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7 Medieval Sites added to the UNESCO World Heritage List

The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has added seven more sites dating from the Middle Ages to its World Heritage List. The committee met earlier this week in Bahrain, where they inscribed 19 sites in total.

Here is their list of new medieval sites:

Archaeological Border Complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke (Germany)

Waldemar’s Wall – Brick Front of the Main Wall of the Danevirke – photo by Michael Lang / Archäologisches Landesamt Schleswig-Holstein

The archaeological site of Hedeby consists of the remains of an emporium – or trading town – containing traces of roads, buildings, cemeteries and a harbour dating back to the 1st and early 2nd millennia CE. It is enclosed by part of the Danevirke, a line of fortification crossing the Schleswig isthmus, which separates the Jutland Peninsula from the rest of the European mainland. Because of its unique situation between the Frankish Empire of the South and the Danish Kingdom in the North, Hedeby became a trading hub between continental Europe and Scandinavia and between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Because of its rich and well preserved archaeological material, it has become a key site for the interpretation of economic, social and historical developments in Europe during the Viking age.

Thimlich Ohinga archeological site (Kenya)

Thimlich Ohinga – a new World Heritage site – photo by Wycondi / Flickr

Situated north-west of the town of Migori, in the Lake Victoria region, this dry-stone walled settlement was probably built in the 16th century CE. The Ohinga (i.e. settlement) seems to have served as a fort for communities and livestock, but also defined social entities and relationships linked to lineage. Thimlich Ohinga is the largest and best preserved of these traditional enclosures. It is an exceptional example of the tradition of massive dry-stone walled enclosures, typical of the first pastoral communities in the Lake Victoria Basin, which persisted until the mid-20th century.

Ancient City of Qalhat (Oman)

The site, which is located on the east coast of the Sultanate of Oman, includes the ancient city of Qalhat, surrounded by inner and outer walls, as well as areas beyond the ramparts where necropolises are located. The city developed as a major port on the east coast of Arabia between the 11th and 15th centuries CE, during the reign of the Hormuz princes. Today it bears unique archaeological testimony to the trade links between the east coast of Arabia, East Africa, India, China and South-east Asia.

Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Eight archaeological sites situated in three geographical parts in the southeast of Fars Province: Firuzabad, Bishapur and Sarvestan. These fortified structures, palaces, and city plans date back to the earliest and latest times of the Sassanian Empire, which stretched across the region from 224 to 658 CE. Among these sites is the capital built by the founder of the dynasty, Ardashir Papakan, as well as a city and architectural structures of his successor, Shapur I. The archaeologic landscape reflects the optimized utilization of natural topography and bears witness to the influence of Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions and of Roman art, which had a significant impact on the architecture and artistic styles of the Islamic era.

Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (Republic of Korea)

The Sansa are Buddhist mountain monasteries located throughout the southern provinces of the Korean Peninsula. The spatial arrangement of the seven temples that comprise the site, established from the 7th to 9th centuries, present common characteristics that are specific to Korea – the “madang” (open courtyard) flanked by four buildings (Buddha Hall, pavilion, lecture hall and dormitory). They contain a large number of individually remarkable structures, objects, documents and shrines. These mountain monasteries are sacred places, which have survived as living centres of faith and daily religious practice to the present.

Naumburg Cathedral (Germany)

Located in the eastern part of the Thuringian Basin, the Cathedral of Naumburg, whose construction began in 1028, is an outstanding testimony to medieval art and architecture. Its Romanesque structure, flanked by two Gothic choirs, demonstrates the stylistic transition from late Romanesque to early Gothic. The west choir, dating to the first half of the 13th century reflects changes in religious practice and the appearance of science and nature in the figurative arts. The choir and life-size sculptures of the founders of the Cathedral are masterpieces of the workshop known as the “Naumburg Master”.

Caliphate City of Medina Azahara (Spain)

The Caliphate city of Medina Azahara is an archaeological site of a city built in the mid-10th century CE by the Umayyad dynasty as the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba. After prospering for several years, it was laid to waste during the civil war that put an end to the Caliphate in 1009-10. The remains of the city were forgotten for almost 1,000 years until their rediscovery in the early 20th century. This complete urban ensemble features infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water systems, buildings, decorative elements and everyday objects. It provides in-depth knowledge of the now vanished Western Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus, at the height of its splendour.

The World Heritage List now numbers 1092 sites in 167 countries. Click here to learn more about all the sites.

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