Experts from UNESCO and ICOMOS meet in Munich to study preservation of Bamiyan site in AfghanistanAround 20 experts will meet in Munich, Germany, from December 18 to 20 to take stock of progress in preserving the Bamiyan site in Afghanistan. It is the second meeting of experts working on the site and is organized jointly by UNESCO and the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
At the Bamiyan site, work was completed under the supervision of UNESCO last week to consolidate the niche of the smaller of the two giant Buddhas, which were blown up by the Taliban in March 2001. The cavity was secured with a structure of struts and steel ropes held in the rock by 18 temporary anchors. This emergency stage of the consolidation work was carried out by the Italian firm RODIO using scaffolding provided free of charge by the German Messerschmitt Foundation. The safeguarding of the Bamiyan site is financed thanks to more than 1.8 million dollars provided by Japan in funds-in-trust. Additionally, the German government has contributed 630,000 euros through ICOMOS/Germany for the safeguarding of Afghan cultural heritage, including the Bamiyan site.
Among the main items on the agenda of the Munich meeting are the planning of continuing work to consolidate the cliffs and niches, the preservation of mural paintings in caves carved in the rock face, as well as the best way to conserve the remains of the statues of the destroyed Buddhas. Archaeological exploration of the site and the creation of a map and a three-dimensional model of the site will also be addressed. Following debate on technical issues, the experts will make recommendations concerning activities to be undertaken in 2004.
In June 2003, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee simultaneously inscribed the cultural landscape and the archaeological remains of Bamiyan Valley on the World Heritage List and on the World Heritage List in Danger. While the risk of collapse appears to have been averted, the site is still threatened by the degradation of the remaining mural paintings in the grottos as well as by pillage and illegal excavation. Furthermore parts of the site are still inaccessible because of the presence of anti-personnel mines.
The inaugural session is open to the press on December 18, 10.00 am to 10.45 am at the Bavarian Office of Private Museums, Alter Hof 2, 80331 Munich.
The session will be opened by the head of the Department of Archaeology at the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture, Abdul Wasey Ferouzi, the President of ICOMOS, Michael Petzet, Professor Kosaku Maeda of Wako University (Japan), and Christian Manhart, from UNESCO's Cultural Heritage Section.
Journalists will also be able to attend the adoption of the recommendations and the closing session on December 20,
time to be confirmed with ICOMOS Germany, tel. (+49 89) 21014013