WMF Grants for for Cultural Preservation of Sites in Tanzania and Cambodia

. September 30, 2011 . 0 Comments

The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has announced that it has received two major grants from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation for projects at Phnom Bakheng in Cambodia and Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania.

Phnom Bakheng, built between the late-ninth and early tenth centuries as a state temple for a city later absorbed into Angkor, is one of the oldest temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park. The award of $450,000 will complete a conservation project begun in 2009 with a prior $1 million Ambassadors Fund grant. The temple is one of the most popular at Angkor, especially at sunset, for the view it affords of Angkor Wat. Heavy foot traffic from tourists has created serious conservation issues at the site, which are being addressed with the Ambassadors Fund support as well as an additional $150,000 committed by WMF through its Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage. In addition to conserving the temple, WMF’s project, in collaboration with APSARA National Authority, is reviewing all needs at the site from management of rainwater runoff to improving the visitor experience.

At Kilwa Kisiwani, $700,000 in Ambassadors Fund support will protect the most vulnerable structures on the island through urgent conservation work and improved sea defenses. In addition, funding will establish a sustainable management plan for the site and improve living conditions for inhabitants of the island. Kilwa Kisiwani, on the UNESCO World Heritage list along with the nearby island of Songo Mnara, is one of the most important historic sites in East Africa. It was founded as a Swahili trading center in the tenth century A.D. and changed hands a number of times between the Swahili Sultans of Kilwa, Portuguese, and the Omani rulers of Zanzibar before being abandoned in the nineteenth century.

Ruins—including palaces, mosques, houses, and cemeteries from all periods of the island’s history—dot the landscape. Among the most important surviving ruins are those of the Great Mosque, constructed in the eleventh century and enlarged in the thirteenth; the palace of Husuni Kubwa from the first half of the fourteenth century; and the Omani-era gereza, or fort, incorporated into the earlier sixteenth-century Portuguese fort.

Image: Kilwa Gereza Entrance

Category: Antiquities

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