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12 Apr, 2012

Myanmar Plans To Seek World Heritage Status for Pyu Ancient Cities


10 Apr 2012, (UNESCO News Release): Myanmar authorities are advancing in their preparations towards nominating the Pyu Ancient Cities to the World Heritage List.

International and national experts attended a seminar convened by UNESCO and the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library of the Myanmar Ministry of Information and Culture from 4-6 April 2012 in Yangon. Participants agreed that the two-millenia old city states have high potential for submission to the World Heritage List. Together, the three cities of Sriksetra, Beikthano and Halin mark the transition from the prehistoric to protohistoric age in Southeast Asia. The formation of these highly-evolved city states along the Ayewaddy River reflect the interchange between pre-existing cultural practices and Buddhism in its early spread into the sub-region.

The seminar was the first activity of the project “Capacity Building to Safeguard Cultural Heritage in Myanmar”. Funded by the Government of Italy, the project will allow UNESCO to mobilize international expertise to assist Myanmar in protecting its heritage sites. Myanmar ratified the World Heritage Convention in April 1994, but has not inscribed any sites on the World Heritage List to date.

During the opening ceremony on 4 April 2012, Daw Sandar Khin, Deputy Minister of Culture, stated, “The project will help the Myanmar government in nominating and safeguarding such important heritage sites.” She noted that Myanmar has rich cultural heritage with ample evidence showing the country’s development from the Stone Age onwards.

Mr Paolo Bartorelli, the Italian Ambassador to Myanmar, reiterated Italy’s commitment to support Myanmar in making its “gifts of civilization” known to the world and expressed that the project represents a very timely and “practical contribution to the country’s current process of transformation”.

A total of 45 international and national culture heritage experts attended, along with representatives of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library.

Tim Curtis, Chief of the Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok commented, “The project builds up on the long relationship that UNESCO has had with Myanmar in the conservation of cultural heritage over the years.”

In addition to assisting the government to develop nominations for submission to the World Heritage List, this one-year project also aims to support Myanmar in conserving and managing heritage sites and developing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for heritage management. On-site training will take place in the field at the Pyu Ancient Cities and Bagan.