Two UNESCO World Heritage sites have received major funding to save them from decay, Art Daily reports.
The sites are Phnom Bakheng in Cambodia and Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania. Phnom Bakheng temple is part of the famous Angkor Archaeological Park, which includes Angkor Wat temple complex. Phnom Bakheng was built in the late ninth to early tenth centuries AD.
Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania, shown here in this Wikimedia Commons image, is less known but historically important. This trading center was founded at the same time that Phnom Bakheng was being built. The site includes a fort, a grand mosque, palaces, and lots of other buildings. This entrepôt brought together Africans, Arabs, and Europeans and created a blend of cultures that can be seen in its crumbling architecture.
Both sites are feeling the weight of time and are in desperate need of preservation. Phnom Bakheng is in special danger because of the large number of visitors it gets. The World Monuments Fund has received grants for both from U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation to the tune of $450,000 for Phnom Bakheng and $700,000 for Kilwa Kisiwani. The World Monuments Fund is earmarking an additional $150,000 for Phnom Bakheng.
While a world-famous place like Angkor Archaeological Park getting funding isn’t a huge surprise, the fact that a lesser-known but equally important site such as Kilwa Kisiwani is getting preserved is good news. The majority of visitors I’ve met in Africa went there for the wildlife and culture, both of which are fascinating, yet are generally unaware of Africa’s rich and complex history. The lions are lovely and the gazelle are great, but you also need to see the pyramids of Sudan and the cave paintings of Somaliland.