Iraqi marshlands


Le Corbusier chapel

PICTURES: © Jasim Al-Asady/© FLC/ADAGP

Iraqi wetlands believed by some to have been the location of the Garden of Eden and a modernist chapel in France are among the most recent additions to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The UN cultural organisation announced this week that marshlands of southern Iraq, also known as the Ahwar marshlands, have been included on the list. The listed site encompasses four separate wetland marsh areas as well as the remains of the ancient cities of Uruk and Ur - birthplace of the Biblical figure Abraham - as well as the Tell Eridu archaeological site.

The marshlands were ordered drained in the 1990s by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to prevent them being used as cover for rebel groups but they have been partially revived since his overthrow in 2003 under a major restoration program.

Meanwhile, the Chapelle Notre-Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France, is one of 17 buildings included on the list in an entry recognising the work of modernist Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. The chapel, the latest in a string of religious buildings on the site, was completed in 1954 and designed to reflect the history of the location.

The two listings were among 12 sites or groups of sites of special cultural or physical significance added to UNESCO's World Heritage List earlier this week.