1.         Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region (Sudan) (C 1073)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2003

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(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/1073/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2004-2005)
Total amount approved: USD 68,900
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1073/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Deterioration as a result of exposure to difficult environmental conditions such as wind with sand and floods;

b) Urban encroachment;

c) Absence of a management plan with government commitment. 

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1073/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

Upon a request from the World Heritage Centre, due to information received concerning threats affecting the property, the State Party submitted a detailed report on 21 March 2010 prepared by the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), addressing the following issues:

a) Management plan

The report notes that at the time of inscription, the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to finalise the Management plan and draw up a conservation programme with priorities, budget, appropriate staff and timelines. Such a plan was prepared with the assistance of UNESCO experts and officially endorsed in 2009 by the Sudanese authorities. However, it appears that the NCAM does not have the means to ensure the implementation of the Management plan.

b) Buffer zone

The report notes that the property has been mapped and the buffer zone established.

c) State of conservation

Gebel Barkal

(i) Mut Temple

The report notes that there is some damage, such as collapsed structures and stones, caused by natural factors and that some wall paintings are darkened by bat secretions and vandalism, whereas others are totally destroyed by water erosion. It also notes that some damage also occurred from old inadequate restorations which made use of cement. The report proposes some activities for the restoration of the paintings of the Temple, but it underlines that it requires assistance in determining the optimal actions for the collapsed structures of the Temple.

In 2005, the following activities related to the mural paintings of the Mut Temple at Gebel Barkal were undertaken under an International Assistance Request to the World Heritage Fund: (a) the detailed assessment and mapping of the state of conservation of the mural paintings; (b) the application of immediate and selected conservation actions to slow down the deterioration process; (c) the training of NCAM staff for the conservation of mural paintings; (d) the testing of conservation techniques and materials; and (e) the elaboration of a project proposal for the complete conservation of the Mut Temple, for potential donors.

(ii) The pyramids of Gebel Barkal

The State Party report notes that the damage incurred is mostly due to wind erosion, vandalism, fragile sandstone, inadequate previous excavations and restorations, and building techniques. The report notes that a preliminary study of the pyramids situated in the western part of Gebel Barkal is being carried out in order to envisage a restoration project.


The report notes that Sanam suffers from wind erosion, and that it is protected by a fence.

El Kurru

The report notes that the mural paintings of the decorated tombs are in a relatively good state of conservation. It also mentions, however, that they are in need of cleaning and consolidation.


The State Party report notes that the site is threatened by the passing of vehicles, people and animals.


The State Party report indicates that Nuri is affected by the same deterioration factors as Gebel Barkal and that an agreement between NCAM, Dongola University and the University of Rome has been signed in order to establish a centre for the study and the restoration of the site. It is stressed that a great deal of research must be carried out, especially regarding the painted burial chambers and in particular after the construction of the Merowe Dam.

A UNESCO mission rapidly visited the property in November 2008 at the occasion of a mission to the site of Meroe, in the framework of the preparation of its Nomination file, a UNESCO mission rapidly visited the property in November 2008. The mission noted that it faces crucial management, conservation and protection issues. This is largely due to a lack of human and financial resources of the NCAM. Indeed, the mission clearly noted that the property was in great need of conservation and protection which ought to be coupled by the effective implementation of the Management plan. Urban encroachment from the nearby village is expanding and a major project for a tourism complex very close to the pyramids of Gebel Barkal would severely compromise the visual integrity of the property. The World Heritage Centre alerted the State Party about the risks of accepting such a project and, in a letter dated 20 January 2010, the State Party announced that the building activities had been discontinued and assured the World Heritage Centre that it would be informed of any further developments.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are concerned by the various information received indicating the alarming state of conservation, protection and management of the property. They consider that assistance to the State Party should be provided in order to identify conservation priorities and develop a conservation plan, improve the management process and draw up a capacity building plan. In addition, the State Party should submit the mentioned buffer zone around the components of the property as a means of controlling adverse developments, for consideration by the World Heritage Committee.


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


Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7B.63

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 27 COM 8C.31 adopted at its 27th session (UNESCO, 2007),

3. Recognizes the State Party's efforts to ensure the conservation and protection of the property;

4. Welcomes the decision to discontinue the building activities of the tourism complex near the pyramids of Gebel Barkal and urges the State Party to continue preventing such a project in the vicinity of the property;

5. Requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of any restoration or construction projects planned at the property prior to their implementation for examination by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the revised and missing information related to the cartography of the property and the proposed buffer zone;

7. Encourages the State Party to submit an International Assistance Request aiming at improving the protection and conservation of the property;

8. Also urges the State Party to take all measures in order to implement the Management Plan;

9. Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission to Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region to assess the state of conservation of the property and assist in drafting an action plan for its preservation;

10. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a report on the implementation of the above recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/8E,

2. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex I of Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8E, WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add.2 for the following World Heritage properties: 

3. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed in priority;

4. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely: