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon represents the expression of the creativity of the Neo-Babylonian Empire at its height,” UNESCO said in a statement.

“The city's association with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Hanging Gardens—has also inspired artistic, popular and religious culture on a global scale,” it added.

“Babylon is the largest populated city in ancient history,” said Qahtan al-Abeed, who heads the Basra Antiquities Department and led efforts to get the site listed.

“The Babylonians were the civilization of writing, administration, and science,” he told AFP.

In addition to protecting the site for the purposes of academic study, the designation will also enable it to be preserved as tourist site.

Iraq is extraordinarily wealthy in archaeological terms, but that heritage is under threat from antiquities traffickers who seek to illegally excavate and sell artifacts on the black market. Since 2003, the Government of Iraq has had to introduce stringent measures to crack down on the practice.

At the meeting in Baku, UNESCO also inscribed the French Austral Lands and Seas, Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland, Paratyand Ilha Grande in Brazil, the Ancient Ferrous Metallurgy Sites of Burkina Faso, and the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region in Albania on the World Heritage List.

(NRT Digital Media)