A report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party on 30 January 2012. From 16 to 22 October 2011, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was carried out, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010). The mission report is available at the following Web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1208/documents
a) Conservation of the Arg-e-Bam and other cultural heritage assets within the property
The State Party reports that, for the conservation of the main complexes and monuments of the citadel, conservation and restoration plans were prepared for the Stable, Mir Akbar house, western tower of the second gate, the governor’s house, the commander’s house, Mirza Naeim School, the main gate, the second gate and the large tower of the eastern wall of the second gate. The projects sought to address conservation needs as identified in the Management Plan and to facilitate visitors access. Additional plans were prepared for monuments at the cultural landscape including Kushk-e Rahim Abad, Chartaghi, Ghal`e dokhtar, Shahrbast fortifications, Gheysariyeh complex and Ameri house. Notwithstanding the progress made in regard to interventions, the State Party notes that remaining debris is still considered a threat to several parts. Conservation challenges are also still faced for the recovery of the Qanats. The report includes a work plan for interventions foreseen during 2012.
The October 2011 monitoring mission noted that conservation and restoration efforts are progressing well but that there remains significant work to be accomplished given that 11 of the 15 identified components are still in need of full or partial conservation works. In addition, archaeological and architectural records have not yet been finalised for these components, which is critical for the definition of conservation plans. The mission also highlighted that communication among the different disciplinary teams and a consistent methodological approach could be enhanced to improve linkages among the results derived from each working discipline. Conservation guidelines, in Farsi and in English, would also be beneficial for the systematic implementation of measures.
In regard to the interventions, the mission evaluated the conditions of authenticity and integrity. It expressed concern about several factors, including the use of a heavy retaining structure built in steel and cement at the Governor’s Seat tower and at tower 46. They also highlighted that some of the interventions on the walls have an overdesign in reconstruction, not only due to the fact that the original wall were not followed but also by the stylistic restoration from interventions prior to the earthquake. The identification of the historic fabric and new interventions should also be addressed. The mission also noted that there is a lack of unity in some of the citadel components as different conservation approaches have been used at the diverse sectors, depending on the institutions involved. Efforts should be made to coordinate the diverse interventions and obtain a balanced approach to the conservation of the site. It also notes that more extensive reconstruction has been carried out since 2009, which could affect the conditions of integrity and authenticity. Special attention needs to be placed in meeting existing guidelines and standards for conservation practice.
The October 2011 mission observed the existence of informal settlements and of a gas station near Chahar Taqi which are within the property boundaries. Previous UNESCO missions also formulated recommendations regarding the removal of these illegal settlements, as well as the gas station. Presently, the Governor of Bam is waiting for the court decision to remove the service station.
b) Completion of necessary scientific studies for the recognition, registration, and legal protection of properties with historical, cultural, and natural significance within the cultural landscape zone, as well as marking the protective boundaries around each property within this zone;
The State Party reports on several research activities that were carried out. These include investigations regarding the ancient water pipeline systems, urban planning, alleyways networks and residential blocks at the Citadel and the Konari area. These have served to enhance the understanding of the different historical periods. In addition to archaeological excavations several archaeogeophysics studies were carried to identify limits of potential sites. Findings were recorded in the existing data base bank. Research was also continued on the establishment of the typology of bricks and architectural elements. As for marking of boundaries, work was implemented in this respect although work is still pending on the installation of information signage to inform about legal restrictions.
The mission reported that the archaeological and geo-morphological maps have been fully completed for the citadel but not for the overall cultural landscape. In regard to the boundaries, 13 of the 15 components were visited and these had posts marking the boundaries.
c) Implementation of the Management Plan
The State Party indicates that different meetings were held in regard to the opportunities and challenges faced in the conservation of Bam and its cultural landscape. These meetings served as an opportunity to engage diverse stakeholders and facilitate conservation and management endeavours, as well as for fundraising. Participants in the meetings included both representatives from different government agencies at the national and local level as well as other social actors. The State Party also reports that work continued in the preparation of the Arg-e Bam tourist plan and the tourist routes for the whole of the cultural landscape. The report also notes that work has been carried out for the preparation of the geographic information system for Bam and its cultural landscape and for the monitoring of the buffer zone. Facilities have been established within the restored areas for the different offices required for the conservation and management of the property including a research centre, laboratory, storage areas, etc. Capacity building, at different levels, has continued in collaboration with universities and other higher educational centres.
The mission reports that the adopted Management Plan has been provided to all local stakeholders. It analysed the process followed for implementation and concluded that although progress is being made, an action plan to implement the provisions made would be beneficial in improving the current management system and decision-making mechanisms. It also notes that stronger regulatory measures are needed to be enforced to control construction at the buffer zone.
d) Precise understanding and definition of the outer boundaries of the heritage areas surrounding the property
Efforts have continued on the preparation of different maps to better understand the heritage assets that exist at Bam and its Cultural Landscape. 150 sites have been located so far and work is expected to be continued. In addition to maps, photogrammetric studies and aerial photographs have been produced. Monitoring at the property and the buffer zone has continued to detect illegal construction and activities.
The mission received the finalised topographic map of the citadel and verified that the outer boundaries of the property were clearly defined. However, it noted that the landscape topographic maps are still pending.
e) Adequate security of the heritage areas within the World Heritage property in addition to the Arg-e Bam
The mission reports that the measures taken to safeguard the property include the establishment of a Security Unit, operational since 2007, with 11 permanent guards equipped with vehicles. However, due to the limited number of guards, security efforts concentrate in the citadel. Municipal police protects the remaining 13 components within the landscape. The mission team observed that some of the components do not have systematic police protection, neither a minimum-security light at night.