1. Saksaywaman -
Sacsahuayman or Sasaywaman or Saksaq Waman (Quechua language, waman falcon or variable hawk) is a citadel on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, Peru, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Sections were first built by the Killke culture about 1100; they had occupied the area since 900. The complex was expanded and added to by the Inca from the 13th century; they built dry stone walls constructed of huge stones. The workers carefully cut the boulders to fit them together tightly without mortar. The site is at an altitude of 3,701 m (12,142 ft).
Archeological studies of surface collections of pottery at Saksaywaman indicate that the earliest occupation of the hilltop dates to about 900 CE. The best-known zone of Saksaywaman includes its great plaza and its adjacent three massive terrace walls. The stones used in the construction of these terraces are among the largest used in any building in prehispanic America. They display a precision of fitting that is unmatched in the Americas. The stones are so closely spaced that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco. The longest of three walls is about 400 meters. They are about 6 meters tall. The estimated volume of stone is over 6,000 cubic meters. Estimates for the weight of the largest Andesite block vary from 128 tonnes to almost 200 tonnes.
Following the siege of Cusco, the Spaniards began to use Saksaywaman as a source of stones for building Spanish Cuzco; within a few years, they had taken apart and demolished much of the complex. The site was destroyed block-by-block to build the new Spanish governmental and religious buildings of the colonial city, as well as the houses of the wealthiest Spaniards. In the words of Garcilaso de la Vega (1966:471 [1609: Part 1, Book. Bk. 7, Ch. 29]: "to save themselves the expense, effort and delay with which the Indians worked the stone, they pulled down all the smooth masonry in the walls. There is indeed not a house in the city that has not been made of this stone, or at least the houses built by the Spaniards." Today, only the stones that were too large to be easily moved remain at the site.
In 1983, Cusco and Saksaywaman together were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for recognition and protection.
2. Terracotta Warriors -
The Terracotta Warriors ( "Soldier-and-horse funerary statues" ) is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.
The construction of the tomb was described by historian Sima Qian (145–90 BCE) in his most noted work Shiji, written a century after the mausoleum's completion. Work on the mausoleum began in 246 BCE soon after Emperor Qin (then aged 13) ascended the throne, and the project eventually involved 700,000 workers. Geographer Li Daoyuan, writing six centuries after the First Emperor's death, recorded in Shui Jing Zhu that Mount Li was a favoured location due to its auspicious geology, "famed for its jade mines, its northern side was rich in gold, and its southern side rich in beautiful jade; the First Emperor, covetous of its fine reputation, therefore chose to be buried there".
3. Headless Vikings Of Dorset -
In June 2009, archaeologists made a shocking discovery in the seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset, England. While excavating in preparation for the anticipated Weymouth Relief Road, archaeologists discovered a mass grave containing the remains of 54 dismembered skeletons, and 51 skulls in a pile within a disused Roman quarry. This curious find led many to wonder who these individuals were, and why they were killed in such a gruesome manner. Through scientific testing and analysis, archaeologists concluded that the remains belonged to Scandinavian Vikings. The sheer size of this burial is particularly surprising as “any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual,” said David Score of Oxford Archaeology. The burial was radiocarbon dated to AD 970-1025, which places it in the reign of Aethelred the Unready or Cnut the Great. This was a time in England of Viking raids, war, hostages and retribution, but experts admit that ultimately questions of how the men came to be in Dorset remain open.
Although exact dating has not been confirmed, it is believed that the remains are those of individuals who lived sometime during the early Middle Ages, between the 5 th and 10 th centuries. The deaths likely occurred during, and as a result of, conflict between the Anglo-Saxons and Viking invaders. All of the remains are from males mostly aged from their late teens to 25 years old, with a few being somewhat older. None of the remains show any sign of battle wounds, beyond wounds inflicted during the execution, so it is likely that these men were captives rather than members of the military. No clothing or other remnants were found within the pit, leading to speculation that the men were naked when they were executed.
4. Nazca Lines -
In the Peruvian Desert, about 200 miles south of Lima, there lies a plain between the Inca and Nazca (sometimes also spelled Nasca) Valleys. Across this plain, in an area measuring 37 miles long and 1-mile wide, is an assortment of perfectly-straight lines, many running parallel, others intersecting, forming a grand geometric form. In and around the lines there are also trapezoidal zones, strange symbols, and pictures of birds and beasts all etched on a giant scale that can only be appreciated from the sky.
The figures come in two types: biomorphs and geoglyphs. The biomorphs are some 70 animal and plant figures that include a spider, hummingbird, fish, llamas, jaguars, and monkeys, or human figures. Other designs include phytomorphic shapes, such as trees and flowers, and a 1,000-foot-long pelican. The biomorphs are grouped together in one area on the plain. Some archaeologists believe they were constructed around 200 BC, about 500 years before the geoglyphs.
There are about 900 geoglyphs on the plain. Geoglyphs are geometric forms that include straight lines, triangles, spirals, circles and trapezoids. They are enormous in size. The longest straight line goes nine miles across the plain. The first mention of the Nazca Lines in print was by Pedro Cieza de León in his book of 1553, where he mistook them for trail markers. Although partially visible from the nearby hills, the first to distinguish them were Peruvian military and civilian pilots. In 1927 the Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejía Xesspe spotted them while he was hiking through the foothills. He discussed them at a conference in Lima in 1939.
5. Rapa Nui Easter Island -
Easter Island (Rapa Nui : Spanish: Isla de Pascua) is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.
Polynesian people most likely settled on Easter Island sometime between 700 and 1100 CE, and created a thriving and industrious culture as evidenced by the island's numerous enormous stone moai and other artefacts. However, human activity, the introduction of the Polynesian rat and overpopulation led to gradual deforestation and extinction of natural resources which severely weakened the Rapa Nui civilization. By the time of European arrival in 1722, the island's population had dropped to 2,000–3,000 from an estimated high of approximately 15,000 just a century earlier. European diseases and Peruvian slave raiding in the 1860s further reduced the Rapa Nui population, to a low of only 111 inhabitants in 1877.
Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The nearest inhabited land (around 50 residents in 2013) is Pitcairn Island, 2,075 km. away; the nearest town with a population over 500 is Rikitea, on the island of Mangareva, 2,606 km. away; the nearest continental point lies just in central Chile, 3,512 km. away.
Easter Island is a special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888. Administratively, it belongs to the Valparaíso Region, and, more specifically, it is the only commune of the Province Isla de Pascua. According to the 2012 Chilean census, the island has about 5,800 residents, of whom some 60 percent are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui.
6. Library Of Ashurbanipal -
The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, named after Ashurbanipal, the last great king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, is a collection of thousands of clay tablets and fragments containing texts of all kinds from the 7th century BC. Among its holdings was the famous Epic of Gilgamesh. Due to the sloppy handling of the original material much of the library is irreparably jumbled, making it impossible for scholars to discern and reconstruct many of the original texts, although some have survived intact.
The materials were found in the archaeological site of Kouyunjik (ancient Nineveh, capital of Assyria) in northern Mesopotamia. The site is in modern-day northern Iraq, near the city of Mosul.
Old Persian and Armenian traditions indicate that Alexander the Great, upon seeing the great library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, was inspired to create his own library. Alexander died before he was able to create his library, but his friend and successor in Egypt, Ptolemy, oversaw the beginnings of Alexander's library; a project that was to grow to become the renowned Library of Alexandria.
The library is an archaeological discovery credited to Austen Henry Layard; most tablets were taken to England and can now be found in the British Museum, but a first discovery was made in late 1849 in the so-called South-West Palace, which was the Royal Palace of king Sennacherib (705–681 BC). Three years later, Hormuzd Rassam, Layard's assistant, discovered a similar "library" in the palace of King Ashurbanipal (668–627 BC), on the opposite side of the mound. Unfortunately, no record was made of the findings, and soon after reaching Europe, the tablets appeared to have been irreparably mixed with each other and with tablets originating from other sites. Thus, it is almost impossible today to reconstruct the original contents of each of the two main "libraries".
7. Ancient Troy -
Troy was a city situated in the far northwest of the region known in late Classical antiquity as Asia Minor, now known as Anatolia in modern Turkey, near (just south of) the southwest mouth of the Dardanelles strait and northwest of Mount Ida. The present-day location is known as Hisarlik. It was the setting of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle, in particular in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey suggests that the name Ilion formerly began with a digamma Wilion; this is also supported by the Hittite name for what is thought to be the same city, Wilusa.
A new capital called Ilium (from Greek Ilion) was founded on the site in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. It flourished until the establishment of Constantinople, became a bishopric and declined gradually in the Byzantine era, but is now a Latin Catholic titular see. Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.
In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlık, and in 1868, Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale. These excavations revealed several cities built in succession. Schliemann was at first skeptical about the identification of Hisarlik with Troy, but was persuaded by Calvert and took over Calvert's excavations on the eastern half of the Hisarlik site, which was on Calvert's property. Troy VII has been identified with the city that the Hittites called Wilusa, the probable origin of the Greek Ilion, and is generally (but not conclusively) identified with Homeric Troy.
8. Machu Picchu -
Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru, above the Sacred Valley, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows.
Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the " Lost City of the Incas " (a title more accurately applied to Vilcabamba), it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911.
Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Inti Watana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of how they originally appeared. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored and restoration continues.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.
9. Pompeii -
Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples, in the Campania region of Italy, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 13 ft. to 20 ft. of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
Researchers believe that the town was founded in the 6th or 7th century BC by the Osci or Oscans. It came under the domination of Rome in the 4th century BC, and was conquered and became a Roman colony in 80 BC after it joined an unsuccessful rebellion against the Roman Republic. By the time of its destruction, 160 years later, its population was estimated at 11,000 people, and the city had a complex water system, an amphitheatre, gymnasium, and a port.
The eruption destroyed the city, killing its inhabitants and burying it under tons of ash. Evidence for the destruction originally came from a surviving letter by Pliny the Younger, who saw the eruption from a distance and described the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet, who tried to rescue citizens. The site was lost for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader rediscovery almost 150 years later by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre in 1748. The objects that lay beneath the city have been preserved for more than a millennium because of the long lack of air and moisture. These artefacts provide an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana. During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed archaeologists to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died.
Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.
10. Stone Spheres Of Costa Rica ( Diquis Spheres ) -
The stone spheres of Costa Rica ( Stone balls ) are an assortment of over three hundred petrospheres in Costa Rica, located on the Diquís Delta and on Isla del Cano. Locally, they are known as Las Bolas (literally The Balls). The spheres are commonly attributed to the extinct Diquís culture and are sometimes referred to as the Diquís Spheres. They are the best-known stone sculptures of the Isthmo-Colombian area. They are thought to have been placed in lines along the approach to the houses of chiefs, but their exact significance remains uncertain.
The Palmar Sur Archeological Excavations are a series of excavations of a site located in the southern portion of Costa Rica, known as the Diquís Delta. The excavations have centered on a site known as "Farm 6", dating back to the Aguas Buenas Period (300–800 CE) and Chiriquí Period (800–1550 CE).
In June 2014, the Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquis was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
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