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Factors affecting the property in 1991*
  • Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1991
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1991**

in the course of 1991

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1991

Xanthos, which consists of an archaeological area covering approximately the ancient city and the archaeological site of Letoon, forms a whole which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1988 under criteria (ii) and (iii). At the time, ICOMOS had underlined in its comments the need for a management plan including, in particular, the control of the environment in Letoon and had noted that a road crossed the site of Xanthos, and that it would be desirable to divert it.

The mission sent on site in the course of 1991 to assess protection and management problems noted that as to Xanthos the road had been asphalted in 1989. This road not only bears an increasingly heavy tourist traffic, but also runs through several large villages in the valley of Xanthe and this entails a very dense traffic flow of tractors, lorries, and minibuses. It successively runs along the monumental gate of the ancient city, the theatre (cf. below) and a large tomb, which are under constant threat. It would therefore be advisable to divert it in order to keep clear of the ancient site. There presently exists an earthen track which skirts around the acropolis of Xanthos and rejoins the asphalt road. Its conversion would keep access to the mountain villages while protecting the site. Necessary expropriations would be insignificant. It would be very desirable that this solution be examined and carried out.

The rubble of the theatre, situated at the north of the acropolis, encroaches on the above-mentioned road. The laying out of this surrounding area is indispensable for both practical and aesthetic reasons. It would result in improving the appearance of the theatre and its approaches much visited by tourists and in allowing a better understanding of the different phases and characteristics of its construction.

Thanks to bilateral assistance, the Department of Monuments and Museums of the Ministry of Culture considers undertaking the strengthening of the early Christian mosaics of the Agora Church, proceeding with the reinforcement of the mosaics of the Great early Christian Cathedral, as well as covering the nave, and putting back into place the sarcophagus tank known as "The Dancers" which was damaged by acts of vandalism.

During its fifteenth session, the Bureau was informed that the cement public conveniences would be maintained on the site of Xanthos. This matter is the subject of a correspondence between the Secretariat and the Turkish authorities.

As regards Letoon, two preservation measures should be suggested to the authorities. In the first place, it is urgent to stop alluvial deposits from collapsing along the present access road to the sanctuary by building a low retaining wall. In the second place, it is equally indispensable to dig on the strip of land running along the road a new irrigation canal which would divert water from the archaeological site which it constantly threatens.

Moreover, tractors, trailers, lorries and cars are presently allowed at the southern border of the site, beside the early Christian church and the Roman nympheum. However outside the excavation period, vehicles cross the sanctuary by way of the temple terrace. Noxious to the appearance (dust) and to the preservation of the monuments, this access should be prohibited in future.

At a more specific level, the reinforcement of the mosaic of the Apollo temple should be completed and the mosaic put back in place ultimately.

Finally, since the theatre is used every year by the Kumlu Ova community for the celebration of the Tomato Festival, there is a risk of some loose architectural blocks of collapsing. Strengthening works should be undertaken at the north-east gate.

It is interesting to note that the Turkish authorities have defined "special environmental protection areas" in which all development projects liable to modify the environment and the ecosystem are submitted, to the control of a special council which is competent namely in all actions taking place within the context of international conventions. The area of the Xanthe delta and mouth has thus been declared a "special environment protection area" by decree No. 90/77 of 18.01.1990 published in the Turkish official bulletin on laws of 02.03.1990.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1991
Monitoring of the State of Conservation of the World Heritage Cultural and Related Technical Problems

18. The monitoring report presented by the Secretariat dealt with the following sites: Xanthos-Letoon (Turkey), the City of Valletta (Malta), Shibam (Yemen), National Historical Park - Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers (Haiti), Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), Moenjodaro (Pakistan), and the Madara Rider (Bulgaria). Monitoring visits had been made to seventeen sites by an expert who was in charge of co­ordinating action for the preservation of 115 Mediterranean sites within the framework of the UNEP - Barcelona Convention. These visits had yielded a wealth of information and documentation which needed analysis and the establishment of a dialogue with the national authorities before a report could be presented to the Committee. A summary of the findings of this expert concerning two sites was included in the Working Document SC-91/CONF.002/3. Reports on the state of conservation of the other fifteen sites will be presented to the Bureau in June 1992. In addition, the expert who was present at this session was ready to explain to the Committee his approach and to respond to specific questions. An additional monitoring report had been prepared by the Co-ordinator of the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project on Cultural Heritage and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, who was also present at this session.

19. The Committee was also informed of the type of continuous monitoring which the Secretariat pursued with regard to projects which were the subject of international campaigns or supported by UNDP. A recently published brochure on the work carried out in Sana'a, as well as the report on the mission to Bulgaria which was annexed to the Document SC-91/CONF.002/3, showed that the most efficient monitoring could be done through technical assistance missions. Unfortunately, the financial and personnel resources of the Secretariat were far too small compared with the many World Heritage sites to be monitored.

20. In the opinion of the Secretariat, a monitoring action should be carried out in the form of a continuous dialogue with the State Party which should begin even before the inscription of the site, in order to inform local competent authorities (politicians and technicians) about the values to be maintained and the principles and methods of conservation to be applied. In particular, the implementation of the management plan requested at the time of the proposal for inscription should be verified by means of a monitoring exercise.

21. The representative of ICOMOS brought to the attention of the Committee alarming news about the deterioration of certain parts of monuments of Khizi Pogost (USSR). He stressed the fact that his organization was interested in sending a mission on the spot to evaluate the state of conservation of the site. With reference to the cultural centre in the process of being built between the Tower of Belem and the Monastery of the Hieronymites (Portugal), he underlined that the work was almost completed and that a comprehensive file submitted by the government showed that the rules of the competition had taken account of the fact that the site was classified as a World Heritage property. Part of the existing building replaced industrial constructions and this represented an improvement. This case proved that it was necessary to determine a future strategy to guide architects in charge of the development of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Portuguese observer remarked that the project of integrating this cultural centre was part of a plan for safeguarding of the zone with a view to reasserting the value of the site. The Committee took note of the report of ICOMOS and, in the light of this example, emphasized that States Parties should attach the greatest attention to maintaining the values of World Heritage properties, when elaborating development projects, new constructions or major restorations. They should equally inform the Committee, through UNESCO's Secretariat, of their intention to undertake or to authorize projects in an area protected under the Convention before any irreversible decisions were taken. The need for close collaboration between the Secretariat and the local competent authorities was stressed during the debate. The Committee took note that ICOMOS, in co-operation with ICCROM, was preparing a guide on the management of sites for authorities responsible for World Heritage.

22. The Co-ordinator of the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project on Cultural Heritage and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean introduced the method which had been used in the detailed analysis of six sites in the region. The documents presented only reflect work already achieved within the framework of a wider project concerning sixteen sites in all, the evaluation of which will be carried out up until 1993 and will cost the World Heritage Fund US$40,000.

23. The Committee took note of this report. While considering that the method was interesting, it judged that it would not be necessarily applicable to all regions.

24. The Co-ordinator of a network set up by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the protection of Mediterranean sites under the Barcelona Convention introduced in his turn his working method on monitoring. During visits to seventeen sites around the Mediterranean, he evaluated,, in collaboration with local experts, the different problems raised by the conservation of the sites concerned. Following his visits he kept in touch with the competent authorities with a view to assisting them in their task with technical advice and documentation.

25. Regarding the management of sites, a member of the Committee questioned the limits to the possibility of intervention by the Committee and the Secretariat. The Secretariat explained that national authorities, whose collaboration was obviously indispensable, were always informed.

26. The possibility of intervention by the private sector in activities of safeguarding and development of World Heritage was raised. A delegate considered that progress in this field remained far below desirable levels. For instance, various difficulties encountered by a high visiting capacity of the sites could be solved through co­operation with, private associations.

No draft Decision

Report year: 1991
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iii)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 15COM (1991)

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.