The World Heritage Committee on Sunday evening agreed to put 12 new sites on the World Heritage List before ending its 40th session in Turkey’s Istanbul city. With 9 others already approved on Friday, the session has placed a total of 21 out of 27 nominations for this year on the prestigious list. With the 21 newly added — 12 cultural sites, six natural and three mixed ones — the heritage list has now 1,052 sites in 165 countries.
The Ahwar of Southern Mesopotamian Cities (Iraq)
The Ahwar is made up of seven sites: three archaeological sites and four wetland marsh areas in southern Iraq. The archaeological cities of Uruk and Ur and the Tell Eridu archaeological site form part of the remains of the Sumerian cities and settlements that developed in southern Mesopotamia between the 4thand the 3rd millennium BCE in the marshy delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Ahwar of Southern Iraq – also known as the Iraqi Marshlands – are unique, as one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, in an extremely hot and arid environment.
The remains of this walled city lie at the foot of an acropolis in the present-day region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia. Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the city developed as a “small Rome” with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the decades following the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BCE. The Hellenistic theatre and funerary heroon (temple) were supplemented with Roman buildings such as the forum. Later the city became a centre of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 CE. The remains of its basilicas constitute an exceptional testimony to the early establishment of Christianity.
This site is located on a secluded plateau of northeast Turkey overlooking a ravine that forms a natural border with Armenia. This medieval city combines residential, religious and military structures, characteristic of a medieval urbanism built up over the centuries by Christian and then Muslim dynasties. The city flourished in the 10th and 11thcenturies CE when it became the capital of the medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagratides and profited from control of one branch of the Silk Road. Later, under Byzantine, Seljuk, and Georgian sovereignty, it maintained its status as an important crossroads for merchant caravans. The Mongol invasion and a devastating earthquake in 1319 marked the beginning of the city’s decline. The site presents a comprehensive overview of the evolution of medieval architecture through examples of almost all the different architectural innovations of the region between the 7th and 13thcenturies CE.
The Persian Qanat (Iran)
Throughout the arid regions of Iran, agricultural and permanent settlements are supported by the ancient qanat system of tapping alluvial aquifers at the heads of valleys and conducting the water along underground tunnels by gravity, often over many kilometres. The eleven qanats representing this system include rest areas for workers, water reservoirs and watermills. The traditional communal management system still in place allows equitable and sustainable water sharing and distribution. The qanats provide exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas with an arid climate.
Zuojiang Huashan Rock (China)
Located on the steep cliffs in the border regions of southwest China, these 38 sites of rock art illustrate the life and rituals of the Luoyue people. They date from the period around the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century CE. In a surrounding landscape of karst, rivers and plateaux, they depict ceremonies which have been interpreted as portraying the bronze drum culture once prevalent across southern China. This cultural landscape is the only remains of this culture today.
Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay (Sudan)
The property consists of two separate areas: Sanganeb is an isolated, coral reef structure in the central Red Sea and the only atoll, 25 km off the shoreline of Sudan. The second element of the property is made up of Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island, situated 125 km north of Port Sudan. It includes a highly diverse system of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, beaches and islets. The site provides a habitat for populations of seabirds, marine mammals, fish, sharks, turtles and manta rays. Dungonab Bay also has a globally significant population of dugongs.
Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar (India)
The Nalanda Mahavihara site is in the State of Bihar, in north-eastern India. It comprises the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE. It includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal. Nalanda stands out as the most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent. It engaged in the organized transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years. The historical development of the site testifies to the development of Buddhism into a religion and the flourishing of monastic and educational traditions.
Western Tien-Shan (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan)
The transnational site is located in the Tien-Shan mountain system, one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. Western Tien-Shan is situated at an altitude of 700 to 4,503m. It features diverse landscapes, which are home to exceptionally rich biodiversity. It is of global importance as a centre of origin for a number of cultivated fruit crops and is home to a great diversity of forest types and unique plant community associations.
Pampulha Modern Ensemble (Brazil)
The Pampulha Modern Ensemble was the centre of a visionary garden city project created in 1940 at Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais State. Designed around an artificial lake, this cultural and leisure centre included a casino, a ballroom, the Golf Yacht Club and the São Francisco de Assis church. The buildings were designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, in collaboration with innovative artists. The Ensemble comprises bold forms that exploit the plastic potential of concrete, while fusing architecture, landscape design, sculpture and painting into a harmonious whole. It reflects the influence of local traditions, the Brazilian climate and natural surroundings on the principles of modern architecture.
Lut Desert (Iran)
The Lut Desert, or Dasht-e-Lut, is located in the south-east of the country. Between June and October, this arid subtropical area is swept by strong winds, which transport sediment and cause aeolian erosion on a colossal scale. Consequently, the site presents some of the most spectacular examples of aeolian yardang landforms (massive corrugated ridges). It also contains extensive stony deserts and dune fields. The property represents an exceptional example of ongoing geological processes.
Khangchendzonga National Park (India)
Located at the heart of the Himalayan range in northern India (State of Sikkim), the Khangchendzonga National Park includes a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests, including the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga. Mythological stories are associated with this mountain and with a great number of natural elements (e.g. caves, rivers, lakes, etc.) that are the object of worship by the indigenous people of Sikkim. The sacred meanings of these stories and practices have been integrated with Buddhist beliefs and constitute the basis for Sikkimese identity.
Ennedi Massif (Chad)
In the northeast of the country, the sandstone Ennedi Massif has been sculpted by water and wind erosion over time into a plateau featuring canyons and valleys that present a spectacular landscape marked by cliffs, natural arches and pitons. In the largest canyons, the permanent presence of water plays an essential role in the Massif’s ecosystem, sustaining flora and fauna as well as human life. Thousands of images have been painted and carved into the rock surface of caves, canyons and shelters, presenting one of the largest ensembles of rock art in the Sahara.
Archipiélago de Revillagigedo (Mexico)
Located in the eastern Pacific Ocean, this archipelago is made up of four remote islands and their surrounding waters: San Benedicto, Socorro, Roca Partida and Clarión. This archipelago is part of a submerged mountain range, with the four islands representing the peaks of volcanoes emerging above sea level. The islands provide critical habitat for a range of wildlife and are of particular importance for seabirds. The surrounding waters have a remarkable abundance of large pelagic species, such as manta rays, whales, dolphins and sharks.
Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia)
This serial property combines 30 sites, located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, western Serbia, western Montenegro and central and southern Croatia, representing these cemeteries and regionally distinctive medieval tombstones, or stećci. The cemeteries, which date from the 12th to 16th centuries CE, are laid out in rows, as was the common custom in Europe from the Middle Ages. The stećci are mostly carved from limestone. They feature a wide range of decorative motifs and inscriptions that represent iconographic continuities within medieval Europe as well as locally distinctive traditions.
Hubei Shennongjia (China)
Located in Hubei Province, in central-eastern China, the site consists of two components: Shennongding/Badong to the west and Laojunshan to the east. It protects the largest primary forests remaining in Central China and provides habitat for many rare animal species, such as the Chinese Giant Salamander, the Golden or Snub-nosed Monkey, the Clouded Leopard, Common Leopard and the Asian Black Bear. Hubei Shennongjia is one of three centres of biodiversity in China. The site features prominently in the history of botanical research and was the object of international plant collecting expeditions in the 19th and 20th centuries
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier (Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, India, Japan, Switzerland)
Chosen from the work of Le Corbusier, the 17 sites comprising this transnational serial property are spread over seven countries and are a testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past. They were built over a period of a half-century, in the course of what Le Corbusier described as “patient research”. The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh (India), the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Japan), the House of Dr Curutchet in La Plata (Argentina) and the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (France) reflect the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20thcentury to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society. These masterpieces of creative genius also attest to the internationalization of architectural practice across the planet.
Mistaken Point (Canada)
This fossil site is located at the south-eastern tip of the island of Newfoundland, in eastern Canada. It consists of a narrow, 17 km-long strip of rugged coastal cliffs. Of deep marine origin, these cliffs date to the Edicarean Period (580-560 million years ago), representing the oldest known assemblages of large fossils anywhere. These fossils illustrate a watershed in the history of life on earth: the appearance of large, biologically complex organisms, after almost three billion years of micro-dominated evolution.
Antequera Dolmens (Spain)
Located at the heart of Andalusia in southern Spain, the site comprises three megalithic monuments: the Menga and Viera dolmens and the Tolos of El Romeral, and two natural monuments: the Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations, which are landmarks within the property. Built during the Neolithic and Bronze Age out of large stone blocks, these monuments form chambers with lintelled roofs or false cupolas. These three tombs buried beneath their original earth tumuli, are one of the most remarkable architectural works of European prehistory and one of the most important examples of European Megalithism.
Gorham’s Cave (Gibraltar, United Kingdom )
The steep limestone cliffs on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar contain four caves with archaeological and paleontological deposits that provide evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years. This exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of the Neanderthals is seen notably in evidence of the hunting of birds and marine animals for food, the use of feathers for ornamentation and the presence of abstract rock engravings. Scientific research on these sites has already contributed substantially to debates about Neanderthal and human evolution.
Antigua Naval Dockyard (Antigua and Barbuda)
The site consists of a group of Georgian-style naval buildings and structures, set within a walled enclosure. The natural environment of this side of the island of Antigua, with its deep, narrow bays surrounded by highlands, offered shelter from hurricanes and was ideal for repairing ships. The construction of the Dockyard by the British navy would not have been possible without the labour of generations of enslaved Africans since the end of the 18th century. Its aim was to protect the interests of sugar cane planters at a time when European powers were competing for control of the Eastern Caribbean.
Nan Madol (Micronesia)
Nan Madol is a series of 99 artificial islets off the south-east coast of Pohnpei that were constructed with walls of basalt and coral boulders. These islets harbour the remains of stone palaces, temples, tombs and residential domains built between 1200 and 1500 CE. These ruins represent the ceremonial centre of the Saudeleur dynasty, a vibrant period in Pacific Island culture. The huge scale of the edifices, their technical sophistication and the concentration of megalithic structures bear testimony to complex social and religious practices of the island societies of the period. The site was also inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to threats, notably the siltation of waterways that is contributing to the unchecked growth of mangroves and undermining existing edifices.
Source : Unesco