Karim Hindily the UNESCO representative working with the Ministry of Culture and Information in Bahrain explains: ‘These are the densest concentrations of burial mounds found anywhere in the world from any period.
They are an expression of the funerary practices of the Dilmun and Tylos eras that were prominent periods of trade between Mesopotamia, South Arabia and the Indian subcontinent.’So far a total of 11 sites have been placed on a preliminary list by UNESCO, the preparatory stage for a World Heritage listing.
To date, the Bahrain Fort (Qal’at Al Bahrain) is the country’s sole World Heritage Site, and its listing has provided the impetus for its preservation.
However, in order for the burial mounds to be collectively listed, the government must act to preserve them, something of a touchy subject in recent years.
The aim is not to prevent people from building their own homes but to consider relocation, building around or away from the sites.’All building applications submitted to municipalities near archaeological sites are sent to the Ministry of Culture and Information for approval.
This process has been instigated to halt any development that could affect archaeological sites, and ensures their survival.
Not least because the archaeological digs at Saar, which unearthed an entire 100 by 150 metre village, date from that period.
The mounds remain under threat from property developers.2 Saar digs: Although the exact location of Dilmun, a civilisation referred to in the writings of ancient Iraq, has never been confirmed, Bahrain lays a pretty strong claim to having been one of its focal points.
The windfall for Bahrain’s tourism industry, were the country to get a second World Heritage listing, could be substantial.
Almahari says, ‘This is Bahrain’s legacy, and the inheritance for future generations.’1 Ancient burial mounds: Considered one of the largest graveyards in the world, 170,000 mounds punctuate the landscape between Hamad Town and A’ali and are a stark reminder of Bahrain’s rich history.
These mounds, some of the largest of the Tylos era in Bahrain, are now under the protection of the residents.
Almahari said, ‘In the past archaeology has been generous to people establishing their homes on historical sites.
Salman Almahari, the Chief of Conservation for the Ministry of Culture and Information in Bahrain, is not oblivious to the threat they face.