After 16 years of excavation and restoration work, a group of tower temples and monuments belonging to the My Son Sanctuary, once the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom, were inaugurated by the Director-General with Vietnamese authorities and the Ambassador of Italy to Viet Nam on 22 June.
Under steady rainfall, dancers and musicians lined the path leading through lush forest to the G Group of monuments, where a brief religious ceremony was held to consecrate the restored temples. A World Heritage Site since 1999, the My Son Sanctuary, located in Quang Nam province amidst a hilly landscape, comprises eight groups of 71 monuments built throughout the 7th to 13th centuries.
"This project embodies Viet Nam's commitment to safeguarding and promoting the diversity and beauty of its unique cultural heritage," said the Director-General. "Together we have conserved and restored the almost collapsed monuments of the G Group according to the highest standards of heritage conservation. This project proves the power of solidarity, partnership and sharing, between the Government of Italy and Viet Nam, with UNESCO’s coordination."
The extensive research and restoration project is documented with artefacts and panels in a brand new exhibition space on the site.
"Thanks to UNESCO and the Italian Government’s assistance, international experts and Vietnamese technicians and workers have worked tirelessly to rescue and restore the relics, turning the crumbling G Group monuments into a stable condition, allowing it to now be visited by tourists," said Mr Tran Minh Ca, Vice Chairman of Quang Nam People's Committee. "It is a model of effective cooperation."
Through the project, Vietnamese archaeologists, architects,site managers and other experts followed training to enhance their knowledge about adequate methods to preserve the Cham architectural heritage, in line with international conservation standards. Local people also gained new skills and employment opportunities through the project. Ms Bokova awarded certificates to these local workers in recognition of their contribution to help excavate, clean and document artefacts, and restore the brick structures using techniques specially developed for the purpose. Mr Lorenzo Angeloni, the Ambassador of Italy to Viet Nam, also commended the "excellent tripartite cooperation," and highlighted the importance of the excavation process being on public display "so that everyone can learn about archaeological works and admire the results." He indicated that Italy would continue to provide specific training courses for restorers of monuments, skilled workers, site managers and other experts who are all key players in the development of sustainable tourism in the country. With support from UNESCO, lessons learned during this restoration process have been documented as Guidelines for Conservation of Cham Archaeological Sites, which provide principles and instructions for archaeological excavation and restoration, as well as detailed production instructions for bricks, mortar and resin.
In addition, Italian experts from the Lerici Foundation, in close collaboration with technical staff of the My Son Management Board, produced a catalogue of all Cham monuments on the site, a classification of excavated artefacts and a comprehensive site interpretation Plan. Work in My Son World Heritage site is implemented with the Quang Nam Centre for Monuments and Scenic Landscapes, My Son Management Board and the Lerici Foundation, and funded through UNESCO Italian Funds-in-Trust.
The launching ceremony was organized as part of the UNESCO Culture and Development Week in Viet Nam and the 5th Quang Nam Heritage Festival.