1.         Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur (Egypt) (C 86)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (i)(iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1991-2007)
Total amount approved: USD 81,450
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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

Previous monitoring missions

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

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/

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:

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:

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 Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

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.

Decision Adopted: 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 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.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 8E

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:


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


    • 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


    • 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.