Iraq tries to get Babylon on world heritage list

BAGHDAD, Jan. 20 (PNA/Xinhua) — Iraqi Minister of Tourism and Antiquities on Monday said that his country is seeking to restore the ancient ruin city of Babylon onto the UNESCO world heritage list.

“We have finished our part and prepared a dossier to be sent to the UNESCO tomorrow, and so we met our obligation to prepare this dossier on February 1,” Adel Shirshab told a press conference in Baghdad.

Earlier, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iraqi government and the government of Babil province, in which the Iraqi side has to prepare a dossier by some Iraqi archeologists and tourism experts to assess the damages and situation of the site.

Babylon is the capital of Babylonia, whose remains can be found near the city of Hilla, some 100 km south of Baghdad.

The city was officially recognized as one of the first civilizations on earth. However, all that remains of the ancient city is a mound of broken mud-brick buildings and debris in the fertile Mesopotamian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in central Iraq.

Babylon had sprung up by the beginning of the third millennium BC (the dawn of the dynasties). The city is home to the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of antiquity.

The site is the remains of a Mesopotamian capital that flourished for centuries, it was home to Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.) who introduced the world’s first known set of laws, and Nebuchadnezzar (604-562 B.C.) who built the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Under the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the city was terribly damages when he decided to rebuild Babylon with modern bricks inscribed with his name, right atop the original walls.

Then the 4,000-year-old city became military “Camp Alpha” soon after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

UNESCO earlier said that the U.S. troops and contractors inflicted considerable damage on the historic Iraqi site of Babylon, driving heavy machinery over sacred paths, bulldozing hilltops and digging trenches through one of the world’ most important archaeological sites.

Military operations and conflicts also took a heavy toll on Iraq’s cultural heritage, including the considerable damage inflicted on the historic site of Babylon by U.S.-led coalition forces as they based their troops on the site in 2003 and 2004. (PNA/Xinhua)