Qal’at al-Bahrain is a prime example – an artificial mound created by successive layers of human occupation. The formations measuring 300 x 600 m indicate continuous human presence from around 2300 BC to the 16th century AD. About 25% of the area has been excavated, revealing structures of various types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. They testify to the importance of the site, a trading port, for centuries. On top of the 12-meter-high mound stands an impressive Portuguese fortress, which named the entire site qal’a (fortress). The site was the capital of Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations in the region. It contains the richest inventory of the remains of this civilization, known so far only from Sumerian written references.
Year of accreditation: 2005
Year of Minor Boundary Modification: 2008, 2014
Area: 70.4 ha
Buffer zone: 1,311.8 ha
Outstanding Overall Value
Qal’at al-Bahrain: ancient port and capital Dilmun is an archaeological site made up of four main elements: an archaeological museum (an artificial hill formed over time by successive occupations) on 16 hectares, just off the northern coast from Bahrain; a maritime tower about 1600 m to the northwest; a channel less than 16 hectares wide through the coral reef near the sea tower and palm groves. Traditional agricultures and palm groves surround the area throughout the land area of the buffer zone, particularly visible in the west and north, but also appearing in the east and southeast. The hotel is located in the Northern Province, in the district of Al Qalah village on the northern coast, about 5.5 km west of Manama, the current capital of Bahrain.
Qal’at al-Bahrain is an outstanding example of more or less uninterrupted occupation over a period of nearly 4500 years, from around 2300 BC to the present day, on the island of Bahrain. The archaeological site, the largest known in Bahrain, is unique in the entire region of eastern Arabia, and the Persian Gulf is the most complete example currently known of a deep and intact stratigraphic sequence comprising a large part of the periods in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf. It provides a vivid example of the power of Dilmun and his successors during the Tylos and Muslim periods, as evidenced by their control of trade by the Persians. These qualities are reflected in the monumental and defensive architecture of the site, the marvelously preserved urban fabric and the important exceptional discoveries recounted by the excavated archaeologists. The Sea Tower, possibly an old lighthouse, is unique in the region as an example of ancient maritime architecture, and the adjacent ship canal demonstrates the great importance of this city in shipping lanes and maritime trade. throughout antiquity. Qal’at al-Bahrain, considered the capital of the ancient Dilmun Empire and the original port of this long-vanished civilization, was the center of commercial activities associated with the traditional agriculture of the land (represented by the gardens and palm groves dating from Antiquity and still around the site) with maritime exchanges between regions as diverse as the ancient Indus Valley and Mesopotamia (from the 3rd millennium BC. Serving as a hub of economic exchanges , Qal’at al-Bahrain has a very active political and commercial presence throughout the region.The encounter of different cultures has resulted in evidence of the successive monumental and defensive architecture of the site, including an excavated coastal fortress dating from around 3rd century AD and the great fortress dates back to the 16th century, name it Qal’at al-Bahrain, along with its superbly preserved urban texture and diverse and noteworthy finds. The exceptional meanings represent a mixture of languages, cultures and beliefs. For example, a madbasa (architectural element used in the manufacture of date syrup) in the museum is one of the oldest in the world and testifies to the link with the surrounding date forests, representing the continuity of traditional agricultural practices since the 1st millennium. Before our era. The site, located at a very strategic location, is an extremely important part of the political network of the Gulf, playing a very active political role at various times, leaving traces in the different layers of history. Qal’at al-Bahrain is a unique example of an ancient surviving landscape with cultural and natural elements.
Criterion (ii): As an important port city, where peoples and traditions from different parts of the world were known at that time to meet, live and conduct their commercial activities, making it a true meeting point of cultures – all this is reflected in its architecture and development. Moreover, having been invaded and occupied by most major powers and empires for a long time has left its cultural traces in the classes of the people.
Criterion (iii): This site was once the capital of one of the most important ancient civilizations in the region – the Dilmun civilization. As such, this site is the best representation of this culture.
Criterion (iv): The palaces of Dilmun are unique examples of the public architecture of this culture, having an impact on the general architecture of the region. The various fortifications are the best examples of defensive structures from the 3rd century BC to the 16th century AD, all located on one site. The protected palm groves that surround the site are an illustration of the typical landscape and agriculture of the region, dating from the 3rd century BC.
With the expansion of the site boundaries to include a second World Heritage site comprising an old maritime tower and a historic entrance channel (Decision 32 COM 8B.54), the known properties represent values. The value of world prominence is now part of the legacy. The extension of the buffer zone by the same decision to include a visual corridor in the northern bay of the site ensures that the relationship of the two parts of the property to each other and to the sea is maintained. The inclusion of this buffer zone in the National Planning and Development Strategy (2030) as a development exclusion zone adopted by Royal Decree (November 2008) means that the exclusion corridor cannot cross a bridge only at a minimum distance of 3 km from the coast (State Party SoC report, 5 March 2009),
Apart from natural factors that affect the site over time, such as weather, erosion, extreme climates and winds, there are no major impacts due to natural events or human actions. Many of the structures that remain during the excavation have not been altered and have survived for four millennia, with some of the walls still standing at a height of 4.5m. Over 85% of the content is original and completely intact. The surrounding landscape (both land and sea) is preserved and nearby developments, particularly urban ones, do not compromise the visual or physical integrity of the property.
Authenticity is demonstrated by the sequence of enduring occupation, as indicated by the depth of the original stratigraphy, which remains in place throughout the intact part of the museum (less than 15% has been excavated). The original ensemble of ancient urban structures, structures, palm groves and marine structures still exist and can be seen today as representing the site’s Outstanding Universal Value in form, materials and context.
Requirements for protection and management (2011)
The elements of Qal’at al-Bahrain are protected by law (Law 11 of 1995 and Royal Decrees 21 of 1983, 26 of 2006 and 24 of 2008) in Bahrain. The museum is a national monument (Ministerial Decree No. 1, 1989). A zoning plan has been developed, in cooperation with other government agencies, to control the height of surrounding buildings and the nature of future urban development, ensuring that visual and physical integrity is maintained, including visual corridors and marine features added to the area by World Heritage. Committee in 2008 (32 COM 8B.54), and authorizes consultations with the management agencies, the General Directorate of Archeology and Heritage and the General Directorate of Museums under the Ministry of Culture, which oversee potential threats to the monument and oversee its conservation. The General Directorate of Archeology and Heritage must be consulted before undertaking any project threatening an archaeological site (Ministerial Order No. 1 1998). The site is fenced with security on site. Visitor access is managed and monitored by the new on-site museum. The museum plays a very important role in the presentation/interpretation of the site and in raising awareness among visitors, as it is specifically designed to highlight the characteristics of Outstanding Universal Value of the site and the surrounding buffer zone. Currently no excavations are permitted, but there are plans to manage future excavations and an underwater archeology programme, including surveys of ancient canals. The village community located at the southern edge of the village is moved to a new location away from the site.
Map of Qal’at al-Bahrain – ancient trading port and capital Dilmun