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Decision : 33 COM 8B.12
Cultural properties - Properties deferred or referred back by previous sessions of the World Heritage Committee - Ruins of Loropéni (Burkina Faso)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-09/33.COM/8B and WHC-09/33.COM/INF.8B1.Add,

2. Inscribes the Ruins of Loropéni, Burkina Faso, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (iii);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief Synthesis

The dramatic and memorable Ruins of Loropéni consist of imposing, tall, laterite stone perimeter walls, up to six metres in height, surrounding a large abandoned settlement. As the best preserved of ten similar fortresses in the Lobi area, part of a larger group of around a hundred stone-built enclosures, they are part of a network of settlements that flourished at the same time as the trans-Saharan gold trade and appear to reflect the power and influence of that trade and its links with the Atlantic coast. Recent excavations have provided radio-carbon dates suggesting the walled enclosure at Loropéni dates back at least to the 11th century AD and flourished between the 14th and 17th centuries, thus establishing it as an important part of a network of settlements.

Criterion (iii): Loropéni is the best preserved example of a type of fortified settlements in a wide part of West Africa, linked to the tradition of gold mining, which seems to have persisted through at least seven centuries. Loropéni, given its size and scope reflects a type of structure quite different from the walled towns of what is now Nigeria, or the cities of the upper reaches of the river Niger which flourished as part of the empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai. It thus can be seen as an exceptional testimony to the settlement response generated by the gold trade.

Integrity and Authenticity

The authenticity of the fortified settlements as ruins is not in doubt. Although the precise history of Loropéni is only recently coming into focus through the recent research programme, and its function still remains in part speculative, the integrity of the monument in terms of its status as the largest and best preserved fortified settlement is satisfactory. In time as more evidence emerges, it may be necessary to consider whether a larger area could encompass more of the attributes that are linked to its use, function and history.

Management and protection requirements

The Committee of Protection and Management for the Ruins of Loropéni, the Scientific Council for the study, conservation and development of the Ruins of Loropéni and the Management Plan which has been implemented since 2005 form a good basis for management of the ruins as a focal point for sustainable development within the local community.

4. Encourages the State Party, should further scientific investigations indicate that the values for which this property has been inscribed may be present over a larger area, to consider the presentation of an extension of a larger boundary for the property, or a series of sites within the State Party that are historically linked to the property, to further increase the integrity and/or authenticity of the Outstanding Universal Value.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Burkina Faso
Properties: Ruins of Loropéni
Year: 2009
Decision Code: 33 COM 8B.12