Decision : CONF 205 V.206-211
Ancient Thebes with is Necropolis (Egypt)
V.206 The Secretariat reported to the Bureau on the findings of the recent mission to Thebes/Qurnah by an ICOMOS expert to investigate on the on-going relocation of the inhabitants of the village, and subsequent demolition of their houses. It was pointed out that the issues in Qurnah were of a twofold nature. On the one hand, ICOMOS was requested to clarify the extent of the threats posed by the village to the exceptional archaeological heritage of the site, which justified its inscription in the first place; and on the other hand, to assess the cultural and ethnological value of the village.
V.207 ICOMOS recalled the fact that extensive looting had been carried out on the site in previous years by the local inhabitants. It stressed that the current demolitions were carried out in a piecemeal way, without any consideration for the quality of the buildings. ICOMOS equally stressed the sociological nature of the problem and recommended a solution whereby residents in the area were entrusted as custodians of the buildings.
V.208 The Bureau took note of the report prepared by the ICOMOS expert, and stressed the need to reduce the overall population of the village of Qurnah; to ensure a decent standard of life to inhabitants who wish to stay as the official wardens of the site; to enhance and protect the traditional character of the built environment from the present chaotic development; and to record and preserve the potential archaeological remains lying under the soil from damage resulting from urban waste and infrastructure.
V.209 The Bureau recommended that the Egyptian authorities freeze the on-going unplanned demolitions of houses at the village of Qurnah and to request technical assistance from the World Heritage Fund to prepare a Management Plan for the site, according to the terms of reference outlined in the ICOMOS report.
V.210 The Plan should determine: 1) the archaeological areas which must be explored and protected; 2) the houses which should be conserved and the conditions required (building materials, management of water, etc.) to allow some residents to continue living in the village; 3) visiting trails and the use of those constructions which would be left vacant further to the assessment of the potential for important archaeological strata; and 4) the appropriate location of functions and activities which are not compatible with the safeguarding of the site (commerce etc.).
V.211 Furthermore, the Bureau recommended that the preparation of this Plan be an opportunity to improve local capacity in site management and urban conservation.