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Temple short-listed for heritage status

Jun 21. 2013
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By The Nation

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The World Heritage Committee (WHC) yesterday unanimously resolved to put Nakhon Si Thammarat's historic Buddhist temple complex Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan on Unesco's tentative list for World Heritage Sites.
All 21 members of the committee, which was meeting in Phnom Penh for the WHC’s 37th session, voted for the temple to be given the heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
The Department of Fine Arts and Nakhon Si Thammarat provincial authorities will need to prepare a nomination dossier to be submitted to the WHC for a complete listing of the temple by 2015, according to Tharapong Srisuchart, director of the department’s Office of Archaeology.
He described the next task as a “rather difficult” one because it requires the gathering of all available information about the temple as well as its management plan. 
Sahawat Naenna, director-general of the Fine Arts Department, said Wat Phra Mahathat met the requirements for a tentative listing. They include excellence in human resources, outstanding universal value and the value of authenticity or integrity.
Wat Phra Mahathat dates back to AD 311 (BE 854). According to records, a chapel and pagoda were built in AD 311 to hold relics of the Buddha. 
The main pagoda was built in AD 550, during the time of the Srivijaya Empire. 
The temple and several other buildings in the complex were registered as historic sites in 1936.
The temple meets three of 10 criteria to be considered a World Heritage Dite. It is an architectural site based on creativity, lasting virtues expressing cultural or civic values and religious-related inheritance. Unesco only requires one of the 10 conditions to be met before it is listed as a World Heritage Site. 
Thailand currently has five Unesco World Heritage Sites – Ban Chiang Archaeological Site, Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, the city of Ayutthaya, the town of Sukhothai, and Thung Yai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries. 

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