Safeguarding My Son World Heritage Site

©UNESCO / Mai Thanh Chuong / My Son World Heritage

The My Son World Heritage site, located in central Viet Nam’s Quang Nam province, consists of monument complexes scattering over an area of about 10 hectares and was an important religious and cultural centre of the Champa Kingdom between the IV and XIII centuries. The site is an exceptional example of Hindu temple architecture and its 71 monuments often draw comparison to other famous regional sites such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Pagan in Myanmar and Borobudur in Indonesia.

After centuries of disuse, My Son was rediscovered by French scholars in 1898 and restoration work began in 1937. Unfortunately, much of the site was destroyed by bombs during the American War. In the years following, it also fell victim to vandalization, flood and erosion.

In 1982, Vietnamese Government began again to restore and to conserve the site. In 2002 UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Milan Polytechnic Lerici Foundation began a tripartite project to support the restoration of monuments in My Son’s G group and the training of Vietnamese archaeologists, architects, surveyors, geologists, geophysicists, technicians, site workers, and management staff to apply international standards of conservation to the site.

During phase 1 of this project (2002-2005), the G3 and G5 buildings and the enclosing wall was restored and stregthened. As part of the archaeological dig, researchers excavated an area larger than 1800 m2, inventoried 1200 artefacts, employed the technique of geophysical prospecting on the entire Group G area, dated several bricks using thermo luminescent dating, took tile and pottery samples, and studied building materials and construction techniques used in Cham architecture.

During phase 2 (2007-2010), monuments in the G1 group were restored and Vietnamese technical staff and heritage managers were trained in heritage safeguarding measures. This phase also produced a catalogue of all Cham monuments on the site and a classification of excavated artefacts, a comprehensive site interpretation plan and a guideline for the restoration of Cham and Hindu-influenced towers in the region.

Based on results of the first two phases, the Quang Nam People’s Committee and the Italian Lerici Foundation have committed to further consolidate and restore the monuments and prepare for future visitation activities.

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