1.         Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis (Egypt) (C 87)

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/87/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 7,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/87/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 1,131,000 from the Japanese Funds-in-Trust, 2002-2004 and 2008 (wall paintings restoration in the tomb of Amenophis III), and USD 400,000 in 2023 for Phase 3 of the conservation of wall paintings of the royal tomb of Amenhotep III;  Special Account for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of Egypt: USD 931,674 for ‘Hassan Fathy New Gourna’, and USD 310,381 for ‘Memphis and Thebes Sites Management Support’; Euro 150,000 from the Government of France for Enhancing Capacities for the Protection of World Heritage Properties in Egypt (2020).

Previous monitoring missions

2001: ICOMOS mission; 2002: hydrology expert mission; July 2006 and May 2007: World Heritage Centre missions; April 2008, May 2009 and April 2017: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions; January/February 2021 UNESCO Advisory mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/87/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 20 December 2022, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report. An executive summary of this report is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/87/documents/. Progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in this report, as follows:

● An Integrated Management Plan, including a comprehensive Tourism Mitigation/Management Plan will be prepared by the end of 2023. An outline of its contents has been provided and a request has been made for capacity building and technical assistance;

● Archaeological excavations continue and lists of recent discoveries, excavation works, and restoration projects have been provided. Further joint projects involving foreign missions are proposed;

● An extensive capacity building and training programme occurred in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in the Arab States and the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH);

● Schedules have been provided outlining the tasks undertaken to implement the recommendations of the 2017 Joint Reactive Monitoring mission and the 2021 UNESCO Advisory mission;

● An illustrated report was provided on excavations of the Sphinx Avenue, and a specialized department will continue the restoration work. The Sphinx Avenue was inaugurated by the President of Egypt in November 2021;

● A report was provided on cleaning works and the condition of the four Sphinxes, which were relocated to Tahrir Square in Cairo. A specialized team has been formed to monitor and advise on their condition, which is stable and showing no negative effects;

● Documentation was submitted on the lighting and security cameras project, the underground water project, works at the Temple of the Apt, the Temple of Medinet Habu, the Ramesseum, the Temple of Seti, disabled access works at Karnak, as well as the Flood Emergency Plan for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, among other reports;

● Sustainable visitor services are to be pursued through a public-private partnership;

● A Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission will be invited later in 2023;

● A proposed retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property was submitted with the state of conservation report.

Although not noted in the State Party state of conservation report for this property, the Higher Committee for the Management of Egyptian World Heritage Sites has decreed that Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) are to be prepared for all projects on World Heritage properties.

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

The State Party continues to progress with significant projects and initiatives, responding to previous Committee decisions, and in compliance with the requirements and processes of the World Heritage Convention and Operational Guidelines. It is welcome that HIAs must be prepared for all projects at the property, and that consistent with mission recommendations, an Integrated Management Plan has been initiated. It would be appropriate to draw the attention of the State Party to the new Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context. Consistent with previous Committee requests, the forthcoming Integrated Management Plan should address risk preparedness and sustainable tourism and should be submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, prior to being finalised, adopted, and implemented.

The State Party has submitted an extensive set of documentation, including illustrated reports, which demonstrate significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2017 Joint Reactive Monitoring mission and the 2021 UNESCO Advisory mission. The State Party has also undertaken the requested monitoring of the four sphinxes from the Karnak Temple that have been transferred to Tahrir Square in Cairo by May 2020, and has outlined arrangements for their ongoing conservation, management, and security. Information has also been provided regarding the lighting and security cameras project, the underground water project, works at the Temple of the Apt, the Temple of Medinet Habu, the Ramesseum, the Temple of Seti and the disabled access project at Karnak. The Flood Emergency Plan for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens has also been provided. The submission of these documents responds to previous Committee requests, and it would be appropriate for these documents to inform and be reviewed by the forthcoming joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission. This Reactive Monitoring mission was originally requested in 2021 and the advice from the State Party that the mission invitation will be issued during 2023 is welcome.

Documentation submitted regarding the proposed sustainable visitor services initiatives which are to be pursued through a public-private partnership is very high level and does not provide detailed information. Given the potential for impact on attributes which support the OUV of the property, it would be appropriate for the Committee to request further information and more detailed documentation in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Finalisation of the retrospective Statement of OUV for the property remains outstanding and the Committee may wish to encourage the State Party to continue to liaise with ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.136

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.126 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Commends the State Party on the progress made in relation to compliance with the requirements and processes of the World Heritage Convention and Operational Guidelines, including its decision to require Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) to be prepared for all projects at the property, and requests that HIAs should be completed in accordance with the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context, and reiterates its previous request that HIAs and relevant project documentation should be submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse;
  4. Welcomes the instigation of an Integrated Management Plan for the property, notes its previous request that this Plan should address risk preparedness and sustainable tourism, and also requests that the draft Integrated Management Plan be submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, prior to being finalised adopted and implemented;
  5. Also welcomes the advice from the State Party that the recommendations of the 2017 Joint Reactive Monitoring mission and 2021 UNESCO Advisory mission are being comprehensively implemented and also notes the progress reports provided by the State Party on the implementation of specific mission recommendations;
  6. Further notes the reports submitted on the four sphinxes from the Karnak Temple that were transferred to Tahrir Square in Cairo, the works undertaken and ongoing conservation and management arrangements for Sphinx Avenue, as well as the extensive information submitted regarding the lighting and security cameras project, the underground water project, works at the Temple of the Apt, the Temple of Medinet Habu, the Ramesseum, and the Temple of Seti, disabled access works at Karnak, as well as the Flood Emergency Plan for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit further information on the proposed implementation of the sustainable visitor services to be pursued through a public-private partnership for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  8. Further welcomes advice that the State Party will invite a Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission in 2023 to evaluate the property’s state of conservation, assess implementation of the recommendations from the 2017 and 2021 missions, review ongoing and planned projects and assess how they may affect the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and requests furthermore that the extensive documentation submitted by the State Party with its state of conservation report be reviewed by the mission;
  9. Encourages again the State Party to continue exchanges with ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre to finalize the retrospective Statement of OUV for the property;
  10. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, 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 47th session.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/8E,
  2. Commends the States Parties for the 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 Annex of Document WHC/23/45.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

ARAB STATES

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA

4.    Notes 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 World Heritage Centre to upload the two language versions of the above-mentioned retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value on its website.