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My Son Sanctuary World Heritage Site, Vietnam

Safeguarding Project: Demonstration and Training in the Application of International Standard of Conservation at My Son Monuments

Project Overview

In 1999, the My Son Sanctuary was inscribed in the World Heritage List, under Criterion ii and Criterion iii.  Under Criterion ii, the My Son Sanctuary is an exceptional example of cultural interchange, with the introduction of the Hindu architecture of the Indian sub-continent into South-East Asia. Under Criterion iii, the Champa Kingdom was an important phenomenon in the political and cultural history of South-East Asia, vividly illustrated by the ruins in My Son.


Brief History

My Son was discovered by Henri Parmentier of the Archaeological Service of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient in 1898, who also directed numerous research and restoration campaigns in the area. 

During the 1969 war, My Son was badly devastated by heavy bombing which completely destroyed two kalans (shrine towers) in Group A monuments and seriously damaging many other historic structures.

In 1982, the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture in collaboration with Polish experts from the State Laboratory for the Conservation of Historic Monuments Pracownie Konservacji Zabytkow, led by Kazimierz Kwiatkowski, started restoring several damaged monuments, mainly in the B, C and D, and to a lesser extent E Groups of monuments.

In 1999, a Tripartite Italian, Vietnamese and UNESCO project entitled “Investigation, Zoning and Management of My Son Monument and Archaeological Site”, financially supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was started. The 3-year project (1999-2001) aimed to provide necessary comprehensive background information such as data base, maps as well as a management plan for the long-term safeguarding of the site. 

The scientific investigation carried out during the tripartite project was mainly focused on the site’s historic-archaeological problems, and on the hydro-geological situation related mainly with the seasonal flooding. Much data were collected concerning the state of conservation of My Son Cham monuments and several geophysical prospecting sites were performed in many areas of My Son in order to evaluate the capacity of different geophysical technologies to detect unknown archaeological remains still buried underground. Eventually, a new detailed map was drawn at 1:1000 scale.