The site was inscribed in 1981 on the World Heritage List, Criteria III, and was listed at serial number 4 as Historical Monuments of Thatta. The site is located on the outskirts of the historic town of Thatta.
The world’s largest necropolis is spread over approximately 12 km and accommodates a diversity of historic structures – from tomb enclosures to umbrella pavilions, trabeated domed structures to arcuate buildings, some in dressed stone with devotional carving to finely laid brick, some also exhibiting very fine kashi (glazed tile work).
The period that they represent span from 14th century to 17th century, accommodating tombs of sufi saints and princes and kings to ordinary mortals. The remains are of particular significance as a depository of remarkable monuments presenting different periods of Sindh history.
The dynastic clusters include the Sammas spanning from 14th to 16th century, the Arghuns from early 16th to mid 16th century, the Tarkhans from mid 16th to late 16th century and the Mughals from early 17th to early 18th century.
The pictorial catalogue prepared by Heritage Foundation during the Damage Assessment Mission supported by Prince Claus Fund records altogether 61 monuments: 19 monuments (10 brick and 9 stone structures) belonging to the Samma Period, 6 belonging to the Arghun Period (3 brick and 3 stone structures), 16 belonging to the Tarkhan Period (4 brick and 12 stone structures and 20 belonging to the Mughal Period (15 brick and 5 stone monuments. In addition there are innumerable graves, a large number with carved headstones.
Emergency Assistance for Tomb of Samma Noble 1 by Prince Claus Fund
Where a large number of monuments were found to be in a highly deteriorated and damaged state, the tomb of Samma Noble I was found to be among the most highly degraded structures. Being among the earliest extant structures, and built with fragile brick masonry, it is among the most vulnerable structures in the necropolis.
The Tomb of Samma Noble I was listed in the initial listing that took place during the 1950s. Later, it was also part of the list when the Makli necropolis was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The historic structure is among the first brick tombs that were built in the necropolis portraying the construction techniques of the Samma artisans practicing their craft in mid-15th century. It is widely accepted by historians as being among the earliest structures to be built in Thatta, barring the Jamia Masjid and ruins of tomb of Saint Hammad Jamali that also portrays the transitional period at the advent of Islam. A vast majority of population was pur- suing other faiths and, it was at this time that large-scale conversion to Islam was accomplished through the message of tolerance and peace conveyed by the Sufi saints. The saints arrived in the train of Muslim conquerors, and established their hermitages and monasteries at the ne- cropolis. Thus, construction techniques employing arches, vaults, squinches and domes began to be utilized by the Samma builder, who had earlier been unfamiliar with the architectural imagery of arcuate construction.
In the case of the tomb of Samma Noble I, it has been possible to compare the extent of deterioration due to the availability of photographs taken in the 1980s by Suhail Z. Lari, for the book “The Jewel of Sindh: Samma Monuments on Makli Hill” by Suhail Z. Lari and Yasmeen Lari. When comparing the photographs, the level of damage and structural collapse have become evident. It can be said that entire damage could not have been caused due to 2010 rains, however, because of the vulnerable state of the structure, tomb of Samma Noble I was among those historic structures that suffered the greatest damage or were affected by the excessive rains more than some others historic structures.
Due to its highly degraded state, the Prince Claus Fund is providing emergency assistance for its conservation.
On March 11th, a Heritage Foundation team of artisans, mobilized from Khairpur, led by Mr. Naheem Shah, PM, Heritage Foundation, arrived in Makli. The work of providing supports has been completed under the direction of Engr. Mushtaq Dawood.
During this time, samples of mortar was also collected.
On March 10th, work of physical survey of tombs of Samma Noble I and Samma Noble II undertaken.
On March 5th, Ar. Yasmeen Lari, CEO, Heritage Foundation, along with Engr. Mushtaq Dawood visited the site to make a preliminary evaluation of the state structure of Tomb of Samma Noble I.
Because of the highly degraded state of the monument, it was decided to provide temporary supports on a priority basis to those parts identified as being most endangered, in both the tombs of Samma Noble I and II. It was decided that arrangements would be made by Heritage Foundation to provide temporary supports within the next ten days to avoid any mishap during documentation and conservation work.