1.         Butrint (Albania) (C 570ter)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1992

Criteria  (iii)

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/570/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/570/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/570/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1994

a) Diagnosis

The ancient structures as well as those from later periods up to the 14th century in the ancient centre of Butrinti are, on the whole, stable. The structural elements such as, foundations, walls, columns, arches, stone structures, lime mortar bricks, damaged by earthquakes have been reinforced or completed in parts, in order to protect the whole construction from possible collapse. the restoration reinforcement work carried out after a study of the structural elements, the construction periods and the dressing characteristics, etc. have ensured a stable state of the ruins.

Taking into account the current scientific successes in work on the protection, study and restoration of the Butrinti monuments, two factors constituting possible dangers should be mentioned:

1 - The presence of a high level of underground water covering, to a considerable extent, the ruins of the administrative centre of the town.

2 - The overgrown vegetation in the area.

These two harmful factors, which can not be dealt with immediately, have considerably hindered archaeological excavation and restoration operations in this centre.

b) Agent responsible for the preservation or conservation
Institut for Cultural Monuments

Vlora Monuments Workshop

c) Historical background of the preservation or conservation

The restoration work has always included the reinforcement of the ruins discovered recently. The restoration work on the renovation of the ancient arches of the entrances to the town ("the lion's gate') was begun in 1961. Anastylosis work was carried out on the towers gate (1975), on the ancient wall near the "Skea" gate near the Agora of the town.

In 1976, restoration work was undertaken in the centre of the town and on the stage of the the Roman theatre. Restoration and reinforcement work is pursued on objects, from the centre to the Asclepius temple, to the temple located higher than the theatre. The remains belonging to the different periods of the town illustrate several error in their ancient architectonic treatment and add to our knowledge of all the monuments of ancient and medieval architecture excavated until now.

d) Means of preservation or conservation

Butrinti is conserved as an archaeological centre on the basis of legislation on the protection of monuments, including all the monuments partially or totally discovered or which have not yet been excavated.

Any intervention to alter the archaeological context, which is being increasingly enriched by the archaeological excavations underway, is prohibited in the archaeological centre of Butrinti. Work to drain the water harming the monuments, especially in the lower area of the centre near the Vivar canal, will considerably improve the state of the monument.

e) Management plans

The restoration work in the archaeological centre of Butrinti is can-led out according to annual or five-year plans, always taking into account the present state and value of the monuments.

Evaluation of the ICOMOS / May 91 - April 1992

In May 1991, the ICOMOS recommended that registration of this cultural property on the World Heritage list be postponed in order to check various definitions and different plans for its protection, namely the "large field of vision" in the buffer zone and the problem of water infiltration on the site.

This information was supplied by the Albanian govenment. The ICOMOS bureau studied it thoroughly and estimated that all the protection requirements have been met. 

UNESCO Follow up / 100 Historic Sites - PAM-PNUE ­
a - State of progress - October 1993

Maintenance work on the Butrinti site is regularly pursued on the initiative of the Institute of Archaeology - Albanian antiquities department, despite the lack of financial means and the departure of part of the personnel.

Archaeological excavations continue in collaboration with Greece in the Acropolis area and a programme for the publication of the old excavations is underway.

However, the means are largely insufficient; collaboration with the British School of Rome is envisaged.

Conservation and restoration of the monuments had to be limited temporarily to minimum maintenance and to receive visitors who are particularly numerous due to the proximity of the Island of Corfu.

The natural site is just as exceptional as the cultural site.

It is located at the far south east end of the peninsula of Ksamil, bordered by the Ksamil lake to the east and the Vivar canal to the south: at high tide, sea water pours towards the lake and vice versa at low tide. The canal also served in part in ancient times as a harbour: the surrounding flat land was thus fertile; even today it is still a very agricultural area (citrus fruits).

This geographical location which makes Butrinti an ideal place for a harbour and agriculture, but it is also its handicap. The water level is a permanent problem. In the lower parts of the site, water constantly covers a certain number of remains (25 ems of water) all winter and sometimes the level only slightly goes down in summer (this is the case for the theatre, the thermal baths, the Esculape temple and all the Christian buildings (particularly the baptistry).

This situation is a result of the collapse of the bank and the lack of drainage of the lagoon and canal. The general level of the coast has risen from 1.50 to 2 metres.

A study carried out by the Institute of Hydrology at the University of Tirana proposed the complete drainage of the site. But this would consequently lead to the destruction of the natural site, the aquatic vegetation, the fauna, the micro-system etc., indeed a very costly solution). Furthermore, the cultural site can not be removed from its natural context from which it derived. Many remains still have to be discovered, particularly the main harbour of Butrinti; a choice of drainage zones can still not be made.

The pure drainage of the marshland is also not without major consequences: for example, the baptistry and its ornamental mosaic tiling covered by more than 25 ems of water would require conservation and protection measures beforehand in order to avoid their simple destruction when the water is drained (professional and financial human means to be evaluated: removal, coating, shelter, museum?).

b - Action plan proposed within the framework of the programme for coastal development of the Albanian coast / PAM - PNUE.

It is important, bearing in mind that all the historical coastal sites of Albania have been protected until now, and before setting up a programme for the touristic development of the coast etc..., to have a good knowledge of this heritage in order to manage it better. With regards to this knowledge of the site and its problems, archaeologists and researchers at the Archaeological Centre of Tirana are competent and are in permanent contact with the University and Academy of Sciences.

The immediate objective is to bring together experts who have had to study similar situations in order to define the management conditions of this area, UNESCO being closely associated with all activity.

The final goal sought is the creation of a natural and cultural archaeological park to emphasize protection faced with a possible, and desired, development of touristic infrastructures.

The work schedule accepted consists in organising an international team of experts, writing a technical and scientific report, proposing a conservation/restoration programme of the site, drawing up a project for the protection and management of the site.

This programme is planned for 1994/1995.

Recommendations

It is essential:

Action Required

The Coordinator of the MAP/UNEP "100 historical sites" programme presented this archaeological site inscribed in 1992, which is immerged below l.Som of water due to subsidence. However, the maintenance work there is being carried out in a satisfactory manner by the Archaeological Institute of the Department of Antiquities, in spite of the lack of human and financial resources. The Bureau was informed of the wish of the Albanian authorities to create a natural and cultural archaeological park.
To accomplish this, the Hydrology Institute of Tirana has prepared a study in order to identify the causes of subsidence.
Consequently, the Bureau requested the world Heritage centre to write to the Albanian authorities requesting information on the following:
The World Heritage Centre will transmit this information, if received, to the Committee.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1994

N/A

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 18 BUR VI.B

The Coordinator of the MAP/UNEP "100 historical sites" programme presented this archaeological site inscribed in 1992, which is immerged below 1.50m of water due to subsidence. However, the maintenance work there is being carried out in a satisfactory manner by the Archaeological Institute of the Department of Antiquities, in spite of the lack of human and financial resources. The Bureau was informed of the wish of the Albanian authorities to create a natural and cultural archaeological park. To accomplish this, the Hydrology Institute of Tirana has prepared a study in order to identify the causes of subsidence. Consequently, the Bureau requested the World Heritage Centre to write to the Albanian authorities requesting information on the following:

- specific legislation for the site

- results of the study prepared by the Hydrology Institute

- progress made in the programme for the protection and management of the site; the advisability of setting up a committee of international experts to work together with the archaeological missions working at the site.