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Durham University

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Publication details for UNESCO Professor Robin Coningham

Coningham, R.A.E., Acharya, K.P., Davis, C.E., Weise, K., Kunwar, R.B. & Simpson, I.A. (2018). Look Down, Not Up: Protecting the Post-disaster Subsurface Heritage of the Kathmandu Valley’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Evolving Narratives of Hazard and Risk The Gorkha Earthquake, Nepal, 2015. Bracken, L.A., Ruszczyk, H. & Robinson, T. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. 159-181.

Author(s) from Durham


Short-term environmental shocks generate long-term impacts, and although the Gorkha earthquake devastated large areas of Nepal, it also caused a cultural catastrophe within Kathmandu’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Playing a central ritual role in the lives of thousands and a major source of tourist income, there is a drive for the rapid reconstruction of the ornate monuments in this region. Although many are subject to reconstruction and conservation programs, most interventions focus on standing architecture with negligible attention paid to archaeological deposits below the ground or the condition of their foundations. Referencing the results of recent rescue excavations, this chapter investigates earthquake damage and inappropriate post-disaster responses as well as noting the limited protection offered to monuments and their subsurface heritage from existing guidelines and needs assessments.