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30 August 2009
Ancient burial mounds to be razed in Bahrain

Ancient burial mounds in a Bahraini village, which the government hoped to have recognised as a World Heritage Site, will be bulldozed to make way for a new road, houses and a public park. Councillors have successfully argued that 62 mounds in Buri, which date back as far as 4,000 years, were standing in the way of development. However, heritage chiefs are insisting on excavating the area, near Hamad Town, before allowing the bulldozers in. Any mound found to be of particular historical significance will be fenced off, but the rest will be flattened.
     Northern Municipal Council chairman and area councillor Yousif Al Boori argued that building on top of the mounds was in the best interests of his constituents. "Finally, we will have our projects back on track after a year of waiting for the Culture and Information Ministry to meet us. The ministry will survey the area, fencing off mounds it believes should not be excavated, while giving permits to remove the others. This is not the first time mounds will be bulldozed - a clear example is neighbouring A'ali, where urbanisation has swept away most of the mounds."
     Bahrain's mounds date back to the Dilmun civilisation and can be traced back to the middle of the third millennium BCE. An application to recognise 11 mound locations, stretching 25km from the centre of the country to the northern coast, as a World Heritage Site was submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) last May. That included the Buri mounds, which along with those in Dar Kulayb and Karzakan were described in Bahrain's application as: "The highest level of density of burial mounds in one field and the highest density of mound fields in a relatively limited territory."
     Bahrain was hoping the mounds would qualify for World Heritage Site status. It argued that each of the 11 sites "provides essential archaeological and scientific data defining the unique funerary practices of the Dilmun and Tylos civilisations". However, the Works Ministry has allocated a budget for a new road linking Buri with the Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway. A major project has been planned in the area by the Housing Ministry, while the Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry intends to build a public park. All three projects have been put on hold for over a year, but have finally been given the all clear by Culture and Information Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa.

Source: Gulf Daily News (23 August 2009)

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