Unesco lists Bahrain's Dilmun-era burial mounds as World Heritage Site

The landmark comprises 21 archaeological sites in the western part of the Gulf island

DHY1DA Dilmun era burial mounds, Aali, Kingdom of Bahrain
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Unesco's World Heritage Committee voted on Saturday to add Bahrain's Dilmun Burial Mounds to the World Heritage List.

The landmark comprises 21 archaeological sites, in the western part of the island, that were built between 2050 BC and 1750 BC. These offer evidence of the Early Dilmun civilisation, around the second millennium BC, when Bahrain became a trade hub.

These tombs illustrate globally unique characteristics

Six of these are burial mound fields that consist of a few dozen to several thousand tumuli, with a total of about 11,774 burial mounds originally in the form of cylindrical low towers, confirms Unesco. The other 15 sites include 13 single royal mounds and two pairs of royal mounds. These are spread across various towns in Madinat Hamad, Janabiyah and A'ali.

"These tombs illustrate globally unique characteristics, not only in terms of their number, density and scale, but also in terms of details such as burial chambers equipped with alcoves," says the statement from Unesco.

Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed al Khalifa, the president of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, said the inscription shows the Dilmun Burial Mounds are living proof of "Bahrain's distinguished cultural heritage", reports the Bahrain News Agency.

The tombs were among a number of other global sites that were newly listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites on Saturday, as the World Heritage Committee met in Azerbaijan's capital of Baku for its 43rd session. This also included mounded tombs of Ancient Japan and megalithic stone jar sites used in funerary practices in the Iron Age, in Lao People's Democratic Republic.

On Friday, the committee also listed the sprawling Mesopotamian metropolis of Babylon as a World Heritage Site after three decades of lobbying efforts by Iraq.

This is the third time Bahrain has been inscribed on to Unesco's World Heritage Site List. Qal'at al Bahrain, or the Bahrain Fort, was added to the list in 2005. In 2012, the Bahrain Pearling Trail was added, consisting of 17 buildings, three offshore oyster beds, part of the seashore and the Qal'at Bu Mahir fortress. "The site is the last remaining complete example of the cultural tradition of pearling and the wealth it generated at a time when the trade dominated the Gulf economy," explains Unesco's website.

Bahrain Fort is one of three Unesco World Heritage Sites in Bahrain, and dates back to the 16th century. Sophie Prideaux / The National 
Bahrain Fort is one of three Unesco World Heritage Sites in Bahrain, and dates back to the 16th century. Sophie Prideaux / The National