Samarra Archaeological City


  • Name- Samarra Archaeological City
  • Location- Iraq
  • Year Added to World Heritage List- 2007
  • Criteria- (II)-exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or in a cultural area of the world, on developments in technology or architecture, arts, or landscape design. (III)-to bear unique or exceptional testimony to cultural tradition or to a civilization that is living or has disappeared. (IV)-to be outstanding example or type of building, technological or architectural ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.
  • Total number of sites in country- 3

Basic Site Information

  • Site Size- From North to South is 41.5 km, width varying from 4-8km, overall size is 15,058ha
  • Time Period- 836-892AD
  • This site is said to be from the Abbasid Caliphate. This was the major Islamic empire of the time that extended from Tunisia to Central Asia.

The Samarra Archaeological City was a very powerful capital city of the Islamic empire of Abbasid Caliphate. The site is also located on both sides of the Tigris River. This empire was very large and was in power for many years over a large amount of land in the area. This city was the second largest of the empire after Baghdad which is only 130 km south of this site. What I found interesting about this site is that about 80 percent of the entire site has still not been excavated. This amazes me because we already know so much from the small 20 percent of the site that has been excavated, what can we learn from the other 80 percent? Of the many monuments left on this site, the Great Mosque and the spiritual minaret. These are very special because they are the only evidence remaining of this empire since the Baghdad site lost a lot of their monuments. This site is also special because it retains its original plans as well as art and architecture like carvings and mosaics.

Threats- The Samarra Archaeological City is in danger. It was placed  on the danger list at almost the exact same time that it was put onto the Heritage Center list. The danger that this site is in, I believe is because of the war that we are in the middle of in this area. Since the war has started, the site has been used by many different national forces that are using this area as an operation center. This has put the area in danger of being destroyed almost daily.

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