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New World Heritage List Sites

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  • cejo@uchicago.edu
    Among the ten new sites on World Heritage List are Bisotun (Islamic Republic of Iran), The aflaj irrigation system (Oman), Crac des Chevaliers and Qal at Salah
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 13, 2006
      Among the ten new sites on World Heritage List are Bisotun (Islamic Republic of Iran), The aflaj
      irrigation system (Oman), Crac des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din (Syrian Arab Republic):

      "Bisotun (Islamic Republic of Iran). Bisotun is located along the ancient trade route linking the
      Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and features remains from the prehistoric times to the
      Median, Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Ilkhanid periods. The principal monument of this archaeological
      site is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription ordered by Darius I, The Great, when he rose to
      the throne of the Persian Empire, 521 BC. The bas-relief portrays Darius holding a bow, as a sign
      of sovereignty, and treading on the chest of a figure who lies on his back before him. According
      to legend, the figure represents Gaumata, the Median Magus and pretender to the throne whose
      assassination led to Darius's rise to power. Below and around the bas-reliefs, there are ca. 1,200
      lines of inscriptions telling the story of the battles Darius waged in 521-520 BC against the
      governors who attempted to take apart the Empire founded by Cyrus. The inscription is written in
      three languages. The oldest is an Elamite text referring to legends describing the king and the
      rebellions. This is followed by a Babylonian version of similar legends. The last phase of the
      inscription is particularly important, as it is here that Darius introduced for the first time the
      Old Persian version of his res gestae (things done). This is the only known monumental text of the
      Achaemenids to document the re-establishment of the Empire by Darius I. It also bears witness to
      the interchange of influences in the development of monumental art and writing in the region of
      the Persian Empire. There are also remains from the Median period (8th to 7th centuries B.C.) as
      well as from the Achaemenid (6th to 4th centuries B.C.) and post-Achaemenid periods."

      "The aflaj irrigation system (Oman). The property includes five aflaj irrigation systems and
      represents some 3,000 such systems still in use in Oman. The origins of this system of irrigation
      may date back to 500 A.D., but archaeological evidence suggests that irrigation systems existed in
      this extremely arid area as early as 2,500 B.C. Aflaj, is the plural of falaj which, in classical
      Arabic means to divide into shares and equitable sharing of a scarce resources to ensure
      sustainability remains the hallmark of this irrigation system. Using gravity, water is channelled
      from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use, often over many
      kilometres. The fair and effective management and sharing of water in villages and towns is still
      underpinned by mutual dependence and communal values and guided by astronomical observations.
      Numerous watchtowers built to defend the water systems form part of the listed property reflecting
      the historic dependence of communities on the aflaj system. Other buildings listed in association
      with the aflaj are mosques, houses, sundials, and water auction buildings. Threatened by the
      lowering level of the underground water table, the aflaj represent an exceptionally well-preserved
      form of land use."


      "Crac des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din (Syrian Arab Republic). The two castles represent the
      most significant examples illustrating the exchange of influences and documenting the evolution of
      fortified architecture in the Near East during the time of the Crusades (11th to 13th century).
      The Crac des Chevaliers was built by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem from 1142 to
      1271. With further construction by the Mamluks in the late 13th century, it ranks among the best-
      preserved examples of the Crusade castles. It is an archetype of the medieval castle, particularly
      of the military orders and includes eight round towers built by the Hospitallers and a massive
      square tower added by the Mamluks. Similarly, the Qal'at Salah El-Din (Fortress of Saladin), even
      though partly in ruins, still represents an outstanding example of this type of fortification,
      both in terms of the quality of construction and the survival of historical stratigraphy. It
      retains features from its Byzantine beginnings in the 10th century, the Frankish transformations
      in the late 12th century and fortifications added by the Ayyubids dynasty (late 12th to mid-13th


      -Chuck Jones-
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