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UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018


UNESCO has added 19 locations to its list of World Heritage Sites, a new cadre of sites spanning everything from temples in Korea to architecture in India to an oasis in Saudi Arabia. The World Heritage Committee announced them over the past week after a meeting in Bahrain.

Cultural properties

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Aerial view of Göbekli Tepe in 2013 [Credit: DAI/Göbekli Tepe Project]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Building D, Göbekli Tepe [Credit: DAI/Göbekli Tepe Project]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Building D, Göbekli Tepe [Credit: K. Piesker/DAI]
1. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey 

Located in the Germuş mountains of south-eastern Anatolia, this site presents monumental circular and rectangular megalithic structures, interpreted as enclosures, which were erected by hunter-gatherers in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic age between 9,600 and 8,200 BC. It is likely that these monuments were used in connection with rituals, probably of a funerary nature. Distinctive T-shaped pillars are carved with images of wild animals, providing insight into the way of life and beliefs of people living in Upper Mesopotamia about 11,500 years ago.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Qal'eh Dokhtar [Credit: S.H.Rashedi/ICHHTO]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Ardashir Palace [Credit: B. Sedighi/ICHHTO]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Sarvestan [Credit: B. Sedighi/ICHHTO]
2. Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region, Iran

Eight archaeological sites situated in three geographical parts in the southeast of Fars Province: Firuzabad, Bishapur and Sarvestan. These fortified structures, palaces, and city plans date back to the earliest and latest times of the Sassanian Empire, which stretched across the region from 224 to 658 CE. Among these sites is the capital built by the founder of the dynasty, Ardashir Papakan, as well as a city and architectural structures of his successor, Shapur I. The archaeological landscape reflects the optimized utilization of natural topography and bears witness to the influence of Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions and of Roman art, which had a significant impact on the architecture and artistic styles of the Islamic era.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Entrance at Kochieng enclosure and buttresses at either side for stability
[Credit: Ephraim Mwangi/National Museums of Kenya]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Large cattle enclosure [Credit: Ephraim Mwangi/National Museums of Kenya]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Corridors used to guide animals and cattle enclosures [Credit: Ephraim Mwangi/
National Museums of Kenya]
3. Thimlich Ohinga Archaeological Site, Kenya

Situated north-west of the town of Migori, in the Lake Victoria region, this dry-stone walled settlement was probably built in the 16th century CE. The Ohinga (i.e. settlement) seems to have served as a fort for communities and livestock, but also defined social entities and relationships linked to lineage. Thimlich Ohinga is the largest and best preserved of these traditional enclosures. It is an exceptional example of the tradition of massive dry-stone walled enclosures, typical of the first pastoral communities in the Lake Victoria Basin, which persisted until the mid-20th century.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Aerial view of the Caliphate City of Medina Azahara [Credit: M. Pijuán/
Madinat al-Zahra Archaeological Site (CAMaZ)]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Upper Gardens [Credit: M. Pijuán/Madinat al-Zahra Archaeological Site (CAMaZ)]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
House of Ya'far. Entrance [Credit: M. Pijuán/Madinat al-Zahra Archaeological Site (CAMaZ)]
4. Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, Spain

The Caliphate city of Medina Azahara is an archaeological site of a city built in the mid-10th century CE by the Umayyad dynasty as the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba. After prospering for several years, it was laid to waste during the civil war that put an end to the Caliphate in 1009-10. The remains of the city were forgotten for almost 1,000 years until their rediscovery in the early 20th century. This complete urban ensemble features infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water systems, buildings, decorative elements and everyday objects. It provides in-depth knowledge of the now vanished Western Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus, at the height of its splendour.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Aerial view of the western corner of medieval Qalhat, with Bibi Maryam Mausoleum,
the intramuros cistern and the main gate of the town [Credit: QDP/MHC]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Bibi Maryam Mausoleum [Credit: QDP/MHC]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Aerial view of the Great Friday Mosque after excavations [Credit: QDP/MHC]
5. Ancient City of Qalhat, Oman

The site, which is located on the east coast of the Sultanate of Oman, includes the ancient city of Qalhat, surrounded by inner and outer walls, as well as areas beyond the ramparts where necropolises are located. The city developed as a major port on the east coast of Arabia between the 11th and 15th centuries CE, during the reign of the Hormuz princes. Today it bears unique archaeological testimony to the trade links between the east coast of Arabia, East Africa, India, China and South-east Asia.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Al-Qarah aerial view [Credit: IPOGEA]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
At-Tehamiyah village remains [Credit: IPOGEA]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Traditional well in Qasr Sahood [Credit: François Cristofoli]
6. Al-Ahsa Oasis, an Evolving Cultural Landscape, Saudi Arabia

In the eastern Arabian Peninsula, the Al-Ahsa Oasis is a serial property comprising gardens, canals, springs, wells, a drainage lake, as well as historical buildings, urban fabric and archaeological sites. They represent traces of continued human settlement in the Gulf region from the Neolithic to the present, as can be seen from remaining historic fortresses, mosques, wells, canals and other water management systems. With its 2.5 million date palms, it is the largest oasis in the world. Al-Ahsa is also a unique geocultural landscape and an exceptional example of human interaction with the environment.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
The Crooked Wall of the Danevirke [Credit: Rainer Heidenreich/
Archäologisches Landesamt Schleswig-Holstein]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Brick Front of the Main Wall of the Danevirke [Credit: Michael Lang/
Archäologisches Landesamt Schleswig-Holstein]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
From a smithy: casting mould of soap stone, iron pan, melting pot, iron pliers, Viking Age
[Credit: Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen Schloss Gottorf]
7. Archaeological Border complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke, Germany

The archaeological site of Hedeby consists of the remains of an emporium – or trading town - containing traces of roads, buildings, cemeteries and a harbour dating back to the 1st and early 2nd millennia CE. It is enclosed by part of the Danevirke, a line of fortification crossing the Schleswig isthmus, which separates the Jutland Peninsula from the rest of the European mainland. Because of its unique situation between the Frankish Empire of the South and the Danish Kingdom in the North, Hedeby became a trading hub between continental Europe and Scandinavia and between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Because of its rich and well preserved archaeological material, it has become a key site for the interpretation of economic, social and historical developments in Europe during the Viking age.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Beopjusa Temple, Hall of Eight Pictures [Credit: CIBM]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Beopjusa Temple, Hall of Eight Pictures [Credit: CIBM]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Tongdosa Temple - Diamond Precept Platform [Credit: CIBM]
8. Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea, Republic of Korea

The Sansa are Buddhist mountain monasteries located throughout the southern provinces of the Korean Peninsula. The spatial arrangement of the seven temples that comprise the site, established from the 7th to 9th centuries, present common characteristics that are specific to Korea – the “madang” (open courtyard) flanked by four buildings (Buddha Hall, pavilion, lecture hall and dormitory). They contain a large number of individually remarkable structures, objects, documents and shrines. These mountain monasteries are sacred places, which have survived as living centres of faith and daily religious practice to the present.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Naumburg, cathedral with West choir [Credit: Guido Siebert/
Förderverein Welterbe an Saale und Unstrut]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Naumburg cathedral, founder figures [Credit: Guido Siebert/
Förderverein Welterbe an Saale und Unstrut]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Naumburg cathedral, founder figure [Credit: Guido Siebert/
Förderverein Welterbe an Saale und Unstrut]
9. Naumburg Cathedral, Germany

Located in the eastern part of the Thuringian Basin, the Cathedral of Naumburg, whose construction began in 1028, is an outstanding testimony to medieval art and architecture. Its Romanesque structure, flanked by two Gothic choirs, demonstrates the stylistic transition from late Romanesque to early Gothic. The west choir, dating to the first half of the 13th century reflects changes in religious practice and the appearance of science and nature in the figurative arts. The choir and life-size sculptures of the founders of the Cathedral are masterpieces of the workshop known as the “Naumburg Master”.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Hisaka Island [Credit: Kyushu Air Lines/Nagasaki Préfecture]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Shitsu Church with its two steeples [Credit: TBS VISION, Inc/Nagasaki Préfecture]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Oura Cathedral [Credit: Japan Cultural Heirtage Consultancy Co., Ltd/Nagasaki Préfecture]
10. Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region, Japan

Located in the north-western part of Kyushu island, the 12 components of the site consist of ten villages, Hara Castle and a cathedral, built between the 16th and 19th centuries. Together they reflect the earliest activities of Christian missionaries and settlers in Japan – the phase of encounter, followed by times of prohibition and persecution of the Christian faith and the final phase of the revitalization of Christian communities after the lifting of prohibition in 1873. These sites bear unique testimony to a cultural tradition nurtured by hidden Christians in the Nagasaki region who secretly transmitted their faith during the period of prohibition from the 17th to the 19th century.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Tent camp near the ice sheet in the easternmost part of the nominated area. Easy access to the inland ice makes
Kangerlussuaq a popular starting point for excursions to the ice sheet [Credit: Ólafur Rafnar Ólafsson]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
View looking west over the lake of Aasivissuit in the eastern interior of the nominated area
[Credit: Laust Løgstrup]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
The only house standing in Saqqaq was built by a private individual after the settlement was abandoned.
It is used as a summerhouse and hunting cabin [Credit: Jens Fog Jensen]
11. Aasivissuit – Nipisat. Inuit Hunting Ground between Ice and Sea, Denmark

Located inside the Arctic Circle in the central part of West Greenland, the site contains the remains of 4,200 years of human history. It is a cultural landscape which bears witness to its creators’ hunting of land and sea animals, seasonal migrations and a rich and well-preserved tangible and intangible cultural heritage linked to climate, navigation and medicine. The features of the site include large winter houses and evidence of caribou hunting, as well as archaeological sites from Paleo-Inuit and Inuit cultures. The cultural landscape includes seven key localities, from Nipisat in the west to Aasivissuit, near the ice-cap in the east. It bears testimony to the resilience of the human cultures of the region and their traditions of seasonal migration.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Ivrea, near Turin, Italy [Credit: Alessandro di Marco/EPA]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Corso Jervis, in the foreground, the Officine ICO and the Social Services Centre
[Credit: Maurizio Gjivovich/Guelpa Foundation]
12. Ivrea, industrial city of the 20th century, Italy

The industrial city of Ivrea is located in the Piedmont region and developed as the testing ground for Olivetti, manufacturer of typewriters, mechanical calculators and office computers. It comprises a large factory and buildings designed to serve the administration and social services, as well as residential units. Designed by leading Italian urban planners and architects, mostly between 1930 and the 1960s, this architectural ensemble reflects the ideas of the Community Movement (Movimento Comunità). A model social project, Ivrea expresses a modern vision of the relationship between industrial production and architecture.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
A row of Art Deco apartment buildings along the bank of the Arabian Sea
[Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Aerial view of the Kala Ghoda Streetscape [Credit: Jehangir Sorabjee/
Abha Narain Lambah Associates]
13. Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai, India

Having become a global trading centre, the city of Mumbai implemented an ambitious urban planning project in the second half of the 19th century. It led to the construction of ensembles of public buildings bordering the Oval Maidan open space, first in the Victorian Neo-Gothic style and then, in the early 20th century, in the Art Deco idiom. The Victorian ensemble includes Indian elements suited to the climate, including balconies and verandas. The Art Deco edifices, with their cinemas and residential buildings, blend Indian design with Art Deco imagery, creating a unique style that has been described as Indo-Deco. These two ensembles bear testimony to the phases of modernization that Mumbai has undergone in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Natural properties

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Lomati Valley [Credit: Tony Ferrar]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Sandspruit River, southern area [Credit: Dion Brandt]
1. Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, South Africa

Situated in north-eastern South Africa, the site comprises 40% of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, one of the world’s oldest geological structures. The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains represents the best-preserved succession of volcanic and sedimentary rock dating back 3.6 to 3.25 billion years, when the first continents were starting to form on the primitive Earth. It features meteor-impact fallback breccias resulting from the impact of meteorites formed just after the Great Bombardment (4.6 to 3.8 billion years ago).

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Chaine des Puys - Limagne fault tectonic arena [Credit: Denis Pourcher]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Chaine des Puys [Credit: Denis Pourcher]
2. Chaîne des Puys - Limagne fault tectonic arena, France

Situated in the centre of France, the site comprises the long Limagne fault, the alignments of the Chaîne des Puys volcanoes and the inverted relief of the Montagne de la Serre. It is an emblematic segment of the West European Rift, created in the aftermath of the formation of the Alps, 35 million years ago. The geological features of the property demonstrate how the continental crust cracks, then collapses, allowing deep magma to rise and cause uplifting at the surface. The property is an exceptional illustration of continental break-up – or rifting – which is one of the five major stages of plate tectonics.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
The miracle of Fanjingshan [Credit: Li Guiyun]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Buddha's light [Credit: Zhou Wenqing]
3. Fanjingshan, China

Located within the Wuling mountain range in Guizhou Province (south-west China), Fanjingshan ranges in altitude between 500 metres and 2,570 metres above sea level, favouring highly diverse types of vegetation and relief. It is an island of metamorphic rock in a sea of karst, home to many plant and animal species which originated in the Tertiary period, between 65 million and 2 million years ago. The site’s isolation has led to a high degree of biodiversity with endemic species, such as the Fanjingshan Fir (Abies fanjingshanensis) and the Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi), and endangered species, such as the Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus), the Forest Musk Deer (Moschus berezovskii) and Reeve’s Pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii). Fanjingshan has the largest and most contiguous primeval beech forest in the subtropical region.

Mixed properties

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Chiribiquete National Park [Credit: Steve Winter]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Rock Art [Credit: Jorge Mario Álvarez Arango]
1. Chiribiquete National Park – “The Maloca of the Jaguar”, Colombia

Located in the north-west Colombian Amazon, Chiribiquete National Park is the largest protected area in the country. One of the defining features of the park is the presence of tepuis (the Native American word for table-top mountains), sheer-sided sandstone plateaux that dominate the forest. Over 75,000 paintings, spanning more than 20,000 years to the present, are to be seen on the walls of the 60 rock shelters around the bases of the tepuis. Believed to be linked to the worship of the jaguar, a symbol of power and fertility, these paintings depict hunting scenes, battles, dances and ceremonies. The indigenous communities, which are not directly present on the site, consider the region sacred.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Pimachiowin Aki - Canada [Credit: Pimachiowin Aki]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Meat smoking rack – Pikangikum area [Credit: Pimachiowin Aki]
2. Pimachiowin Aki, Canada

Pimachiowin Aki (“The Land That Gives Life”) is a forest landscape crossed by rivers and studded with lakes, wetlands, and boreal forest. It forms part of the ancestral home of the Anishinaabeg, an indigenous people living from fishing, hunting and gathering. The area encompasses the traditional lands of four Anishinaabeg communities (Bloodvein River, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and Poplar River). It is an exceptional example of the cultural tradition of Ji-ganawendamang Gidakiiminaan (“keeping the land”) which consists of honouring the gifts of the Creator, respecting all forms of life and maintaining harmonious relations with others. A complex network of livelihood sites, habitation sites, travel routes and ceremonial sites, often linked by waterways, embodies this tradition.

UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Cacti [Credit: Diana Hernandez/CHAC]
UNESCO's World Heritage List for 2018
Tomb Quitepec fortress [Credit: Diana Hernandez/CHAC]

3. Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley: originary habitat of Mesoamerica, Mexico

Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley, part of the Mesoamerican region, is the arid or semi-arid zone with the richest biodiversity in all of North America. Consisting of three components, Zapotitlán-Cuicatlán, San Juan Raya and Purrón, it is one of the main centres of diversification for the cacti family, which is critically endangered worldwide. The valley harbours the densest forests of columnar cacti in the world, shaping a unique landscape that also includes agaves, yuccas and oaks. Archaeological remains demonstrate technological developments and the early domestication of crops. The valley presents an exceptional water management system of canals, wells, aqueducts and dams, the oldest in the continent, which has allowed for the emergence of agricultural settlements.

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre [July 06, 2018]

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