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Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 4 Jun 2009 04:35 | Edited by: Solivagant 
A number of sites I have investigated recently, both inscribed and rejected ones, have raised issues about "Authenticity" and how ICOMOS et al interpret and assess it. I believe that the philosophical and practical nuances of defining it, together with the occasional apparent inconsistency in the over time in applying it, provide an interesting subject for a "Forum".

It is perhaps the most fundamental of all the issues which determine suitability for inscription even above the concept of OUV (which we do have a forum on) since, by definition, a site cannot have OUV if it is not "authentic" whatever that means!

The subject has been chewed over by many experts so we are unlikely to be able to add any insight as to the issues to be considered. But our combined knowledge and experience of WHS might be able to identify some issues and interesting facts regarding the implementation of the concept!

As background herewith 3 papers
ICOMOS Paper on preservation of Wooden Buildings. (1992). The first part provides an interesting resumee of the Philosophy of the subject

Nara Document (1994) the result of a conference on the subject. The report itself runs to 427 pages!

Declaration of San Antonio (1996) a development of Nara

The following statement seems to encapsulate the current view of the factors which should be taken into account
""Authenticity". Depending on the nature of the cultural heritage, and its cultural context, authenticity judgements may be linked to the worth of a great variety of sources of information. Aspects of the sources may include form and design, materials and substance, use and function, traditions and techniques, location and setting, and spirit and feeling, and other external aspects of information sources. The use of these sources permits elaboration of the specific artistic, historic, social and scientific dimensions of the cultural heritage being examined."

So there you are!

Now what about some specific examples?

Apparently Central Warsaw is "authentic" despite being totally rebuilt because it is an "exceptional example of a global reconstruction". On the other hand Central Dresden wasn't considered "authentic" enough because its rebuilding was only partial!

The Menai Straits bridge wasn't considered authentic because its iron chains and wooden deck had been replaced by steel ones. The Vizcaya Bridge was considered authentic despite the fact that is means of motive power had been changed and its gondola redesigned.

Do forum members know of any other Sites where their authenticity was in doubt and the "case law" as applied by ICOMOS/UNESCO was clarified/developed?

Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 16 Feb 2016 06:06 
I came across this article titled "Considerations on Authenticity and Integrity in World Heritage Context"
The author (Dr Jukka Jokilehto) has "credibility" and has been on missions for ICOMOS and ICCROM (see CV -

The organisation whose web site it is on is CECI - "The Centre for Integrated conservation" seems to be Portuguese (??)

The Article has some interesting examples on the different cultural approaches to "Authenticity", "Integrity" and OUV with examples from across the List - See

Author Khuft
#3 | Posted: 16 Feb 2016 18:26 
Portuguese (??)


If I remember correctly, authenticity was one of the major reasons why Vianden in Luxembourg was rejected a few years ago (alongside the fact that there are multiple similar castles in the countries around it).

General discussions about WHS Forum / General discussions about WHS /

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