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16 May 2010
Burial mounds saved from bulldozers in Bahrain

Demands to bulldoze historic burial mounds in northern Bahrain have been put on hold, giving heritage chiefs time to properly excavate the 4,000-year-old site. Councillors have already secured a budget to build a new road, government homes and a public park for Buri village, which would have resulted in 62 burial mounds near Hamad Town being flattened. However, they have agreed to delay development until teams of archaeologists properly excavate the area, which is a candidate for World Heritage Site status.
     The people of Buri had threatened to excavate the mounds themselves, saying their village was in urgent need of development. However, they have agreed to wait until the area has been excavated. Villagers made the concession after representatives from the Works Ministry and the Culture and Information Ministry visited the area and agreed in principle to build a road, which will have to be rerouted to avoid the burial mounds. That means instead of 62 mounds being demolished, only one could be lost and only if it is authorised by Culture and Information Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa.
     "I have bought the Culture and Information Ministry some time and cooled down boiling residents," Northern Municipal Council chairman and area councillor Yousif Al Boori said. He revealed only one burial mound now stood in the way of the new road, which would cut through the village's new residential area. "It could be excavated within two months as explained to us by ministry officials, in the presence of Works Ministry officials, who have agreed to draw up the new road within two months and present it to the council as the mound gets excavated," he added.
     Bahrain's burial 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 burial 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.

Source: Gulf Daily News (15 may 2010)

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