Factbox: Endangered heritage sites in and around Iraq

Wed May 23, 2012 12:38pm EDT
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(Reuters) - A newly-extended oil pipeline that passes through the ancient city of Babylon, once home of the Hanging Gardens, has sparked a row between archaeology officials and the oil ministry, part of a larger debate over how to preserve Iraq's heritage.

Before being reopened to visitors in 2008, Babylon was used by U.S. and coalition forces as a base and suffered the ravages of war - troops parked tanks and weaponry at the site.

Here is a look at some other endangered sites around the region:


Samarra is the site of a powerful Islamic capital city that ruled over the provinces of the Abbasid Empire extending from Tunisia to Central Asia for a century.

Samarra is a pilgrimage centre mainly for Shi'ite Muslims. The shrine to Ali al-Hadi and Hassan al-Askari, the 10th and 11th imams, is one of the holiest of Shi'ism. It was built in the 10th century, when Samarra was the seat of the Abbasid caliphate, and underwent a number of renovations, including the addition of a gilded dome in 1905.

However in 2006, the golden dome of the al-Askari Mosque, and later a pair of minarets, were destroyed by al-Qaeda insurgents. In July 2007, when the clock tower was blown up, the site was finally placed on the UNESCO endangered list. Authorities began rebuilding the shrine in 2008. The new golden dome, its most distinctive feature, is now nearly complete.


The ancient city of Hasankeyf, built on and around the banks of the Tigris river in southeastern Turkey, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world, spanning some 10,000 years.   Continued...