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

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


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Agriculture Pressure; Lack of monitoring system; Lack of institution co-ordination

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2004

At the request of the Egyptian Authorities, in September 2002, a World Heritage expert hydrologist carried out a mission to the World Heritage property of Abu Mena in order to evaluate the solutions proposed by the Supreme Council of Antiquities to counter the negative impact on the property of the rising level of groundwater. The mission had produced some recommendations, endorsed by the World Heritage Committee at its 27th session, including:

a) The establishment, within the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), of a Cultural Planning Unit (CPU) responsible for liaising with other Governmental Agencies to coordinate, plan and control the impact of development projects on cultural heritage sites;

b) The review of the proposed engineering measures, taking into account the existing land reclamation activities and agricultural practices, to ensure that they are sustainable and cost-effective;

c) The development of an Action Plan for Abu Mena, including provisions for a monitoring system with appropriate indicators and benchmarks, in consultation with all institutions involved, in particular with the Groundwater Research Institute, local authorities and farmers.

The Secretariat received from the State Party, with an accompanying letter dated 27 February 2004, an undated report on the state of conservation of the site (in Arabic). According to this report, the property of Abu Mena faced a new rise in the groundwater level, which led to further sliding of the soil in unexcavated areas, as well as near the cistern of the Cathedral and the eastern part of the tomb of Abu Mena. Most of the lower parts of the site have been filled by small lakes, which now surround the warehouse of the Antiquities Department as well as the rest house of the German Archaeological Mission. The draining trenches excavated around the site have been deepened, in co-operation with the Egyptian authority in charge of the water supply, so as to reduce the level of the ground water and enable the access to the site for archaeologists and visitors.

The report submitted by the State Party did not provide information on the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee at its 27th session.

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


Decision Adopted: 28 COM 15A.17

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Takes note of the information provided by the State Party, and expresses its concerns over the deterioration of the property caused by rising groundwater levels and other threats;

2. Commends the State Party for the efforts made in order to solve the problems related to the rising ground water in the area;

3. Reiterates, however, the urgency to adopt more long-term and sustainable measures in coordination with the relevant national institutions and in accordance with the recommendations contained in the UNESCO Mission Report of September 2002;

4. Requests the State Party, in consultation with the institutions concerned and, if necessary, requesting assistance from the World Heritage Fund, to develop an Action Plan including provision for a monitoring system with appropriate indicators and benchmarks;

5. Further requests the State Party to submit, by 1 February 2005, a report on the progress of these recommendations for examination by the Committee at its 29th session in 2005;

6. Decides to retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 28 COM 15C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following examination of state of conservation reports of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-04/28.COM/15A Rev),

2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: