During the World Heritage Committee’s 40th session in Istanbul this month, UNESCO added 12 new cultural sites to its World Heritage List. Below is a round-up of the newly inscribed sites, and a summary of their cultural or physical importance.
Libya’s five UNESCO world heritage sites were also added to the organisation’s list of endangered properties. You can find out more about the country’s historic sites here.
Archaeological site of Ani
The remains of this medieval city lie on a secluded plateau in northeast Turkey. As a city that flourished in the 10th and 11th centuries AD, the site has the remains of residential, religious, and military buildings, giving an overview of the evolution of medieval architecture.
Gorham’s cave complex
This Neanderthal site has provided important evidence of the hunting of birds and marine animals for food, the use of feathers for ornamentation, and prehistoric rock painting. Consisting of four caves, the Gorham’s Cave Complex is located on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar.
Zuojiang Huashan rock art
Dating from around the 5th century BC–2nd century Ad and located on the steep cliffs of the border regions of southwest China, these 38 rock-art sites reveal the life and rituals of the Luoyue people. The pictures are thought to illustrate ceremonies associated with the bronze drum culture that was once prevalent in the area.
The architectural work of Le Corbusier
These 17 buildings designed by Le Corbusier demonstrate how he developed a new architectural language and invented techniques responding to the needs of 20th-century society. The sites are located across seven different countries: Argentina, Belgium, France (home to six buildings), Germany, India, Japan, and Switzerland
The Persian Qanat
Ancient civilisations built qanats in desert areas to conduct water through underground tunnels to distribute water. This site in Iran consists of 11 qanats and includes rest areas for workers, water reservoirs, and watermills.
Stećci medieval tombstones graveyards
These medieval tombstones, or stećci, are located at 30 sites across Bosnia and Herzegovina, western Serbia, western Montenegro, and central and southern Croatia. Dating from the 12th to 16th centuries, the tombstones display a wide range of decorative motifs and inscriptions, and reveal locally evolving traditions.
Pampulha Modern Ensemble
Oscar Niemeyer designed this cultural and leisure centre for a garden-city project created in 1940 for the capital of the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Situated next to an artificial lake, the Pampulha Modern Ensemble fuses modernist architecture, landscape design, sculpture, and painting, while remaining sympathetic to local traditions and the Brazilian climate.
Archaeological site of Philippi, Greece
Founded by the Macedonian King Philip II in 356 BC in present-day eastern Macedonia and Thrace, this city came to be viewed as a ‘small Rome’, with its Hellenistic theatre and temple and Roman building, which included a forum. The Apostle Paul’s visit in 49–50 AD led to it becoming a centre for Christianity. The remains of its basilicas are important evidence for the religion’s early history.
Nan Madol: ceremonial centre of Eastern Micronesia
This series of 99 artificial islets off the southeast coast of Pohnpei includes the remains of palaces, temples, tombs and homes built between 1200 and 1500 AD. The ruins used to be the Saudeleur dynasty’s ceremonial centre and they illustrate the complex social and religious practices of island societies from the period.
Built during the Neolithic and Bronze age out of large stone blocks, this site in Andalusia in southern Spain represents some of the most impressive prehistoric architectural work in Europe. It constitutes three megalithic monuments: the Tolos of El Romeral; the Menga and Viera dolmens; and two natural monuments: the Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations.
Antigua naval dockyard and related archaeological sites
The British Navy built this dockyard in Antigua to offer ships shelter from hurricanes and a place to make repairs. Consisting of a group of Georgian-style buildings within a walled enclosure, it aimed to protect the interests of sugar-cane planters at a time when European powers were competing for control of the Eastern Caribbean. Its construction, however, was only possible due to the labour of enslaved Africans.
Archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University)
On this site are the remains of a monastic and scholastic institution from the 3rd century BC to the 13th century AD. Located in northeastern India, it contains stupas, shrines, and residential and educational buildings. Important art works in stucco, stone and metal are also preserved on the site.