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Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2008*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Flooding
  • Housing
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Raise of the underground water level;

b) Risks of flooding (Valleys of Kings and Queens);

c) Absence of a comprehensive management plan;

d) Major infrastructure and development projects taking place or scheduled;

e) Uncontrolled urban development;

f) Housing and agricultural encroachment on the West Bank;

g) Demolitions in the villages of Gurnah on the West Bank of the Nile and transfer of the population.

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2008

Total amount provided to the property: USD 1,131,000from the Japanese Funds-in-Trust 2002-2004 and 2008 (wall paintings restoration)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2008
Requests approved: 1 (from 2001-2001)
Total amount approved : 7,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2008**

2001: ICOMOS mission; 2002: hydrology expert mission; July 2006 and May 2007: World Heritage Centre missions; April 2008: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

The requests made by the World Heritage Committee at at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) raise concerns which first surfaced a decade earlier in a 1998 state of conservation report. At that time, responding to the stated intention of the State Party to remove the villages of Gurnah and their inhabitants (involved from the beginning of excavations on site since the 19th century), the World Heritage Bureau requested the Secretariat to study, with the Egyptian authorities, the possibility of launching a co-operation programme encompassing geological, archaeological, geographical, and anthropological studies, in order to better understand the situation of the villages and their inhabitants. The World Heritage Bureau further recommended to the Egyptian authorities “the postponement of any further transfer of the population of Gurnah until these investigations have taken place, and urged the authorities to establish an awareness campaign among the local community”. At the time, it was envisioned that “a comprehensive management plan could then be prepared to include the concept of a separate cultural landscape nomination for the villages of Gurnah and their environment”.

The World Heritage Committee’s Decision 31 COM 7B.55 regrets that the State Party did not take into account its earlier recommendations (1998, 2006) to carry out studies and impact assessments on Gurnah. This decision also regrets that the State Party has not taken up the recommendations of the 2006 mission to the World Heritage property, including those made regarding the design of the Karnak Plaza. The Decision also encouraged the State Party to revise its Master plan 2030 to directly integrate commitment to maintaining the outstanding universal value of the property within all projects and notably to organise an international consultation for the Karnak Plaza as well as for the Avenue of the Sphinxes, to abandon the landing stage for tourism boats planned for the western bank of the Nile, to organise adequate investigations before finalizing the dewatering trench delineation on the West bank, and also to set up management plans for Karnak, Luxor and the West Bank and a related co-ordinated management instrument.

In a letter sent to the World Heritage Centre on 25 January 2008, the State Party noted that:

a) The deliberations of a committee of experts in their fields “including foreigners” has guided the development of Karnak and Luxor. It, therefore, questioned the need for another international committee.

The World Heritage Centre has received no information about the composition of the committee of experts, its mandate or its discussions.

b) A letter regarding the 2030 master plan of the area has been sent to national authorities for review by a Committee of experts, egyptologists, archaeologists and ICOMOS.

The World Heritage Centre has received no information about the results of that review.

c) Concerning the establishment of a landing area for cruise boats on the West bank of the Nile, it seems that the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) had requested to limit such developments to the East bank.

d) Concerning the request to carry out preliminary investigations prior to establishing the dewatering trench, that a monitoring and salvage archaeology team had been established to follow the work with USAID support.

 

The joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission requested by the World Heritage Committee during its 31st session took place from 18-24 April 2008. Its report stated that none of the threats mentioned in previous reports had been effectively dealt with, except in cases where large-scale demolitions and new constructions have turned a threat into a fait accompli. The overall impression is that the values, authenticity and integrity of the property are being sacrificed in order to accommodate ever larger numbers of tourists.

Among the issues raised at the previous session of the World Heritage Committee, the following were highlighted by the mission:

a) No account was taken of the main recommendations of the 2006 and 2007 missions, nor of the previous recommendations of the World Heritage Bureau and Committee;

b) A large number of the houses of Gurnah were destroyed without any historic or ethnographic survey and the inhabitants moved to a new village to the North;

c) The project to destroy a portion of the city of Luxor in order to excavate the Alley of the Sphinxes and make it into a sunken pathway is still foreseen;

d) The project to build a mooring for cruise boats and various infrastructures on the West Bank, close to the new bridge, is still foreseen despite the State Party’s assurances to the contrary in its letter of 25 January 2008.

An issue already mentioned in the state of conservation report of 2007 is the present location of the parking lot at the entrance of the temple of Hatchepsut at Deir el-Bahari that seriously impairs the vision of the temple and should be moved to another location.

The mission expressed its concern regarding those issues, in particular the need to keep in mind, at all stages of planning and design, the outstanding universal value of the property for which it was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to maintain the essential balance between the antiquities, the successive layers of history to date and the living communities.

An issue also mentioned in previous sessions is the absence of a comprehensive management plan for the entire property, Luxor, Karnak and the West bank. While appreciating the assistance provided to the SCA in this respect by international institutions, it is essential that such plan be urgently developed. The coordination of all activities in the property is under the responsibility of the SCA. This latter should organise meetings on a regular basis, where all those, Egyptian and foreign, involved in archaeological as well as infrastructure and development projects, could discuss the development of their projects.

The various recent projects undertaken and planned by the State Party (removal of nearly all of Gurnah, development of the Avenue of the sphinxes, development of the plaza at Karnak, cruise boat landing stage) all threaten the outstanding universal value of the property and in particular its authenticity and integrity. The criteria chosen for inscription in 1979 (in particular criterion vi), emphasize the need to see the site as reflective of developments from the Pharaonic period through the early Christian period. But moreover, all of these archaeological monuments and archaeological sites lie within a compelling and fundamentally important physical, historic and socio-cultural context, which is being permanently undermined by these changes. These modifications directly impair the authenticity of the setting and, in recreating elements such as the Avenue of the sphinxes without their former historic context, falsify the site with reconstruction work cautioned against in the Operational Guidelines. As well, the loss of Gurnah impairs the historical integrity and continuity of landscape use and occupation highlighted a decade ago by the World Heritage Bureau. Overall, the impairment of the existing historically evolved relations between features of the site, constitute a significant loss of integrity, as described in the Operational Guidelines.

These losses and the limited response of the State Party to these problems as raised over time suggest that, in the absence of any progress by 1 February 2009, the World Heritage Committee could consider to include this property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2008
32 COM 7B.57
Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis (Egypt) (C 87)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B.Add.2,

2. Recalling Decisions 30 COM 7B.46 and 31 COM 7B.55 adopted at its 30th (Vilnius, 2006), and 31st (Christchurch, 2007) sessions respectively,

3. Congratulates the State Party for its efforts in managing its World Heritage properties;

4. Reiterates its request to:

a) revise the design of the Avenue of the sphinxes and its surroundings;

b) abandon the project of building a landing stage for tourism cruise boats on the Western Bank of the Nile close to the new bridge, and to limit all such developments to the Eastern Bank;

5. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to prepare and/or finalise the management plans for Karnak, Luxor and the West Bank and to integrate these plans into one comprehensive and coordinated Management plan, including a conservation plan and a tourism control strategy;

6. Urges the State Party to establish a formal coordination mechanism under the responsibility of the Supreme Council of Antiquities between the latter, the Supreme Council of Luxor, the international scientific teams and other concerned stakeholders, and to hold regular consultations prior to the approval and launching of projects affecting the property and its buffer zone;

7. Invites the State Party to strengthen efforts to restore Hassan Fathi's new Gurnah village and to forward all projects related to the village prior to their approval for review by the World Heritage Committee;

8. Further reiterates its request to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, as a central part of the establishment of the management plan and related co-ordinated mechanism, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

9. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission in early 2009 to examine the progress made by the State Party in addressing the situation and to report about it to the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a detailed progress report on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.

32 COM 8D
Clarifications of property boundaries and sizes by States Parties in response to the restrospective inventory

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/8D,

2. Recalling Decisions 30 COM 11A.2 and 31 COM 11A.2, adopted at its 30th (Vilnius, 2006) and 31st (Christchurch, 2007) sessions respectively,

3. Recalls that, as decided at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) by Decision 31 COM 11A.2, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies will not be able to examine proposals for minor or significant modifications to boundaries of World Heritage properties whenever the delimitation of such properties as inscribed is unclear;

4. Congratulates States Parties in the European Region and the States Parties of Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia on the excellent work accomplished in the clarification of the delimitation of their World Heritage properties and thanks them for their efforts to improve the credibility of the World Heritage List,

5. Takes note of the clarifications of property boundaries and sizes provided by the following States Parties in the European and Arab Regions in response to the Retrospective Inventory, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-08/32.COM/8D:

  • Armenia: Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin;
  • Austria: Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg; Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn; Hallstatt-Dachstein-Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape;
  • Belgium: Flemish Béguinages;
  • Bulgaria: Boyana Church; Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak; Rila Monastery; Ancient City of Nessebar;
  • Croatia: Old City of Dubrovnik; Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian; Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč;
  • Czech Republic: Historic Centre of Telč; Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora; Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape; Gardens and Castle at Kroměříž;
  • Denmark: Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church; Roskilde Cathedral;
  • Egypt: Memphis and its Necropolis - the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur; Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis; Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae; Historic Cairo; Abu Mena; Saint Catherine Area;
  • Estonia: Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn;
  • Germany: Würzburg Residence with the Court Gardens and Residence Square; Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Brühl; Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin; Town of Bamberg;
  • Greece: Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae; Mount Athos; Medieval City of Rhodes; Archaeological Site of Mystras; Delos;
  • Hungary: Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue; Old Village of Hollókö and its Surroundings; Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its Natural Environment; Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (presented jointly with Slovakia);
  • Ireland: Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne; Skellig Michael;
  • Italy: Historic Centre of San Gimignano; City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto; Historic Centre of Siena; Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta; The trulli of Alberobello; Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna; Historic Centre of the City of Pienza; Residences of the Royal House of Savoy; Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico), Padua; Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto); Costiera Amalfitana; Archaeological area of Agrigento; Su Nuraxi di Barumini; Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia;
  • Latvia: Historic Centre of Riga;
  • Luxembourg: City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications;
  • Morocco: Medina of Marrakesh; Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou; Archaeological Site of Volubilis;
  • Poland: Cracow's Historic Centre; Historic Centre of Warsaw; Old City of Zamość; Medieval Town of Torún; Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork;
  • Portugal: Monastery of Batalha; Cultural Landscape of Sintra; Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley;
  • Romania: Danube Delta;
  • Slovakia: Historic Town of Banská Štiavnica and the Technical Monuments in its Vicinity; Spišský Hrad and its Associated Cultural Monuments; Vlkolínec; Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (presented jointly with Hungary);
  • Spain: Garajonay National Park;
  • Tunisia: Ichkeul National Park;
  • Ukraine: Kiev: Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra;
  • United Kingdom: Durham Castle and Cathedral; Ironbridge Gorge; Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites; Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd; Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church; Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church; Maritime Greenwich;

6. Requests the European and Arab States Parties which have not yet answered the questions raised in 2005, 2006 and 2007 within the framework of the Retrospective Inventory to provide all requested clarifications and documentation as soon as possible and by 1 December 2008 at the latest.

Draft Decision: 32 COM 7B.57

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B.Add.2,

2. Recalling Decisions 30 COM 7B.46 and 31 COM 7B.55 adopted at its 30th (Vilnius, 2006), and 31st (Christchurch, 2007) sessions respectively,

3. Reiterates its request to:

a) Retain part or all of the urban settlement along the Avenue of the sphinxes;

b) Revise the design of the Alley and its surroundings;

c) Abandon the project of building a landing stage for tourism cruise boats on the Western Bank of the Nile close to the new bridge and to limit all such developments to the Eastern Bank;

d) Institute a moratorium on any further demolition at Gurnah and relocation of the population until such time as the studies and impact assessments initially requested are carried out;

e) Move the parking lot in front of the temple of Hatchepsut to another location having no visual impact on the temple;

4. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to prepare and/or finalise the management plans for Karnak, Luxor and the West Bank and to integrate these plans into one comprehensive and coordinated Management plan, including a conservation plan and a tourism control strategy;

5. Urges the State Party to establish a formal coordination mechanism under the responsibility of the Supreme Council of Antiquities between the latter, the Supreme Council of Luxor, the international scientific teams and other concerned stakeholders, and to hold regular consultations prior to the approval and launching of projects affecting the property and its buffer zone;

6. Invites the State Party to strengthen efforts to restore Hassan Fathi’s new Gurnah village and to forward all projects related to the village prior to their approval for review by the World Heritage Committee;

7. Further reiterates its request to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a draft Statement of outstanding universal value, including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, as a central part of the establishment of the management plan and related co-ordinated mechanism, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

8. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission in early 2009 to examine the progress made, and to evaluate whether the threats mentioned could warrant inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a detailed progress report on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.

Report year: 2008
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 32COM (2008)
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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