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World Heritage Convention

Decision 45 COM 8B.41
The Ancient Town of Si Thep and its Associated Dvaravati Monuments (Thailand)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/23/45.COM/8B and WHC/23/45.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Inscribes the Ancient Town of Si Thep, Thailand, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii) and (iii);
  3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    The Ancient Town of Si Thep is a serial property of three component parts that represent Dvaravati culture from the 6th to the 10th centuries, an important phase in the history of Southeast Asia. The component parts are the unique twin-town lay-out of the Ancient Town of Si Thep (component part 001), featuring Muang Nai (Inner Town) and Muang Nok (Outer Town) surrounded by moats; Khao Klang Nok ancient monument (component part 002), the largest surviving Dvaravati monument; and, the Khao Thamorrat Cave ancient monument (component part 003), a unique Mahayana Buddhist cave monastery that contains important examples of Dvaravati art and sculpture.

    More than 112 significant monastery sites have been identified at Si Thep, and the local adaptation of Hindu artistic traditions resulted in a distinctive artistic tradition known as the Si Thep School of Art which later influenced other civilisations in Southeast Asia. The round-relief sculpture without a back-support arch in the standing Tribhanga posture, depicting body movement, is especially distinctive.

    Together these sites represent the architecture, artistic traditions and religious diversity of the Dvaravati Empire that thrived in Central Thailand from the 6th to the 10th centuries, demonstrating the influences from India including Hinduism, and Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.

    Criterion (ii): The Ancient Town of Si Thep demonstrates important interchanges of cultural and religious traditions that originated in India and were adapted by the Dvaravati Empire between the 6th and 10th centuries. Through these interactions, the town developed a distinctive identity expressed in its artistic and architectural traditions. The Si Thep School of Art subsequently influenced the art and architecture of other areas in Thailand. The cohabitation of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism is a distinctive characteristic of Dvaravati architecture, town planning and art, and these are demonstrated by the three component parts.

    Criterion (iii): The Ancient Town of Si Thep, the Khao Klang Nok ancient monument and the Khao Thamorrat Cave ancient monument bear an exceptional testimony to the Dvaravati culture and civilisation. Together, these sites demonstrate the complexity and the specific artistic and cultural characteristics of the Dvaravati period in terms of urban planning, religious architecture, and monasticism. The architectural and artistic forms of Si Thep are not found elsewhere, particularly the unique twin-town lay-out, and distinctive Dvaravati forms of sculpture such as the standing Tribhanga posture depicting body movement. The Khao Klang Nok ancient monument is the largest monument of Dvaravati art, influenced by South Indian and Indonesian artistic traditions; and the Khao Thamorrat Cave ancient monument is located in a sacred mountain and the only known cave monastery in Mahayana Buddhism in Southeast Asia.


    The three component parts contain all the attributes necessary to convey the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The serial approach is justified, and the property presents a comprehensive understanding of the layout, planning, water infrastructure, various layers of inhabitation and evidence of the Dvaravati city and associated monuments. The attributes of the serial property have a good state of conservation and there are few pressures impacting on the sites and their wider setting.


    The authenticity of The Ancient Town of Si Thep is demonstrated by the richness of its archaeological structures and materials including rare and distinctive Dvaravati artistic elements. Khao Klang Nok ancient monument conveys Dvaravati cosmological beliefs, and features Dvaravati architectural forms of the indented corners system, the Bua Valai base and replica Prasats for the building base decoration. Archaeological recording and continuing research are important contributors to the authenticity of the property. Repairs and other conservation interventions have been sensitively completed, and any new materials are clearly indicated as such. The sites are relatively free from development pressures.

    Protection and management requirements

    Legal protection for the three component parts is provided by the Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums, B.E.2504 (1961) and its Amended Act (No.2), B.E.2535 (1992). The buffer zones are protected under the National Reserved Forest Act, B.E.2507 (1964), the Agricultural Land Reform Act, B.E.2518 (1975), and the Ministerial Regulation regarding the Enforcement of Unitary Town Plan of Phetchabun Province, B.E.2560 (2017).

    A management plan is being finalised. It includes a community engagement plan, a sustainable tourism plan, and risk management. The long-term engagement and support of local communities is a key element of the protection and management of the serial property. The Memorandum of Understanding agreed by government agencies will ensure the implementation of conservation measures and ongoing community engagement.

    There are few factors affecting the property at present, although it is vulnerable to climate impacts, extreme weather events and the potential loss of community support. Unlawful excavations and development pressures posed threats to the property in the past, but these are no longer current. The monitoring system should be enhanced in relation to changes in ground water, and to development of indicators which more directly measure the state of conservation of the attributes.

  4. Recommends the State Party to give consideration to the following:
    1. Finalising as a priority the Management Plan for the Conservation and Development of the Ancient Town of Si Thep, including fully developed plans for risk management and sustainable tourism, the archaeological research strategy, and more detailed policies and actions for each of the three component parts,
    2. Implementing, as a high priority, co-designed strategies for community engagement which are inclusive, transparent, ongoing, and well-resourced, and ensuring that the boundaries of the component parts are clearly explained to the local communities,
    3. Continuing the negotiations with private landowners regarding the future extension to the boundary of component part 002 to incorporate all key elements of the monument through the procedure of minor boundary modification,
    4. Enhancing the documentation of the attributes of the property using a digital platform that could facilitate more efficient means of storing and retrieving data,
    5. Implementing planned research to more fully understand the layout and history of the property, particularly in relation to the non-invasive archaeological exploration of the Outer Town (component part 001), and research to determine the full extent and spatial layout of component part 002,
    6. Establishing future research projects to deepen the understanding of how Buddhist and Hindu traditions have influenced the residential patterns, street alignments, location of official buildings in the town, as well as a stronger sense of how the attributes demonstrate the founding, rise, and decline of the Dvaravati period,
    7. Enhancing the monitoring system by introducing measures of the state of conservation of the attributes, ensuring that the impacts of changes in ground water levels on the attributes of Si Thep are regularly monitored, and adapting the monitoring system for easy integration of the outcomes into the Periodic Reporting questionnaire,
    8. Developing formal processes for Heritage Impact Assessment utilising the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context prepared by the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre,
    9. Ensuring that all new developments, including the plans for a visitor centre for component part 002, and a future museum in the buffer zone of component parts 001 and 002 are the subject of a full Heritage Impact Assessment,
    10. Ensuring that new oil drilling projects are strictly prohibited in the property and its buffer zones, and in the wider setting, particularly the area that lies between the buffer zones,
    11. Ensuring that the future uses and developments within the wider setting take into account the symbolic connection and physical alignment between component parts 002 and 003;
  5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2024, a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 47th session;
  6. Decides that the name of the property be changed to “The Ancient Town of Si Thep and its Associated Dvaravati Monuments”.
Context of Decision