Burial Ensembles, BAHRAIN
- Keywords: Bahrain Cultural Landscape, burial ensembles, mound field, Dilmun, Tylos, Hamad, Umm-Jidr, Dar Kulayb, Karzakkan, Buri, Wadi as-Sail, Janabiyah, The burial complexes of Saar, Shakhurah, Al Hajar, Jannusan, Ali.
1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES
1.1 National and International Classification Lists
***Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos Cultural Landscape is listed in the “Tentative List of UNESCO” (Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos) in category: Cultural, with the date of submission: 29/05/2008 and the criteria: (iii). Also Hamad Town Tumuli Moundfield is listed in the “Tentative List of UNESCO” (Hamad Town Tumuli Moundfield) in category: Cultural, with the date of submission: 25/09/2001 and category: Cultural
1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology
Organically evolved landscapesRelict (or fossil) landscape
1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med
*** The Dilmun and Tylos Burial Mounds are eleven necropolis areas on the main island of Bahrain dating back to the Dilmun, the Umm an-Nar Culture and later eras. Known since ancient times as an island with a very large number of burials, the (originally) quite a number of square kilometres of mounds were said to be one of the largest cemeteries in the ancient world. Hamad town mound field is situated between the town of Ar Rifa’a al Gharbi, the village Buri and lies directly south of the large tumuli field at Ali. The sites are proposed separated in the Tentative List of UNESCO with the category Cultural, but Med-O-Med has decided to give one more step in classifying both sites as Cultural Landscapes. Inside the Dilmun and Tylos Burial Mounds there is one archaeological site, the city of Ali and its surroundings, which is specifically named as a Cultural Landscape (“Cultural Landscape of Ali”) by UNESCO. Really, the mounds of the graves have modify the natural landscape over centuries. There are also important religious and historical values that must be considered to assess. Amad town mound field is considered separately, but in this inventory Med-O-Med choose to put them (Dilmun/Tylos and Amad) together in the same file, because of their points in common. In Med-O-Med point of view there are enough reasons to consider both sites as one, and this one as a Cultural Landscape, attending to its natural and cultural herirage: -Its Natural heritage components: The cemeteries are concentrated in the north of the island, on the hard stony areas slightly above the arable farming soils – the south of the island is mainly sandy and desert-like. Recent studies have shown that the estimated/approximately 350,000 ancient grave mounds could have been solely produced by the local population over a number of thousands of years (the graves are not all of the same era). These burial ensembles consist of tumuli of various forms and styles, and can vary considerably in size in different areas of the moundfield, forming fields of different levels of density that give a particular shape to the landscape of the north of the country. -Its Cultural heritage components: The Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos and Hamad Town Tumuli Moundfield are the expression of funerary practices of these civilizations which flourished in Bahrain from the mid 3rd millennium B.C. till the mid 1st millennium A.D. and which played essential roles in the organization of trade between Mesopotamia, South Arabia and the Indian subcontinent. There are 11 sites found in the Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos: ten of these eleven sites are archaeological areas consisting of fields of graves which were built by the inhabitants of what is currently the island of Bahrain, between the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C. and the middle of the Ist millennium A.D.: The burial mound field of Umm-Jidr, The burial mound field of Dar Kulayb, The burial mound field of Karzakkan, The burial mound field of Buri, The Burial mound field of Wadi as-Sail, The burial mound field of Janabiyah, The burial complexes of Saar, The burial mound field of Shakhurah, The grave field of Al Hajar, and The burial mound field of Jannusan. The eleventh site (The cultural landscape of Ali) is called a cultural landscape by UNESCO. There are much larger grave sites in A’ali, too, called “Royal Tombs” or “Royal Mounds”, mountains of sand and rock often taller than the two- and three-story cinder-block homes people live in. It appears that all of the Royal Tombs have been looted, turned to trash heaps years ago. The village has grown up around them, creating an exceptional interaction between a contemporary urban pattern and funeral elements belonging to the Bronze Age. Each of the sites composing the proposed serial property provides essential archaeological and scientific data defining the unique funerary practices of the Dilmun and Tylos civilizations. Because of that Med-O-Med, using the UNESCO categories of Cultural Landscapes, has resolved to classify the Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos as a Cultural Landscape in the second category: “organically evolved landscape”, specifically in the subcategory: “a relict (or fossil) landscape “.
2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY
- Current denomination Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos.
- Current denomination Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos.
- Original denomination Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos.
- Popular denomination Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos.
- Address: Bahrain is a collection of 36 islands in the Persian Gulf, though most of its 730,000 residents live clustered around the capital, Manama. This site is located in Western Bahrain. Contact Addres: Culture & National Heritage Sector P.O.Box 2199 - Manama
- Geographical coordinates: -The burial mound field of Umm-Jidr N26 01 0.62 E50 31 2.31 -The burial mound field of Dar Kulayb N26 04 30.94 E50 30 18.91 -The burial mound field of Karzakkan N26 07 17.92 E50 29 56.73 -The burial mound field of Buri N26 08 24.51 E50 30 11.66 The Burial mound field of Wadi as-Sail N26 07 28.92 E50 31 1.74 -The cultural landscape of Ali N26 08 56.44 E50 30 40.91 -The burial mound field of Janabiyah N26 10 49.10 E50 28 23.67 The burial complexes of Saar N26 10 47.31 E50 29 27.04 -The burial mound field of Shakhurah N26 12 49.29 E50 30 3.25 -The grave field of Al Hajar N26 13 0.06 E50 30 53.81 -The burial mound field of Jannusan N26 13 39.90 E50 29 29.70 -Hamad town mound field.
- Area, boundaries and surroundings: The "Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos" are a seriaI property formed by eleven sites located on the western part of the island and composing together a chain which extends over 25 km from the centre of the country to its northern coast. Hamad town mound field is situated between the town of Ar Rifa'a al Gharbi, the village Buri and lies directly south of the large tumuli field at Ali.
3. LEGAL ISSUES
- Owner: Bahrain Government.
- Legal protection: Ministry of Culture and Information have been the driving force behind trying to preserve and promote Bahrain’s past. Even though nowadays the protection of the Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos and Hamad Town Tumuli Moundfield is not guaranteed.
The Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos, and Hamad Town Tumuli Moundfield are the expression of funerary practices of these civilizations which flourished in Bahrain from the mid 3rd millennium B.C. till the mid 1st millennium A.D. and which played essential roles in the organization of trade between Mesopotamia, South Arabia and the Indian subcontinent. These burial ensembles consist of tumuli of various shapes, forming fields of different levels of density. Among these fields are the densest concentrations of burial mounds found anywhere in the world from any period. The tumuli illustrate globally unique characteristics with regard to both burial chamber construction and remains of burial rituals.
- Oldest initial date /building and inauguration date: A Danish group in the 1950s was excavating at Qal'at al-Bahrain, the capital city of the Bronze Age when they opened some tumuli and discovered items dating to around 4100 - 3700 BP of the same culture. Many others began to excavate more of the graves, providing us with a view of the construction and content on these graves.
5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
5.1. Natural heritage
- Heritage: Archaeological
- Geography: High Mountain
- Site topography: Natural
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:
In all the territory there are areas where burial mounds are stretching into the desert as far as the eye could see. It first sight one thinks that they must be the detritus from some huge modern construction project and that dumper trucks have left thousands of mounds of unwanted spoil, but actually, each one represents a single or family burial. Most of the mounds are 1-2 mtrs in height but, in some areas, there are enormous hills which tower over the surrounding houses. Their age covers the period “mid 3rd millennium B.C. till the mid 1st millennium A.D. This is something really unique all over the world.
5.2. Cultural Heritage
A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general
Art pieces, artesany, furniture and other elements:
See point 5.2.8. Archaeological components.
In the case of gardens: original and current style:It is not the case.
B) Related to ancient remains
- Archaeological components:
*** The “Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos” are a seriaI property formed by eleven sites located on the western part of the island and composing together a chain which extends over 25 km from the centre of the country to its northern coast. The ten grave fields and the cultural landscape of Ali can be briefly described as follows, in order of geographical location from South to North and West to East: -Umm Jidr is a mound field lying on the slopes of a rocky hill. This field features both mounds of Early Type (flat mounds of rocky fill and chambers without cap stones from c. 2300 to c. 2050 B.C.) and mounds of Late Type (conical mounds of earth fill and chambers with cap stones from c. 2050 to c. 1600 B.C. Towards the east and south this mound field is lying in its original environment which has only been modelled and transformed by natural phenomena since 4000 years. -Dar Kulavb, Karzakkan and Buri are large mound fields encompassing Dilmun mounds of Late Type, each field with an exceptional density. These three archaeological areas constitute together a high concentration of mound fields within a relatively limited territory, entirely surrounded by the contemporary urban fabric of Hamad Town. -Wadi as-Sail is a Dilmun mound of Early Type field. The mounds are lying scattered on the plateaus above the “wadi” and on the slopes running down to the “wadi” bed. -Cultural landscape of Aali: This complex site is the result of the interaction between two major elements: the Ali burial mound field and the Ali village, which covers the area north of the mound field and the northernmost part of the mound field itself. The Ali mound field is a large mound field of primarily Late Type divided into two parts by a north-south running highway. At the north end of the burial mound field is a group of huge mounds, called “Royal Mounds”, which have during the growth of the village become part of its urban fabric, so that the immediate neighbourhood of these mounds has been utilized for habitation and small industries, e.g. pottery and lime production. -Janabivah: is a mound field comprising five so-called Chieftain Mounds, i.e. mounds with two-tiered chambers, large diameters (c. 20 m) and heights (c. 4-5 m), plus a few other mounds. -Saar: is a field of two wide flat tumulis each composed of more than a thousand closely built tombs, consisting of chambers separated from each other by interconnected curved stone walls. -Shakhurah: is a field consisting of mounds of Tylos type, i.e. irregular mounds of varying sizes, covering over up to several hundred burial chambers made from roughly cut stones covered by plaster. -Al-Hajar: is a field consisting of around 150 sub-terranean tomb chambers cut into the rock and covered with cap stones. The earliest of the tombs date from the Dilmun period, but many of the tombs were re-used and re-built in the Middle and Late Dilmun periods, c. 1600-300 B.C. Besides, the al-Hajjar mound field also features a number of Tylos mounds. -Janussan: is a field consisting of 8 huge mounds, some more than 10 m high, lying in an approximately east-west oriented row. Also the Amad town mound field is a very interesting archaecological site where can be observed the burial tumuli in goo conditions. Each of the tumuli is composed of a central stone chamber that is enclosed by a low ring-wall and covered by earth and gravel. Size of the mounds varies, but the majority of them measure 15 by 30 ft (4.5 by 9 m) in diameter and are 3–6 ft (1–2 m) high. The smaller mounds usually contain only one chamber. The chambers are usually rectangular with one or two alcoves at the northeast end. Occasionally there are additional pairs of alcoves along the middle of the larger chambers. Although the chambers usually contained one burial each, some contain several people and the secondary chambers often contain none. The deceased were generally laid with their head in the alcove end of the chamber and laying on their right side. The bodies were accompanied by few items. There were a few pieces of pottery and occasionally shell or stone stamp seals, baskets sealed with asphalt, ivory objects, stone jars, and copper weapons. The skeletons are representative of both sexes with a life expectancy of approximately 40 years.
- Traces in the environment of human activity: ***The ten grave fields and the cultural landscape of Ali, and the Hamad Town Tumuli Moundfield are samples of an ancient way of life which has left its mark in the environment.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values
- Population, ethnic groups: Nowadays unhabited by arabic people.
- Languages and dialects: Arabic
Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:In just a few decades petrodollars and modernity have whipsawed Arab states in the Persian Gulf (including Bahrain) elevating living standards while eroding practices that have defined identity for generations. Fishing and pearl diving have been replaced by petrochemicals and financial services. English has challenged Arabic as the language of business. Traditional crafts have become novelties. What little architecture of the past existed has often been bulldozed to make way for the glass and steel skylines of the present. “It is a struggle between old and new, between cultural identity and recent developments that confront it, between authenticity and modernity,” But another problem is the integrity and preservation of the sites. Bahrain faces similar problems to other countries in arriving at a balance between the needs of development and preservation – the island is short of development land, has an increasing population and is not as rich as other Gulf states. In addition The Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos faces a religious dimension to these tensions: some religious fundamentalists consider the burial ensemble of the site unIslamic and have called for them to be concreted over for housing. During a parliamentary debate on 17 July 2005, the leader of the salafist Asalah party, Sheikh Adel Mouwdah, said "Housing for the living is better than the graves for the dead. We must have pride in our Islamic roots and not some ancient civilisation from another place and time, which has only given us a jar here and a bone there." The larger mounds of the Aali (Ali) mound field for instance are not well preserved – they are situated among housing and the burial chambers of some are used for play.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:
-The burial mound field of Umm-Jidr. -The burial mound field of Dar Kulayb. -The burial mound field of Karzakkan. -The burial mound field of Buri. -The Burial mound field of Wadi as-Sail. -The cultural landscape of Ali. -The burial mound field of Janabiyah. -The burial complexes of Saar. -The burial mound field of Shakhurah. -The grave field of Al Hajar. -The burial mound field of Jannusan. -Hamad Town Tumuli Moundfield.
Authenticity:The attributes which express the authenticity of the Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos are (Tentative List of UNESCO): the form and design, the material and substance, the function, the location and the density. -Form and design: despite plundering which affected most burial mounds in ancient times -easily observable on aerial photographs as small depressions on top of the mounds -and despite archaeological excavation which modified the shape of a small number of mounds, all the tombs of the Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos still present their original shapes modified only by natural erosion. -Material and substance: all the tombs built during the Dilmun and Tylos periods were made of different kinds of limestone, earth, plaster and wood, as shown during the excavations which were launched in the late 19th century and which did not reveal any later modification or addition of materials. In the case of the site of Al-Hajar, Early Dilmun graves were reused and rebuilt in the Middle and Late Dilmun and Tylos periods. After the new burial types were constructed, no modification or addition of materials occurred. -Function: all the burial mounds are still tombs with their burial chambers, fragments of skeletons and burial goods. Some mounds in the village of Ali have been used since the 1950's as kilns for the production of pottery and lime, showing an interesting human appropriation and contributing to the design of the exceptional cultural landscape of Aali. This secondary use of the mounds did not affect their primary function as burial chambers. -Location: all the graves of the Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos are located in their original position. -Density: the density is expressed at two levels: an exceptional density of fields in a limited area despite the removal in recent years of a certain number of mound fields, and a unique concentration of burial mounds within each field, the highest in the world, unchanged since the fields were formed.
Universality:***Med-O-Med subscribe to UNESCO criteria (Tentative List (iii)) for the Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos Cultural Landscape: iii) The burial ensembles of the ancient civilizations of Dilmun and Tylos bear a unique testimony to their funerary traditions. This unique testimony consists of: -The only mound field which illustrates the evolution from Early to Late Type of Dilmun tombs and the only remaining mound field in a relatively undisturbed landscape (the site of Umm Jidr). -The only remaining example of a type of landscape where the Early Type mounds are lying scattered along a wadi, a type of landscape which used to dominate the centre of Bahrain around Rifa al-Gharbi (the site ofWadi as-Sail). -The highest level of density of burial mounds in one field and the highest density of mound fields in a relatively limited territory (the sites of Dar Kulayb, Karzakkan and Buri). -The expression, through the variation of mound types, of the social structure of the Dilmun civilization (the site of Ali) and the constitution, over time, of a unique cultural landscape resulting from the interaction between the Ali mound field and the Ali village, where the contemporary urban fabric surrounds the so-called "Royal Mounds", with cases of appropriation of sorne burial mounds for human activities (the culturallandscape of Ali). -A unique ensemble consisting of two burial complexes (the site of Saar). -Five large, two-tiered chambered, so-called "Chieftain Mounds" (the site of Janabiyah). -A group of rock-cut, subterranean Dilmun tombs re-used in later periods and a number of Tylos mounds (the site of Al Hajjar). -The largest field of Tylos mounds (the site of Shakhurah). -The largest Tylos mounds located on an east-west orientated line (the site of Jannusan).
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:As the Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos are the expression of funerary practices of these civilizations which flourished in Bahrain from the mid 3rd millennium B.C. till the mid 1st millennium A.D., there are not values linked to the Islamic civilisation.
Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):
*** Burial Ensembles of Dilmun and Tylos Cultural Landscape is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Algeria which are included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.
http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5369/ hc.unesco.org/uploads/activities/documents/activity-604-5.pdf http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/t5369.html http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/world/middleeast/18bahrain.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 http://dilmun-times.com/?p=18662 http://en.goldenmap.com/Dilmun_Burial_Mounds -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara , Italy. -UNESCO. (2011). Human Evolution: Adaptations, Dispersals and Social Developments (HEADS) World Heritage Thematic Programme
Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.