World Heritage Sites Current Affairs - 2019

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Iraq’s Babylon listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has voted to list sprawling Mesopotamian metropolis of Babylon as a World Heritage Site (WHS) after 30 years of lobbying efforts by Iraq.

Key Highlights

Since 1983 Iraq had been trying to have Babylon site recognised by UNESCO.

The World Heritage Committee met in Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) to consider Babylon and another 34 sites, including in Brazil and Burkina Faso, for World Heritage List.

After the successful vote Babylon, the cradle of civilization was chosen.

Significance: Putting Babylon on WHS List will encourage research and development of the site.

About Babylon

It is a massive 10sq-km complex of which just 18% has been excavated thus far.

It was the Centre of ancient Babylonian empire more than 4,000 years ago. The excavation of site began in early 1800s and artefacts were sent abroad.

The city straddles Iraq’s Euphrates River and is about 100 kilometres south of Baghdad.

Babylon developed as a walled city of mudbrick temples and towers. It is the largest populated city in ancient history.

It is internationally known for its hanging gardens, the Ishtar Gate and Tower of Babel.

Parts of Ishtar Gate were sent abroad which still remain in museums across Europe.

The Babylonians were civilisation of writing, administration and science.

Other World Heritage Sites in Iraq include: the southern Mesopotamian marshes, Hatra, Samarra, Ashur and the Erbil citadel in northern Iraq. Erbil is the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region.

April 18: World Heritage Day

The World Heritage Day is observed every year across world on April 18. Observance of day aims to spread awareness importance of protecting and preserving various sites around world that have achieved world heritage status and having outstanding universal values. This year theme of the day is “Heritage for Generations”, emphasizing on inter-generational transfer of knowledge.

Background

The World Heritage Day was announced by International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in 1982. It was approved by General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983, with an aim of enhancing awareness about importance of cultural heritage, monuments and to conserve them. ICOMOS was established on principles set in Venice Charter, also known as 1964 International Charter on Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites. There are total 36 (1 mixed, 7 Natural and 28 Cultural) UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India having special cultural or physical significance.