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Abu Mena

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Housing
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Rise of the water table, and ensuing damage arising from changes to water table level
  • Impact on structures due to earth trembling and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment (works completed)
  • Lack of conservation plan, defining short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and establishing technical parameters (materials, techniques, etc.)
  • Need for a management plan, to include research, presentation and interpretation, the role of stakeholders (e.g. the Mar Mena community), staffing, sponsorship, visitor facilities, access, etc.
  • Encroachments within the property and inappropriate recent constructions
  • Lack of engagement with local communities and other stakeholders
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Failure to implement corrective measures
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • A land-reclamation programme and irrigation scheme with no appropriate drainage mechanism for the agricultural development of the region has caused a dramatic rise in the water table;
  • The destruction of numerous cisterns, disseminated around the property, has entailed the collapse of several overlying structures. Huge underground cavities have opened in the north-western region of the property;
  • A large, banked road has been built to enable movement within the property.
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279
Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279 but outdated and needs to be revised

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 1 (from 2001-2014)
Total amount approved : 7,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**

2002: Expert mission; 2005, 2009 and 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 2 February 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/documents/, in which the following activities are reported:

  • The Ministry of Antiquities (MoA) has undertaken a series of measures for the protection and conservation of the property and is working on finding solutions to the threats affecting the archaeological area and the obstacles to the implementation of the first phase of the recommended corrective measures;
  • The MoA has established a scientific committee to study the threats to the property resulting from the rise of the groundwater level, to identify its sources and solutions to protect the archaeological area. Other studies are proceeding, including a geophysical/geothermal survey to explore the paths and dimensions of sub-surface water, while an architectural survey of the area has occurred using three-dimensional laser technology;
  • The MoA, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Irrigation, envisage to devise an action plan to maintain and clean water discharge lines, plant hydrophilic plants to reuse, and decrease the underground water;
  • Encroachments have been removed from the buffer zone and a ‘Board of Trustees’ has been formed from the ministries and stakeholders involved in the management of the property to discuss the removal of the new constructions with local populations;
  • The proposed visitors’ centre project has been placed on hold, owing to lack of funding and pending resolution of the underground water problem at the property;
  • The Great Basilica continues to suffer from cracks and other damage resulting from the high level of underground water and from rain. The Great Basilica's burial chamber and some walls of the visitor's courtyard, amongst other areas, remain in need of physical conservation. The MoA has prepared a condition assessment report for objects discovered in the Great Basilica;
  • A project for the conservation and rehabilitation of the Archaeological Site of Abu Mena, which includes conservation and capacity building activities, is under preparation by the MoA and EU funding has been sought for its implementation;
  • The MoA has proposed a minor boundary modification, involving the removal of two areas, which do not contain archaeological features;
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

The property has been inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2001; corrective measures were identified in 2006; the Desired State of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) was adopted in 2007 and, in the same year, the State Party was requested to implement the corrective measures by 2010. Since then, the attributes that contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property have deteriorated; the corrective measures have not been completed and the property has not yet achieved its DSOCR.

The establishment of a scientific committee to study the threats to the property resulting from the rise of the groundwater level is a positive step in addressing a longstanding and substantial threat to the OUV of the property and will contribute to the implementation of corrective measures. The findings of the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission that electrical pumping was unsustainable in the long term, and the associated analysis of ways to address the underlying causes of the rising water table, need to be urgently addressed as part of this process.

In agreement with the State Party, in the framework of ongoing technical consultations related to the rise of the water table, the UNESCO Cairo Office’ Science and Culture specialists will undertake a mission to the property with the involvement of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in May 2018. There is a need for mitigation measures, such as a controlled process to lower the water table and its stabilization, to be identified and implemented. Mitigation measures need to include an efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones, and to avoid rapid masonry deterioration from salts.

The removal of some encroachments is also welcome, but inappropriate new constructions, including wooden kiosks, which are inconsistent with OUV, remain within the property. It is recommended that the Committee take note of the State Party’s measures to remove illegally built constructions within the property and its decision to put on hold the construction of the visitors centre until the water table level is stabilized. However, it is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, detailed information, including Heritage Impact Assessments, for projects foreseen for construction within the property or its buffer zone, such as the visitors’ centre, before commencement, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Although the preparation of a condition assessment report for objects discovered in the Great Basilica is welcome, the State Party has not yet submitted details of all on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly at the Great Basilica, nor the reburial strategy, nor initiatives arising from the project for the restoration and rehabilitation of the property, for review prior to implementation, as requested in Decisions 40 COM 7A.9 and 41 COM 7A.32.

A comprehensive Conservation Plan addressing all of the significant components of the property is still required. Moreover, the Committee has been requesting the completion of a Management Plan for the property for more than a decade. A specific request to prepare a comprehensive Integrated Management Plan for the property was made in Decision 41 COM 7A.32, but the State Party has not provided any progress report on the preparation of such a Management Plan. 

The State Party submitted a proposal for a minor boundary modification to the World Heritage Centre in 2016. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue the consultation process with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS and formally submit a revised modification of the boundaries of both the property and buffer zone, in accordance with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7A.17
Abu Mena (Egypt) (C 90)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.32, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Continues to express great concern regarding the state of conservation of the property and the low level of implementation of the recommended corrective measures;
  4. Notes that a scientific committee to study the threats to the property arising from the rise of the groundwater level and elaborate a project to address them, has been established, and urgently requests the State Party to:
    1. Devise an action plan to address the rise of the groundwater level,
    2. Establish an efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones,
    3. Devise mitigation measures for the archaeological remains, during the process of lowering and stabilizing the water table;
  5. Also notes that, with the agreement of the State Party, an Advisory mission involving UNESCO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is to visit the property to provide advice on appropriate irrigation and water management technologies;
  6. Also requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details for all on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly at the Great Basilica, the reburial strategy, and initiatives arising from the project for restoration and rehabilitation of the property, or any new envisaged constructions such as a visitors’ centre, for review prior to implementation, noting that a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) should be prepared for rehabilitation and construction projects in accordance with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties;
  7. Urges the State Party to proceed with comprehensive implementation of the corrective measures, to protect and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, with particular attention to the following issues:
    1. Preparation of a comprehensive Integrated Management Plan,
    2. Preparation of a conservation plan, which includes a condition survey and the identification of priority interventions to ensure stabilization of archaeological remains,
    3. Removal of inadequate new constructions, and the creation of facilities to allow for religious uses in areas outside the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone, if need be;
  8. Further requests the State Party to finalize the minor boundary modification request in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, and in line with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, 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;
  10. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
42 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 42 COM 7A.1)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 42 COM 7A.2)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 42 COM 7A.5)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 42 COM 7A.8)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.45)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 42 COM 7A.9)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.46)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.47)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.48)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.49)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.50)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.51)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 42 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.44)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 42 COM 7A.40)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 42 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 42 COM 7A.19)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 42 COM 7A.20)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 42 COM 7A.21)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 42 COM 7A.22)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 42 COM 7A.23)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 42 COM 7A.24)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 42 COM 7A.25)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 42 COM 7A.26)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 42 COM 7A.53)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 42 COM 7A.13)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 42 COM 7A.14)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 42 COM 7A.15)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 42 COM 7A.3)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 42 COM 7A.54)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 42 COM 7A.27)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 42 COM 7A.29)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 42 COM 7A.28)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 42 COM 7A.10)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 42 COM 7A.11)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.55)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 42 COM 7A.6)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 42 COM 7A.41)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 42 COM 7A.30)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 42 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 42 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 42 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 42 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 42 COM 7A.35)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 42 COM 7A.16)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 42 COM 7A.7)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.56)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.42)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 42 COM 7A.4)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 42 COM 7A.12)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 42 COM 7A.37)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 42 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 42 COM 7A.39)
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7A.17

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.32, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Continues to express great concern regarding the state of conservation of the property and the low level of implementation of the recommended corrective measures;
  4. Notes that a scientific committee to study the threats to the property arising from the rise of the groundwater level and elaborate a project to address them, has been established, and urgently requests the State Party to:
    1. Devise an action plan to address the rise of the groundwater level,
    2. Establish an efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones,
    3. Devise mitigation measures for the archaeological remains, during the process of lowering and stabilizing the water table;
  5. Also notes that, with the agreement of the State Party, an Advisory mission involving UNESCO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is to visit the property to provide advice on appropriate irrigation and water management technologies;
  6. Also requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details for all on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly at the Great Basilica, the reburial strategy, and initiatives arising from the project for restoration and rehabilitation of the property, or any new envisaged constructions such as a visitors’ centre, for review prior to implementation, noting that a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) should be prepared for rehabilitation and construction projects in accordance with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties;
  7. Urges the State Party to proceed with comprehensive implementation of the corrective measures, to protect and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, with particular attention to the following issues:
    1. Preparation of a comprehensive Integrated Management Plan,
    2. Preparation of a conservation plan, which includes a condition survey and the identification of priority interventions to ensure stabilization of archaeological remains,
    3. Removal of inadequate new constructions, and the creation of facilities to allow for religious uses in areas outside the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone, if need be;
  8. Further requests the State Party to finalize the minor boundary modification request in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, and in line with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, 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;
  10. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2018
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)
Danger List (dates): 2001-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
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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