Post-quake surveys at heritage sites begin

Kathmandu, October 8

A team of national and international experts from the Department of Archaeology and Durham University, UK, have begun post-excavation surveys and rescue excavations at earthquake damaged UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley.

The earthquakes of April and May caused massive destruction with the deaths of over 8,000 people and hundreds of thousands of people rendered homeless. The earthquakes also damaged and destroyed much of Nepal’s unique cultural heritage, including monuments of universal outstanding value.

Not only beautifully ornate temples of wood, brick and tile, the monuments of the Valley are a key component of country’s major sources of foreign currency, which it earns by attracting tens of thousands of foreign tourists every year.

Prior to rebuilding, an international team of archaeological and architectural experts from the DoA, Durham University and national experts will undertake rescue survey and excavations in the damaged medieval city squares of Patan, Hanumandhoka and Bhaktapur.

The team of national and international experts are set to create archaeological risk maps of the heritage within the three Darbar Squares using a ground penetrating radar, which will provide a detailed layout of archaeological features such as walls and buildings below the surface, said UNESCO Nepal. This will be critical in guiding the laying of new service infrastructure, protecting key elements of Kathmandu’s underground heritage for future generations.

“Creation of risk maps and identification and characterization of subsurface archaeology will facilitate future protection, preservation and presentation of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site, specifically, the severely damaged sites of Hanumandhoka, Patan and Bhaktapur,” said Christian Manhart, UNESCO representative to Nepal.

Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general of DoA, said, “The proposed archaeological activities will not only develop the capacity of DOA archaeologists in urban rescue archaeology, as well as provide training in cutting-edge scientific techniques such as ground penetrating radar, the excavations will also bring together leading national and international experts to provide the basis for the formulation of guidelines for post-earthquake rehabilitation and restoration of these monuments of outstanding universal value.”