(Text ratified by the 11th ICOMOS General Assembly, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 5 to 9 October 1996)

As the cultural heritage is a unique expression of human achievement; and as this cultural heritage is continuously at risk; and as recording is one of the principal ways available to give meaning, understanding, definition and recognition of the values of the cultural heritage; and as the responsibility for conserving and maintaining the cultural heritage rests not only with the owners but also with conservation specialists and the professionals, managers, politicians and administrators working at all levels of government, and with the public; and as article 16 of the Charter of Venice requires, it is essential that responsible organisations and individuals record the nature of the cultural heritage.

The purpose of this document is therefore to set out the principal reasons, responsibilities, planning measures, contents, management and sharing considerations for the recording of the cultural heritage.

Definitions of words used in this document:

Cultural Heritage refers to monuments, groups of buildings and sites of heritage value, constituting the historic or built environment.
Recording is the capture of information which describes the physical configuration, condition and use of monuments, groups of buildings and sites, at points in time, and it is an essential part of the conservation process.
Records of monuments, groups of buildings and sites may include tangible as well as intangible evidence, and constitute a part of the documentation that can contribute to an understanding of the heritage and its related values.



1. The recording of the cultural heritage is essential:

a) to acquire knowledge in order to advance the understanding of cultural heritage, its values and its evolution;

b) to promote the interest and involvement of the people in the preservation of the heritage through the dissemination of recorded information;

c) to permit informed management and control of construction works and of all change to the cultural heritage;

d) to ensure that the maintenance and conservation of the heritage is sensitive to its physical form, its materials, construction, and its historical and cultural significance.

2. Recording should be undertaken to an appropriate level of detail in order to:

a) provide information for the process of identification, understanding, interpretation and pre-sentation of the heritage, and to promote the involvement of the public;

b) provide a permanent record of all monuments, groups of buildings and sites that are to be destroyed or altered in any way, or where at risk from natural events or human activities;

c) provide information for administrators and planners at national, regional or local levels to make sensitive planning and development control policies and decisions;

d) provide information upon which appropriate and sustainable use may be identified, and the effective research, management, maintenance programmes and construction works may be planned.

3. Recording of the cultural heritage should be seen as a priority, and should be undertaken especially:

a) when compiling a national, regional, or local inventory;

b) as a fully integrated part of research and conservation activity;

c) before, during and after any works of repair, alteration, or other intervention, and when evidence of its history is revealed during such works;

d) when total or partial demolition, destruction, abandonment or relocation is contemplated, or where the heritage is at risk of damage from human or natural external forces;

e) during or following accidental or unforeseen disturbance which damages the cultural heritage;

f) when change of use or responsibility for management or control occurs.



1. The commitment at the national level to conserve the heritage requires an equal commitment towards the recording process.

2. The complexity of the recording and interpretation processes requires the deployment of individuals with adequate skill, knowledge and awareness for the associated tasks. It may be necessary to initiate training programmes to achieve this.

3. Typically the recording process may involve skilled individuals working in collaboration, such as specialist heritage recorders, surveyors, conservators, architects, engineers, researchers, architectural historians, archaeologists above and below ground, and other specialist advisors.

4. All managers of cultural heritage are responsible for ensuring the adequate recording, quality and updating of the records.



1. Before new records are prepared, existing sources of information should be found and examined for their adequacy.

a) The type of records containing such information should be searched for in surveys, drawings, photographs, published and unpublished accounts and descriptions, and related documents pertaining to the origins and history of the building, group of buildings or site.It is important to search out recent as well as old records;

b) Existing records should be searched for in locations such as national and local public archives, in professional, institutional or private archives, inventories and collections, in libraries or museums;

c) Records should be searched for through consultation with individuals and organisations who have owned, occupied, recorded, constructed, conserved, or carried out research into or who have knowledge of the building, group of buildings or site.

2. Arising out of the analysis above, selection of the appropriate scope, level and methods of recording requires that:

a) The methods of recording and type of documentation produced should be appropriate to the nature of the heritage, the purposes of the record, the cultural context, and the funding or other resources available. Limitations of such resources may require a phased approach to recording. Such methods might include written descriptions and analyses, photographs (aerial or terrestrial), rectified photography, photo-grammetry, geophysical survey, maps, measured plans, drawings and sketches, replicas or other traditional and modern technologies;

b) Recording methodologies should, wherever possible, use non- intrusive techniques, and should not cause damage to the object being recorded;

c) The rational for the intended scope and the recording method should be clearly stated;

d) The materials used for compiling the finished record must be archivally stable.



1. Any record should be identified by:

a) the name of the building, group of buildings or site;

b) a unique reference number;

c) the date of compilation of the record;

d) the name of the recording organisation;

e) cross-references to related building records and reports, photographic, graphic, textual or biblio-graphic documentation, archaeological and environmental records.

2. The location and extent of the monument, group of buildings or site must be given accurately; this may be achieved by description, maps, plans or aerial photographs. In rural areas a map reference or triangulation to known points may be the only methods available. In urban areas an address or street reference may be sufficient.

3. New records should note the sources of all information not obtained directly from the monument, group of buildings or site itself.

4. Records should include some or all of the following information:

a) the type, form and dimensions of the building, monument or site;

b) the interior and exterior characteristics, as appropriate, of the monument, group of buildings or site;

c) the nature, quality, cultural, artistic and scientific significance of the heritage and its components and the cultural, artistic and scientific significance of:
- the materials, constituent parts and construction, decoration,ornament or inscriptions,
- services, fittings and machinery,
- ancillary structures, the gardens, landscape and the cultural,topographical and natural features of the site;

d) the traditional and modern technology and skills used in construction and maintenance;

e) evidence to establish the date of origin, authorship, ownership, the original design, extent, use and decoration;

f) evidence to establish the subsequent history of its uses, associated events, structural or decorative alterations, and the impact of human or natural external forces;

g) the history of management, maintenance and repairs;

h) representative elements or samples of construction or site materials;

i) an assessment of the current condition of the heritage;

j) an assessment of the visual and functional relationship between the heritage and its setting;

k) an assessment of the conflicts and risks from human or natural causes, and from environmental pollution or adjacent land uses.

5. In considering the different reasons for recording (see Section 1.2 above) different levels of detail will be required. All the above information, even if briefly stated, provides important data for local planning and building control and management. Information in greater detail is generally required for the site or building owner’s, manager’s or user’s purposes for conservation, maintenance and use.



1. The original records should be preserved in a safe archive, and the archive’s environment must ensure permanence of the information and freedom from decay to recognised international standards.

2. A complete back-up copy of such records should be stored in a separate safe location.

3. Copies of such records should be accessible to the statutory authorities, to concerned professionals and to the public, where appropriate, for the purposes of research, development controls and other administrative and legal processes.

4. Up-dated records should be readily available, if possible on the site, for the purposes of research on the heritage, management, maintenance and disaster relief.

5. The format of the records should be standardised, and records should be indexed wherever possible to facilitate the exchange and retrieval of information at a local, national or international level.

6. The effective assembly, management and distribution of recorded information requires, wherever possible, the understanding and the appropriate use of up- to-date information technology.

7. The location of the records should be made public.

8. A report of the main results of any recording should be disseminated and published, when appropriate.



1. We, the experts assembled in Nara (Japan), wish to acknowledge the generous spirit and intellectual courage of the Japanese authorities in providing a timely forum in which we could challenge conventional thinking in the conservation field, and debate ways and means of broadening our horizons to bring greater respect for cultural and heritage diversity to conservation practice.

2. We also wish to acknowledge the value of the framework for discussion provided by the World Heritage Committee's desire to apply the test of authenticity in ways which accord full respect to the social and cultural values of all societies, in examining the outstanding universal value of cultural properties proposed for the World Heritage List.

3. The Nara Document on Authenticity is conceived in the spirit of the Charter of Venice, 1964, and builds on it and extends it in response to the expanding scope of cultural heritage concerns and interests in our contemporary world.

4. In a world that is increasingly subject to the forces of globalization and homogenization, and in a world in which the search for cultural identity is sometimes pursued through aggressive nationalism and the suppression of the cultures of minorities, the essential contribution made by the consideration of authenticity in conservation practice is to clarify and illuminate the collective memory of humanity.

Cultural Diversity and Heritage Diversity


5. The diversity of cultures and heritage in our world is an irreplaceable source of spiritual and intellectual richness for all humankind. The protection and enhancement of cultural and heritage diversity in our world should be actively promoted as an essential aspect of human development.

6. Cultural heritage diversity exists in time and space, and demands respect for other cultures and all aspects of their belief systems. In cases where cultural values appear to be in conflict, respect for cultural diversity demands acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the cultural values of all parties.

7. All cultures and societies are rooted in the particular forms and means of tangible and intangible expression which constitute their heritage, and these should be respected.

8. It is important to underline a fundamental principle of UNESCO, to the effect that the cultural heritage of each is the cultural heritage of all. Responsibility for cultural heritage and the management of it belongs, in the first place, to the cultural community that has generated it, and subsequently to that which cares for it. However, in addition to these responsibilities, adherence to the international charters and conventions developed for conservation of cultural heritage also obliges consideration of the principles and responsibilities flowing from them. Balancing their own requirements with those of other cultural communities is, for each community, highly desirable, provided achieving this balance does not undermine their fundamental cultural values.

Values and authenticity


9. Conservation of cultural heritage in all its forms and historical periods is rooted in the values attributed to the heritage. Our ability to understand these values depends, in part, on the degree to which information sources about these values may be understood as credible or truthful. Knowledge and understanding of these sources of information, in relation to original and subsequent characteristics of the cultural heritage, and their meaning, is a requisite basis for assessing all aspects of authenticity.

10. Authenticity, considered in this way and affirmed in the Charter of Venice, appears as the essential qualifying factor concerning values. The understanding of authenticity plays a fundamental role in all scientific studies of the cultural heritage, in conservation and restoration planning, as well as within the inscription procedures used for the World Heritage Convention and other cultural heritage inventories.

11. All judgements about values attributed to cultural properties as well as the credibility of related information sources may differ from culture to culture, and even within the same culture. It is thus not possible to base judgements of values and authenticity within fixed criteria. On the contrary, the respect due to all cultures requires that heritage properties must considered and judged within the cultural contexts to which they belong.

12. Therefore, it is of the highest importance and urgency that, within each culture, recognition be accorded to the specific nature of its heritage values and the credibility and truthfulness of related information sources.

13. Depending on the nature of the cultural heritage, its cultural context, and its evolution through time, 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 internal and external factors. The use of these sources permits elaboration of the specific artistic, historic, social, and scientific dimensions of the cultural heritage being examined.

Appendix 1

Suggestions for follow-up (proposed by H. Stovel)

1. Respect for cultural and heritage diversity requires conscious efforts to avoid imposing mechanistic formulae or standardized procedures in attempting to define or determine authenticity of particular monuments and sites.

2. Efforts to determine authenticity in a manner respectful of cultures and heritage diversity requires approaches which encourage cultures to develop analytical processes and tools specific to their nature and needs. Such approaches may have several aspects in common:
- efforts to ensure assessment of authenticity involve multidisciplinary collaboration and the appropriate utilisation of all available expertise and knowledge;
- efforts to ensure attributed values are truly representative of a culture and the diversity of its interests, in particular monuments and sites;
- efforts to document clearly the particular nature of authenticity for monuments and sites as a practical guide to future treatment and monitoring;
- efforts to update authenticity assessments in light of changing values and circumstances.

3. Particularly important are efforts to ensure that attributed values are respected, and that their determination included efforts to build, ad far as possible, a multidisciplinary and community consensus concerning these values.

4. Approaches should also build on and facilitate international co-operation among all those with an interest in conservation of cultural heritage, in order to improve global respect and understanding for the diverse expressions and values of each culture.

5. Continuation and extension of this dialogue to the various regions and cultures of the world is a prerequisite to increasing the practical value of consideration of authenticity in the conservation of the common heritage of humankind.

6. Increasing awareness within the public of this fundamental dimension of heritage is an absolute necessity in order to arrive at concrete measures for safeguarding the vestiges of the past. This means developing greater understanding of the values represented by the cultural properties themselves, as well as respecting the role such monuments and sites play in contemporary society.

Appendix II

Conservation: all efforts designed to understand cultural heritage, know its history and meaning, ensure its material safeguard and, as required, its presentation, restoration and enhancement. (Cultural heritage is understood to include monuments, groups of buildings and sites of cultural value as defined in article one of the World Heritage Convention).

Information sources: all material, written, oral and figurative sources which make it possible to know the nature, specifications, meaning and history of the cultural heritage.

The Nara Document on Authenticity was drafted by the 45 participants at the Nara Conference on Authenticity in Relation to the World Heritage Convention, held at Nara, Japan, from 1-6 November 1994, at the invitation of the Agency for Cultural Affairs (Government of Japan) and the Nara Prefecture. The Agency organized the Nara Conference in cooperation with UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS. This final version of the Nara Document has been edited by the general rapporteurs of the Nara Conference, Mr. Raymond Lemaire and Mr. Herb Stovel.

The participants attending the third Inter-American Symposium on the Conservation of the Building Heritage devoted to the subject of "The Revitalization of Small Settlements", organized by the Mexican National Committee of ICOMOS and held in Trinidad, Tlaxcala, from 25 to 28 October 1982, wish to express their gratitude to the representatives of Mexico and the organizing committee for the very kind way they have been received and express their satisfaction at the high standard of the proceedings and at the results achieved.

They wish most particularly to thank the government of the state of Tlaxcala for its hospitality and are happy to observe the efforts it is making to preserve the architectural and urban heritage entrusted to its keeping by history, which is of extreme interest to all the peoples of America.

The delegates, after examining the situation now prevailing in America from the point of view of the dangers which threaten the architectural and environmental inheritance of the small settlements, decide to adopt the following conclusions:

1a. They reassert that the small settlements are repositories of ways of living which bear witness to our cultures, retain the scale appropriate to them and at the same time personify the community relations which give inhabitants an identity.

2a. They reaffirm that the conservation and rehabilitation of small settlements is a moral obligation and a responsibility for the government of each state and for the local authorities and that their communities have a right to share in the making of decisions on the conservation of their town or village and to take part directly in the work of carrying them out.

3a. As established by the Charter of Chapultepec, and as reflected in the concern expressed at the Morelia Symposium and at other meetings of American practical conservationists, the environmental and architectural heritage of small settlements is a non-renewable resource and their conservation calls for carefully developed procedures which will ensure that they run no risk of being impaired or distorted for reasons of political expediency.

4a. They agree that initiatives for the purpose of securing the well-being of the communities living in small settlements must have their basis in strict respect for the traditions of the places concerned and their specific ways of life. They also agree that the situation of economic crisis at present affecting the continent must not restrict efforts to preserve the identity of the small settlements; on the contrary, if such difficult circumstances are to be overcome, reliance must be placed in the cultural achievements of the past and in the material forms of expression of our collective memory.

5a. They further observe that the introduction of patterns of consumption and behaviour foreign to our traditions, which make their way in via the multiple communications media, assist the destruction of the cultural heritage by encouraging contempt for our own values, especially in the small settlements; they therefore urge governments, institutes of higher education and public or private bodies interested in the Preservation of the heritage to use the media at their disposal for the countering of the effects of this process.

6a. They reassert the importance of regional planning as a means of combating the process of desertion of the small settlements and progressive overpopulation of medium-sized and large towns - a phenomenon which strikes at the very existence of the said settlements. And they point out that any action designed to preserve the urban setting and the architectural qualities of a place must essentially be a fight for the improvement of its population's socio-economic conditions and of the quality of life in its urban centres. They therefore appeal to governments and to competent bodies to provide a suitably integrated infrastructure together with the practical equipment for the arresting of the depopulation of small settlements.

7a. They consider that if the traditional environment of the rural settlements and small towns is to be preserved, and if there is to be continuity of expression in contemporary vernacular architecture, traditional materials and techniques must remain available, and they propose that, where these cannot be found, substitutes be used which do not involve any marked impairment of the visual effects and which meet the requirements both of the local physical and geographical conditions and of the way of life of the population.


Those attending the Symposium reassert the principles which inspire the work of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, as laid down in miscellaneous international texts, including the recommendations made at the meetings held previously in America, at Quito, Chapultepec and Morelia, concerning the conservation of small settlements, and adopt in their turn the following recommendations for circulation by the ICOMOS Committees in America and by any other specialists and for submission to the authorities, the professional associations, the institutes competent in the field concerned and the universities, schools of architecture and other bodies.

It is recommended:

1. That any initiative with a view to the conservation and revitalization of small settlements must be designed as a part of a programme embracing the historical, anthropological, social and economic aspects of the area and the possibilities for its revitalization, failing which it would be fated to be superficial and ineffectual.

2. That encouragement be given to interdisciplinary participation as an essential prerequisite of any effort in favour of the conservation, restoration and revitalization of small settlements.

3. That the public services administrations concerned with such things as communication, health, education, electrification, etc., should be duly conscious of the fact that their activities undertaken with the best of intentions can on the contrary cause harm to small communities if they are ignorant of, or fail to appreciate, the values of the cultural heritage and the benefits deriving from the conservation of that heritage for the community as a whole.

4. That if better results are to be achieved both in national policies and in specific legislation and in technical progress, the sharing of experience in a variety of areas is essential. Information, whether of an international nature or specifically relating to the American world, is most important. Emphasis is laid once again on the utility of publications designed for the purpose, and it is proposed that American working groups be set up on the various individual subjects involved.

5. That the use of regional materials and the preservation of the local traditional building techniques are essential to satisfactory conservation of small settlements and do not conflict with the general principle that any new work should bear the mark of our age. It is urgent that an effort be made to recognize and enhance the prestige and value inherent in the use of such materials and techniques where they exist, and to keep them alive with increasing forcefulness in the minds of the communities concerned. It is recommended that encouragement be given to proficiency in the skilled building trades in the form of awards and prizes.

6. That the governments of the Latin American countries consider as in the public interest the granting of funds for the acquisition, maintenance, conservation and restoration of dwellings in small settlements and the lesser towns, as a practical means of keeping alive the building heritage and the housing possibilities it affords. For this purpose there must be amendment of the norms governing the allocation of funds to enable buildings for which vernacular techniques and materials have been used to be eligible for mortgage loans.

7. That schools of architecture should institute and maintain M. A. degrees in restoration and doctorates of restoration and assign due importance in their basic training syllabuses to appreciation of the architectural and town-planning heritage, conservation and restoration problems, and knowledge both of vernacular architecture and of traditional building techniques, to enable their graduates to fit usefully in their professional capacity into the communities requiring their services.

8. That the recognized colleges and societies of architects should set up commissions for the preservation of architectural heritage capable of promoting improved awareness of the responsibility devolving on them for the maintenance of the small settlements, of compiling and circulating information on this problem and of recommending programmes and operations to this end.

9. That the representatives of the countries in the region make every effort to have their governments, if they have not yet done so, approve the Protocol to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention (16 November 1972), so as to be eligible for the support and technical assistance of the international bodies.

The undersigned certify the authenticity of the present text, to be known as the "Declaration of Tlaxcala", which contains the conclusions and recommendations approved at la Trinidad, on 28 October 1982, by the plenary session of the third Inter-American Symposium on the Conservation of the Building Heritage.

Meeting in Stockholm, ICOMOS wishes to underline the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1998, in particular its recognition of the right of everyone to partake freely in the cultural life of the community.

In addition to the importance of specific conventions or legislation relating to cultural heritage and its preservation, ICOMOS affirms that the right to cultural heritage is an integral part of human rights considering the irreplaceable nature of the tangible and intangible legacy it constitutes, and that it is threatened to in a world which is in constant transformation. This right carries duties and responsibilities for individuals and communities as well as for institutions and states. To protect this right today is to preserve the rights of future generations.
The right to have the authentic testimony of cultural heritage, respected as an expression of one's cultural identity within the human family;

The right to better understand one's heritage and that of others;

The right to wise and appropriate use of heritage;

The right to participate in decisions affecting heritage and the cultural values it embodies;

The right to form associations for the protection and promotion of cultural heritage.

These are rights ICOMOS believes must be respected in order to preserve and enrich World's cultural diversity.

These rights assume the need to recognize, appreciate and maintain heritage, and to improve and respect a framework for action. They assume appropriate development strategies and an equitable partnership between society, the private sector and individuals to harmonize interests affecting cultural heritage, and to reconcile preservation with development. In the spirit that animates such statements, they call for international co-operation in the conventions, legislation and other statutory measures.

These are responsibilities that all -- individually and collectively -- must share just as all share the wealth of the memory, in the search for a sustainable development at the service of Mankind.

Stockholm, September 11th, 1998

ICOMOS Brazilian Committee, Itaipava, July 1987



Urban historical sites may be considered as those spaces where manifold evidences of the city's cultural production concentrate. They are to be circumscribed rather in terms of their operational value as "critical areas" than in opposition to the city's non-historical places, since the city in its totality is a historical entity.


Urban historical sites are part of a wider totality, comprising the natural and the built environment and the everyday living experience of their dwellers as well. Within this wider space, enriched with values of remote or recent origin and permanently undergoing a dynamic process of successive transformations, new urban spaces may be considered as environmental evidences in their formative stages.


As a socially produced cultural expression the city adds rather than subtracts. Built space, thus, is the physical result of a social productive process. Its replacement is not justified unless its socio-cultural potentialities are proven exhausted. Evaluation standards for replacement convenience should take into account the socio-cultural costs of the new environment.


The main purpose of preservation is the maintenance and enhancement of reference patterns needed for the expression and consolidation of citizenship. It is through the outlook of the citizen's political appropriation of urban space that preservation may contribute to improve life quality.


Considering that one of the characteristics of urban historical sites is their manifold functions, their preservation should not take place at the expense of severe use limitations, even when the allowed uses are of the kind referred to as cultural. They should, in fact, necessarily shelter both the universes of work and of everyday life, through which the more authentic expressions of society's heterogeneity and plurality are brought out. Concerning this heterogeneity, and taking into account the evident housing shortage in Brazil, housing should be the main function of built space. Consequently, the permanence of residents and of traditional activities in urban historical sites, when compatible with those sites, deserves special attention.


The preservation of urban historical sites must be one of the basic aims of urban planning, seen as a continuous and permanent process, supported by a proper understanding of those mechanisms that generate and influence the formation of spatial structures.


The preservation of urban historical sites demands the integrated action of federal, state and local entities, and also the participation of the community concerned with planning decisions as part of the full exercise of citizenship. In this sense it is essential to favor and encourage institutional mechanisms assuring a democratic management of the city through a strengthened participation of civilian leadership.


Within the preservation process of urban historical sites and as part of the analysis and evaluation of prevailing conditions, inventories are basic tools leading to a better knowledge of cultural and natural property. The participation of the community in inventorying is revealing as to the value it attaches to the property relevant and stimulates its concern as regards such property.


Legal protection of urban historical sites is to be achieved through different procedures, such as cataloging, inventorying, urbanistic regulations, tax exemptions and incentives, listing as to cultural interest and expropriation.


Accompanying the diversification of protective procedures, it is essential that the social value of urban property be made to prevail over its market value.


Deschambault Declaration
Adopted by the Conseil des monuments et des sites du Québec,
ICOMOS Canada French-Speaking Committee, April 1982.



 The postwar period has witnessed the worldwide spread of various currents of thought that seem to adjust people's way of living to new socio- economic conditions, and to criticize the consequences of industrialization, of urbanization on a massive scale, of progress at all costs, and of the consumer society. Whether extreme or moderate, these ideologies have helped to make people aware of certain human values that merited preservation. These things of value include the architectural, artistic or simply material remains that our predecessors have bequeathed us.

The basic principles of heritage preservation were set forth in the

Venice International Charter of 1964, which was signed by experts from many countries. The aim of this charter was to regulate and promote efforts to safeguard national heritages. Subsequently, at Amsterdam and Nairobi this initial undertaking was further developed by the addition of other basic principles that expressed an increased desire not only to pass on an accumulated heritage, but also to broaden the concept of heritage itself. Henceforth, people wanted to ensure the preservation of all aspects of national heritage.

This movement began to have a noticeable influence on Quebec from 1960 on. The Quebec government's first action in this field was to create a Ministry of Cultural Affairs which made it possible to pass the Cultural Properties Act in 1972. At that moment our heritage acquired value in the eyes of the law. However, even before this Act was passed, the community had organized itself into groups that differed in structure, but shared a common desire to become involved in safeguarding their environment and culture, and to develop strategies that would make the different levels of government aware of the issue.

This individual and collective commitment resulted in significant achievements in the areas of preservation, stimulation of community participation and development. Whether through municipal, provincial or federal programs, large-scale projects or more modest actions, the people of Quebec have shown that they are interested in their heritage and are determined to revive it.

The Conseil des monuments et sites du Québec offers this charter in support of these efforts. The Charter is intended as an orientation guide, a reference tool, a remedy and above all a code of ethics that we should adopt in dealing with our heritage. While this charter draws upon previous experience and on international currents of thought, the principles of preservation and development it contains may be applied by all individuals and organizations that are concerned with the protection of the natural, cultural and historical aspects of the Quebec heritage.

The first aim of this charter, which has been specifically drafted for Quebec, is to try to identify our cultural personality, and thereby define the special nature of our heritage. Secondly, the charter seeks to encourage people to think before they act; and finally, it proposes a framework for action that is positive and objective, that provides incentive, and that takes into account both the particular problems of Quebec and contemporary doctrines of heritage development.


The experience of Quebec is similar to that of other nations in that the specific character of its culture has been determined by its history which has taken place in a particular environment. The main features of this environment are a harsh climate, a vast territory, the relatively recent establishment of a North American civilization that is European in origin, the French fact, Catholicism and a particular pattern of human settlement.

Wrested from the American Indians who were its original inhabitants, Quebec became first a French, then a British colony, and finally a part of the Canadian confederation. Quebec's political history has been marked by the struggle to preserve its French and Catholic roots on a North American continent where the majority of the population is and has been English-speaking.

Nevertheless, a variety of elements has contributed to the development of our social fabric. In the course of time, immigrants from different places have been added to the amalgam of the three peoples who originally fought over the territory of Quebec. Sometimes immigration occurred all at once, as in the case of the Loyalists and the Irish; and sometimes it was spread over time, as happened with the Italians and the Chinese. Little by little, the immigrant phenomenon has altered the physiognomy and mentality of Quebec's population.

Our material heritage has been marked not only by this mixture of cultural traits, but also by certain fashions that have had international currency. Of these, the Victorian influence is certainly the most important, but we also find traces of Art Nouveau, the skyscraper era and many other esthetic or technological vogues.

Economic life, that mainspring of societies, has probably had the greatest impact on the distribution of Quebec's population. From the very beginning, more or less densely populated communities were concentrated in areas that had acquired importance because of the fur trade. Seigniorial estates and English townships provided the framework for the development of agriculture. Many elements of our society were drawn northward by the forest products and mining industries. Finally, the spectacular growth of the United States had repercussions of the utmost importance on our economic model and our way of life: massive urbanization, high rate of consumption, establishment of large industrial centres and development of means of transportation for natural, human and energy resources.

Many other factors have contributed to the shaping of our image. The preponderance of Catholicism prompted the proliferation of churches and convents and gave rise to an art that was centered on the sacred. The rigors of the climate forced people to make adaptations in every aspect of their way of life. As for the distribution of population, it was for the most part determined by the waterways of the St. Lawrence basin.

It would be pointless to offer here an exhaustive list of all the geographic, social, historical and economic factors that have contributed to the development of our cultural fabric. Suffice it to say that this ferment of ideas, habits and customs, taking place as it did in a particular geographic context, has given rise to traditions, a folklore, a mentality, ways of doing things, and architecture, a social structure and, in sum, an art of living that is uniquely Quebecois. Though the elements that make up this culture have not all been integrated to the same degree, nor in the same way, their importance cannot be doubted. They constitute our heritage, which is nourished and strengthened by the past, and continues to flourish in the lives of the present generations. We cannot allow this dynamic growth to be cut off from its roots.


We felt the need to publish this charter because all too often our heritage is threatened, when it is not forgotten or destroyed. This problem, of course, is not peculiar to Quebec. Modernization and the pursuit of new lifestyles have, in fact, relentlessly imperiled national heritages everywhere. Such is the price of progress!

In Quebec, the great distances between population centres and the immensity of the territory have led to a more or less integrated development. All these factors have been unfavorable to the preservation of our national heritage. Consequently, we must show greater vigilance, enhance dialogue and consultation, and do more to mobilize the forces of the community.

The climate is also, at times, a menace to our architectural heritage and to the remains of former times. Frost, especially combined with thawing, has a serious effect on buildings in Quebec. Rapid and technologically competent action is necessary in this area.

Finally, our European and North American cultural heritage is threatened by a danger that is less perceptible but no less real than the others. Because this culture is of recent origin and only extends over a short span of time, it would be inappropriate to rely solely on chronological classification to determine the relative value of its different elements. One should not, for example, attribute greater value to the remains of the 18th century than to those of the 19th. Of course, the older things are, the rarer and more valuable they generally are; however, one must use subtlety in judging these matters.


Heritage is defined as "the combined creations and products of nature and man, in their entirety, that make up the environment in which we live in space and time.

Heritage is a reality, a possession of the community, and a rich inheritance that may be passed on, which invites our recognition and our participation."

(Quebec Association for the Interpretation of the National Heritage, Committee on Terminology, July 1980).

The concept of heritage as defined above is intended to cover much more than buildings erected in a more or less distant past. Neither in the past nor in the future is heritage limited in time. We use the heritage of yesterday to build the heritage of tomorrow, for culture is by its very nature dynamic and is constantly being renewed and enriched.

Heritage, in our view, is a very comprehensive term that includes three major entities: material culture (cultural properties) and the geographic and human environments. People are, of course, most familiar with the concept of cultural properties since these are defined by law. We should remember, however, that in addition to formal and popular architecture, these properties include all other forms of material evidence, such as archaeological and ethnographical objects, iconography, written archives, furniture, art objects and, in sum, the whole of the material environment in which we live. The geographical environment is nature as it manifests itself on the territory of Quebec in coast, mountain and plain. We wish to insist above all on the great importance of our landscapes and our natural sites, which have a unique esthetic and/or panoramic value. And let us note, finally, that the people in their environment, who have their own customs and traditions, whose memory is furnished with a particular folklore, and whose way of living is adapted to this specific setting, are a human and social treasure that also requires protection.

This broad definition of our national heritage includes, then, all the elements of our civilization, as they exist not only individually but also as components of larger historical, cultural and traditional unities or, to put it in simpler terms, as examples of man's adaptation to his environment. This concept of heritage includes the idea of a cultural landscape which may be defined as the result of the interaction of human society and nature.

Preservation of the national heritage may be viewed, in this light, as that combination of study, expertise and physical intervention which aims at conserving every element of this heritage in the best possible condition. This activity involves proper maintenance, consolidation, repair, safeguarding and restoration, to prevent the deterioration and, at worst, the destruction of the national heritage.

Article I


Article I-A
The citizens of Quebec have, in the first place, an individual responsibility to protect their heritage. They must do all they can to appreciate its value, to strive to understand its full significance, and to contribute to its preservation.

Article I-B
This individual responsibility must also find expression in every decision that is made on behalf of the community, whether by elected representatives or by corporate or institutional managers.

Article II


Article II-A
The national heritage must be preserved, safeguarded and developed for the benefit of present and future generations. This treasure does not belong to us; it has been entrusted to us so we may pass it on to others. We must ensure its proper use and conservation.

Article II-B
All the laws and regulations as well as the fiscal, financial and administrative mechanisms in their entirety must further the preservation and development of the national heritage. This action must start at the municipal level, for the municipalities are the primary legal representatives of the community.

Article II-C
The national heritage must remain in the possession of the people of Quebec, and it must be recognized that cultural properties belong in their place of origin.

Article II-D
The greatest possible attention must be paid to authenticity in preserving and developing the national heritage, and in passing it on to future generations. When only certain elements of this heritage remain, these must be treated as integral wholes. Any action taken must be comprehensible and reversible.

Article III


Article III-A
All the appropriate means for acquiring this knowledge must be provided. In particular, we must have up-to-date inventories and the specialized expertise that is required before any action can be taken.

Article IV


Article IV-A
Interdisciplinary teams must assess the cultural, historical, natural, social and esthetic importance of our heritage on the national, regional and local levels.

Article IV-B
Respect must be shown for the significant contribution of every historical period.

Article V


Article V-A
Protection of our national heritage must be ensured, in the first place, by ongoing maintenance.

Article V-B
The development of cultural properties is of essential importance. This development includes all measures that serve to make them accessible and useful, and that, if necessary, make it possible to reintroduce them into the daily life of the people of Quebec.

Article V-C
Every action to preserve the national heritage should be designed to conserve as much as possible of the original, and to avoid reconstruction based on conjecture.

Article V-D
The development of cultural properties should be followed up by the dissemination of that practical knowledge that is required for passing on these properties to future generations and ensuring their permanent protection.

Article VI


Article VI-A
Legislation affecting the national heritage must take precedence over all other legislation.

Article VI-B
The principles of protection and development of the national heritage must have primacy in all development plans.

Article VI-C
When the importance, for our heritage, of a building or group of buildings or landscapes has been recognized, these must take precedence over the rest of the environment. This consideration must be a decisive factor in any alteration of that environment, and the adaption, integration and respect of the heritage material must be ensured.

Article VI-D
Any contemporary additions, which must be creative works in their own right, have to be integrated and harmonized with the surrounding context in regard to tonality, texture, proportions, pattern of filled and empty spaces, and overall composition.

It must not be forgotten that an archaeological analysis of all ground where new construction is planned is absolutely essential, to uncover the earlier remains of construction and habitation and, where necessary, to examine the possibilities of conservation in site.

Article VII


Article VII-A
At all times, those who may become involved in actions to preserve our heritage have a responsibility to disseminate information on that heritage, to implement procedures ensuring the circulation of ideas, to further community participation, and to promote the preservation of our heritage.

Article VII-B
When the national heritage is affected by a particular action, those responsible for that action must consult with the citizens and inform them of the scope of that action.

Documents relating to such actions must be made available to the public and must be prepared in such a way that non-specialists can understand them.

Furthermore, those involved in furthering these actions must develop adequate consultation procedures in order to take note of the opinions of the public. Such procedures will, in particular, include public hearings, information sessions and exhibitions.

Article VIII


Article VIII-A
Our heritage must be employed in such a way as to maintain or introduce functions that are useful to society and that are compatible with the structure and nature of the buildings, spaces and sites of which it is made up. In using our heritage, we must show consideration for its integration into the economic and social activities of the surrounding community.

Article VIII-B
We must promote the continuous use of our heritage, without any interruption of occupation.

Article VIII-C
Whenever we decide to make new use of heritage material, we must ensure the preservation of all the important characteristics of that material.

Any changes that are made must, at all times, be reversible.

Article VIII-D
The selection of a new function for heritage material must avoid excessive use and the deterioration that would result from such use.

Article IX


Article IX-A
In using our heritage, we must preserve or reintroduce everyday life rather than the artificial life of museums and tourist centres. Preference should be given to traditional occupations; and we must, in any case, respect the needs and legitimate aspirations of the inhabitants, even if this requires us to adopt uses that are different from the original uses.

Article IX-B
In other words, it is necessary to encourage respect for the established rights of the local population. The housing function should take precedence over all other uses and be given first priority.

Article X


Article X-A
Our educational system must disseminate knowledge pertaining to our heritage, to make people aware of its value and of the need to preserve it.

Article X-B
The educational system must ensure that traditions are passed on, and thereby encourage the training of artisans, technicians and professionals who will be able to work to safeguard our heritage.

Article X-C
Other educational authorities (the family, newspapers and magazines, radio and TV, etc.) must also do their part in furthering heritage education. In particular, heritage practitioners and specialists increase awareness through the communication of their knowledge to the general public.

We, the presidents, delegates and members of the ICOMOS National Committees of the Americas, met in San Antonio, Texas, United States of America, from the 27th to the 30th of March, 1996, at the InterAmerican Symposium on Authenticity in the Conservation and Management of the Cultural Heritageto discuss the meaning of authenticity in preservation in the Americas. We did so in response to the call issued by the Secretary General of ICOMOS for regional participation in the international debate on the subject.

For the past twelve months, members of the ICOMOS National Committees of the Americas have studied, read and discussed the documents produced in 1994 by the meetings of specialists on authenticity in Bergen, Norway, and Nara, Japan, as well as other pertinent documents. In preparation for the assembly in San Antonio, each National Committee prepared and submitted a National Position Paper that summarized the results of its own national or regional findings.

Having discussed the nature, definition, proofs, and management of authenticity in relation to the architectural, urban, archaeological and cultural landscape heritage of the Americas in an assembly that was open to members of all the ICOMOS National Committees of the Americas and to preservation organizations from the regions, we issue the following summary of our findings and recommendations:

    The authenticity of our cultural heritage is directly related to our cultural identity.The cultures and the heritage of the Americas are distinct from those of other continents because of their unique development and influences. Our languages, our societal structures, our economic means, and our spiritual beliefs vary within our continent, and yet, there are strong common threads that unify the Americas. Among these is our autochthonous heritage, which has not been entirely destroyed in spite of the violence of the Conquest Era and a persistent process of acculturation; the heritage from the European colonizers and the African slavery that together have helped build our nations; and finally, the more recent contribution of European and Asian immigrants who came searching for a dream of freedom and helped to consolidate it. All these groups have contributed to the rich and syncretic pluriculturalism that makes up our dynamic continental identity.

    Because cultural identity is at the core of community and national life, it is the foundation of our cultural heritage and its conservation. Within the cultural diversity of the Americas, groups with separate identities co-exist in the same space and time and at times across space and time, sharing cultural manifestations, but often assigning different values to them. No nation in the Americas has a single national identity; our diversity makes up the sum of our national identities.

    The authenticity of our cultural resources lies in the identification, evaluation and interpretation of their true values as perceived by our ancestors in the past and by ourselves now as an evolving and diverse community. As such, the Americas must recognize the values of the majorities and the minorities without imposing a hierarchical predominance of any one culture and its values over those of others.

    The comprehensive cultural value of our heritage can be understood only through an objective study of history, the material elements inherent in the tangible heritage, and a deep understanding of the intangible traditions associated with the tangible patrimony.

    When taking into account the value of heritage sites as related to cultural identity, the Americas face the global problem of cultural homogenization, which tends to dilute and erase local values in favor of those that are being advanced universally, often as stereotyped illusions with commercial ends. This weakens the role of heritage sites. While we accept the importance of traditional values as an instrument in ethnic and national identity, we reject their use to promote exacerbated nationalism and other conflicting attitudes that would lead our continent away from mutual respect and a permanent peace.

    An understanding of the history and significance of a site over time are crucial elements in the identification of its authenticity. The understanding of the authenticity of a heritage site depends on a comprehensive assessment of the significance of the site by those who are associated with it or who claim it as part of their history. For this reason, it is important to understand the origins and evolution of the site as well as the values associated with it. Variations in the meaning and values of a site may at times be in conflict, and while that conflict needs to be mediated, it may, in fact, enrich the value of the heritage site by being the point of convergence of the values of various groups. The history of a site should not be manipulated to enhance the dominant values of certain groups over those of others.
    The material fabric of a cultural site can be a principal component of its authenticity. As emphasized in Article 9 of the Venice Charter, the presence of ancient and original elements is part of the basic nature of a heritage site. The Charter also indicates that the material elements of our tangible cultural heritage are bearers of important information about our past and our identity. Those messages include information about a site's original creation as well as the layered messages that resulted from the interaction between the resource and new and diverse cultural circumstances. For these reasons, those materials and their setting need to be identified, evaluated and protected. In the case of cultural landscapes, the importance of material fabric must be weighed along with the immaterial distinctive character and components of the site.

    Over time, heritage sites have come to possess a testimonial value -- which may be aesthetic, historic or otherwise -- that is readily evident to most of society. In addition to the testimonial value, there are less evident documentary values that require an understanding of the historic fabric in order to identify their meaning and their message. Since the documentary value responds to evolving questions posed by the community over time, it is important that the material evidence, defined in terms of design, materials, manufacture, location, and context be preserved in order to retain its ability to continue to manifest and convey those concealed values to present and future generations.

    The degree to which documented missing elements are replaced as part of restoration treatments varies within the Americas in accordance to the cultural characteristics of each country. Some national policies indicate that what is lost can only be part of our memory and not of our heritage. Elsewhere, policies encourage the replacement of fully documented elements in facsimile form in order to re-establish the site's full significance. Nevertheless, we emphasize that only the historic fabric is authentic, and interpretations achieved through restoration are not; they can only authentically represent the meaning of a site as understood in a given moment. Furthermore, we universally reject the reliance on conjecture or hypotheses for restoration.

    Apart from the above, there are important sectors of our patrimony that are built of perishable materials that require periodic replacement in accordance with traditional crafts to ensure continued use. Similarly, there are heritage sites built of durable materials but that are subject to damage caused by periodic natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. In these cases, we also assert the validity of using traditional techniques for their repair, especially when those techniques are still in use in the region, or when more sophisticated approaches would be economically prohibitive.

    We recognize that in certain types of heritage sites, such as cultural landscapes, the conservation of overall character and traditions, such as patterns, forms and spiritual value, may be more important than the conservation of the physical features of the site, and as such, may take precedence. Therefore, authenticity is a concept much larger that material integrity and the two concepts must not be assumed to be equivalent or consubstantial.

    Beyond the material evidence, heritage sites can carry a deep spiritual message that sustains communal life, linking it to the ancestral past. This spiritual meaning is manifested through customs and traditions such as settlement patterns, land use practices, and religious beliefs. The role of these intangibles is an inherent part of the cultural heritage, and as such, their link to the meaning of the tangible elements of the sites must be carefully identified, evaluated, protected and interpreted.

    The goal of preserving memory and its cultural manifestations must be approached by aiming to enrich human spirituality, beyond the material aspect. Historic research and surveys of the physical fabric are not enough to identify the full significance of a heritage site, since only the concerned communities that have a stake in the site can contribute to the understanding and expression of the deeper values of the site as an anchor to their cultural identity.

    In cultural landscapes, including urban areas, the process of identifying and protecting social value is complex because so many separate interest groups may be involved. In some cases, this situation is further complicated because the traditional indigenous groups that once protected and developed the sites are now adopting new and at times conflicting values that spring from the market economy, and from their desire for more social and economic integration in the national life. We recognize that sustainable development may be a necessity for those who inhabit cultural landscapes, and that a process for mediation must be developed to address the dynamic nature of these sites so that all values may be properly taken into account. We also recognize that in some cases, there may be a hierarchy of values that is related to the stake of some groups in a site.

    The heritage of the Americas includes dynamic cultural sites that continue to be actively used by society, as well as static sites such as archaeological sites no longer used by the descendants of their builders. These two types of sites have differing natures; and their conservation needs, the determination of their authenticity, and their interpretation vary according to their character.

    Dynamic cultural sites, such as historic cities and landscapes, may be considered to be the product of many authors over a long period of time whose process of creation often continues today. This constant adaptation to human need can actively contribute to maintaining the continuum among the past, present and future life of our communities. Through them our traditions are maintained as they evolve to respond to the needs of society. This evolution is normal and forms an intrinsic part of our heritage. Some physical changes associated with maintaining the traditional patterns of communal use of the heritage site do not necessarily diminish it's significance and may actually enhance it. Therefore, such material changes may be acceptable as part of on-going evolution.

    Static cultural sites include those valued as the concluded work of a single author or group of authors and whose original or early message has not been transformed. They are appreciated for their aesthetic value, or for their significance in commemorating persons and events important in the history of the community, the nation, or the world. In these sites, which are often recognized as monumental structures, the physical fabric requires the highest level of conservation in order to limit alterations to their character.

    Another type of site that may be static is the archaeological site whose active communal and social purpose have faded or even ceased. For a variety of reasons, the descendants of the original creators and traditional inhabitants have lost their direct link to the physical fabric of the site, thereby also weakening their ability to perceive and interpret the site's meaning and value. Because the pre-European cultures of the Americas lacked writing, the most direct link to that past lies in the material evidence of the archaeological sites, with the added complication that the information that they offer is incomplete and at times random. The authenticity of archaeological sites is non-renewable. It resides in its material elements and their context, that is, the relationship of the structures and objects among themselves and with the physical surroundings. Authenticity can be destroyed when the context of the site is not properly documented, when layers are eliminated to reach deeper ones, when total excavation is undertaken and when the findings are not rigorously and broadly disseminated. For these reasons, witnesses of the original stratigraphy must be maintained so that future generations may analyze them with more sophisticated techniques than those in existence today.

    Only through study, publication and research of the physical evidence can these sites and their objects once again manifest their values and re-establish their links to our present cultural identity. However, the interpretation of the sites can authentically reflect only fluctuating interests and values, and in itself, interpretation is not inherently authentic, only honest and objective. For these reasons, the intactness of the physical evidence in its entirety demands the most thorough documentation, protection and conservation so that objectivity of interpretation may respond to new information derived from that fabric.

    Regardless of the type of site, contemporary treatments must rescue the character of all cultural resources without transforming their essence and balance. New elements must be harmonious with the character of the whole.

    The heritage of the Americas is characterized by very heterogeneous patterns of ownership and stewardship. While many sites are properly protected by their stewards, at times some sites are under the jurisdiction of local authorities that lack the ability to determine properly the comprehensive value of the sites or the appropriate treatments for their conservation. Other times, the original inhabitants who created and cared for a cultural site have been replaced by new populations that have little or no cultural affinity for the site and place little or no value in it, leading to its abandonment and decay. This situation urgently demands that the proper national and local authorities and the present owners, stewards and inhabitants be made fully aware of the value that other majority and minority sectors of the population may have for the site. Both the communities and the constituted authorities must be provided the means for the correct knowledge and evaluation of the heritage, its protection and conservation, and the promotion of its artistic and spiritual enjoyment, as well as its educational use.
    The authenticity of heritage sites lies intrinsically in their physical fabric, and extrinsically on the values assigned to them by those communities who have a stake in them. Tourists constitute one of those groups that values the site and has an interest in its meaning and conservation.

    Since cultural tourism is often a substantial source of revenue for local and national economies, its development is acceptable, as originally formulated in the Norms of Quito. Nevertheless, the limited values that tourists may place on a site and the economic concerns for tourism revenue cannot be allowed to be the overriding criterion in a site's conservation and interpretation. This is especially true when the authenticity of fabric and its context, and of the site's broader values and message are altered, diminished, or threatened.

    In the Americas, the authenticity of many archaeological sites has been compromised through reconstructions. In spite of their educational value, reconstructions aimed to promote tourism reduce the authenticity of such sites by involving new hands, new materials and new criteria, and by altering the appearance of the site.

    Furthermore, within the framework of economic development, the problem of permanently poor populations remains a critical factor in the urban cores of many historic cities of the Americas. Bringing about an awareness of the cultural value of the urban heritage on the part of these poor sectors cannot be achieved without a comprehensive approach to solve their marked material and social marginality.

Given all of the above considerations, we the Presidents of the ICOMOS National Committees of the Americas hereby offer for discussion at the General Assembly in Sofia the following general recommendations as well as the specific discussion group recommendations that emerged from the extensive discussions held in San Antonio by the participants in the InterAmerican Symposium on Authenticity in the Conservation and Management of the Cultural Heritage. Furthermore, we recognize and commend the Nara Document as a valuable instrument for discussion, but find it incomplete and, therefore, endorse the appended commentaries on the Nara Document based on the needs we have identified relating to the heritage of the Americas:

    1. That our appreciation be conveyed to the members of US/ICOMOS, to the Getty Conservation Institute and the San Antonio Conservation Society for organizing and sponsoring the InterAmerican Symposium on Authenticity, and that the authorities of the City of San Antonio, Texas, be recognized for their hospitality during our meeting and for their accomplishments in preserving the heritage of this beautiful historic city.
    2. That a process be established that will help to define and protect authenticity in the material legacies of our diverse cultural heritage, and that will lead to the recognition of a broad range of significant resources through the comprehensive and specific evaluation of cultural value, the administrative context, and the history of the site. The Burra Charter and its operational guidelines may serve as a model for this process. Such a process should include management mechanisms that will ensure the involvement of all concerned groups. Individual experts representative of a broad range of disciplines and interests, all relevant groups in the process and other interested or affected parties must be included in the management process of determination of significance and treatments in a heritage site.
    3. That further consideration be given to the proofs of authenticity so that indicators may be identified for such a determination in a way that all significant values in the site may be set forth. The following are some examples of indicators:
      1. Reflection of the true value. That is, whether the resource remains in the condition of its creation and reflects all its significant history.
      2. Integrity. That is, whether the site is fragmented; how much is missing, and what are the recent additions.
      3. Context. That is, whether the context and/or the environment correspond to the original or other periods of significance; and whether they enhance or diminish the significance.
      4. Identity. That is, whether the local population identify themselves with the site, and whose identity the site reflects.
      5. Use and function. That is, the traditional patterns of use that have characterized the site.
    4. That given the comprehensive nature of the cultural heritage, the existing principles contained in all pertinent charters and declarations be consolidated as part of the development of a comprehensive approach and guideline to the practice of heritage conservation. These should include the Venice Charter, the 1965 UNESCO Archaeological Guidelines, the Burra Charter, the Declaration of Oaxaca, the Florence Charter, the Washington Charter, the Nara Document, the Charter of Brasilia, this Declaration of San Antonio, etc.
    1. That proper recognition be given to the values inherent in the cultural diversity of our historic urban centers.
    2. That programs be established to develop a greater awareness among the many cultural groups of their multiplicity of values.
    3. That through additional awareness and educational programs, governmental authorities and stewardship groups be made aware of the role of social and cultural values in protecting the authenticity of buildings and sites.
    4. That flexible and open processes for consultation and mediation be instituted at the local level in order to identify communal values and other aspects of cultural significance in historic urban districts.
    5. Since historic urban districts and towns are a type of cultural landscape, that many of the recommendations issued by the Cultural Landscapes Group also be applied to this sector of the heritage.
    1. That more attention be paid to authenticity in archaeological sites on the part of ICOMOS. Perhaps because of the membership composition of ICOMOS, there has not been enough concern for this heritage sector in the Americas.
    2. That more analysis be dedicated to the relationship authenticity might have to such activities as stabilization, consolidation, construction of protective shelters, etc.
    3. That descriptive and accurate documentation be an absolute requirement in all archaeological work. As sites are excavated, they are depleted of information, like books whose pages disappear. Interpretation is not controllable, but the record is. The archaeological record must be truthful and reliable -- in other words, authentic, objective and rigorous.
    4. That all interventions and excavations in archaeological sites always be accompanied by implementation of a conservation and permanent protection plan.
    5. That the authenticity of archaeological evidence be given proper protection when sites are threatened by urban encroachment or by civil works, such as road construction.
    6. That authenticity be protected prior to artificial flooding and the construction of dams through the exhaustive documentation of the area, with appropriate rescue techniques for the archaeological evidence, and followed by the publication of the results.
    7. That if excavated sites are not properly attended to and managed, conservation measures -- such as site re-burial -- must be considered to ensure that some level of authenticity is maintained through the ages.
    8. That a large part of the authenticity of an archaeological site resides in the undisturbed buried archaeological remains of the fill, and as such, should be minimally excavated by archaeologists, only to the extent necessary to determine the significance of the site.
    9. That some archaeological sites are still held to be sacred by the descendants of the creators of the site, and as such, should be minimally disturbed, or not disturbed at all, by archaeologists or development.
    1. That processes of negotiation be established to mediate among the different interests and values of the many groups who own or live in cultural landscapes.
    2. Since cultural landscapes are complex and dynamic, that the process of determining and protecting authenticity be sufficiently flexible to incorporate this dynamic quality.
    3. That the concept of sustainable development and its relationship to the management of cultural landscapes be defined in order to include economic, social, spiritual and cultural concerns.
    4. That the conservation of cultural landscapes seek a balance between the significant natural and cultural resources.
    5. That the needs and values of the local communities be taken into consideration when the future of cultural landscapes is being determined.
    6. That further work be done on appropriate legislation and governmental planning methodologies to protect the values associated with cultural landscapes.
    7. Since in conserving the authenticity of cultural landscapes the overall character and traditions, such as patterns, forms, land use and spiritual value of the site may take precedence over material and design aspects, that a clear relationship between values and the proof of authenticity be established.
    8. That expert multi-disciplinary assessments become a requirement for the determination of authenticity in cultural landscapes, and that such expert groups include social scientists who can accurately articulate the values of the local communities.
    9. That the authenticity of cultural landscapes be protected prior to major changes in land use and to the construction of large public and private projects, by requiring responsible authorities and financing organizations to undertake environmental impact studies that will lead to the mitigation of negative impacts upon the landscape and the traditional values associated with these sites.
    That the attached commentaries on the Nara Document be considered in all international documents and guidelines as a reflection of the definition, proof and protection of the authenticity of the Cultural Heritage of the Americas.



Resulting from discussions among the participants in the InterAmerican Symposium on Authenticity in the Conservation and Management of the Cultural Heritage, organized by US/ICOMOS, The Getty Conservation Institute and the San Antonio Conservation Society: San Antonio, Texas, March 27-30, 1996.

First and foremost, the Symposium participants extend their congratulations to the drafting committee of the Nara Document for this important and timely contribution to the field of cultural heritage protection. We also recognize that this Document was discussed and approved by the participants in the Nara Document and that, as such, it is not subject to change. However, because it has been made available to the global conservation community for study and discussion, it is important that its relevance to the cultural heritage of the Americas be analyzed. It is in that spirit that these comments are offered:


The Preface to the Nara Document states,

"The experts considered that an expanded dialogue in different regions of the world and among specialist groups concerned with the diversity of cultural heritage was essential to further refine the concept and application of authenticity as it relates to cultural heritage. Such on-going dialogue will be encouraged by ICOMOS, ICCROM, and the World Heritage Centre, and will be brought to the Committee's attention as appropriate."

In keeping with this recommendation, US/ICOMOS took on the challenge to organize a meeting of presidents, delegates and members of the ICOMOS committees from the Americas to assemble in San Antonio, Texas, to consider the definitions and applicability of authenticity to the conservation and management of heritage in their regions. One of the tasks taken up by the group was a careful review of the articles of the Nara Document, for the purpose of examining whether the American point of view is fully represented in the document.

It was acknowledged by all present that the Nara Document represents considerable diplomatic and substantive work on the part of the individuals involved in its development. The participants in the San Antonio symposium concur with the Nara group that the subject is central to preservation work around the world, and its closer definition and more thorough understanding is of profound and timely importance to the professional community. It was also believed that while the Nara Document is focused on the needs for implementing the World Heritage Convention, by its very nature, the Document will find a broader application. Therefore, some of our comments may address its broader sense. While the Nara Document will certainly find a place in the interpretation of the World Heritage Convention and to the applications of other guidelines, it was felt by the group in San Antonio that several substantive issues that surfaced could usefully be brought forward to ICOMOS in the forum of the ICOMOS General Assembly in Sofia, Bulgaria, in October 1996 and to the World Heritage Committee.

In general, the group believes that the Nara Document is a good articulate discussion of complex issues, in spite of the difficulty in closely tracking the English and French versions. In several articles [Articles 6, 12, and 13], the English text appears weak in comparison to the French, and the meaning of the two texts does not correspond exactly, making it difficult to determine which meaning reflects the real intention of the authors. The comments on this point were made with the understanding that the document had been produced under challenging time pressures and that some language revisions are still under way.

More specifically, six of the articles were seen to present opportunities for further discussion within the context of the concerns of the ICOMOS National Committees of the Americas and the nature of our cultural heritage.

The participants at the InterAmerican Symposium believes that in the Americas the concept of participation by the local community and stakeholders needs to be stronger than the text implies in order that they be involved in all processes from the beginning. By identifying the stages for such involvement, the Nara Document excludes the local community, for instance, from the identification process.

The San Antonio group believes that in the Americas, and perhaps elsewhere, the use of the words "nationalism" and "minorities" are inappropriate, for they do not cover the rather common case in this hemisphere where a minority within a nation may be more influential and impose its cultural values over larger, even majority groups, all within a shared national identity.

Also, the concept was advanced that this article omits one important mechanism in the search for cultural identity in the Americas, which is the re-assignation of lost or new values for weakened cultural traditions and heritage, especially those associated with the native American patrimony.

There was discussion in San Antonio as to whether this Article incorporates a very important characteristic of the Americas, which is the close coexistence of vastly differing cultural groups, including, in extreme cases, the close proximity of post-industrial, highly technical societies with nomadic tribes who live in close interaction with the natural environment. It was thought that this coexistence needs to be acknowledged and respected throughout the conservation process.

Responsibility for cultural heritage and the management of it belongs, in the first place, to the cultural community that generated it, and subsequently to that which cares for it. However, in addition to these responsibilities, adherence to the international charters and conventions developed for conservation of cultural heritage also obliges consideration of the principles and responsibilities flowing from them. Balancing its own requirements with those of other cultural communities is, for each community, highly desirable, provided achieving this balance does not undermine their fundamental cultural values.

The first sentence in this article,

It is important to underline a fundamental principle of UNESCO, to the effect that the cultural heritage of each is the cultural heritage of all.

reflects an important idea within the World Heritage context, but the group felt strongly that in a broader context the wording could easily lead to serious misinterpretation. First, the statement "the cultural heritage of each is the cultural heritage of all"could be used to support the idea that decisions over the heritage of a nation could rightfully be made by outside authorities. Unless the site or monument is on the World Heritage List, this was seen as an inappropriate possibility that undermined sovereignty. Second, at the other extreme, this statement could also be used to support the abdication of responsibility of a nation to care for its heritage when it should.

While the second sentence would appear to address that point, the current wording of the first sentence weakens its strength:

Responsibility for cultural heritage and the management of it belongs, in the first place to the cultural community that has generated it and subsequently, to that which cares for it.

The San Antonio group believes that where the community that created the heritage is still its steward or holds a stake in its survival, it should be responsible for its care. Where the heritage has passed into the common holding of a nation where it stands, the nation must take responsibility. Here again, the problem may lie in the translation.

The last sentence in Article 8,

Balancing their own requirements with those of other cultural communities is for each community highly desirable, provided achieving this balance does not undermine their fundamental cultural values.

is also problematic in its current wording, because the identification of "fundamental cultural values" is not possible or desirable in this context.

It was thought that this text does not fully reflect the concerns of the Americas because it does not directly state that in the understanding of authenticity it is crucial to acknowledge the dynamic nature of cultural values, and that to gain such understanding static and inflexible criteria must be avoided.

The participants believe that this Article lacks needed clarity and emphasis that could have been provided by a reiteration in its last sentence of the definition of what the cultural context constitutes:

a) that which created it; b) that to which it currently belongs; and c) the broader cultural context to the extent possible.

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