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World Heritage Convention

Decision 45 COM 8B.50
Jodensavanne Archaeological Site: Jodensavanne Settlement and Cassipora Creek Cemetery (Suriname)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/23/45.COM/8B and WHC/23/45.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Inscribes the Jodensavanne Archaeological Site: Jodensavanne Settlement and Cassipora Creek Cemetery, Suriname, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (iii);
  3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    Located on the densely forested banks of the Suriname River, the Jodensavanne Archaeological Site in northern Suriname is a serial property with two component parts that illustrate early Jewish colonisation attempts in the Atlantic World. The Jodensavanne Settlement, founded in the 1680s, includes the ruins of what is believed to be the earliest synagogue of architectural significance in the Americas, along with cemeteries and the foundations of brick buildings, boat landing areas, and a military post. The Cassipora Creek Cemetery is the remnant of an older settlement founded in the 1650s which ceased to exist three decades later when its inhabitants migrated two kilometres downstream to Jodensavanne. Unusual for the Atlantic Sephardic diaspora, these early Jewish colonies were not situated in existing urban settings, and were longer-lived than many. Located amidst Indigenous territory, the settlements were inhabited, owned, and governed by Jews who lived there together with free and enslaved persons of African and Indigenous descent. The settlements had the most extensive arrangement of privileges and immunities known in the early modern Jewish world.

    Criterion (iii): The Jodensavanne Archaeological Site is an exceptional testimony within the Atlantic Sephardic diaspora of a Jewish civilisation that was granted territorial and communal autonomy, a Jewish 'state within a state' that existed from the 17th to the 19th century in a slave society and a frontier zone. The settlement existed in an area adjacent to Indigenous territories, and the Jewish settlers were instrumental in its defence. Several of the material remains in the property are exceptional due to their age (the cemeteries) and their architecture. Furthermore, the archaeological evidence at the settlement and cemeteries points towards differing degrees of coexistence and conflict between cultures and ethnocultural groups, including Jews, Indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans, and European colonists.


    The integrity of the serial property is based on the Jodensavanne Settlement component part, with the remains of buildings, cemeteries, and several other elements that played important roles in the development and daily life of the Jewish community, including the boat landings that connected Jodensavanne with the river, the military post and part of the defences, the medicinal springs, sacred Ceiba trees, and a sand pit. The Cassipora Creek Cemetery component part’s gravestones have inscriptions in Hebrew, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Aramaic, and combinations of these languages. The Cassipora Creek Settlement, the first autonomous Sephardic Jewish community in the colony of Suriname and precursor of the Jodensavanne Settlement, is not yet located, but its probable location is included in the buffer zone.


    The attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value are substantially authentic in terms of their forms and designs, materials and substance, and locations and settings. Ongoing maintenance work is based on the advice of specialists, and is done with great care regarding the original materials and substance.

    In general terms, the authenticity of the remains as well as their settings do not raise any serious concerns at the moment. There is a need to strengthen protection of the surroundings of the property’s component parts in order to avoid potential negative impacts to the authenticity of these settings in the future.

    Protection and management requirements

    The two component parts of the property are recognised as archaeological monuments under the Monuments Act of 2002 and have been legally protected at the highest level since 2009 through Ministerial Resolution No. 873. The Jodensavanne Foundation, created in 1971, is the official management authority of the property. It has the right of use for rehabilitation, conservation, management, and touristic purposes, and holds the official land rights of the property. Local Indigenous peoples are the traditional custodians of the archaeological site, which adds another layer of protection. The property is co‑managed by the Indigenous village of Redi Doti. A Memorandum of Cooperation between the Redi Doti Village Council and the Jodensavanne Foundation establishes that the Indigenous village of Redi Doti is co-responsible for the preservation, protection, and management of the cultural heritage of the Jodensavanne Archaeological Site, while the Jodensavanne Foundation recognises its shared responsibility for the sustainable socio-economic development of Redi Doti. Any changes to the management plan as well as any tourism, recreation or construction projects must be agreed to by both partners. The Memorandum of Cooperation is evaluated and signed by the two partners every four years.

    The Jodensavanne Settlement and Cassipora Creek Cemetery Management Plan 2020-2025 gives guidance for the management, protection, conservation, and promotion of the Jodensavanne Archaeological Site. Operation of the property depends heavily on income from entrance fees and private donations. An annual subsidy from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is being pursued to help cover the operational costs of the property.

  4. Recommends the State Party to give consideration to the following:
    1. Obtaining adequate and stable funding for the operation and maintenance of the property,
    2. Finalising the designation of the Special Protected Forest zone,
    3. Preparing and/or centralising the inventories of archaeological finds and the accompanying information, and presenting this information on detailed topographical maps and/or in a Geographical Information System (GIS),
    4. Identifying quantifiable indicators for monitoring the state of conservation of all the attributes of the property, as well as general environmental conditions and changes to its surroundings, in order to help detect long-term developments at the property and its surroundings,
    5. Elaborating an integrated risk preparedness plan for the two component parts,
    6. Evaluating the current land use (e.g., location of visitor installations) with the objective of developing a land-use plan for the property,
    7. Exploring the possibility and relevance of including additional interest groups and stakeholders in the property management process,
    8. Determining the carrying capacity of the property,
    9. Further exploring the possibility of including the remains of the Cassipora Creek Settlement in the property’s boundary, through a minor boundary modification request, if its location and state of conservation can be accurately determined,
    10. Undertaking research on the interrelations between the different groups (Jewish people, local African descendants) that were living together in Jodensavanne in order to further the understanding of the property;
  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.