10 Amazing Heritage Sites I Recently Discovered

by Erika Blecha
December 1, 2008
I have been a CyArk intern for over a year now, and I am currently a senior anthropology major at the University of California at Berkeley. I have spent my summers excavating in the Belize jungles but for the past two months I have been conducting research in the CyArk offices. I have done research on the heritage sites of Japan, China, Africa, India, Turkey, the California Missions, and Islamic sites throughout the world. My goal was to find sites to include in a database for potential future CyArk sites.

With my education in archaeology, one may think that I have seen it all, but this research has been an extremely eye-opening experience. There were so many incredible sites that I had never heard of or read about. This research made me realize how many incredible world heritage sites exist. This inspired me to write this blog to introduce you to ten amazing sites that I recently discovered and thought you might enjoy.

Gobekli Tepe, Turkey

Gobekli Tepe dates to be about 11,000 years old making it the world oldest temple. This site of circularly-arranged massive T-shaped, carved stones were created and built by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools. Due to lack of evidence that people were living in this area permanently, it is believed that this sight was a place of worship on a very large scale.
Photo by Berthold Steinhilber http://www.smithsonianmag.com/multimedia/photos/?articleID=30706129&c=y

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Turkey

This region of Turkey is geologically defined by its numerous 'fairy chimneys' - weathered, eroded pinnacles of ancient volcanic rock on top of a sedimentary base. Since Byzantine times, these pinnacles have been carved by humans into dwellings, sanctuaries, and palates for artwork; they are most famed for their underground cities.
Photo by Curious Expeditions http://flickr.com/photos/curiousexpeditions/3053929891/in/set-72157609976285956/

Old Walled City of Shibam, Yemen

The fortified constructions of Shibam date mainly from the 16th century. The 500 tower houses, rising from 5-9 stories high and tightly clustered together, give the city the nickname 'Manhattan of the Desert'.
Photo by Michel Tahar http://flickr.com/photos/7901467@N03/481076746/

Samarra Archaeological City, Iraq

This magnificent Islamic capital city of the powerful Abbasid Empire, which fluoresced between the 9th and 14th centuries, contains some of the world's finest and most important examples of Islamic Golden Age architecture. The 9th century spiral minaret in particular is an architectural wonder.
Photo by Mazhude http://flickr.com/photos/mazhude/2175213976/

Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara, Mali

These great Islamic port cities off the Tanzanian coast held varying degrees of trade dominance and importance in the region from the 9th through the 19th centuries.Unfortunately due to erosion and vegetation this beautiful site is rapidly deteriorating.
Photo by Egui http://flickr.com/photos/egui/2286189762/

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Japan

This shrine is one of the most sacred and ancient Shinto sites. Set amidst sweeping mountain and sea views, the 13th century shrine blends natural and artistic beauty with technical skill – typifying a Japanese stylistic approach to art and architecture that juxtaposes human structure with nature.
Photo by Ayuko http://flickr.com/photos/42026389@N00/257244409/

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, India

Cradled within an impressive landscape, this Indian cultural park contains numerous vestiges of prehistoric and ancient settlements. The Kalikamata Temple however, is undoubtedly the most significant, as it remains not only a sacred site for pilgrims to-date, but represents the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city.
Photo by Chits60 http://flickr.com/photos/chitrashastry/2467415096/

Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons), Mali

This impressive sandstone geological landscape has been home to the Dogon people since the 14th century CE, and many of their traditional villages still dot the landscape. The Dogon ways of life here have remained largely unchanged for centuries, and archaeological remains of the pygmy Tellem people who lived in the region before the Dogons still have have structures built right into the cliff sides.
Photo by Phil http://flickr.com/photos/zrimshots/2237272815/

Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom, China

This site includes the ruins of three cities and over 40 tombs all dating to the Imperial period of the Koguryo Kingdom (37 BCE to 668 CE). It provides early examples of mountain cities, a type of construction designed to blend harmoniously with the environment and landscape.
Photo by Kevin http://flickr.com/photos/kevsunblush/55606452/

Shrines and Temples of Nikko, Japan

A longtime stronghold for the Tokugawa Shoguns, Nikko houses the masoleum of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and is surrounded by historic buildings stretching back to the 8th century. Additionally, it is located in a mountainous area of great scenic beauty.
Photo by Olly Dean http://flickr.com/photos/nekofever/228111156/