Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro

Factors affecting the property in 1991*
  • Flooding
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    Deterioration of the bricks due to salt crystallization and hydration

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 1991

To date 7 million dollars have been collected thanks to governmental and private donations.

Within the framework of the UNDP Five-year Plan (1988/93) for Pakistan, priority is given to the safeguarding of archaeological sites, including Moenjodaro. A project has been approved in 1991 to this effect for an amount of US$595,000.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 1991
Requests approved: 3 (from 1982-1983)
Total amount approved : 68,000 USD
Missions to the property until 1991**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1991

Inscribed in 1980 on the World Heritage List under criteria (ii) and (iii), the site is the subject of an international safeguarding campaign.

It was described as "one of the greatest metropolises of the most ancient East". To date, approximately 800,000 sq. m have been exposed, estimated to be about 10% of the total site. At the time of excavation, the standing brick walls were found to be relatively well-preserved. Soon afterwards, however, development of white salt efflorescence was observed on the walls. The brick has been rapidly deteriorating because of salt crystallization and hydration, which has resulted in exfoliation and disintegration of the brick. Most of this salt damage has been attributed to the destructive effects of sodium sulphates. A serious threat to Moenjodaro was posed by the river Indus. The bed of the river has shifted considerably over the years and has clearly flooded Moenjodaro in the past. Of late it has shown a tendency to move westward towards the remains.

A master plan, developed with the assistance of UNESCO, provided for the following work:

(1) the lowering of the ground water level;

(2) the armouring of the existing bunds facing the river so as to pin down the extreme limit of the current at an optimum safe distance from the existing right bank of the river;

(3) a number of steps to be taken for the preservation of archaeological remains;

(4) landscaping of the site and planting of salt resistant trees and grass to reduce the drifting of salt and its carriage by wind.

Since it was apparent that the cost of the work could not be borne by Pakistan alone, an international campaign was launched by UNESCO in 1979 to mobilize international support. To date 7 million dollars have been collected thanks to governmental and private donations. In addition to this, the government estimates that it has spent 9.5 million dollars and that an additional amount of approximately 7 million (based on 1988 costs) will berequired to complete the campaign.

Since the launching of the campaign, a significant part of the major infrastructural elements foreseen by the master plan has been accomplished, particularly with regard to the protection of the site from flooding and the lowering of the ground water level. Over the next years, it will be necessary to complete further work required with regard to these two aspects, so that further effort can be concentrated on the preservation of archaeological remains. Presentation of the archaeological remains to visitors must be a prominent theme in the plans for the site, including steps to be taken to prevent damage to the site by the visitors. An overall plan for the site must therefore be developed having particular regard for the relationship between the preservation and exploitation of Moenjodaro as an archaeological site and its development as a cultural tourism facility.

Within the framework of the UNDP Five-year Plan (1988/93) for Pakistan, priority is given to the safeguarding of archaeological sites, including Moenjodaro. A project has been approved in 1991 to this effect for an amount of US$595,000.


Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1991
Monitoring of the State of Conservation of the World Heritage Cultural and Related Technical Problems

18. The monitoring report presented by the Secretariat dealt with the following sites: Xanthos-Letoon (Turkey), the City of Valletta (Malta), Shibam (Yemen), National Historical Park - Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers (Haiti), Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), Moenjodaro (Pakistan), and the Madara Rider (Bulgaria). Monitoring visits had been made to seventeen sites by an expert who was in charge of co­ordinating action for the preservation of 115 Mediterranean sites within the framework of the UNEP - Barcelona Convention. These visits had yielded a wealth of information and documentation which needed analysis and the establishment of a dialogue with the national authorities before a report could be presented to the Committee. A summary of the findings of this expert concerning two sites was included in the Working Document SC-91/CONF.002/3. Reports on the state of conservation of the other fifteen sites will be presented to the Bureau in June 1992. In addition, the expert who was present at this session was ready to explain to the Committee his approach and to respond to specific questions. An additional monitoring report had been prepared by the Co-ordinator of the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project on Cultural Heritage and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, who was also present at this session.

19. The Committee was also informed of the type of continuous monitoring which the Secretariat pursued with regard to projects which were the subject of international campaigns or supported by UNDP. A recently published brochure on the work carried out in Sana'a, as well as the report on the mission to Bulgaria which was annexed to the Document SC-91/CONF.002/3, showed that the most efficient monitoring could be done through technical assistance missions. Unfortunately, the financial and personnel resources of the Secretariat were far too small compared with the many World Heritage sites to be monitored.

20. In the opinion of the Secretariat, a monitoring action should be carried out in the form of a continuous dialogue with the State Party which should begin even before the inscription of the site, in order to inform local competent authorities (politicians and technicians) about the values to be maintained and the principles and methods of conservation to be applied. In particular, the implementation of the management plan requested at the time of the proposal for inscription should be verified by means of a monitoring exercise.

21. The representative of ICOMOS brought to the attention of the Committee alarming news about the deterioration of certain parts of monuments of Khizi Pogost (USSR). He stressed the fact that his organization was interested in sending a mission on the spot to evaluate the state of conservation of the site. With reference to the cultural centre in the process of being built between the Tower of Belem and the Monastery of the Hieronymites (Portugal), he underlined that the work was almost completed and that a comprehensive file submitted by the government showed that the rules of the competition had taken account of the fact that the site was classified as a World Heritage property. Part of the existing building replaced industrial constructions and this represented an improvement. This case proved that it was necessary to determine a future strategy to guide architects in charge of the development of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Portuguese observer remarked that the project of integrating this cultural centre was part of a plan for safeguarding of the zone with a view to reasserting the value of the site. The Committee took note of the report of ICOMOS and, in the light of this example, emphasized that States Parties should attach the greatest attention to maintaining the values of World Heritage properties, when elaborating development projects, new constructions or major restorations. They should equally inform the Committee, through UNESCO's Secretariat, of their intention to undertake or to authorize projects in an area protected under the Convention before any irreversible decisions were taken. The need for close collaboration between the Secretariat and the local competent authorities was stressed during the debate. The Committee took note that ICOMOS, in co-operation with ICCROM, was preparing a guide on the management of sites for authorities responsible for World Heritage.

22. The Co-ordinator of the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project on Cultural Heritage and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean introduced the method which had been used in the detailed analysis of six sites in the region. The documents presented only reflect work already achieved within the framework of a wider project concerning sixteen sites in all, the evaluation of which will be carried out up until 1993 and will cost the World Heritage Fund US$40,000.

23. The Committee took note of this report. While considering that the method was interesting, it judged that it would not be necessarily applicable to all regions.

24. The Co-ordinator of a network set up by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the protection of Mediterranean sites under the Barcelona Convention introduced in his turn his working method on monitoring. During visits to seventeen sites around the Mediterranean, he evaluated,, in collaboration with local experts, the different problems raised by the conservation of the sites concerned. Following his visits he kept in touch with the competent authorities with a view to assisting them in their task with technical advice and documentation.

25. Regarding the management of sites, a member of the Committee questioned the limits to the possibility of intervention by the Committee and the Secretariat. The Secretariat explained that national authorities, whose collaboration was obviously indispensable, were always informed.

26. The possibility of intervention by the private sector in activities of safeguarding and development of World Heritage was raised. A delegate considered that progress in this field remained far below desirable levels. For instance, various difficulties encountered by a high visiting capacity of the sites could be solved through co­operation with, private associations.

No draft Decision

Report year: 1991
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iii)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 15COM (1991)

* : 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.