• Keywords: Qatar Cultural Landscape, Archaecological site, pearling, fort, ancient defensive system, Qal'at Al-Murair, Qal'at Al-Zubarah, madabes, dabis.

1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES

1.1 National and International Classification Lists

Archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape is registered on the Tentative List of UNESCO, with date of submission: 18/03/2008, criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v), category: cultural and ref.: 5316.

  • Tentative List of UNESCO

1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology

Organically evolved landscapes
Relict (or fossil) landscape
Associative cultural landscape
1

1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med

Description

Covering an area of circa 400 hectares (60 hectares inside the outer town wall), Zubarah is Qatar’s most substantial archaeological site. The site comprises the fortified town with a later inner and an earlier outer wall, a harbour, a sea canal, two screening walls, the fort of Murair, and the more recent Zubarah Fort, composing an unequalled archaeological landscape.This now abandoned settlement was once a thriving pearl fishing and trading port and is one of the largest and best preserved examples of an 18th-19th century merchant town anywhere in the Gulf. The site provides an important insight into urban life, spatial organization, and the social and economic history of the Gulf before the discovery of oil and gas in the 20th century. The site is proposed in category: cultural in the Tentative List of UNESCO, but Med-O-Med has considered appropiate to give another step considering this site as a Cultural Landscape taking into account its natural and cultural heritage, as an associative and relict landscape, mainly because of the historial significance of the territory, and because the archaeological remains are not only concentrated in one spot, they are also scattered around the buffer zone composing an archaeological landscape of 400 ha. (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008): -Its Cultural Heritage Components: the core of the proposed World Heritage Site “archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape” could link three adjacent properties: the archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town, the old ruined fort of Qal’at Al-Murair, and the fort of Qal’at Al-Zubarah. The buffer zone of this site could be identified considering other properties surrounding the core zone, including: the well-preserved traditional wells representing sustainable ways of managing underground water, the ruined forts – ancient coastal defensive systems, other relevant tangible evidence of human activities nearby the site, other relevant natural features, such as the ecologically valuable sea-grass beds in the shallow inshore waters close to the proposed site. Archaeological investigation by the Qatari Authorities unveiled that the site is an outstanding example of socio-economic transformation of land and demonstrates how the State of Qatar was a major marshalling yard in the Arabian Gulf, with trading connections linking China, West Africa, Iraq, Persia, and the West. Moreover, the old Al-Zubarah town shows how an Arabian civilization dealt with urban settlements. The whole site of “archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape” represents a remarkable example of harmonious coexistence of different cultures and ethnic groups from the Arabian Peninsula. -Environmental Heritage Components: the beauty of the site is indisputable. The city and the buffer zone is located in the coastal shore, beside the golden desert of Qatar, and represents a good example of interaction between human being and nature in previous times. The whole site illustrates a sustainable way of land use and is representative of traditional Gulf cultures. Ruins of “madabes” could be found in the site. They are rooms used to produce “debis”, which is a date-based syrup at the base of a traditional Gulf diet. These structures are exceptional in demonstrating unique interaction of humans with the environment. The series of old wells surrounding the site shows a sustainable way of using underground water.

2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY

  • Current denomination Al-Zubarah, Zubarah.
  • Current denomination Al-Zubarah, Zubarah.
  • Original denomination Al-Zubarah, Az Zubarah, Zubarah (Arabic: الزبارة‎).
  • Popular denomination Al-Zubarah, Az Zubarah, Zubarah (Arabic: الزبارة‎).
  • Address: Al Zubarah, Madinat Al-Shamal municipality, Qatar.
  • Geographical coordinates: 25°58′43″N 51°01′35″E
  • Area, boundaries and surroundings: Al Zubarah is a ruined and deserted site located on the north western coast of the Qatar peninsula in the Madinat Al- Shamal municipality, about 105 km from the Qatari capital of Doha.
  • Access and transport facilities: From Doha take the junction 59 on the Al Shamal Road and continue west towards Al Zubarah Fort for 37 km. As a clear landmark, the Al Zubarah Fort, is the natural starting point. A parking lot next to the fort makes it possible for you to get out and explore the Al Zubarah Fort before getting in your car again and head further towards the coast to reach the ruins of the old town of Al Zubarah.
  • Visits / Schedules / Entrance fees / Groups / guided tours: The QMA and the QIAHP designed a programme of visits that will involve schools and universities.
  • Facilities:

    Al Zubarah Archaeological Site: Information pavillion There are plans of constructing a visitor centre. Until then the facilities are sparse. At the parking lot next to the Zubarah Fort an information pavillion provides the visitors with an overview and introduction to the site. New rest rooms are located nearby. At selected ruins of Al Zubarah display panels will inform you on the history of the life in the old town and the on-going research.

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Archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its Cultural Landscape (QATAR)

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Archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its Cultural Landscape (QATAR) 25.978611, 51.026389 Archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its Cultural Landscape (QATAR) (Directions)

3. LEGAL ISSUES

Property regime
  • Public
  • Owner: Qatar's Government.
  • Body responsible for the maintenance: Qatar's Government.
  • Public or private organizations working in the site: -Qatar Islamic Archaeology and Heritage Project: The Qatar Islamic Arhaeology and Heritage Project is now one of the largest archaeological, conservation and heritage projects in the Gulf region and involves an international team of more than forty specialists in archaeology, conservation, architecture, material science, geomatics, geology, heritage, oral history and museum studies. The project is an initiative by the Qatar Museums Authority jointly with the University of Copenhagen. The QIAH has developed novel and ground-breaking conservation methods for Al Zubarah and other sites in the region. A two-year study of building materials used in the construction of Al Zubarah has shown the very fragile state of the architecture. With high salinity in the air, strong winds and great differences in day- and night-time temperatures, especially during the summer months, buildings decay very fast. The Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and the Qatar Islamic Archaeology and Heritage Project (QIAH) views the heritage of Qatar as a vital part of public wealth that should be documented, celebrated and shared. To raise awareness of the importance of Al Zubarah and its surroundings the QMA and QIAH Project is embarking on a programme of visits, public lectures and workshops that will involve schools and universities from across the country, as well as governmental and non-governmental institutions.

4. HISTORY

Al-Zubarah town: The age of foundation of this settlement is not yet clear. There is little written material detailing the history of the town. Moreover, less than 5% of the site has been excavated to date. It is probable that fresh excavations, were they to be permitted, would uncover valuable materials to shed further light on interpretation of the town’s own history. In previous decades, the Qatari Authorities carried out research which showed the town to have already been in existence at the time of Islam in the VII Century AD. In addition, there is an interesting hint in the book Geographia written in the 1st century AD by the great Greek geographer Ptolemy. He recorded in the area the existence of a town called “Qadra” or “Cadara”. However, although apparently extremely likely, there is as yet no conclusive evidence that this town could be identified with that of Al-Zubarah. An account written by Hamad bin Nayem bin Sultan Al-Muraikhi Al-Zubari Al-Qatari in April 1638 AD, describes Al-Zubarah as a harbour of 150 houses and 700 inhabitants, owning several boats and livestock, with multicultural inhabitants, such as “Naim, Musallem, Twar, Hawajer, Bedouins, Lisaud, freemen and slaves”. Then, by 1765 AD, the Al-Khalifa and Al-Jalahima groups, both of the Al-Utubi tribe, moved from their homeland of Kuwait to Bahrain in search of pearls. At that time, the Persians already occupied Bahrain so the Al-Utubi moved to Al-Zubarah town, already in existence. The Sheikh ruling the settlement agreed to let the tribe settle inside the town in exchange for paying ordinary taxes for trading. However, they refused and built their own fort, Qal’at Al-Murair, about two kilometres south of Al-Zubarah town. Later, the Al-Utubi provided their fort with additional walls and they built a seawater canal used as harbour connecting Qal’at Al-Murair and Al-Zubarah town with the sea. This canal, still partially visible, represents an outstanding example of early engineering ability in the Arabian Peninsula. By the end of the XVIII century AD, both Al-Zubarah town and Qal’at Al-Murair became flourishing centres of trade and pearling, and were recognized points of reference for the entire Arabian Gulf. This power and prominence made the towns targets of invasions from Bahrain, which was still under Persian control. In response, the Al-Khalifa invaded Bahrain in 1783 AD, claiming sovereignty over the island. Thereafter, little by little, the Al-Khalifa migrated to Bahrain where they established a sheikhdom that still endures today. Unfortunately, this migration caused the gradual decline both of Al-Zubarah town and Qal’at Al-Murair, and, finally, their complete abandonment.

5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

5.1. Natural heritage

  • Heritage: Archaeological
  • Geography: Coastal area
  • Site topography: Natural
  • Climate and environmental conditions: Desert.
  • Geological and Geographical characteristics: Desert.
The series of old wells surrounding the site shows a sustainable way of using underground water.
Land uses and economical activities:
IN ANCIENT TIMES: -Pearling: Oyster shell with partially formed pearl found on floorAl Zubarah was primarily a trading and pearling settlement taking advantage of its natural harbor and central position on the Gulf. Its economy depended on the pearl diving season which took place during the long summer months and would draw Bedouin from the interior of Qatar as well as people from all over the Gulf to dive, trade and protect the town from attack while the town’s men were at sea. -Global Trade: People and goods coming from all over the Gulf region and further afield would have been a normal sight in Al Zubarah throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Wood for the construction of dhows (the traditional sail boats) and roofs came from the African and Indian coasts while volcanic black stone used for diving weights was also imported. NOWADAYS: Zubarah was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage tentative list in 2008. Since 2009, the site has been the subject of research and development as a protected heritage site. This calls for visitors to show consideration for the on-going work. For protection most of the site is situated inside a fenced area and visitors have to pass a guard to enter the heritage town of Zubarah.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:
Around the fort, several enclosures attest to the presence of fields, plantations or holding pens for animals, suggesting that this was also an agricultural settlement.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:

Zubarah is well known for the fortress of 1938, which was officially named after the town. The Zubarah Fort follows a traditional concept with a square ground plan with sloping walls and corner towers. Three of the towers are round while the fourth, the south east tower, is rectangular, each is topped with curved-pointed crenellations, with the fourth as the most machicolated tower. The fort’s design recalls earlier features common in Arab and Gulf fortification architecture, but varies by being constructed on concrete foundations. It marks the transition from solely stone-built structures to cement-based one, albeit in a traditional design. Originally, the fort was built as a base for the Qatari military and police to protect Qatar’s north-west coast as part of a series of forts along Qatar’s coastline. It was restored in 1987 with the removal of a number of much later auxiliary buildings erected to house the Qatari forces. After opening, the fort quickly became a major heritage attraction and, for a while, a local museum. Due to the unsuitable conditions in the fort for displaying and storing finds, the objects were relocated to Doha in 2010. As of 2011, The Qatar Museum Authority is conducting an on-going project of monitoring and restoration to ensure the upkeep of the fort. Work is expected to continue into 2013. During this time, parts of the fort may be closed to visitor access. Qal’at Murair The Murair Fort, Qal`at Murair for short, 1.65 km east of the town of Zubarah, was built shortly after the town’s settlement. The fort served to espouse Zubarah and especially entrenched the town’s primary fresh water source: groundwater reached by shallow wells. Within the fortification walls were a mosque, domestic buildings and at least one large well. Around the fort, several enclosures attest to the presence of fields, plantations or holding pens for animals, suggesting that this was also an agricultural settlement

5.2. Cultural Heritage

A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general

Architectonical elements /Sculptures:

Al-Zubarah town, Qal’at Al-Murair and Qal’at Al-Zubarah feature the traditional Qatari technique of making buildings. The walls, which are thick to isolate the heat and keep the buildings cool, were built by overlapping raw pieces of coral rock and limestone, joining them with mud mortar and covering them with gypsum-based plaster. This plaster, often decorated with geometric patterns, protected the walls from natural elements such as wind and humidity. The roof is made of four layers. The first consists of a series of “danchal” wood poles, often protected by bitumen. The second is a layer of “basgijl”, which are woven bamboo strips. A close net of mangrove branches makes up the third layer, and the roof is then finished with a layer of compressed mud, protecting the buildings from the blazing sun during the hot season. One of the most interesting features of this technique is the building of architraves using poles of “danchal” wood held together with a rope, to increase the adherence of the mud mortar and plaster.

In the case of gardens: original and current style:
It is not the case. The well-preserved traditional wells representing sustainable ways of managing underground water. Al-Utubi provided their fort with additional walls and they built a seawater canal used as harbour connecting Qal'at Al-Murair and Al-Zubarah town with the sea. This canal, still partially visible, represents an outstanding example of early engineering ability in the Arabian Peninsula.
Domestic, industrial ensembles, energy related systems:

The seawater canal used as harbour connecting Qal’at Al-Murair and Al-Zubarah town with the sea.

Roads, paths, trails, walking/mechanical ways:

Nowadays, driving and walking trails are marked to guide you safely around.

B) Related to ancient remains

  • Archaeological components:

    The archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town is the largest area of early human presence in Qatar. It is located in the northwest of the peninsula, between the Zubarah fort and the sea and consists of an old fortified coastal town. Now completely abandoned, it has cast light on the history of the country and its people, showing evidence of a long-standing community where rich oyster banks and trading connections in and beyond the Gulf ensured prosperity. Archaeological investigation by the Qatari Authorities unveiled evidence of trade with China, West Africa, Persia, and Mesopotamia (Iraq), amongst other countries. The forma urbis of the town shows a remarkable capability in urban planning: it was based on a grid-based scheme known as “gridiron plan”, a type of city theorized by the Greek Hippodamus of Miletus, in which streets run at right angles to each other. The original town, more than 2000 metres long and 600 metres wide, was surrounded by a long enclosure wall and guard towers. A separate quarter and a wider, more external wall, was added in a second phase of urban development and eventually, during a third phase, houses were built outside the walls themselves. Within the archaeological area of Al-Zubarah town, besides ruins of houses and public buildings, many evidences of “madabes” can be found. These structures were used to produce “debis” (‘dibbs’ or ‘tibbs’), which is a date-based syrup and part of a traditional Gulf diet. The rooms have parallel channels 10 cm deep into the floor which are linked together by a perpendicular canal near the entrance that funnels into an underground pot in the corner. During the process of making “debis”, palm fronds were laid on the channels, creating a smooth, flat base. The dates were then put in sacks made of palm leaves and laid on top of each other in piles that could reach two metres high. The weight of the upper sacks thus squashed the dates in the lower sacks and their thick juice ran into the channels of the so-called ‘mudbasa’ and eventually into the sunken collecting pot. n the vicinity of Al-Zubarah town lies Qal’at Al-Zubarah, a well-preserved typical Arab fort. H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Qassim Al-Thani, a member of the current Ruling Family of Qatar, built this in 1938 AD on the ruins of an older castle that had been destroyed. The soldiers used the sturdy fort as a station until the mid 1980s AD, when it was turned into a museum to display some of the finds uncovered in the nearby Al-Zubarah town. The Qal’at Al-Zubarah is a regular square courtyard with one-metre thick massive walls on each side. Three of the corners have large circular towers topped with Qatari-style battlements. The fourth contains a striking rectangular tower with traditional triangular-based ledges with slits called machicolations that – in the event of an attack – were used to shoot over the heads of the enemies. Eight rooms on the ground floor, originally used to accommodate soldiers, now house exhibitions of pottery and archaeological findings from the neighbouring Al-Zubarah town, show-casing coins from West Africa, pieces of pottery (see Plates 7 and 8), Chinese porcelain, Thai celadon and jewellery made with semi-precious stones. The ground floor also features “iwan”, which are small porticos overlooking the courtyard through square arcades. In the courtyard, there is a four-pillar canopy covering a 15-metre deep well that served as a water supply for the soldiers. The second floor of the fort consists of a wide promenade with a few rooms ‘tucked’ inside the corner towers. The walls of these rooms, and the promenade, feature groups of gunfire holes angled in different directions thereby allowing the soldiers to shoot enemies attacking from all sides. Wooden rung stairs that are still in the towers enabled the men to climb up to the roof and patrol the surrounding area with a clear all-round view. The most impressive and most colossal of the building complexes measures 110 m x 100 m in size. This structure follows the same form as the domestic architecture seen elsewhere in Zubarah, but on a much grander scale. Nine interconnected compounds, each comprising a courtyard surrounded by a range of rooms, made up the interior of this structure. Plaster stucco decoration was used to embellish internal entrances and rooms. The discovery of internal staircases indicates that the compounds were multi-storeyed. The nine compounds of the complex were enclosed by a high circuit wall with circular towers at the four corners, each of which were capable of supporting a small cannon. The size and visual dominance of the palatial compound suggests that it was occupied by a family of wealthy and powerful sheikhs who were community leaders in the social and economic life of the town. Temporary dwellings Traces of what seems to be tent placements and/or palm-leaf and palm-matt huts found near the beach may be associated with transient members of the Zubaran society. It is likely that these interim dwellings housed the people who were the primary producers of Zubarah’s wealth: the pearl fishers and mariners who harvested the pearl banks each season. The souq A complex array of small storage rooms have been identified as part of the souq (market) of Zubarah. Additionally, the wide variety of trade objects that have been found in the rooms also points towards this interpretation of the area. The souq would have been the centre of the town and of its economy.

  • Historical routes:

    By the end of the XVIII century AD, both Al-Zubarah town and Qal’at Al-Murair became flourishing centres of trade and pearling, and were recognized points of reference for the entire Arabian Gulf.

  • Traces in the environment of human activity: The archaeological remains of houses, castles, towers, enclosure walls, etc. Also, around the fort, several enclosures attest to the presence of fields, plantations or holding pens for animalss.
  • Traditional productive, transportation or storage apparatus persistence: A large number of date-presses (madbassat) are found in houses throughout the town. They are small rooms with ridged plastered floors sloping to one corner where a jar would have been placed. Dates were packed in sacks and placed on the floor with weights on top to squeeze out the date juice - a sweet sticky syrup (dibs). The jar would collect the syrup. And the syrup could now be eaten on its own or used in cooking.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values

  • Population, ethnic groups: An account written by Hamad bin Nayem bin Sultan Al-Muraikhi Al-Zubari Al-Qatari in April 1638 AD, describes Al-Zubarah as a harbour of 150 houses and 700 inhabitants, owning several boats and livestock, with multicultural inhabitants, such as "Naim, Musallem, Twar, Hawajer, Bedouins, Lisaud, freemen and slaves". Then, by 1765 AD, the Al-Khalifa and Al-Jalahima groups, both of the Al-Utubi tribe, moved from their homeland of Kuwait to Bahrain in search of pearls. At that time, the Persians already occupied Bahrain so the Al-Utubi moved to Al-Zubarah town, already in existence.
  • Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: While the walls of excavated buildings and pots and other objects that are recovered can be impressive to look at, one of the most valuable sources of information for understanding how people lived in the past is their waste. Some of this comes from the floors of buildings, especially in kitchen areas, but a lot of it is recovered from middens – heaps of rubbish that have accumulated over the years. There are many large middens around Al Zubarah, most of which are just outside the town walls – away from the main areas of living. During the later phase of the town many ruined buildings were used as rubbish tips. Whatever they threw away – be tools, broken pots or food waste – gives us information about the day to day life and activities of the people of Al Zubarah. Dates Print Email Date Palm. Wikimedia CommonsOne of the most common, and easily identified botanical remains recovered at Al Zubarah are the stones from dates. Indeed the breakfast of th Qatari pearl fisher is said to be a couple of dates and coffee.

5.3. Quality

Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:
The QIAH has developed novel and ground-breaking conservation methods for Al Zubarah and other sites in the region. A two-year study of building materials used in the construction of Al Zubarah has shown the very fragile state of the architecture. With high salinity in the air, strong winds and great differences in day- and night-time temperatures, especially during the summer months, buildings decay very fast. This comprehensive cultural landscape is also endangered and would be vulnerable to damaging impact from the planned highway connecting the State of Qatar to Bahrain. This infrastructure would link the southern side of the site and could catalyse speculative but damaging urban development in the area.
Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:
**It is a privilege site to breath in silence, to find ourselves and to observe the pure beauty of nature, including the stars that are brighting in the night sky, free of light pollution.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:

-The archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town. -The old ruined fort of Qal’at Al-Murair. -The fort of Qal’at Al-Zubarah. -The buffer zone of this site: the well-preserved traditional wells, the ruined forts – ancient coastal defensive systems,etc.

6. VALUES

Tangible

  • Aesthetic
  • Archaeological
  • Architectonical
  • Ethnological
The main tangible values of the Archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape are: -Aesthetic: The site is of outstanding scenic and aesthetic interest: the town and the buffer zone is located between the golden desert of Qatar and the sea, in one of the most beatiful landscape of the country. -Archaeological: the core of the proposed World Heritage Site "archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape" could link three adjacent properties: the archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town, the old ruined fort of Qal'at Al-Murair, and the fort of Qal'at Al-Zubarah. The buffer zone of this site could be identified considering other properties surrounding the core zone, including: the well-preserved traditional wells representing sustainable ways of managing underground water, the ruined forts - ancient coastal defensive systems, other relevant tangible evidence of human activities nearby the site, other relevant natural features, such as the ecologically valuable sea-grass beds in the shallow inshore waters close to the proposed site. -Architectonical: Domestic architecture at Zubarah consisted mainly of courtyard houses, a traditional form of Arabic architecture which can be found throughout the Middle East. A series of small rooms were organized around a large central courtyard, where the majority of daily activity took place. Usually a portico opened out onto the courtyard on the south side, which offered shelter from the fierce summer sun. The houses of Zubarah were constructed from soft local stone, protected by a thick gypsum plaster coating. Features such as doorways and niches were decorated with geometric stucco designs. Access to the house units from the street was by a doorway and a bent corridor, which avoided unauthorized viewing into the living area of the household. -Ethnological/living Heritage: A large number of date-presses (madbassat) are found in houses throughout the town. They are small rooms with ridged plastered floors sloping to one corner where a jar would have been placed. Dates were packed in sacks and placed on the floor with weights on top to squeeze out the date juice - a sweet sticky syrup (dibs). The jar would collect the syrup. And the syrup could now be eaten on its own or used in cooking. The main intangible value of the Archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape is its social/cultural significance, connected to the histroy of the site. Ancient remains related to pearling and date's farming and conservation give an idea of the ancient way of living of the people of the site. Also, archaeological investigation by the Qatari Authorities unveiled that the site is an outstanding example of socio-economic transformation of land and demonstrates how the State of Qatar was a major marshalling yard in the Arabian Gulf, with trading connections linking China, West Africa, Iraq, Persia, and the West. Moreover, the old Al-Zubarah town shows how an Arabian civilization dealt with urban settlements. The whole site of "archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape" represents a remarkable example of harmonious coexistence of different cultures and ethnic groups from the Arabian Peninsula.
Authenticity:
The proposed site "archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape" respects the attribute of authenticity, as stated by the section II D, articles 79-86 of the Operational Guidelines of the Convention (UNESCO) concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The few preservation works carried out by the Qatari Authorities respected the principles and the ethic expressed by the Charter of Venice adopted in 1964, and the Nara Document on Authenticity adopted in 1994. These works respected traditional techniques and materials. In addition, the site preserves exceptional authentic archaeological material that remains to be uncovered, less than 5% of the whole area having been excavated to date. Comparison with other similar properties: The proposed site "archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape" could be compared with the World Heritage Site of Qal'at Al-Bahrain (Bahrain), an ancient harbour that was the capital of the ancient Dilmun civilization. These two settlements were linked by close trading connections. According to UNESCO, Qal'at al-Bahrain is a typical tell - an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation. The strata of the 300x600-metre tell testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 B.C. to the 16th century AD. About 25% of the site has been excavated, revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. These testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, over the centuries. On the top of the 12m high mound there is the impressive Portuguese fort, which gave the whole site its name, qal'a, meaning fort. The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of most important ancient civilizations of the region. It contains the richest remains inventoried of this civilization, which was hitherto only known from written Sumerian references.
Universality:
According to UNESCO, the justification of Outstanding Universal Value of this site is: The property "archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape" is an outstanding example of socio-economic transformation of land and demonstrates how the State of Qatar was a major marshalling yard in the Arabian Gulf, with trading connections linking China, West Africa, Iraq, Persia, and the West. Moreover, the old Al-Zubarah town shows how an Arabian civilization dealt with urban settlements. The forma urbis shows a remarkable capability of urban planning, with a grid known as "gridiron plan", a type of plan theorized by the Greek Hippodamus of Miletus, in which streets run at right angles to each other. The whole site of "archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape" represents a remarkable example of harmonious coexistence of different cultures and ethnic groups from the Arabian Peninsula. When the site was inhabited, it was a centre where people from all around the Gulf lived, exchanging culture, traditions and running a self-sustained economy based on trading connections. The site "archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape" features the Qatari traditional building technique, whose examples are endangered by the fast urban development of the country. The walls, which are thick to isolate the heat and keep the buildings cool, were built by overlapping raw pieces of coral rock and limestone, joining them with mud mortar and covering them with gypsum-based plaster. This plaster, often decorated with geometric patterns, protected the walls from natural elements such as wind and humidity. The roof is made of four layers. The first consists of a series of "danchal" wood poles, often protected by bitumen. The second is a layer of "basgijl," which are woven bamboo strips. A close net of mangrove branches makes up the third layer, and the roof is then finished with a layer of compressed mud, protecting the buildings from the blazing sun during the hot seasons. The whole site of "archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape" illustrates a sustainable way of land use and is representative of traditional Gulf cultures. Ruins of "madabes" could be found in the site. They are rooms used to produce "debis", which is a date-based syrup at the base of a traditional Gulf diet. These structures are exceptional in demonstrating unique interaction of humans with the environment. The series of old wells surrounding the site shows a sustainable way of using underground water. Moreover, the forts within the site show a traditional way of patrolling the coast. This comprehensive cultural landscape is endangered and would be vulnerable to damaging impact from the planned highway connecting the State of Qatar to Bahrain. This infrastructure would link the southern side of the site and could catalyse speculative but damaging urban development in the area.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:
Al-Zubarah town and its buffer zone is plenty of traces of the ancient Islamic civilisation: its architectonical sytle, its military strategies, its way of living, etc.

7. ENCLOSURES

Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):

*** The “Archaeological site of Al-Zubarah town and its cultural landscape” is the only cultural landscape of Qatar which has been included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.

Bibliography:

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Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.