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Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region

Sudan
Factors affecting the property in 2011*
  • Flooding
  • Housing
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Wind
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Deterioration as a result of exposure to difficult environmental conditions such as wind with sand and floods;

b) Urban encroachment;

c) Absence of a management plan with government commitment. 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2011
Requests approved: 2 (from 2004-2005)
Total amount approved : 68,900 USD
Missions to the property until 2011**

2004: World Heritage Centre mission; 2001: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

The State Party did not submit a state of conservation report which was requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010). However, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 25 February to 4 March 2011, as requested by the World Heritage Committee in the same decision. The mission report is available online at the following Web address: https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM.

a) Deterioration as a result of exposure to difficult environmental conditions

Although earlier mission reports have suggested significant conservation issues at the archaeological sites and individual structures including severe weathering, wind erosion, and structural instability, the mission team found that these impressions were most likely based more on initial visual perception rather than on careful monitoring and study of the property over time. The mission team compared photographs taken in 2004 during a World Heritage Centre mission with the current situation at the property and found that apparently the state of conservation has not significantly deteriorated over the last 5 years. The mission recommended that an effective monitoring system be set up at all five individual sites that make up this property, taking into account early and more recent photographic evidence to serve as a baseline comparison for future monitoring. The mission also recommended that no major conservation interventions be planned or implemented until such time as more accurate information on the deterioration can be obtained and a more broad-based consensus be obtained with national and international expertise. 

The mission team found that the mural paintings in the Temple of Mut at Gebel Barkal and the tombs of King Tanwetamani and Queen Qalhata at El Kurru currently seem stable. The only exception seems to be the impact of bats and insects, in particular termites, which would warrant specific conservation action based on passive control methods, avoiding the use of any chemicals that may have a detrimental impact on the paintings. Concern was raised about a lack of a visitor management strategy, especially as it relates to the increased humidity levels which could have an impact on the mural paintings. The mission recommended that studies on the carrying capacity of the sites be carried out so that a maximum number could be set for daily visitors.

b) Management plan for the property

The mission team found that the management plan for the World Heritage property, finalized on 10 November 2007 and subsequently approved by the Sudanese authorities, has not yet been implemented. This situation is due to the lack of human and financial resources of the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) as well as the lack of an effective executive summary and related action plan in Arabic. While a detailed and consolidated plan of action with timelines has been prepared in 2007, there is concern that it may not be in line with the current capacities and resources available. The mission therefore recommended a capacity building session for staff of the NCAM and local stakeholders to cover issues related to the implementation of the management plan. 

c) Urban encroachment and other development projects

While a previous project for the construction of a hotel at Gebel Barkal has been avoided, there is still pressure for tourism developments within the property and its potential buffer zone. A new hotel project is currently being planned and preparation works have begun at a location within view of the World Heritage property. The mission noted that the perimeters of the buffer zones had not yet been finalized and that there were no planning regulations for control within these buffer zones. The mission team considered it crucial that the buffer zones be finalized, and that they remain free of construction to ensure there is no adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The mission recommended, based on discussion with local authorities, that a letter be sent by the World Heritage Centre stressing the need to develop planning controls to ensure that the property and its surroundings remain clear of any new construction or development projects. Such letter was sent on 14 April 2011. 

The mission furthermore discussed the negative impact of the road several dozen meters from the pyramid field of Gebel Barkal, negatively impacting upon the site’s spiritual and associated values. The mission suggested that a new road be planned at the edge of the buffer zone. 

The mission also examined potential impacts from a dam construction on the Nile river at the fourth cataract. It found that while no direct visual impacts would result for the World Heritage property, there was a need for ongoing monitoring of the sites, in particular to look for changes in temperature and humidity levels due to the changes in the water table. The mission also recommended that cumulative impacts of the dam project be examined for more long-term effects which might have a negative impact on the OUV of the property. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2011

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the findings of the mission which indicate that the state of conservation of the structures and archaeological sites seem to be stable at the present time. They nevertheless underline the recommendations of the mission that there is an urgent need both to make the management plan operational and to develop a comprehensive monitoring system in order to better understand the long term conservation needs of the property. In addition, there is a need for the State Party to deal with issues related to tourism and urban development pressures, and in particular, large development projects, to ensure that they do not have a negative impact on the OUV of the property. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2011
35 COM 7B.57
Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region (Sudan) (C 1073)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.63, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Notes the findings of the reactive monitoring mission in regard to the physical state of conservation of the structures, archaeological remains, and mural paintings at the property;

4. Requests the State Party to develop an ongoing monitoring system to ensure the continued stability of these structures, archaeological remains, and mural paintings, and to refrain from planning or implementing restoration projects prior to obtaining more accurate information on deterioration mechanisms from the monitoring process;

5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to put the 2007 Management Plan in operation as soon as possible, by reinforcing the management structure and staff at the property, by providing this staff with an executive summary in Arabic and by developing a detailed, costed revised action plan with clear timelines and responsibilities for implementation;

6. Urges the State Party to ensure that site staff and other stakeholders receive necessary capacity building in order to effectively implement the management plan;

7. Also requests the State Party to provide, in the framework of the Retrospective Inventory, detailed topographical maps of the five component parts of the property by 1 December 2011;

8. Further requests the State Party to finalize the limits of the buffer zones and their associated planning controls as soon as possible, to ensure that pressure from tourism, urban and infrastructure development do not have a negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and to submit a minor boundary modification by 1 February 2012 for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;

9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Draft Decision: 35 COM 7B.57

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.63, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Notes the findings of the reactive monitoring mission in regard to the physical state of conservation of the structures, archaeological remains, and mural paintings at the property;

4. Requests the State Party to develop an ongoing monitoring system to ensure the continued stability of these structures, archaeological remains, and mural paintings, and to refrain from planning or implementing restoration projects prior to obtaining more accurate information on deterioration mechanisms from the monitoring process;

5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to put the 2007 Management Plan in operation as soon as possible, by reinforcing the management structure and staff at the property, by providing this staff with an executive summary in Arabic and by developing a detailed, costed revised action plan with clear timelines and responsibilities for implementation;

6. Urges the State Party to ensure that site staff and other stakeholders receive necessary capacity building in order to effectively implement the management plan;

7. Also requests the State Party to provide, in the framework of the Retrospective Inventory, detailed topographical maps of the five component parts of the property by 1 December 2011;

8. Further requests the State Party to finalize the limits of the buffer zones and their associated planning controls as soon as possible, to ensure that pressure from tourism, urban and infrastructure development do not have a negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and to submit a minor boundary modification by 1 February 2012 for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;

9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013. 

Report year: 2011
Sudan
Date of Inscription: 2003
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 35COM (2011)
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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