Threats to the Site (2001)
A land-reclamation programme for the agricultural development of the region, funded by the World Bank, has caused in the past ten years a dramatic raise of the water table. The local soil, which is exclusively clay, is hard and capable of supporting buildings when in a dry state, but becomes semi-liquid with excess water. The destruction of numerous cisterns, disseminated around the city, has entailed the collapse of several overlying structures. Huge underground cavities have opened in the north-western region of the town. The risk of collapse is so high that the authorities were forced to fill with sand the bases of some of the most endangered buildings, including the crypt of Abu Mena with the tomb of the Saint, and close them to the public. A large banked road, moreover, was executed to enable movement within the site.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities is trying to counteract this phenomenon by digging trenches, and has enlarged the listed area in the hope of lowering the pressure of the irrigation. These measures, however, have proved to be insufficient, taking into account the scale of the problem and the limited resources available.
History - List in Danger
1. Reporting Trend*
* Based on the frequency at which the World Heritage Committee has deliberated over this property over the past 15 years. 0 = minimum reports, 100 = maximum reports.
For more information consult the The State of Conservation of the World Heritage Forest Network