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Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region

Sudan
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Desertification
  • Flooding
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Land conversion
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Wind
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Deterioration as a result of exposure to difficult environmental conditions such as wind with sand and floods
  • Urban encroachment
  • Absence of a management plan with government commitment
  • Flooding
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems / management plan
  • Wind and Desertification
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 2 (from 2004-2005)
Total amount approved : 68,900 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

2004, 2006, 2007: World Heritage Centre missions; February 2011: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2019: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 25 January 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1073/documents/, and addresses the concerns of the Committee, by providing:

  • An overview of the thirteen archaeological missions supported by the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP) and working on the five component parts of the property and their responses regarding the concerns of the Committee. Information is provided on work areas, research and conservation strategies, activities over the past five years, an overview of excavations, site management projects, monitoring and restoration work, outputs such as. site surveys, modelling and publications;
  • A summary of the state of conservation of selected attributes:
    • The Temples of the Royal City at Gebel Barkal as well as the surface remains located west are noted as having a poor general state of conservation and being unstable, to varying degrees, as a result of the inherent fragility of the original building materials, long exposure to extreme climatic conditions, including repeated flooding (prior to 1990), and destructive human activity. The site continues to suffer from unmonitored, unregulated human access and illegal vehicle movements,
    • The main threats at Nuri are environmental change, encroachment and rising groundwater levels;
  • The most current maps of each component part;
  • Details of a proposed tourist information structure within the property at Sanam, due for commencement in January 2019, and for a large archaeological centre and socio-cultural community club complex for El-Zuma.
  • Information about excavation, conservation and presentation activities at El-Kurru site, notably for the conservation of the painted decoration at the royal Tombs, including proposals for a shelter at the Funerary Temple and information about a protective cover designed and built at the staircase of Pyramid Ku.1.

The State Party recognises that more effective coordination of the archaeological missions is necessary within the framework of a comprehensive Management Plan. The state of conservation report by the State Party is intended as the first step in remedying past deficiencies.

The State Party invited a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission (17-25 February 2019), which was requested by the Committee to determine whether the state of conservation of the attributes that sustain the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are subject to ascertained or potential danger. Its report shall be available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1073/documents.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The 2019 mission provided preliminary results and acknowledged the efforts being made by the State Party to protect the property, including upgrading the administrative structure of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), and the consideration given to strengthen the 1999 Antiquities Protection Ordinance.

With regard to the property boundaries and buffer zones, the mission found these were not properly defined or managed, leading to confusion at institutional levels. Consequently, an area in front of the Gebel Barkal site has been sold for development despite the intention for it to be part of the buffer zone. Urban development and construction are also encroaching on the property (Nuri village, Zuma), leading to high adverse impacts. The need to control urban development particularly on the Western side was highlighted at the time of inscription. Moreover, the ‘exceptional river and semi-desert landscape almost untouched by modern development’ that formed the setting at that time is now seen by the mission to be degraded.

In addition, poor tourism management and enforcement has led to uncontrolled vehicles entering the property. This partly reflects the lack of capacity of the tourism police to provide basic site protection. It is more than urgent that the State Party submit to the World Heritage Centre a Minor Boundary Modification with clarification on the buffer zones at the property.

The museum and storage facilities at the different components are in a very poor condition. The facilities currently lack the basic requirements for safety and security as well as an adequate conservation environment, but there are proposals to enlarge the space and enhance conditions.

A Management Plan was adopted in 2007 but has not been implemented due to lack of personnel. While some management planning is available, it does not exist for all components, and where it does it is not implemented. There is no overall strategy for managing different foreign teams undertaking excavation and restoration projects or for coordinating approaches: each team applies its own methodology. It is highly recommended to set urgently a management mechanism and harmonize the work of archaeological missions at the property

The mission noted that many important projects have been undertaken without proper regard for the requirements under Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. For example, the hasty implementation of the shelter over the funerary structure at El-Kurru was undertaken prior to the advice of the Advisory Bodies being considered. There is a similar concern regarding several planned or under-construction visitor centres within the property, which need re-locating. Although good work is being done on a small part of the property this is just not enough at the moment to reverse the downward trends.

The mission found that urgent measures need to be implemented at the property to reverse the alarming level of deterioration at most sites that is impacting highly adversely on the authenticity and integrity of the property, and to halt development on the western side of Gebel Barkal that would irretrievably compromised its setting. Together these threats, combined with the negative impact of uncontrolled tourism and lack of adequate protection and management are impacting adversely, and in places irreversibly, on the OUV of the property. It is recommended that the Committee expresses its dismay at the current situation and urges the State Party to take urgent actions to control the situation and implement in full the recommendations provided by the 2019 mission.

In response to the request of the Committee to consider whether inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger was justified, in line with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines, it is recommended that the Committee support the mission’s proposal to give the State Party one more year to implement its recommendations and then to review progress made with controlling the current degradation in 2020.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.54
Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region (Sudan) (C 1073)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.59, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Commends the State Party regarding a number of good examples of conservation or protection works being undertaken at select sites;
  4. Expresses its serious concern at the overall state of conservation of the property, which, according to the 2019 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, is seriously threatened by alarming levels of fabric degradation as a result of environmental factors, absence of adequate controls, lack of appropriate maintenance, inadequate museum and storage facilities, lack of management planning, no overall strategy for managing foreign excavation teams, urban encroachment and development of projects, all of which are impacting negatively and in places irreversibly on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and requests the State Party to implement the recommendations to the 2019 mission;
  5. Notes with great concern that an area in front of the Gebel Barkal site has been sold for development despite the intention for it to be part of the buffer zone, and urges the State Party to halt these development proposals, and as a matter of urgency and to submit to the World Heritage Centre a Minor Boundary Modification, which defines the buffer zones at the property;
  6. Also notes that on-ground tourism management problems are leading to vehicles entering the property and damaging monuments;
  7. Considers that the overall situation regarding the protection and management of the property is beyond the current capacity of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) to manage effectively despite the efforts of the State Party; and that support is urgently needed to strengthen this capacity in order to allow the basic structures to be put in place relating to boundaries, and management, including tourism management;
  8. Also considers that immediate measures have to be taken to suspend potentially adverse proposals, until these can be appropriately considered, and to undertake immediate measures to enhance protection and management;
  9. Calls upon the international community to support the State Party’s urgent protection and management work through financial, technical or expert assistance;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, a report on the state of conservation of the property and on the steps taken to implement the recommendations above mentioned, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained danger to the OUV, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.54

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.59, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Commends the State Party regarding a number of good examples of conservation or protection works being undertaken at select sites;
  4. Expresses its serious concern at the overall state of conservation of the property, which, according to the 2019 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, is seriously threatened by alarming levels of fabric degradation as a result of environmental factors, absence of adequate controls, lack of appropriate maintenance, inadequate museum and storage facilities, lack of management planning, no overall strategy for managing foreign excavation teams, urban encroachment and development of projects, all of which are impacting negatively and in places irreversibly on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and requests the State Party to implement the recommendations to the 2019 mission;
  5. Notes with great concern that an area in front of the Gebel Barkal site has been sold for development despite the intention for it to be part of the buffer zone, and urges the State Party to halt these development proposals, and as a matter of urgency and to submit to the World Heritage Centre a Minor Boundary Modification, which defines the buffer zones at the property;
  6. Also notes that on-ground tourism management problems are leading to vehicles entering the property and damaging monuments;
  7. Considers that the overall situation regarding the protection and management of the property is beyond the current capacity of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) to manage effectively despite the efforts of the State Party; and that support is urgently needed to strengthen this capacity in order to allow the basic structures to be put in place relating to boundaries, and management, including tourism management;
  8. Also considers that immediate measures have to be taken to suspend potentially adverse proposals, until these can be appropriately considered, and to undertake immediate measures to enhance protection and management;
  9. Calls upon the international community to support the State Party’s urgent protection and management work through financial, technical or expert assistance;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, a report on the state of conservation of the property and on the steps taken to implement the recommendations above mentioned, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained danger to the OUV, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2019
Sudan
Date of Inscription: 2003
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
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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