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Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a)

Jordan
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Unstable structures and lack of security

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Unstable structures and lack of security
  • Lack of comprehensive conservation plan
  • Lack of management structure and plan
  • Important tourism development project with new constructions
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2015

Total amount granted: USD 6,000 from the Italian Funds-in-Trust

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 2 (from 2007-2009)
Total amount approved : 34,750 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

March-April 2005: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS mission; March 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; July 2008: World Heritage Centre expert mission for the Stylite tower.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 3 February 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1093/documents. The report addresses Decision 37 COM7B.51 of the World Heritage Committee, as follows: 

  • Stylite Tower: The geotechnical, geophysical and geo-structural investigation comprised visual, mechanical and seismic tests, with structural modelling. The report sets out the methodologies and detailed results clearly. Tests indicated that although the limestone blocks are generally of medium to high strength, one corner is weak, and the structure much patched. The seismic tests confirm the vulnerabilities of the Tower. No mention is made of previous remedial work or monitoring.  Four options for conserving the Tower are identified, all of which involve excavation for new concrete foundations wider than the base of the structure, micropiles and for some form of internal steel brace. One option involves the dismantling of the Tower.
  • Management Plan: A roadmap for the Management Plan was compiled in January 2014 and proposes to utilise parts of the existing plan and supplement it. The roadmap includes advice on which areas need supplementary work, and identifies current conservation issues as including environmental, housing, commercial development, industrial areas and illegal activities.
  • Public access and use: Appendix 3 is ‘a basis towards a public use plan’, summarizes many key issues and sets out a set of short (one year), medium (three years) and longer-term priorities (five years). The views of the local community include concerns over communication and involvement, and infrastructure but demonstrate local awareness of site values.
  • Kastrum Masterplan: This three-year plan includes site survey: photogrammetric, laser scanning and geophysical survey and is aimed at developing innovative technology and training activities for the conservation of the site. This includes a permanent advanced training school for the ‘High Technologies for the Cultural Heritage and for ‘Capacity-building in the field of education and Communication in Cultural Heritage’. A short pilot study elaborated in 2013 produced information on the condition of the mosaics in the church of St Stephen, on erosion and disarray of mosaics, and information for interpretation and display. It is not wholly clear whether this forms the complete archaeological research strategy.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

The information provided by the State Party in its report and appendices, is well noted, as well as the considerable progress made to address the conservation and management of the property.  Results of the physical condition assessment of all the components of the property, expected in June 2013, have not been provided in the State Party’s report, but the Kastrum Plan may be intended to replace that survey. However, several issues have not been fully addressed.

Stylite Tower: The geotechnical, geophysical and geo-structural investigation is detailed and sets out the methodologies and results clearly, although it would have been useful to include the results of on-site monitoring in the analysis.  The 2014 report sets down four options for stabilising and repairing the Tower, all of which involve some level of excavation around the Tower’s base for new reinforced concrete foundations, micropiles and some form of steel brace.  One option also involves the dismantling of the Tower before construction of an internal steel brace.  The report suggests that the excavations for new foundations may be combined with archaeological research; but makes no mention of archaeological survey of the structure before any works. It is recommended that this structural investigation be considered in relation to a wider analysis of archaeological, historical and other dimensions before any interventions are planned. The dismantling of the tower is not considered as an option and it is suggested that further dialogue on conservation options before work is planned.

Management Plan: The Management Plan appears to still be ‘work-in-progress’; the draft index is very short and it is not clear from the documentation when the Plan may be finalized.  The appendix ‘A basis towards a public use plan’ is a welcome addition to the site’s documentation and summarises many key issues, with a set of short, medium and longer-term priorities which should be integrated into the Management Plan.  But there is no mention of a conservation plan and the archaeological research policy as set out focuses on protection of the mosaics by temporary reburial and on the documentation and systematic mapping of the main structures of the St Stephan complex.  Whilst these are important elements, it might be useful to consider a wider context, so that, for example, the archaeological implications of the remedial work at the Stylite Tower can be included. 

The Management Plan must be a priority. It would provide a clear framework and vision for the future, and assist in the conservation of the site as a whole and the safeguarding of its Outstanding Universal Value. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7B.53
Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa’a) (Jordan) (C 1093)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.51 adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Commends the State Party on the progress made to manage and conserve the property;
  4. Takes note of the progress in the technical investigation of conservation measures at the Stylite Tower; and invites the State Party to undertake dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies before detailed work is planned;
  5. Urges the State Party to complete the management plan which must include a comprehensive conservation plan and archaeological research policy, and integrate a public use plan;
  6. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7B.53

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.51 adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Commends the State Party on the progress made to manage and conserve the property;
  4. Takes note of the progress in the technical investigation of conservation measures at the Stylite Tower; and invites the State Party to undertake dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies before detailed work is planned;
  5. Urges the State Party to complete the management plan which must include a comprehensive conservation plan and archaeological research policy, and integrate a public use plan;
  6. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Report year: 2015
Jordan
Date of Inscription: 2004
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 39COM (2015)
Exports

* : 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.


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