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Myanmar’s three ancient ‘Pyu’ cities placed on world heritage list

M yanmar’s three ancient cities of Pyu culture have been listed into the World Heritage List for the first time, UNESCO has reported.

According to a statement of the UN Educa-tional, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage Committee, the three Myanmar ancient cities of Hanlin, Beikthano and Sri Kestra with brick walls and moats were put into the list during the 38th session of the committee held in Doha of Qatar in June. Myanmar submitted the request for the three cities to be listed as far back as October 1996.

The three ancient cities are located in the vast irrigated landscape of the dry zone of the Ayeyawaddy River Basin and reflect the Pyu Kingdom which was prosperous for over a millennia between 200 BC and 900 AD. The three cities have been partly excavated but much more excavation works remains for features such as palace citadels, buri-al grounds and early industrial production sites as well as monumental brick Buddhist stupas, partly standing walls and water man-agement features, some of which are still in use and which underpinned the organised intensive agriculture of that era.

Hanlin which was excavated in 1904, 1929-30 and 1962-67, had a rectangular city wall of brick of 3km by 1.5 km dimensions with a palace site at the centre. Beikthano was en-closed by 3 km quadrangular city walls and gateways and was excavated in 1959-63. Sri Kestra, the largest of the Pyu cities, was en-closed by a circular city wall in brick with a diameter of 4.4 km, according to the report.

Ancient Pyu people spoke a language closely related to Myanmar with stone inscriptions found in some of their monuments provid-ing the only knowledge or evidence of this language. The Pyu culture is characterized by specific artifacts of coins , ceramic and metalwork and archaeological evidence con-firms the emergence of Buddhism in Myan-mar during the Pyu period.

In addition, the cultural relics and religious buildings located in Natma Taung National Park are reportedly under consideration by UNESCO to be also designated as world her-itage sites.