Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur (Egypt) (C 86)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1979
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/86/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 81,450
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount provided to the property: USD 100,000 for the Sphinx of Giza, Special Account for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Egypt: USD 2,203,304 dollars for the development of the management plans for the World Heritage sites of Historic Cairo, Memphis and Luxor
Previous monitoring missions
1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, November 2014: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory missions; July 2015: ICOMOS Advisory mission; March 2017: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Growing number of visitors (issue resolved)
- Uncontrolled development of the nearby village (issue resolved)
- Deterioration of the monuments (issue resolved)
- Tunnel construction project
- Urban encroachment
- Infrastructure and tourism developments
- Development and Urban Infrastructure projects (including Ring Road project)
- Absence of a single integrated Plan of Management for the property
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019
On 28 January 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/documents/ and presents progress with a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions, as follows:
- The Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt (Supreme Committee) has been established to facilitate and coordinate Egyptian authorities involved in World Heritage property management. The Egyptian law for the protection of antiquities was amended in 2018;
- There is significant progress in the ‘Scan Pyramids’ project. The results have been published in the journal Nature. The Step Pyramid and Southern Tomb Risk Mitigation and Restoration projects at Saqqara will conclude within a year. There have been numerous archaeological discoveries, including an Old Kingdom tomb, two groups of rock-cut burials, a mummification workshop, a group of buildings and Roman baths, and the tomb of a royal priest;
- Geophysical survey for the proposed Cairo Ring Road tunnel was carried out and submitted to the World Heritage Centre in November 2018. Implementation of this project has been postponed until the necessary studies are completed, including a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA). The legacy from the abandoned planned Ring Road of 1995 has been addressed by removal of waste and regular monitoring;
- The Pyramids Plateau Development Project is a key element of the Pyramids Plateau Management Plan, which aims to manage visitation and limit vehicles within the property;
- The Pyramids Security Project proposes surveillance cameras to secure the boundaries of the plateau, paths and parking areas. Lighting works are proposed outside the archaeological site, well away from the pyramids;
- The Memphis Site and Community Development project, an international collaboration that concluded in 2017, focused on documentation of archaeological remains and improvement of presentation and interpretation, including the design of paths and signage. It also entailed training of Ministry of Antiquities staff;
- The Supreme Committee requires state agencies to coordinate in the review of World Heritage property maps, in order to prepare new maps and management plans. A decision will then be made regarding any potential boundary amendments;
- The State Party has indicated that experts from the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS are welcome to visit the property, to provide technical assistance, and to train the specialists from the Ministry in preparation of HIAs.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The State Party has made significant progress in implementing the Step Pyramid and Southern Tomb Risk Mitigation and Restoration Project at Saqqara, and, there have been a number of archaeological discoveries at the property. The State Party has also responded positively to the World Heritage Committee’s previous recommendation regarding the legacy from the abandoned planned Ring Road of 1995. It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party in relation to these matters.
The State Party has advised that the necessary studies will be completed before implementation of the Cairo Ring Road tunnel project across the Giza Plateau. Once a complete archaeological assessment, informed by results from remote sensing, is available, and following review of technical reports and engineering designs by the Advisory Bodies, the Cairo Ring Road tunnel project should then be subject to a comprehensive HIA, prepared in accordance with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties.
In March 2019, the World Heritage Centre organized a workshop on HIA for the staff of the Ministry of Antiquities in coordination with UNESCO Cairo Office and ICOMOS experts. The experts proposed to provide remote support to finalize the Memphis HIA based on the ICOMOS Guidance and good international practice. Once the HIA has met the requirements of Guidance and good international practice a workshop would be organized to present the process and the results of the HIA.
It remains of concern that the Giza Pyramids Plateau Development Project continues to progress, particularly without consideration of the potential buffer zone for the Giza component of the property, which may yet arise from the review requested by the newly-established Supreme Committee. There are also ongoing concerns about the Pyramids Security Project (previously the Light and Security project). It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to submit more comprehensive information on the proposed project in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
It would also be necessary to consult with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS regarding any proposed modification of boundaries, for both the property and the buffer zone, arising from the review requested by the Supreme Committee. Based on previous World Heritage Committee requests, a Minor Boundary Modification may be necessary for the Giza component of the property, to provide protection from the increasing urban pressures in Cairo, in line with Paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines. The determination of any boundary revision of the property or the buffer zone should also have particular regard to the Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), which should also be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review.
In light of the above, and the expressed welcome of an expert visit, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee requests again the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, to evaluate the property’s state of conservation, reviews the ongoing and planned projects, and assesses how they may affect the property’s OUV. The State Party may also want to issue a separate invitation to train specialists from the Ministry of Antiquities in the preparation of HIAs.
Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.45
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.52, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
- Commends the State Party for reinforcing the overall co-ordination and management of the property and other World Heritage properties, through the establishment of the Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt, and through amendments to the law for the protection of antiquities;
- Welcomes the significant progress made with the Step Pyramid and Southern Tomb Risk Mitigation and Restoration Project at Saqqara, the archaeological discoveries made at the property, and the response regarding the legacy from the abandoned planned Ring Road;
- While welcoming the advice from the State Party that the necessary studies will be completed before implementation of the Cairo Ring Road tunnel project across the Giza Plateau, reiterates its request to the State Party to:
- Complete a comprehensive archaeological assessment, incorporating results from remote sensing,
- Ensure that, following the review by the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies, the final comprehensive ‘archaeological assessment report’ and the previous technical reports on traffic management and design details inform the preparation of the engineering designs for the Ring Road tunnel project,
- Finalize the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the project, following the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties;
- Notes the previous Committee Decision that work for the construction of the Cairo Ring Road tunnel should only progress once all requested technical reports and subsequent HIAs have been positively reviewed by the Advisory Bodies and appropriate mitigation measures and procedures for monitoring have been agreed;
- Expresses concern over the additional information provided by the State Party on the Giza Pyramids Plateau Development Project, and the Pyramids Security Project, and requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as possible and in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, a detailed document providing comprehensive information about the proposed Pyramids Security Project;
- Also requests the State Party to further strengthen the protection and management of the property by submitting the Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property to the World Heritage Centre, and by reviewing the property’s boundaries, defining a buffer zone and submitting a Minor Boundary Modification request, in line with Paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to evaluate the property’ state of conservation, review the ongoing and planned projects, and assess how they may affect the property’s OUV, having particular regard to:
- The Giza Pyramids Plateau Development Project,
- The Pyramids Security Project,
- The proposed Cairo Ring Road tunnel across the Giza Plateau,
- The Giza component of the property, and the impact of increasing urban pressure in Cairo,
- The appropriate boundary and buffer zone for the Giza component of the property;
- Encourages the State Party to finalize the HIA, in coordination with ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre in the framework of the training in the preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), following the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties;
- Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.