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Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Underground transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Growing number of visitors (issue resolved)
  • Uncontrolled development of the nearby village (issue resolved)
  • Deterioration of the monuments (issue resolved)
  • Tunnel construction project
  • Urban encroachment
  • Infrastructure and tourism developments
  • Development and Urban Infrastructure projects (including Ring Road project)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

Total amount provided to the property: USD 100,000 for the Sphinx of Giza, Special Account for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Egypt: USD 2,203,304 dollars for the development of the management plans for the World Heritage sites of Historic Cairo, Memphis and Luxor

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 4 (from 1991-2007)
Total amount approved : 81,450 USD
2007 Documentation Center for Saqqara (Not approved)  
1995 Experts missions to Pyramids Plateau (Approved)   13,450 USD
1993 Financial contribution for the Pyramides Plateau of Giza (Approved)   20,000 USD
1991 Three international experts (an economist, an ... (Approved)   30,000 USD
1991 Mission to take part in the first stage of the ... (Approved)   18,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, November 2014: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory missions; July 2015: ICOMOS Advisory mission; March 2017: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Technical Assistance mission visited the property from 5-9 March 2017. The mission was preceded and facilitated by a meeting held in Cairo on February 13, 2017 by the Director of the World Heritage Centre with the national authorities in charge of the Ring Road project. The mission report is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/documents. The State Party did not submit a state of conservation report, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session but provided regular updates on the proposed Tunnel Project. The mission was invited by the State Party to give guidance on implementing Decision 40 COM 7B.22 of the Committee in relation to plans for the Cairo Ring road.

The Committee at its 19th session (Berlin, 1995) had asked the State Party to halt construction of a Ring road through the Giza Plateau. Subsequently, a road to the North of the Giza Plateau was developed. This is no longer sufficient to address the traffic needs of the rapidly developing Cairo Metropolis. As a result, the State Party is considering plans for a 6-8 lane tunnel under the Giza Plateau. At its 40th session in 2016, the Committee requested the State Party to provide a traffic management study of the wider area that would justify the need for the Tunnel Project, and to undertake a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the proposed tunnel on the basis of a detailed Tunnel project.

Following discussions with the State Party in September 2016, ICOMOS provided it with advice on details of the data and other background documents necessary for the production of an HIA that could consider potential impacts of a proposed tunnel on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. Based only on previous documentation and reports, this document advised a four-stage process: (a) the assembly of preliminary data, (b) preliminary engineering design, (c) drafting of a Retrospective Statement of OUV (RSOUV) and (d) scoping for a HIA. The mission aimed to provide more advice on the first two aspects and recommended that as a basis for the preparation of a HIA, the following stand-alone documents should be developed:

  • An archaeological report containing comprehensive archaeological data, detailed archaeological investigation/sampling strategy;
  • A traffic management study report: providing justification for the proposed Ring road link through the World Heritage property based on a long-term traffic vision, beyond 2035;
  • Preliminary engineering design drawings and supporting technical reports.

It also recommended that these stand-alone project documents be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by ICOMOS in advance of the HIA being undertaken (and also submitted for review).

The mission report provided the following additional information:

  • The State Party confirmed the existence of management plans, at various state of completion, for the four component sites of the serial property (Giza Pyramids, Sakkara, Dahshour and Mitrahina);
  • The mission recommended that the four plans be brought together as one harmonized plan;
  • The mission recommended that the State Party bring to a total end any further illegal uses and encroachment of the property, and repair the damages caused by illegal quarrying, and waste incineration site and reinstate the landscape;
  • A RSOUV has been completed by the State Party and reviewed by ICOMOS, and will be considered in Agenda item 8E of the Committee;
  • The mission advised on the need for a setting study to be undertaken as a basis for identifying an appropriate buffer zone.

On 9 May 2017, the State Party sent additional documents, which included a Management Plan for the property, maps, documents related to the tunnel, a traffic study and a PowerPoint presentation showing the removal of waste material in the property. Due to the amount of information provided at a late stage in the drafting process, the analysis of these documents could not be completed prior to the drafting of the present report.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The February 2017 UNESCO mission and the two Advisory missions to the property (in 2015 and early 2017) to consider the Ring road/Tunnel proposals have demonstrated the commitment of the State Party to engage fully with the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and the Committee over the possible development of an appropriate scheme for Tunnel across the Giza Plateau.

The report of the last mission has set out clearly the three types of documentation (archaeological, traffic management and design reports) necessary to underpin a satisfactory HIA that could determine the potential impact of the proposed road on the property. The mission highlighted the fragmentation of the archaeological evidence and the need to assemble all known archaeological, historical and photographic data as well to undertake surveys, aerial photographs, satellite mapping etc. for the archaeological report. This should cover the whole property in order to understand how this part of the Giza Plateau is linked to the other areas. It also stressed the need for the traffic management study to demonstrate a credible assessment of alternative routes using established traffic engineering principles and a long-term traffic vision for the city. The design details for the Tunnel Project need to cover the approach roads to the tunnel together with any physical interventions such as lighting, ventilation, emergency exists, etc.

As part of the mission, a site visit was undertaken to the line of the proposed tunnel and this revealed that the planned ring road of 1995 had been partially constructed across a 5km stretch, impacting adversely on the landscape. The abandoned road had facilitated illegal traffic, numerous dumps of soil/rock and construction debris, and large scale illegal sand quarrying. Two of the quarries reflected near-industrial exploitation, while the dumps extend from the El Faiyum-Desert Road across a large area of the property. Google Earth maps reveal many thousands of individual piles dumped from around 2000 to 2011. The waste incineration contributes to highly negative air quality around the Pyramids. All in all the degradation impacts adversely on the setting of some of the key component sites of the property.

The development of plans for the Tunnel have bought into focus the management and protection arrangements for the property and the need to strengthen them, both in terms of management systems and protection, especially in terms of landscape. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to undertake work on finalizing a single enforceable Management Plan for the property as a priority, to strengthen the overall co-ordination and management of the property and reinforce the management and conservation of the property by the Ministry of Antiquities; to investigate national legislation specific to World Heritage properties, and to define a buffer zone and submit a request for Minor Boundary Modification. The latter is particularly needed in the Giza pyramids area to protect the property form the increasing urban pressure in Cairo.

There is also clearly a need to stop illegal activities within the property that impact highly adversely on its open desert landscape, and it is also recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to activate immediate measures.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.78
Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur (Egypt) (C 86)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the engagement of the State Party with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in the development of proposals for a Cairo Ring Road tunnel across the Giza Plateau, and takes note the two Advisory missions that have been invited by the State Party and which were undertaken in 2015 and early 2017;
  4. Notes that the planned Ring Road of 1995 had been partially constructed across a 5km stretch of the Giza Plateau, impacting adversely on the landscape and that the abandoned road has facilitated dumping, waste incineration, and large-scale sand extraction;
  5. Also notes the recommendation of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory Mission that, in advance of developing a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the proposed Ring road tunnel, the State Party should develop, as effectively as possible, three technical reports on traffic management, archaeology and design details, and submit these to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Takes also note of the submission by the State Party, of, the requested technical reports on traffic management and design details, and notes furthermore that the State Party is currently working on the archaeological remote sensing survey and research of the area potentially impacted by the proposed tunnel;
  7. Requests the State Party to submit an HIA for the proposed tunnel scheme based on the combined technical reports for subsequent review by the Advisory Bodies;
  8. Also requests that work for the construction of the tunnel should only be progressed once all the requested technical reports and the subsequent HIA have been positively evaluated by the Advisory Bodies and any appropriate mitigation measures and procedures for monitoring have been agreed;
  9. Further requests the State Party to strengthen the protection and management of the property and encourages it to:
    1. Finalize a single enforceable Management Plan for the property as a priority, based on the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value to be approved,
    2. Reinforce the overall co-ordination and management of the World Heritage property, and reinforce the management and conservation of the property by the Ministry of Antiquities,
    3. Investigate national legislation specific to World Heritage properties,
    4. Define a buffer zone and submit a Minor Boundary Modification request accordingly;
  10. Urges the State Party to stop immediately illegal activities in the property associated with dumping, waste incineration and sand extraction, and all encroachment, including through physical barriers and boundary' protection, as well as proactive enforcement mechanisms, and to activate immediate measures, as highlighted by previous missions, for the removal of illegally dumped fill material from the World Heritage property and for the necessary repair and reinstatement of the landscape;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 42nd session in 2018.
41 COM 8E
Adoption of Retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/8E,
  2. Congratulates the States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties located within their territories;
  3. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC/17/41.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

    ARAB STATES

    • Egypt, Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur

    EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA

    • Armenia, Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots
    • Armenia, Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin
    • Canada, L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
    • Czech Republic, Litomyšl Castle
    • France, Bourges Cathedral
    • France, Chartres Cathedral
    • France, Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay
    • France, Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge
    • France, Historic Site of Lyon
    • France, Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion
    • France, Palace and Park of Fontainebleau
    • France, Paris, Banks of the Seine
    • France, Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance in Nancy
    • France, Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France
    • Ireland, Sceilg Mhichíl
    • Italy, Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)
    • Portugal, Cultural Landscape of Sintra
    • Russian Federation, Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent
    • Russian Federation, Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands
    • Russian Federation, Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin
    • Russian Federation, White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal
    • Sweden, Hanseatic Town of Visby
    • Sweden, Rock Carvings in Tanum

    LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARRIBBEAN

    • Dominica, Morne Trois Pitons National Park;

  4. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger will be reviewed in priority by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. Requests the States Parties to provide support to the World Heritage Centre for translation of the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value into English or French respectively, and further requests the World Heritage Centre to upload the two language versions on its website.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.78

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the engagement of the State Party with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in the development of proposals for a Cairo Ring Road tunnel across the Giza Plateau, and notes the two Advisory missions that have been invited by the State Party and which were undertaken in 2015 and early 2017;
  4. Notes that the planned Ring Road of 1995 had been partially constructed across a 5km stretch of the Giza Plateau, impacting adversely on the landscape and that the abandoned road has facilitated dumping, waste incineration, and large-scale sand extraction;
  5. Encourages the State Party to develop, as effectively as possible, the three technical reports on traffic management, archaeology and design details as a basis for a sound Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the proposed Tunnel, and to submit these to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before the HIA is undertaken and subsequently submitted for review;
  6. Requests the State Party to strengthen the protection and management of the property and also encourages it to:
    1. Finalize a single enforceable Management Plan for the property as a priority, based on the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value to be approved,
    2. Reinforce the overall co-ordination and management of the World Heritage property, and reinforce the management and conservation of the property by the Ministry of Antiquities,
    3. Investigate national legislation specific to World Heritage properties,
    4. Define a buffer zone and submit a Minor Boundary Modification request accordingly;
  7. Urges the State Party to stop immediately illegal activities in the property associated with dumping, waste incineration and sand extraction, and all encroachment, including through physical barriers and boundary' protection, as well as proactive enforcement mechanisms, and to activate immediate measures, as highlighted by previous missions, for the removal of illegally dumped fill material from the World Heritage property and for the necessary repair and reinstatement of the landscape;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 42nd session in 2018.
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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