11 February 2018—UNESCO Office in Kabul | UNESCO reveals its mission to the Minaret of Jam, one of Afghanistan’s most prominent monuments, included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Properties in Danger since 2002. A video to briefly summarize the mission is now available on Youtube at https://youtu.be/PcE10VsqP5Q
In September 2017, with the international assistance from World Heritage Fund and the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, and with the strong endorsement of the Presidential Palace, which provided all of the security and logistic arrangements, a mission took place for a thorough documentation of Minaret of Jam. The mission was critical to assess the current state of the Minaret and surrounding archaeological area.
The Minaret of Jam is located in Ghor Province, Afghanistan, around 200km east of Herat, at the confluence of the Hari Rud and Jam Rud rivers. Its isolated location may have prevented the monument from intentional destruction in the past, but in return, this isolation poses serious challenges today in terms of accessibility, feasibility of conservation/stabilization works and long-term maintenance.
Probably built between 1163 and 1203 during the reign of the Ghurid sovereign Ghyias-ud-Din, its first rediscovery dates back to 1944, when the Minaret is mentioned in an article published by the Afghan History Society in the journal Anis. However, it is only in 1957 that a French archaeological expedition under the auspices of the French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA) was able to identify the location of the Minaret and published its actual discovery in 1958. Since then, the Minaret has been the subject of several specific studies and sectorial interventions, mainly aimed at ensuring its stability.
During this mission in September 2017, the UNESCO experts, along with Afghan officials from the Ministry of Information and Culture, remained on site for four days to complete the collection of field data. The combined technology used to collect the data has allowed the first thorough survey of the inner and outer portions of the Minaret, along with a general survey of the surrounding area. In particular, the use of drones with high-quality cameras offered the possibility of collecting high-qualified photos of the entire external decorations, which will be used as a basis for the preparation of detailed orthophotos.
The comprehensive and detailed onsite documentation created through this mission will be the baseline of a long-term stabilization and conservation plan for the Minaret of Jam. The produced data will be arranged and prepared for the purpose of public awareness of cultural heritage in Afghanistan as well.