The ancient city of Babylon has finally received UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition, following decades of lobbying by the Iraqi government.
The archaeological city ruins of Babylon was famous for its Hanging Gardens, celebrated to be amongst the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and was first referenced in a clay tablet from the 23rd century BC.
Iraqi President Barham Salih welcomed the news stating that the remarkable site can now return to its “rightful place”.
This was followed by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who also expressed his rapture towards the honourable decision.
“Mesopotamia is truly the pillar of humanity’s memory and the cradle of civilisation in recorded history,” he proudly praised.
The precious site has suffered a great deal in recent years. First, after the Gulf War when Saddam Hussein constructed an extravagant modern palace for himself overlooking the main site and later during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, used as a station base by US and Polish troops. It was during this time that widespread damage occurred.
Iraq is a historically rich region, repleted with thousands of archaeological sites across the country. Many of the ancient sites have been heavily damaged or pillaged during the brutal three-year-rule of ISIS, which was reported to be defeated in 2017 by President Trump.
The decision was made on Friday 5 July, by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, for the site’s significance within Babylon and Mesopotamian civilisation.
Since 1983, the Iraqi government had been lobbying for the 4,000-year-old site to be added to the United Nations’ prestigious list. Now recognised as a protected site, the legendary city is likely to generate greater tourism and provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.
Babylon, about 55 miles south of Baghdad, was once the centre of a sprawling empire, renowned for its towers and mud brick temples.
In a statement released by UNESCO, explaining their decision, they acknowledged the significance of the priced site.
“The (ancient) city…inspired artistic, popular and religious culture on a global scale,” announced UNESCO.
However, UNESCO also warned that the site is in an “extremely vulnerable condition” and requires urgent conservation. The Iraqi government has since stated it would allocate funds to maintain and protect the historic site.