BAGAN, 10 October 2016: A detailed study is underway to access damage at ancient temples and pagodas in Bagan following a powerful earthquake last August.
Experts from UNESCO and Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library are undertaking the assessment.
Irrawaddy media reported that the assessment phase had started in early September and should finish by the end of next month.
“Detailed assessment of this kind takes time,” the director explained. “But once completed it will assist technical experts to plan restoration work for individual damaged temples more effectively.”
In the past, restoration work on damaged pagodas was carried out without a management plan, or proper supervision, to ensure the site’s historical value and integrity was not compromised.
Five teams led by the department, and under UNESCO’s guidance, are conducting a detailed assessment of individual structures and murals, the report said.
The detailed assessment will be forwarded to the technical expert team, composed of archaeology experts from UNESCO, the Association of Myanmar Architects, the Myanmar Engineering Society and the ministry itself, for a thorough analysis and recommendations for restoration work.
According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, the earthquake damaged 449 temples out of 3,252 that stand on the Bagan plain, the report added.
A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck the central region, 24 August, centered about 15 miles west of Chauk in Magwe Division. It damaged ancient temples in Bagan, located to the north of the epicentre.
Bagan is an ancient city located in Mandalay Region, built between the 9th and 11th centuries, during an era when some 55 Buddhist kings ruled the Bagan Dynasty.
Myanmar’s branch of the World Heritage Site Committee plans to nominate the Bagan Archaeological Zone for UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2017 for consideration at the agency’s annual convention in 2019.
Officials are assured that the damage resulting from the earthquake has not delayed the application process with UNESCO. It is still ongoing and if anything the process has been speeded up following the earthquake as it illustrated the need to work closely with UNESCO to conserve and protect Bagan’s cultural heritage.
Bagan welcomed about 250,000 tourists in 2015 and it is expects arrivals to the ancient city could reach 500,000 by 2018.