More sites for World Heritage fans to visit

(XINHUA, AFP) PARIS – Mosques, mummies and a mining landscape. These are just some of the latest additions to the prestigious list of world heritage sites administered by Unesco, the United Nations’ cultural agency.

The 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, chaired from Fuzhou, China, considered nominations from last year and this year when it met online last week, and inscribed over a dozen cultural sites. Archaeological sites in India and Japan were among the places recognised by Unesco.

The ancient city of Dholavira in western India, comprising a fortified city and a cemetery, is a well-preserved urban settlement from the Indus Valley Civilisation. According to the Indian Express, it was a commercial and manufacturing hub for about 1,500 years before its decline and eventual ruin in 1,500BC.

In northern Japan, the 17 prehistoric Jomon Era archaeological sites “bear a unique testimony to the development over some 10,000 years of the pre-agricultural yet sedentary Jomon culture and its complex spiritual belief system and rituals”, said Unesco.

Eight small centuries-old adobe mosques in Cote d’Ivoire were recognised for their historical, cultural and spiritual values, Unesco said on its website.

“They presented highly important testimonies to the trans-Saharan trade that facilitated the expansion of Islam and Islamic culture and reflected a fusion of Islamic and local architectural forms in a highly distinctive style that has persisted over time.”

Chile’s Chinchorro mummies, the oldest in the world to have been purposefully preserved by humans, were added to the list last Tuesday. The mummies, which were found in the north of Chile at the start of the 20th century, are more than 7,000 years old, meaning they pre-date the Egyptian mummies by two millennia.

“Unesco is validating on an international level, through different experts, that the settlements and artificial mummification of the Chinchorro culture has exceptional value, that it has a global importance,” Chilean anthropologist Bernardo Arriaza told Agence France-Presse.

The slate mining landscape in Gwynedd county, Wales, was chosen because it “offers an important and remarkable example of interchange of materials, technology and human values”, Unesco said.

Gwynedd’s slate mining past has left quarries, steam railways, industrial buildings and water systems in a mountainous region that encompasses Snowdonia National Park. It is the 32nd location in Britain to be awarded the world heritage status.

Other additions to the list include the modernistic Atlantida Church complex in Uruguay, considered a 1960s masterpiece; the Chankillo solar observatory and ceremonial centre in Peru; and the French city of Nice, for its centuries-old role as the “winter resort town of the Riviera”.

Unesco’s heritage list features more than 1,100 sites, which are judged to be of special universal value to humanity. Top heritage sites include the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon National Park in the United States and Peru’s Machu Picchu landscape and ruins.

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