June 25, 2013

0698 IRAQ - The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities (UNESCO WHS)

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is made up of seven components: three archaeological sites (the archaeological cities of Uruk, Ur and Tell Eridu, which form part of the remains of the Sumerian settlements that developed in southern Mesopotamia between the 4th and the 3rd millennium BCE in the marshy delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) and the Ahwar of Southern Iraq, also known as the Iraqi Marshlands, one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, in an extremely hot and arid environment. 

The Mesopotamian Marshes are a wetland area located in southern Iraq and in southwestern Iran, divided into three major areas, separate but adjacent: the Central Marshes (between the Tigris and Euphrates), the Hawizeh Marshes (east of the Tigris) and the Hammar Marshes (south of the Euphrates). It is a rare aquatic landscape in the desert, providing habitat for the Marsh Arabs and important populations of wildlife. The marshes are home to 40 species of bird and several species of fish plus demarcating a range limit for a number of avifauna species.

Their primary inhabitants are the Marsh Arabs (also known as the Maʻdān), the descendants of ancient Sumerians, as their civilization dates back 5000 years. They live in secluded villages of elaborate reed houses, often only reached by boat. Fish, rice cultivation, water buffalo and other resources are used in their daily lives.In the 1950s, there were an estimated 500,000 Marsh Arabs, but shortly afterwards began draining of portions of the marshes to reclaim land for agriculture and oil exploration.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, during the presidency of Saddam Hussein, this work was expanded and accelerated to evict Shia Muslims. Before 2003, the marshes had 10% of their original size, the population being reduced to about 20,000. Following the 2003 Iraq invasion, a part of the 80,000-120,000 Marsh Arabs who fled in Iran have begun to return. At the same time, the marshes have partially recovered, but drought along with upstream dam construction and operation in Turkey, Syria and Iran have hindered the process.

Comprising members of many different tribes and tribal confederations, such as the Āl Bū Muḥammad, Ferayghāt, Shaghanbah and Banī Lām, the Maʻdān had developed a unique culture centred around the marshes' natural resources. Their society was divided into two main groups by occupation: one group who bred domestic buffalo, while others cultivated crops. Some of them were involved in fishing, but the large-scale fishing using nets was until recent times regarded as a dishonourable profession.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Falcons, issued on December 20, 2012, and comprising four stamps:
Gyrfalcon / Falco rusticolus (250 IQD)
Lanner Falcon / Falco biarmicus (500 IQD)
Saker Falcon / Falco cherrug (750 IQD)
Peregrine Falcon / Falco peregrinus (1000 IQD) - It's on the postcard 0698

Mesopotamian Marshes - Wikipedia
Marsh Arabs - Wikipedia

Ssender: Bilal Al-Bakri (direct swap)
Sent from Mosul (Iraq), on 07.05.2013 

1 comment:

  1. WOW!!A great written and stamped (beautiful stamp ^__^)! postcard from Iraq!!