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Look Down, Not Up: Protecting the Post-disaster Subsurface Heritage of the Kathmandu Valley’s UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Robin Coningham
  • Kosh Prasad Acharya
  • Christopher Davis
  • Kai Weise
  • Ram Bahadur Kunwar
  • Ian Simpson
Chapter

Abstract

Short-term environmental shocks generate long-term impacts, and although the Gorkha earthquake devastated large areas of Nepal, it also caused a cultural catastrophe within Kathmandu’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Playing a central ritual role in the lives of thousands and a major source of tourist income, there is a drive for the rapid reconstruction of the ornate monuments in this region. Although many are subject to reconstruction and conservation programs, most interventions focus on standing architecture with negligible attention paid to archaeological deposits below the ground or the condition of their foundations. Referencing the results of recent rescue excavations, this chapter investigates earthquake damage and inappropriate post-disaster responses as well as noting the limited protection offered to monuments and their subsurface heritage from existing guidelines and needs assessments.

Keywords

Rescue excavations Conservation guidelines Post-disaster heritage needs assessment Archaeological risk maps 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Our postearthquake field programme would not be possible without the support of many institutions and individuals, including Minister Jiwan Bahadur Shahi, Narayan Man Bijukchhe MP, Prem Suwal MP, Ashta Laxmi Shakya MP, Rajya Shree Shresth MP, Nabindra Raj Joshi MP, Bhesh Dahal, Bharat Subedi, Dr. Govinda Tandon, Ramesh Upreti, Dr. Roland Lin, Christian Manhart, Nabha Basnyat-Thapa, Nipuna Shresta, Saubhagya Pradhananga, Bhashkar Gyanwali, Dr. Armin Schmidt, Dr. Nina Mirnig, Dr. Keir Strickland, Patricia Voke, Anouk La Fortune-Bernard, Dr. Paolo Forlin, Dr. Jennifer Tremblay, Anie Joshi, the UNESCO Kathmandu Field Office, the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance and Officers from the DoA, PADT, Department of Archaeology, Government of Myanmar; Central Cultural Fund and Government of Sri Lanka as well as staff and students of Durham and Stirling Universities, the Austrian Academy of Science, M.S. University of Baroda, University of La Trobe and Lumbini Buddhist University. We are also grateful to all the first responders from the Armed Police Force, Nepal Police and Nepalese Army who undertook training in the live exercise at Guruju Sattal.

We would like to acknowledge the financial support from the AHRC for a Global Challenges Research Fund Grant (AH/P006256/1), the National Geographic Society for a Conservation Award (#C333-16) and UNESCO for two funded missions (Contracts 4500283215 & 4500318125). We are also grateful for the institutional and in-field assistance provided by the DoA, PADT, UNESCO and Durham and Stirling Universities. Finally, we would like to thank the Municipalities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur as well as the communities of the Kathmandu Valley for their support and interest in our missions.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Coningham
    • 1
  • Kosh Prasad Acharya
    • 2
  • Christopher Davis
    • 1
  • Kai Weise
    • 2
  • Ram Bahadur Kunwar
    • 3
  • Ian Simpson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  2. 2.ICOMOS (Nepal)KathmanduNepal
  3. 3.Department of ArchaeologyGovernment of NepalKathmanduNepal
  4. 4.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesStirling UniversityStirlingUK

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