1.         Abu Mena (Egypt) (C 90)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   2001-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

(see Document WHC-01/CONF.208/4)

The Committee decided the inscription of Abu Mena on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and requested the Egyptian authorities to co-ordinate with all the competent national institutions, and the World Heritage Centre, with a view to rapidly identifying the necessary corrective measures to ensure the safeguarding of the site.

(see Document WHC-01/CONF.208/24)

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

(voir le document WHC-01/CONF.208/4)

Le Comité a décidé l’inscription d’Abou Mena sur la Liste du patrimoine mondial en péril et a demandé aux autorités égyptiennes de travailler en coordination avec toutes les institutions nationales compétentes et le Centre du patrimoine mondial, afin de définir rapidement les mesures correctives nécessaires permettant d’assurer la sauvegarde du site.

(voir le document WHC-01/CONF.208/24)

Corrective measures identified

[As identified by the November 2005 mission]

a) Carry out a rapid condition survey of all excavated remains and urgent conservation measures in order to provide protection to structures during the vibration and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment;

b) Establish the definitive boundaries of the World Heritage site and its buffer zone;

c) Carry out a geophysical survey over the entire site (including the buffer zone);

d) Lower the water table by means of drainage ditches and pipes, inside and around the archaeological area;

e) Establish an efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones;

f) Prepare a conservation plan, defining short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and establishing technical parameters (materials, techniques, etc);

g) Undertake consultations with stakeholders with the objective of preparing a management plan, to include research, presentation and interpretation, the role of stakeholders (e.g. the Mar Mena community), staffing, sponsorship, visitor facilities, access, etc.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Following the November 2005 mission, the State Party is to propose a time-table for the work to be undertaken. The completion of the lowering of the water table is expected in about three years. The survey and urgent consolidation measures should be carried out immediately, prior to the heavy drainage works. All the benchmarks should be reached by the end of 2009.

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 7,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

September 2002: expert hydrologist; November 2005: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Raising groundwater level

b) Lack of consolidation, engineering and management measures

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

At its 29th Session in 2005, the Committee urged the State Party to adopt long-term and sustainable measures with all the concerned national institutions, and to invite a joint mission of the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS to:

a) assess the situation of the property, both in terms of the state of conservation of the archaeological remains and in terms of the hydrological issue;

b) evaluate the loss of Outstanding Universal Value of the property and of its integrity;

c) review the proposed project;

d) determine the necessary steps towards the implementation of the recommendation, including the setting up of benchmarks with a time frame for their fulfilment, the establishment of an emergency plan while the project was taking place, and the formulation of proposals for a buffer zone ; and

e) provision of the necessary elements to orient the Committee for recommending a programme of corrective measures.

The joint World Heritage Centre-ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property in November 2005. The mission noted that:

Engineering aspects

Protecting the site from rising groundwater requires the lowering of the water table that is at the present time rising as a result of intensive irrigation in the nearby areas, supplied by the main canals coming from the Nile. The water table should be lowered at least 5 metres. The Egyptian Ministry of Culture has developed a project, aimed at lowering the water table by means of drainage ditches and pipes, inside and around the archaeological area. Completion is expected in about three years. The project is well designed and promises to be effective (work on the project began in December 2005). The operating conditions should be considered along with more general aspects of the management of water resources in a very large area of Egypt.

Economic and political aspects must be considered because a large amount of financial resources will be required, not only in the implementation phase, but also in the long-term working conditions. Moreover, the projects will succeed only if the farmers involved ensure their active participation, while all the state and regional authorities responsible for water management and irrigation also confirm their cooperation.

An efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones is essential, as its level will remain the most significant variable for assessing the effectiveness of the solution to the problem.

Archaeological aspects

Three preliminary tasks must be undertaken as quickly as possible:

a) A geophysical survey must be elaborated, concentrating in the beginning on areas where it is planned to undertake earth-moving operations connected with the measures to be taken to lower the water table on the site, and before this work has been started;

b) A rapid condition survey of all excavated remains should be carried out and urgent conservation undertaken in order to provide protection to structures during the vibration and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment;

c) Discussions must take place simultaneously with these emergency actions in order to establish the definitive boundaries of the World Heritage site and its buffer zone.

Once these emergency activities have been successfully completed, the geophysical survey should continue over the entire site (including the buffer zone), to act as a guide to future research and management projects. At the same time, a conservation plan should be prepared, defining short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and establishing technical parameters (materials, techniques, etc).

Discussions should begin with stakeholders with the objective of preparing a management plan, to include research (including excavation and site survey), presentation and interpretation, the role of stakeholders (e.g. the Mar Mena community), staffing, sponsorship, visitor facilities, access, etc.

As regards paragraph 6.a) of Decision 29 COM 7A.17, related to a possible loss of the outstanding universal value of the property and of its integrity, the mission clearly indicated in its report that “there can be no question of the characteristics for which Abu Mena was originally inscribed having been lost: within the broad justification used in 1979, which characterizes it as ‘an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble which illustrates a significant stage in human history’, nothing has been irretrievably lost and, indeed, much more has been learned about the site from excavations over the past two decades. Moreover, should the Committee consider the possibility of applying criterion (vi) to Abu Mena, the case for removing it from the World Heritage List on the grounds of loss of outstanding universal value would be further weakened. So far as loss of integrity is concerned, the case is somewhat stronger, though not sufficient to justify removal from the List”.

Further to the reactive monitoring mission, four undated reports were submitted by the State Party in February 2006, in Arabic with attached translations or summaries, and technical maps exclusively in Arabic, thus impossible to assess. Three of these reports are related to hydrological issues, while the fourth is a short description of the site and an overall presentation of the programme of archeological studies to be carried out along with the engineering work related to the lowering of the water table. These studies will mainly consist of: architectural survey, soil mechanics study, chemical analysis, monitoring the state of degradation/conservation, recording the structures and preparing detailed restoration projects, designing a site museum, etc.

However, while it is estimated that the hydrology project will last for three years, there is no established timetable for the conservation, restoration and presentation process which will therefore need to be rediscussed with the concerned authorities in order to determine a precisely scheduled work plan to reach the benchmarks identified. This should be achieved more or less within the same time frame, which is before the end of 2009.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 7A .19

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7A.17 adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Congratulates the State Party for its efforts in addressing the issue of the rising ground water table;

4. Urges the State Party to implement the recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission of 2005:

a) Carry out a rapid condition survey of all excavated remains and urgent conservation measures in order to provide protection to structures during the vibration and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment;

b) Lower the water table by means of drainage ditches and pipes, inside and around the archaeological area;

c) Establish an efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones;

d) Prepare a conservation plan, defining short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and establishing technical parameters (materials, techniques, etc);

e) Undertake consultations with stakeholders with the objective of preparing a management plan, to include research, presentation and interpretation, the role of stakeholders (e.g. the Mar Mena community), staffing, sponsorship, visitor facilities, access, etc.

5. Requests the State Party to define urgently the boundaries of the property and of its buffer zone and to provide a map to the World Heritage Centre;

6. Further requests the State Party to submit, by 1 February 2007, a detailed progress report for examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007;

7. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.