Iraqi World Heritage
UNESCO is preserving and rehabilitating three major cultural sites in Iraq.
UNESCO’s World Heritage mission is to help State Parties safeguard World Heritage properties and encourage international collaboration in the conservation of our world’s cultural and natural heritage. So far, with UNESCO’s support, three Iraqi sites have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. Moreover, UNESCO is providing assistance for the regular update of Iraqi Tentative List for World Heritage. The three current Iraqi World Heritage Sites are, as follows:-
Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat):
The ancient city of Ashur is located on the Tigris River in northern Mesopotamia at the borderline between rain-fed and irrigation agriculture. The city dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. From the 14th to the 9th centuries BC Ashur was the first capital of the Assyrian Empire, serving as a city-state, trading platform and religious capital associated with the God Ashur. The city was destroyed by the Babylonians, but revived during the Parthian period in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2003 – also placed on the World Heritage List in Danger because of its dire need for protection after the start of the war.
Samarra Archaeological City:
The Archaeological City of Samarra is the site of a powerful Islamic capital city which ruled over the provinces of the Abbasid Empire extending from Tunisia to Central Asia for a century. Located on both sides of the River Tigris 130km north of Baghdad, the length of the site from north to south is 41.5km. Unlike other great capitals that prospered and led to the loss of their early remains, Samarra was rapidly abandoned and thus much of its plan and architecture are preserved. Samarra Archaeological City was inscribed both on the World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2007.
The archaeological city of Hatra was nominated for the World Heritage list in 1987. A large fortified city under the influence of the Parthian Empire and capital of the first Arab Kingdom, Hatra withstood invasions by the Romans in A.D. 116 and 198 thanks to its high, thick walls reinforced by towers. The remains of the city, especially the temples where Hellenistic and Roman architecture blend with Eastern decorative features, attest to the greatness of its civilization.