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Abu Mena

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2010*
  • Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (extraction)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Rise in the water table
  • Impact on structures due to earth trembling and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment;
  • 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.
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 
Corrective Measures for the property

a) Implementation of a rapid condition survey of all excavated remains and urgent conservation measures in order to provide protection to structures against earth trembling and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment;

b) Lowering of the water table by means of drainage ditches and pipes, inside and around the archaeological area;

c) Establishment of an efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones;

d) Preparation of a conservation plan, defining short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and establishing technical parameters (materials, techniques, etc);

e) Consultations with stakeholders with the objective of preparing 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.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
In its report presented in 2007, the State Party announced the completion of the works by 2010.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2010
Requests approved: 1 (from 2001-2001)
Total amount approved : 7,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2010**

2002: Expert mission; 2005: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; December 2009: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation on 17 March 2010 as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). In addition, the State Party submitted a Power Point presentation to underscore the work implemented at the property.

From 12 to 15 December 2009, a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was carried out at the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009) to consider progress with the implementation of the corrective measures.

The State Party reports that work continues through the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the Alexandria Governorate. The report states that conservation and preservation programmes have been applied to the core site of Abu Mena to maintain the integrity of the site. The State Party reported progress with the following corrective measures:

a) Implementation of a rapid condition survey of all excavated remains and urgent conservation measures in order to provide protection to structures against earth trembling and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment

The State Party report mentions that a multidisciplinary team has been formed to carry out necessary studies and research for the protection and conservation of the property, so as to protect and conserve the site before any further excavations occur.

The mission noted that the dilapidated physical conditions of the property are largely related to the increase of water table levels, an issue that will be discussed next. Although progress has been made in addressing some of the concerns identified during the reactive monitoring mission of 2005, limited systematic work has been implemented to address all the recommendations made at that time. Actions have included geophysical surveys and archaeological excavations at places that could be impacted by earth moving operations, which led to changes in lines of channels where concentrations of objects were found. Limited work has been implemented with regard to a systematic conditions survey. Emergency consolidation and conservation work was undertaken to protect structures likely to be damaged from heavy earth-moving equipment.

b) Lowering of the water table by means of drainage ditches and pipes, inside and around the archaeological area

The State Party reports that efforts to control rising groundwater levels, resulting from the intensive irrigation at nearby areas and supplied by canals coming from the Nile, have been effectively implemented and that they no longer pose a threat.

The mission noted that the technical report on underground water had been finalised in 2006 and its recommendations were taken into account for the design of a drainage system that would be suitable to the specific conditions present at the property. This project has been developed and has been put in operation with fieldwork started in February 2006 and completion expected in June 2010. The projects are well designed and promise to be effective. However operation conditions need to consider other aspects of water management and economic and financial resources required for the implementation and operation phase. Moreover, the projects will succeed only if the farmers involved ensure their active participation, while all the state and regional authorities responsible for water management and irrigation also confirm their cooperation.

c) Establishment of an efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones

The mission highlighted that an efficient system for monitoring the water table in the archaeological site and in the surrounding zones is essential, as its level will remain the most significant variable for assessing the effectiveness of the solution of the problem.

d) Preparation of a conservation plan, defining short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and establishing technical parameters (materials, techniques, etc)

The State Party report indicates that a team of experts is working on drafting a final management and conservation plan and the preparation of educational and training programmes to increase capacities and encourage broader community involvement. The proposed plan of action by the State Party (included in the PowerPoint presentation) entails collection of data, documentation and studies, determination of goals and objectives and development of a master and site management plan, protection and monitoring of monuments during dewatering, treatment, restoration and conservation, historic and architectural research studies for restoration and anastylosis possibilities. The presentation considers different scenarios with variables that include no reconstruction, just conservation, and the potential erection of protective shelters, among others. The presentation included projections for the potential erection of marble columns in the Great Basilica and at the MartyrChurch and the reconstruction of the baptistery. In addition to these, parallel activities will include monitoring, consolidation and protection, construction of the fence, development of signage and brochures and fundraising.

The mission noted that the SCA and the Mar Mena Community have set up working groups using national expert individuals and institutions. However, there are certain areas where international expertise is needed, and these have been identified. The State Party should explore these aspects of technological, scientific, and management expertise in association with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, as well as individual national funding agencies and non-governmental organizations.

The mission verified that the proposals for the formulation of conservation and management plans have progressed and the preliminary drafts are acceptable in general terms.

e) Other issues

(i) Buffer zone

The State Party indicated that boundaries for the World Heritage property have been established; however there are still no definite boundaries for the buffer zone.

The mission report mentions the difficulties expressed by the State Party in establishing boundaries, considering the specific characteristics of the aquifer and that there might be reluctance from farmers to accept restrictions on irrigation practices. The mission noted that the new fence under construction would include an area where the effect of water table lowering will be evident, as no irrigation will be permitted there.

(ii) Desired state of conservation and Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

The State Party has not prepared a draft Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The time frame also needs to be revised as, originally, the State Party had announced that the corrective measures would be completed by 2010.

The mission report states that the State Party is currently drafting the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value within the framework of the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting in the Arab States.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies take note of the progress made by the State Party in implementing some of the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006). Although there are achievements in mitigating the threat posed by increasing water table levels and in addressing emergency conditions that threatened the property, they remain concerned about the lack of implementation of systematic and comprehensive actions at the property that would ensure sustaining the Outstanding Universal Value of Abu Mena.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2010
34 COM 7A.17
Abu Mena (Egypt) (C 90)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7A.15, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Welcomes the information provided by the State Party on the progress made in achieving some of the corrective measures and requests the State Party to continue its work on all the corrective measures adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006);

4. Notes the results of the December 2009 joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, endorses its recommendations and requests the State Party to:

a) Carry out a complete condition survey of the inscribed property to substantiate provisions for the conservation plan, including actions for interventions, monitoring and maintenance,

b) Finalize the preparation of the management plan and set forth conditions for the effective operation of the prescribed management arrangements,

c) Finalize the definition of the buffer zone and establish the legislative arrangements and regulatory measures so that it effectively protects the inscribed property;

5. Also requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, new designs and technical specifications considered for the intervention on archaeological remains for consideration and review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to approval and implementation;

6. Further requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to develop a proposal for the Desired State of Conservation, with a revised timeframe for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011;

7. Reiterates its invitation to the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance to the World Heritage Fund to support the preparation of the requested conservation and management plans and to provide a basis for shaping and articulating priority needs;

8. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, 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 35th session in 2011;

9.  Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

34 COM 8C.2
Establishment of the World Heritage List in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-10/34.COM/7A, WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add.2),

2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 34 COM 7A.22)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 34 COM 7A.23)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 34 COM 7A.13)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.1)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 34 COM 7A.29)
  • Colombia, Los Katios National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.14)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.2)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 34 COM 7A.3)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Virunga National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.4)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.5)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Garamba National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Salonga National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 34 COM 7A.8)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 34 COM 7A.17)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.9)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 34 COM 7A.27)
  • India, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Decision 34 COM 7A.12)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 34 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 34 COM 7A.19)
  • Islamic Republic of Iran, Bam and its Cultural Landscape (Decision 34 COM 7A.24)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 34 COM 7A.20)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 34 COM 7A.10)
  • Pakistan, Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Decision 34 COM 7A.25)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 34 COM 7A.30)
  • Philippines, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Decision 34 COM 7A.26)
  • Senegal, Niokolo Koba National Park (Decision 34 COM 7A.11)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 34 COM 7A.28)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (Decision 34 COM 7A.16)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 34 COM 7A.31)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 34 COM 7A.21)
Draft Decision: 34 COM 7A.17

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7A.15, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Takes note of the information provided by the State Party on the progress made in achieving some of the corrective measures and urges the State Party to continue its work on all the corrective measures adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006);

4. Notes the results of the December 2009 joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, endorses its recommendations and also urges to State Party to:

a) Carry out a complete condition survey of the inscribed property to substantiate provisions for the conservation plan, including actions for interventions, monitoring and maintenance,

b) Finalise the preparation of the management plan and set forth conditions for the effective operation of the prescribed management arrangements,

c) Finalise the definition of the buffer zone and establish the legislative arrangements and regulatory measures so that it effectively protects the inscribed property;

5. Requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, new designs and technical specifications considered for the intervention on archaeological remains for consideration and review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to approval and implementation;

6. Also requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to develop a proposal for the Desired state of conservation, with a revised timeframe, for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011;

7. Reiterates its invitation to the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance to the World Heritage fund to support the preparation of the requested conservation and management plans, and to provide a basis for shaping and articulating priority needs;

8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, 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 35th session in 2011;

9. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Report year: 2010
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)
Danger List (dates): 2001-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 34COM (2010)
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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