Regarding this year's nomination of the "Qanats of Iran"
- there is 1 aspect which I currently don't understand and (if we get there!!) will be trying to discover more about!! The Iranian T List entry is specifically and solely for "The Qanats of Gonabad" (and has been on that list since 2007) but, of the 11 qanats chosen for nomination, only 1 is situated in Gonabad (plus another c70kms away at Ferdows in NE Iran). The others are located further south around Yazd (2), Kerman (1), Bam (2) and Esfahan province (3). As far as I can make out the 2 in Bam are also already inscribed as part of the "Cultural Landscape of Bam"! (Bam, by the way, is over 900kms from Gonabad, Isfahan over 800 and Yazd/Kerman over 600, so these are no "minor" changes" to the choice of qanats!)
It will be interesting to see what ICOMOS might have to say about this expansion of the nomination. So far I haven't been able to discover any difference in the "type" of Qanat in the different areas although I have found references to the fact that those around Gonabad are particularly long and deep. When Oman got its Aflaj inscribed it managed to identify different technologies in use according to the geology and distance in order to help justify the serial approach in its case. Another potential aspect is "age". Apparently many of the thousands of qanats operational in Iran today are "relatively" recent and dating of others can be difficult.
Iran could of course have wanted (like many nominations from other countries) to spread its nomination around within the country for purposes of tourism and pride - but it would surely still need to convince ICOMOS that a serial nomination of that nature/size was justified. But Yazd certainly seems to have positioned itself as the capital of "Qanat tourism" with its Water Museum, as in the above video, and would seem to have a strong claim for inclusion (though it is also on Iran's T List in its own right as an historic town)!
I may be being "over suspicious", but I also wonder if the dilution of Gonabad's T List entry has anything to do with the fact that Gonabad is an historic centre of Sufism in Iran and the attitude of the Shia theocracy who have ruled in Iran since the revolution which created the "Islamic Republic", towards Sufi orders has been "mixed". The inscribed "Sufi" site of Ardabil might well be the home of the Sufi Safavids who "converted" Iran to Shiism in the 16th C but that doesn't mean that the government is totally relaxed about all manifestations of Sufism - many of which they appear to regard as "unorthodox" and unacceptable. See this article dated 2009 about government sponsored attacks on Sufi shrines -including those in Gonabad - http://www.payvand.com/news/10/mar/1055.html
. The place of Sufism in modern Iran is another aspect I will be trying to follow up on.
This article about Qanats as, originally, an Iranian invention which diffused across the M East and N Africa in a number of different forms and titles might be of interest - http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/qanats/
.It will also be interesting to see how much, if any, Iran makes of any "claim to primacy" in the development of Qanat technology in its Nomination. The issue of comparability with the existing Omani Aflaj inscription is going to have to be addressed by both Iran and ICOMOS! Of course -if Europe can have multiple Gothic cathedrals, Monasteries etc etc it should be perfectly possible for Iran, Oman and other countries to inscribe multiple underground water courses! In fact, Iran appears to be rivalling the Netherlands as a "Master of Water Management" in its WHS inscriptions (albeit from a different perspective of course) as it already has Shushtar and the Persian Gardens which include that aspect as a significant feature.