1.         Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures (Uzbekistan) (C 603rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2001

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/603/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 15,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/603/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

Joint UNESCO Tashkent Office/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission on 6-12 March 2006; a brief assessment mission by an international expert of the UNESCO Tashkent Office in April 2005.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Serious impact of a large-scale restoration;

b) Urban landscaping programme impacts upon the authenticity and integrity of the property. 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/603/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

At its 29th session (Durban, 2005), the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to provide a complete documentation concerning the large restoration and urban landscaping programme, at the Shakhi-Zinda complex which appeared to be severely affecting the integrity and authenticity of the property. In response, the Permanent Delegation of Uzbekistan provided a report on 3 February 2006, in Russian, then translated into English by the same delegation, concerning the state of conservation of the property.

The report specifies that a special Decree (No. 337) was adopted on 16 July 2004 on “the Organization of Restoration and Improvement Works in Shakhi-Zinda Memorial Complex”. In the framework of this Decree, the specialised institute of restoration, “Tamirshunoslik” has worked out a programme for 2004-2005 of scientific-research, restoration and conservation works on the Shakhi-Zinda complex. This programme has been considered and approved by the Uzbek Scientific-Methodical Council for the protection of cultural heritage objects.

Furthermore, this report emphasises that each monument of the Shakhi-Zinda complex has been carefully studied and that conservation works have been carried out in accordance with international norms and rules. The report states that, during the period 2004-2005, the domes of some monuments have been restored, and that this was an essential measure in order to save the remaining part of the buildings. Before starting the main works, a complete cycle of archaeological excavations was carried out. The main works consisted of strengthening the buildings’ foundations and successfully preventing humidity from rising from the lower level. The State Party further mentioned that the reconstruction of the ceilings of Khoja Akhmad and other mausoleums, as well as the reconstruction of the domes, has provided good protection for the mausoleums and has partially saved wall decorations.

As requested by the Committee at its 29th session (Durban, 2005) an ICOMOS mission was carried out from 6-12 March 2006, accompanied by the Head of the UNESCO Office in Tashkent. According to the mission report, the condition of various mosques and mausoleums had reached a critical stage after a long period of neglect, and intervention was required in order to avoid further deterioration. Subsequently, the above-mentioned restoration works were carried out in order to reduce humidity in the walls. This changed the immediate appearance of the site through the clearance of accumulated soil around the buildings. These restoration works have been undertaken within a very short period, less than two years from inception to completion and have revealed foundations of previous structures. This haste has been critical to the quality of some details of the work and resulted in mediocre finish of brick coping and zinc flashing at Kusam-Ibn-Abbas.

Simultaneously with the restoration project, the Municipality of Samarkand has also completed a major enlargement of the trunk road passing between the archaeological site of Afrasiab and the Timurid section of Samarkand. This project is part of a larger city development scheme 2004-2025 (“Project for the reconstruction of the central part of Samarkand”), which could have considerable impact on the property and its buffer zones.

With work almost accomplished at Shakhi-Zindah, the ICOMOS report recommends that adjustments to the finish of brick copings, flashing, and other details of mediocre quality should be made. Moreover, the reconsideration of the landscaping and lay-out of the new trunk-road passing in front of Shakhi-Zindah and separating the Afrasiab and the Timurid part of Samarkand is imperative. This new road construction, 16 metres wide and bordered by retaining walls up to five metres high, is very obtrusive to the historic environment. Plans for demolishing additional housing bordering on the Afrasiab should urgently be reconsidered.

The loss of authenticity occasioned by the recent work at the Shaki-Zindah Complex is very alarming and the mission believes that all development and conservation decisions must be guided by a management plan. Therefore, the authorities urgently need to develop a coherent urban conservation and planning policy for the management of the whole historic town, including the World Heritage areas and its buffer zones. An inventory and documentation of the historic features and the architectural values also needs to be prepared and should form the basis of an overall management plan. In addition, an integrated conservation strategy for the existing residential quarters, as well as for the reintegration and rehabilitation of the surrounding areas that have been demolished should be developed.

The large-scale urban planning schemes, such as the proposed “Project for the reconstruction of the central part of Samarkand”, should therefore be reviewed on the basis of the above recommendations. Any further demolition of traditional housing areas should be prevented and measures should be taken to encourage their sustainable development and rehabilitation. 

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 7B.59

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.57, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Notes with concern the non-compliance with the standards of restoration and the resulting partial loss of authenticity occasioned by the large-scale restoration carried out on the Shahi-Zinda complex and the enlargement of the trunk road between the archaeological site of Afrasiab and the Timurid section of Samarkand;

4. Also notes with concern the on-going urban planning scheme ("Project for the reconstruction of the central part of Samarkand") which may have considerable impact on the integrity of the property and its buffer zones;

5. Requests the State Party as a matter of priority to implement the following corrective measures:

a) Develop a management plan with a coherent urban conservation and planning policy for the management of the whole historic town, including the World Heritage areas and its buffer zones;

b) Prepare an inventory and documentation of the historic features and the architectural values;

c) Establish an integrated conservation strategy for the existing residential quarters, as well as for the reintegration and rehabilitation of the surrounding areas that have been demolished;

6. Urges the State Party to review the large-scale urban planning schemes, such as the proposed "Project for the reconstruction of the central part of Samarkand", and to immediately refrain from further demolition of traditional housing areas pending the adoption of the above mentioned conservation policy and management plan;

7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2007, a detailed report on the progress made in developing the management plan and on the state of conservation of the site including the corrective measures listed above for examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007.

8. Notes that should the State Party fail to initiate the above mentioned recommendations and decisions, the World Heritage Committee may decide to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 31st session in 2007.