Burial mounds are world cultural heritage

Bahrain's burial mounds are on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites

At the Moesgaard Museum, the archaeologists are thrilled that Bahrain's burial mounds have been included on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites. The burial mounds were officially included at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Heritage Site, which was held in Azerbaijan's capital Baku.

Since 1953, Moesgaard Museum and Aarhus University have explored Bahrain's unique Bronze Age burial sites, which once consisted of as many as 76,000 mounds. Moesgaard's scientific initiative has, among other things, resulted in several books on the burial mounds.

Enthusiasm at Moesgaard Museum

Curator and Head of Oriental Archeology at Moesgaard, Steffen Terp Laursen, is thrilled that the burial mounds and Dilmun's royal mounds are now on the list of world heritage.

"It is huge and fantastic that both the royal mounds and the tens of thousands of burial mounds finally gain recognition and protection that extend far beyond the borders of Bahrain and Denmark. The mounds constitute a unique treasury of knowledge of the Bronze Age in the region between major world civilizations; Mesopotamia (present Iraq and Syria) and Indus (present India and Pakistan),” says Steffen Terp Laursen.

Since 2010, he has headed excavations of the royal mounds at the village of A’ali in Bahrain and has published a comprehensive thesis on the mounds.

65 years of excavations in Bahrain

It was precisely Bahrain's burial mounds, which in 1953 initiated Moesgaard Museum and Aarhus University expeditions to the Arabian Gulf under the leadership of Professor P.V. Glob. The burial mounds are built by the inhabitants of the Bronze Age kingdom of Dilmun, whose mighty rulers from around 2,000 BC controlled the maritime trade between India and the Middle East. Professor P.V. Glob and T. G. Bibby began excavations of the burial mounds in 1954 alongside excavations of towns and temples.

UNESCO recognition provides protection

Since 2007, Moesgaard Museum, in collaboration with the Bahrain's Ministry of Culture, has focused on scientific excavations of the burial mounds. The preservation of the burial mounds has so far been severely threatened.

Around 1960, there were still 76,000 preserved burial mounds in Bahrain and today there are less than 12,000 left.

"That is why, at the last minute, this amazing phenomenon achieves the protection that comes with UNESCO's list of world heritage sites," says Steffen Terp Laursen.

See the Unesco list here


The Burial Mounds of Bahrain - by Flemming Højlund

The Royal Mounds of 'ali in Bahrain - by Steffen Terp Laursen

For further information, please contact:

Steffen Terp Laursen
Head of department, PhD
Mobile: +45 2344 6513