Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk, Archaeological Site of Ancient Ishanapura (Cambodia) (C 1532)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2017
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/1532/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1532/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Factors identified at the time of inscription of the property:
- Need to clarify the attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value with regards to the boundaries of the temples zone and the buffer zone
- Necessity to augment the Conservation Plan, to refine the Management Plan and to complement the monitoring program
- Need to address a number of tourism-related issues (revise the Tourism Management Plan, prepare a visitor code of conduct, prepare an interpretation and presentation plan for the Kampoon Thom Museum, improve signage, improve the visitor display and interpretation information at the Sambor Prei Kuk Visitor Centre, etc.)
- Need to to avoid herbicides in fighting weeds and replace them by masonry- and environment-friendly methods
- Need to continue implementing careful looting control
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1532/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019
On 28 November 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1532/documents/ and addresses recommendations made at the time of the inscription in 2017 (Decision 41 COM 8B.15) as follows:
- A location map and photographic documentation of eight ‘Octagonal Towers’ has been prepared;
- Documentation and condition assessment of 142 ‘Flying Palace’ decorative sculptural elements has been completed to strengthen the management of risks. Some are at ‘high risk’ due to vegetation growth and brick deterioration, and an Emergency Plan has been devised;
- Risk mapping and monitoring has commenced. A number of structures, and especially those built in the late 6th to early 7th centuries, are at risk due to natural factors, particularly vegetation growth. Illegal archaeological excavations, the aged fabric and structural issues have also contributed to the deterioration of some temples. A site map showing the risks has been produced, along with a table indicating the specific causes of deterioration and brief descriptions of the proposed interventions;
- Restoration work has occurred on the S11 tower, and on a number of the ‘flying palaces’ in the Prasat Yeay Poan group;
- Maintenance and other site works undertaken include vegetation removal; installation of signs, site maps and information panels; improvements and re-routing of access roads, paths and staircases; fencing; stabilisation works; and archaeological research. The State Party has confirmed that no herbicides are used at the property;
- Information has been provided about tourism statistics and seasonal variations in tourism industry activity, and evaluation of the carrying capacity is continuing;
- Updated information is provided in relation to other recommendations made by the World Heritage Committee, including: adoption of a visitor code of conduct; resourcing and timeframes for the interpretation and presentation plan for the Kampong Thom Museum; new signage for orientation, direction-finding and identification of monuments; establishment of a temporary interpretation centre for visitors, and anti-looting measures.
In conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, the State Party submitted a map on 20 November 2018, showing the location of a bypass road from Chey Commune to Kampong Chheu Teal High School, within the buffer zone.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
Progress has been made in relation to the recommendations formulated at the time of inscription in 2017. A full articulation of the attributes of the property remains to be finalized and should include all aspects that convey the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including standing structures/ruins, decorative elements/inscriptions, archaeological sites and evidence, hydraulic elements and causeways. It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for the progress achieved, including the documentation presented by the National Authority for Sambor Prei Kuk on the condition of the octagonal towers and ‘flying palaces’, and encourage it to continue working in this direction to strengthen the long-term management of the property and its OUV. As work continues, the documentation, mapping and condition assessment of the attributes should be clearly reflected into the management system.
While aspects of the Conservation Plan have been augmented, the recommended ‘conservation manual’ has not been developed and the recommended refinement to the Management Plan in relation to the need for a Risk Response and Management Plan needs to be completed. There is a necessity to improve the current strategic documents with more detailed guidance on decision making and conservation actions.
The integrity of the property remains vulnerable due to past damage and looting, structural factors (including deterioration of original fabric), visitor pressures and natural processes (especially vegetation growth on the structures). The State Party has made progress in determining specific conservation issues for each structure and their urgency, and methods to address various problems have been determined. Monitoring of masonry structures and conservation measures based on minor anastylosis, re-pointing, installation of non-intrusive ties and structural supports and selective replacement of degraded bricks with recycled historical bricks from the local area are recommended.
The information on weather and the seasonality of tourism is useful and should contribute to the recommended revisions of the Tourism Management Plan. Given the vulnerability of the property to current and expected future visitor numbers, this work is critical. The reported improvements to signs and the temporary solutions to address the need for interpretation facilities are noted.
The bypass road, which passes through the northern end of the buffer zone, is considered an appropriate intervention as it removes heavy traffic from within the inscribed property. It was built in 2012 and was inspected and discussed within the context of the ICOMOS evaluation.
A Board of Directors has been established for the National Authority for Sambor Prei Kuk to monitor the budget and the implementation of the work programme, with reporting due every six months. These arrangements should strengthen efforts to improve and implement the management system, including risk management, conservation approaches and sustainable tourism. It is recommended that the Committee request State Party to forward the biannual reports to the World Heritage Centre.
The State Party acknowledges that the extension of the property, once the inscribed area has been better studied, documented and assessed, is a longer-term issue and has undertaken to consult with ICOMOS about this in due course.
The provisional Statement of OUV is being reviewed, and an agreed draft will be presented to the World Heritage Committee for adoption.
Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.56
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 41 COM 8B.15, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
- Commends the State Party for the progress made in implementing the Committee’s previous decision and the recommendations formulated at the time of inscription and requests the State Party to continue making progress on the issues identified by the World Heritage Committee at the time of inscription, including:
- Clearly documenting the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value of the property, ensuring that the documentation, mapping and condition assessments of the attributes are reflected into the management system,
- Further developing the conservation manual to support the implementation of the Conservation Plan, including details of resources to address urgent conservation works, based on the risk mapping undertaken,
- Further refining the Management Plan through the development of a Risk Response and Management Plan, and by continuing to identify adequate resources for all planned actions,
- Continuing to assess the carrying capacity of the property, and integrating the new data related to tourism planning by revising the Tourism Management Plan, including actions, timeframes and resources,
- Implementing the visitor code of conduct and reviewing those provisions that are specific to the property, as necessary, in relation to the further development of the Tourism Management Plan and planned improvements to the site interpretation, including the plans for the Kampoon Thom Museum and Sambor Prei Kuk Visitor Centre,
- Continuing to implement anti-looting measures,
- Expanding the effectiveness of the monitoring system by ensuring regular reporting on the conservation and restoration works, risk data, settlement pattern, ancient hydraulic structures, visitor satisfaction, community involvement, and broader environmental indicators, and communicating the periodic reports to the World Heritage Centre,
- Considering the long-term possibility of extending the property boundaries once the inscribed area has been fully documented and assessed;
- Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.