UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list

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World Heritage list 2023


From September 10 to 25, 2023, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is holding its 45th session in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. During the conference, representatives from 21 member states agreed to add 13  new sites to the World Heritage List and extend the recognition of several existing ones. These additions and extensions will provide legal protection for ancient or unique places in countries such as China, India, Ethiopia, Iran, Azerbaijan, as well as the Palestinian Territory of the West Bank. The committee has also added several Ukrainian sites in Kyiv and Lviv to its List of World Heritage in Danger. Read below for more information on the updates to the World Heritage List.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
the committee has also added Ukrainian sites in Kyiv and Lviv to its List of World Heritage in Danger | image via @unesco



Palestine – Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan


Tell es-Sultan, located in the Jordan Valley, is an oval-shaped mound that contains evidence of human activity dating back to the 9th-8th millennium BC. Skulls and statues found on the site suggest that the Neolithic inhabitants practiced religious rituals. Archaeological evidence from the Early Bronze Age shows signs of urban planning, and the Middle Bronze Age vestiges reveal the presence of a large and socially complex Canaanite city-state.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA), courtesy of UNESCO



Iran (Islamic Republic of) – The Persian Caravanserai


Caravanserais were roadside inns that provided shelter, food, and water for caravans, pilgrims, and other travelers. The location of each caravanserai was determined by the availability of water, the terrain, and security concerns. The 54 caravanserais in this property are just a small sample of the many caravanserais that were built along Iran’s ancient roads. They are considered to be the most important and valuable examples of Iranian caravanserais, representing a wide range of architectural styles, adaptations to climatic conditions, and construction materials.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © Babak Sedighi, courtesy of UNESCO



China – Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er


The Blang and Dai peoples developed the cultural landscape of Jingmai Mountain in southwestern China over a thousand years, beginning in the 10th century. The property is a tea production area with traditional villages surrounded by old tea groves, forests, and tea plantations. The local Indigenous communities maintain a traditional understory cultivation method that is adapted to the mountain’s ecosystem and subtropical monsoon climate. Traditional ceremonies and festivities celebrate the Tea Ancestor belief that spirits live in the tea plantations and local fauna and flora, a belief that is at the core of this cultural tradition.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © Xie Jun, courtesy of UNESCO



Azerbaijan – Cultural Landscape of Khinalig People and Köç Yolu Transhumance Route


The Khinalig Cultural Landscape is a mountainous region in northern Azerbaijan that is home to the semi-nomadic Khinalig people. The Khinalig people have a unique culture and lifestyle that is defined by their seasonal migration between summer and winter pastures, following a 200-kilometer-long route called Köç Yolu (Migration Route). The cultural landscape includes the Khinalig village, high-altitude summer pastures and agricultural terraces in the Greater Caucasus Mountains, winter pastures in the lowland plains in central Azerbaijan, and the connecting Köç Yolu. The landscape also includes ancient routes, temporary pastures and camping sites, mausoleums, and mosques.


image © RMC, courtesy of UNESCO


Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan – Silk Roads: Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor


The Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor is a key part of the Silk Roads in Central Asia, connecting other corridors from all directions. It is 866 kilometers long and runs from east to west along the Zarafshan River, through rugged mountains, fertile river valleys, and uninhabitable desert. From the 2nd century BCE to the 16th century CE, the corridor was a major trade route between the East and the West, with a large variety of goods being traded. People from all over the world traveled, settled, conquered, or were defeated along the corridor, making it a melting pot of cultures, religions, sciences, and technologies.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © IICAS, courtesy of UNESCO



Germany – Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt


Located in the medieval historic center of Erfurt, the capital city of Thuringia, the property comprises three monuments: the Old Synagogue, the Mikveh, and the Stone House. They illustrate the life of the local Jewish community and its coexistence with a Christian majority in Central Europe during the Middle Ages, between the end of the 11th and the mid-14th century. 

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © Pro Denkmal, courtesy of UNESCO



Denmark – Viking-Age Ring Fortresses


These five archaeological sites are a group of huge, circular forts built by the Vikings. They were all built between 970 and 980 CE, and they all have the same basic design. The forts are located near important land and sea routes, and they were built to be defended against attack. They show that the Jelling Dynasty was a powerful and centralized kingdom, and they are a sign of the social and political changes that were happening in Denmark in the late 10th century. 


© Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces, courtesy of UNESCO

Canada – Tr’ondëk-Klondike


Tr’ondëk-Klondike is a region in northwestern Canada that is home to the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation. It is located along the Yukon River in the subarctic region. The region contains archaeological and historical sites that show how Indigenous people adapted to the unprecedented changes caused by the Klondike Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century. These sites include places where Indigenous people and white settlers interacted, as well as places where the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in adapted to the presence of the settlers.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
© GroundTruth Exploration Inc., courtesy of UNESCO



Republic of Korea – Gaya Tumuli


This property includes a group of archaeological cemetery sites with burial mounds that belonged to the Gaya Confederacy, which existed in southern Korea from the 1st to the 6th centuries CE. The distribution of the cemeteries, the landscape characteristics, the types of burials, and the grave goods show that the Gaya Confederacy had a unique political system in which different groups were equal but shared a common culture. The introduction of new types of tombs and the increasing importance of hierarchy in the burial mounds show how Gaya society changed over time.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © World Heritage Nomination Office for the Gaya Tumuli, courtesy of UNESCO



Mongolia – Deer Stone Monuments and Related Sites of Bronze Age


These ancient deer stones are located on the slopes of the Khangai Ridge in central Mongolia. They were used for ceremonial and funerary practices, dating from about 1200 to 600 BCE. The stones are up to four meters tall and are set directly in the ground, either singly or in groups. They are almost always found in complexes that include large burial mounds called khirgisüürs and sacrificial altars. Covered with highly stylized or representational engravings of stags, deer stones are the most important surviving structures belonging to the culture of Eurasian Bronze Age nomads that evolved and then slowly disappeared between the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © Ts.Turbat, courtesy of UNESCO



Cambodia – Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar



Koh Ker is a sacred complex of many temples and shrines, including sculptures, inscriptions, wall paintings, and ruins. It was built over 23 years and was one of two rival capitals of the Khmer Empire, the other being Angkor. Koh Ker was the sole capital from 928 to 944 CE. King Jayavarman IV founded Koh Ker, and his holy city was thought to be laid out based on ancient Indian religious concepts of the universe. The new city showed unusual urban planning, artistic expression, and construction techniques, especially the use of giant monolithic stone blocks.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © National Authority for Preah Vihear (NAPV), courtesy of UNESCO



Ethiopia – The Gedeo Cultural Landscape


The Gedeo Region of Ethiopia is located along the eastern edge of the Main Ethiopian Rift, on the steep slopes of the Ethiopian highlands. It is a region of agroforestry, where farmers use multilayer cultivation with large trees sheltering inset, the main food crop, under which they grow coffee and other shrubs. The Gedeo people, who have a rich traditional knowledge of forest management, densely populated the area. Within the cultivated mountain slopes are sacred forests that local communities traditionally use for rituals associated with the Gedeo religion. Along the mountain ridges are dense clusters of megalithic monuments, which the Gedeo people now revere and their elders care for.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © Yonas Beyene, courtesy of UNESCO



India – Santiniketan


In 1901, the renowned poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore founded Santiniketan, a boarding school and arts center in rural West Bengal. Santiniketan was based on ancient Indian traditions and a vision of human unity transcending religious and cultural boundaries.  In 1921, Tagore established a ‘world university’ at Santiniketan, recognizing the unity of humanity or Visva Bharati. Santiniketan’s architecture and approach to education were distinct from the prevailing British colonial and European modernist orientations of the early 20th century. Santiniketan represents an approach to pan-Asian modernity that draws on ancient, medieval, and folk traditions from across the region.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © Abha Narain Lambah Associates, courtesy of UNESCO



Latvia – Old town of Kuldīga


The old town of Kuldīga in Latvia is a well-preserved example of a traditional urban settlement that developed from a small medieval hamlet into an important administrative center of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia between the 16th and 18th centuries. The town structure of Kuldīga has largely retained the street layout of that period, and includes traditional log architecture as well as foreign-influenced styles that illustrate the rich exchange between local and traveling craftspeople from around the Baltic Sea. The architectural influences and craftsmanship traditions introduced during the period of the Duchy endured well into the 19th century.

UNESCO adds 13 new sites to its world heritage list
image © Kuldīga Municipality, courtesy of UNESCO



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