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Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Flooding
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    Adverse effects of bird and bat droppings across the property

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Rising underground water level
  • Risks of flooding (Valleys of Kings and Queens)
  • Absence of a comprehensive Management Plan
  • Major infrastructure and development projects taking place or scheduled
  • Uncontrolled urban development
  • Housing and agricultural encroachment on the West Bank of the Nile
  • Demolitions in the villages of Gourna on the West Bank of the Nile and transfer of the population
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Neglect of important modern heritage, namely Hassan Fathi’s buildings in New Gourna
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

Total amount granted: USD 1,131,000from the Japanese Funds-in-Trust 2002-2004 and 2008 (wall paintings restoration in the tomb of Amenophis III)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 1 (from 2001-2001)
Total amount approved : 7,000 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property in February 2017, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/87/documents/, providing information on conservation works, progress in implementing the recommendations of the Committee, and proposed projects.

The Ministry of Antiquities is coordinating with the stakeholders to complete the Management Plan, for the property by the end of 2017.

Physical conservation works, including masonry repair and cleaning of inscriptions, have occurred at the Karnak, Luxor and Madamud temples, and the Avenue of the Sphinx. Archaeological excavations and research projects by international missions have been carried out at the Temple of Ptah and Karnak. On the West Bank, the lighting project has been completed and the tombs of Nefertari and Seti I, three tombs in Deir El-Madina and three Tombs of the Nobles have been opened for visits. Further conservation, management and visitor service works are proposed at Karnak and Luxor, as well as completion of works at the Avenue of the Sphinx and construction of a visitor centre and museum.

There are many other conservation and management issues facing the property, including encroachments, invasive grass and animals, deterioration of floor tiles, groundwater and sanitation problems.

As requested by Decision 39 COM 7B.49, the State Party invited a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, which occurred in April 2017. The mission noted that some actions recommended by previous missions have been actioned, but expressed great concern about the substantial and cumulative adverse impact of major projects on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The mission also observed specific conservation issues including:

  • Exposure to weathering of the fragile excavated areas in front of the Karnak Temple,
  • Restoration works undertaken on tombs and other monuments lacking a harmonized approach and prior approval from the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies,
  • Damage along the Avenue of the Sphinx,
  • Structural stability of tomb TT.55 (Ramose)
  • Structural stability of the 9th Pylon and the adjacent tower crane,
  • Structural stability of the visitors centre in Deir el Bahri,
  • Adverse effects of bird and bat droppings across the property,
  • Damage to temple inscriptions from visitor touching,
  • Inappropriate tourism infrastructure at the temple complex of Mut.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The 2017 mission noted that some actions recommended by previous Committee decisions have been taken; these include the restriction of access to the property by tour buses and works in front of the temple of Deir el Bahri, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens along with various conservation works. However, a number of high-priority decisions have not been implemented or planned. These include an integrated Management Plan and tourism control strategy, the revision of the 2030 Masterplan to integrate conservation of OUV across all projects, the submission of full information about all projects in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, as well as the riverbank’s landscaping, traffic control, visual impact and draining problems of its retaining wall, and its connection with the Karnak temple and plaza. 

The mission expressed great concern about the substantial and cumulative adverse impact on the OUV of new projects implemented within the property and its buffer zone, the threats on the authenticity and integrity of the property including natural decay and structural problems, the absence of effective and comprehensive management arrangements at national and local levels, the lack of a conservation plan for the property, and the poor human and technical resources mobilized. The mission also noted that the management of the property is affected by over-emphasis on tourism development, which has resulted in major projects such as the imposing concrete seating structure in front of the sacred lake of the Karnak Temple complex, and the works to the Avenue of the Sphinx. The mission concluded that an integrated management plan that focuses on conservation and protection, should guide the State Party’s actions within the property and its buffer zone, while initiatives related to social and economic development of local inhabitants should not adversely affect the property’s OUV, as per the World Heritage Sustainable Development Policy. 

Moreover, the mission noted the focus on ancient archaeology has led to neglect or destruction of features from later periods to expose Pharaonic remains (such as along the Avenue of Sphinx and in New Gourna) or to imposing landscaping projects (as occurred at the plaza at the main entrance of the temple at Karnak); it also regretted that it could not inspect important parts of the property, including the Tomb of Seti and the shrine of Hatshepsut, all the closed tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, the New Gourna site of the Noble Tombs and has not been provided with relevant documentation.

The Management Plan for the property, including a revised Statement of OUV are needed urgently; it should include a conservation plan setting out priorities and needs of different components of the property in terms of preservation, maintenance and restoration, and ensuring harmonized approaches and techniques to that effect. The authorities involved in managing the property need to ensure effective management, strengthen co-ordination, allocate adequate human resources and build capacity. The proposal by the UNESCO Office in Cairo to establish a series of capacity-building workshops dedicated to elaborating the Management Plan for the responsible Thebes Antiquities staff, is an encouraging perspective but cannot cover the needs.

The State Party should be reminded of the need to comply with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and be requested to provide documents that were not available to the 2017 mission; these include processes followed in the conservation of the Noble tombs TT.112 and TT.131 and the basis on which methods of intervention were decided, the project of the lighting and security cameras, the underground water project design and implementation, and flood channeling and the Flood Emergency Plan established for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.76
Ancient Thebes and its Necropolis (Egypt) (C 87)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.48 and 39 COM 7B.49, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes the physical conservation works, including cleaning of inscriptions, masonry repair and stabilization, which has occurred at the Karnak, Luxor and Madamud temples, and the works undertaken and proposed for the Avenue of the Sphinx;
  4. Also notes the conclusions and recommendations of the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission undertaken in April 2017 and urges the State Party to implement the mission report recommendations;
  5. Regrets that the State Party has not fully complied with the requests expressed by the Committee in Decisions 37 COM 7B.48 and 39 COM 7B.49, and considers that the continuing absence of the Management Plan, the lack of adequate human and technical resources and the growing number of development projects at the property are exerting a growing impact on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  6. Expresses concern with regard to the over-emphasis on tourism in the overall management of the property, and the resulting destruction or neglect of attributes that do not belong to the period of Pharaonic Egypt;
  7. Also urges the State Party to revise the 2030 Masterplan for the property to integrate the conservation of the OUV across all projects within the property;
  8. Further urges the State Party to expedite the preparation of the previously-requested Management Plan, incorporating a conservation plan which establishes priorities, needs and harmonized approaches, and a tourism control strategy and comprehensive tourism management plan;
  9. Requests the State Party to invite representatives from the UNESCO Office in Cairo to visit the property at the earliest opportunity in order to inspect the Tomb of Seti, the Shrine of Hatshepsut, the closed tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens and the Gourna site of the Noble tombs;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit a revised Statement of OUV, which incorporates newly-discovered archaeological remains within the property and its buffer zone;
  11. Encourages the UNESCO Office in Cairo to conduct capacity-building workshops, which may improve the management of the property;
  12. Reiterates its previous requests to the State Party to provide, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, detailed information on the planning and design of proposed and on-going projects, in particular those related to infrastructure development and the programme of works, and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) where appropriate, for review by the Advisory Bodies, prior to approval and implementation;
  13. Further requests the State Party to submit the following documentation, which was not available to the 2017 mission experts, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies:
    1. A report on the documentation process followed in the conservation of the noble tombs TT.112 and TT.131 including the basis on which the methods of intervention were decided,
    2. Comprehensive documentation on the project of lighting and security cameras with details regarding its implementation,
    3. A report on the underground water project design and implementation,
    4. A complete report on the flood channeling and the Flood Emergency Plan established for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens;
  14. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, 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 43rd session in 2019.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.48 and 39 COM 7B.49, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes the physical conservation works, including cleaning of inscriptions, masonry repair and stabilization, which has occurred at the Karnak, Luxor and Madamud temples, and the works undertaken and proposed for the Avenue of the Sphinx;
  4. Also notes the conclusions and recommendations of the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission undertaken in April 2017 and urges the State Party to implement the mission report recommendations;
  5. Regrets that the State Party has not fully complied with the requests expressed by the Committee in Decisions 37 COM 7B.48 and 39 COM 7B.49, and considers that the continuing absence of the Management Plan, the lack of adequate human and technical resources and the growing number of development projects at the property are exerting a growing impact on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  6. Expresses concern with regard to the over-emphasis on tourism in the overall management of the property, and the resulting destruction or neglect of attributes that do not belong to the period of Pharaonic Egypt;
  7. Also urges the State Party to revise the 2030 Masterplan for the property to integrate the conservation of the OUV across all projects within the property;
  8. Further urges the State Party to expedite the preparation of the previously-requested Management Plan, incorporating a conservation plan which establishes priorities, needs and harmonized approaches, and a tourism control strategy and comprehensive tourism management plan;
  9. Requests the State Party to invite representatives from the UNESCO Office in Cairo to visit the property at the earliest opportunity in order to inspect the Tomb of Seti, the Shrine of Hatshepsut, the closed tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens and the Gourna site of the Noble tombs;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit a revised Statement of OUV, which incorporates newly-discovered archaeological remains within the property and its buffer zone;
  11. Encourages the UNESCO Office in Cairo to conduct capacity-building workshops, which may improve the management of the property;
  12. Reiterates its previous requests to the State Party to provide, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, detailed information on the planning and design of proposed and on-going projects, in particular those related to infrastructure development and the programme of works, and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) where appropriate, for review by the Advisory Bodies, prior to approval and implementation;
  13. Further requests the State Party to submit the following documentation, which was not available to the 2017 mission experts, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies:
    1. A report on the documentation process followed in the conservation of the noble tombs TT.112 and TT.131 including the basis on which the methods of intervention were decided,
    2. Comprehensive documentation on the project of lighting and security cameras with details regarding its implementation,
    3. A report on the underground water project design and implementation,
    4. A complete report on the flood channeling and the Flood Emergency Plan established for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens;
  14. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, 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 43rd session in 2019.
Report year: 2017
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)
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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