via The Irrawaddy, 29 June 2017: Expect a succession of nominations from Myanmar to Unesco’s World Heritage list in the next few years.
The Union minister of religious affairs and culture U Aung Ko said his ministry plans to nominate Arakan State’s Mrauk U and Shwedagon Pagoda for UNESCO’s list of culturally significant sites after Bagan.
Since 2016, countries have been limited to one UNESCO nomination per year so the ministry chose Bagan first, said the minister.
The draft report and draft management plan needed for Bagan’s nomination will be submitted in September and UNESCO officials will visit the site in 2018.
With a forgotten temple city, Myanmar hopes to strike tourism gold
When time began there lived a lonely monkey who met a peacock, who laid an egg from which was born a mighty prince who built a city on the spot of his birth and called it “monkey egg”. Whatever the myths around its creation, by the 15th century, Mrauk U (Monkey Egg) was the capital of a powerful kingdom and one of the richest cities in Asia.
Up to the 18th century, it was a vital trading port for rice, ivory, elephants, tree sap and deer hide, cotton, slaves, horses, spices and textiles from India, Persia and Arabia.
In the centuries since, it crumbled into a backwater town in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state. But the city where Christians, Muslims and Buddhists once lived in harmony can still be glimpsed in its hundreds of ruined temples, fortifications and storehouses – mostly ignored for more than 100 years.
Arrests were made in Myanmar’s Rakhine state when people illegally removed earth from the Mrauk-U site. The removal of earth appears to be in conjunction with construction rather than archaeological looting.
Police arrested 28 people illegally removing earth from the Mrauk-U archaeological site in Arakan State on 5 March, according to U Nyein Lwin, the Director General of the Mrauk-U Archaeology Department.
He said: “I had issued a strict notice prohibiting any digging activity in those ancient areas but they did not follow my direction. So I went to the location along with other officials and finally ordered them to arrest the offenders.”
Mrauk-U is an archaeologically important site containing many ancient forts. Previously Battalion LIB 378 of the Burma Army occupied the site, but they have since moved to another area.
A news report from the Irrawaddy highlights various problems with a recent campaign to restore the monuments of Mrauk-U in western Myanmar: improper restoration techniques, unauthorised construction and mismanagement of funds.
Throughout outgoing President Thein Sein’s term, the Arakan State government spent 1.5 billion kyats (over US$1.2 million) to preserve the remnants of the ancient Arakanese Mrauk U kingdom, according to the state’s annual audit report.
Yet some officials connected with the project allege that it has been fraught with mismanagement. Khin Than, chairperson of Mrauk U-based Heritage Trust, claims that halls within two famous temple complexes—the Ko-thaung and Shite-thaung pagodas—were damaged by government contractors’ negligence. New shrines were built alongside originals, she added—constructed out of concrete and sandstone.
Archaeologists and scholars of Mrauk U, which boasts more than 1,500 documented temples, have advocated for its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but fear that unscrupulous renovation of the ancient locale will put such an achievement further from reach.
A huge ancient building was recently found in Mrauk U, an archaeological site of western Burma (Myanmar), said an officer from the local archaeology department.
The building is identified as a shrine (Buddhist ordination hall) and it was found near Rampray pagoda of Kyay Pinlay village, which is six miles away from Mrauk U, informed the archaeology department of Mrauk U.
U Than Myint, a local history researcher revealed that the building is around 70 feet long which was found 10 feet beneath the ground. Many unique architectural elements including a stone well were also found in the site.
The Mrauk U archaeology department with the help of local villagers has initiated the excavation exercise for a week, but the process is expected to continue for nearly a month.
Myanmar prepares Mrauk U for UNESCO heritage list [Link no longer active]
Mizzima, 11 February 2015
MYANMAR’S archaeological zone of Mrauk U in Rakhine State is preparing to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, according to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Culture.
Mrauk U contains some 200 Buddhist monuments such as temples, stupas and monasteries mostly built in the 15th and 16th centuries AD. It is also known for its old temples with wall paintings of Indian influence.
Said Kyaw Lwin Oo, director general of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library under the ministry: “We are working on GIS database and digital mapping in Mrauk U. Nandaw Yar Gone will be converted into an archaeological park.
“We will also maintain the first, second and third brick walls of Nandaw Yar Gone, as well as the north wall of Shi Thaung Stupa. Maintenance works funded by Rakhine state have started.”
Full stories here and here [Link no longer active].
Another article on the destruction of archaeological sites of Mrauk U in Western Myanmar. There is also a photo gallery of the destruction of sites in Narinjara, and it is reported that the construction company has been very sensitive to people taking photos and videos of the site.
Mrauk U Pagodas Damaged by Railroad Construction
The Irrawady, 24 November 2010