Site History and Significance
One of the Oldest Sites of Ancient Egypt
Abydos is one of the oldest and most important sites of ancient Egypt, occupied from as early as 3300 BCE. Located on the west bank of the Nile in Upper Egypt, the sacred city overlooks a desert valley once thought to offer passage to the realm of the dead. It was the royal burial ground for Egypt’s first pharaohs and later, the center of worship for the cult of Osiris, god of the underworld. In modern times, excavations at Abydos have added to our knowledge of Egypt’s ancient past.
Addressing a Range of Conservation Challenges
Today, converging factors are putting the site’s future at risk. Abydos is under pressure from urban and agricultural encroachment, generating new conservation challenges that range from illegal dumping to a rising water table. At the same time, inadequate tourism management has left key heritage resources underprotected from visitor impacts, even while Abydos—a lesser-known site than popular travel destinations like Luxor and Giza—remains off many cultural itineraries. In recent years, looting has reemerged as a threat to both ancient architecture and archaeological remains.
2022 World Monuments Watch
The 2022 World Monuments Watch calls attention to the challenges facing Abydos and the need for people-centered solutions. By working with local stakeholders and engaging nearby communities in site conservation, management, and tourism planning, World Monuments Fund seeks to help build an inclusive model for the sustainable preservation of Abydos, enhancing site protection while creating opportunities for better-managed visitation.
Through the World Monuments Watch, WMF collaborates with local partners to design and implement targeted conservation programs—including advocacy, planning, education, and physical interventions in the historic built environment—to improve human well-being through cultural heritage preservation.
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