Described by UNESCO as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage,” Petra remained hidden to the wider world for over 2,000 years until it was discovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. Burckhardt had to visit the site disguised as a Persian tourist since it wasn’t safe for a Christian to travel so far deep into the territory.
The city of Nabateans, formerly a nomadic tribe, had a population of around 30,000 at its peak, and the architecture of Petra incorporated influences from Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia and India.
Terracotta warriors, China
The sheer scale of the terracotta army has astonished archaeologists, with an estimated 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, making up the infantry. The majority of the figures still remain buried under Qin’s mausoleum. The figures are now a major tourist destination.
(Pictured) A general view of the terracotta warriors.
The year of construction of the historic site is yet to be ascertained, some attribute its construction to the Phrygians in 800 BC, while others believe it was built by the Hittites in 1000 BC.
The site remained undiscovered for close to 3000 years and only saw the light of day in 1963 when a nearby resident came across a mysterious room behind a wall in his home. The site was opened to the public six years later.
(Pictured) A view of the interior of an underground dwelling.
Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran Cave, Israel
The discovery of the ancient text was made on the banks of the Jordan river by three Bedouin shepherds between Nov. 1946 and Feb. 1947. They initially found seven scrolls housed in jars in a cave near the Qumran site.
(Pictured) This is a close-up of pieces of the Dead Sea Scroll, called ‘The Manual of Discipline’ which describes ‘A Covenant of Steadfast Love’ in which members of a dedicated community are united with God.
The initial discovery prompted the excavation of the Qumran caves, leading to the discovery of more artifacts. The majority of the Scrolls can be visited today at the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
(Pictured) The Temple Scroll, from the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, scroll number 11Q20, late 1st century BC – early 1st century AD, ink on parchment, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
The city is believed to have been abandoned by 950 A.D. Locals of course always knew of it but the remoteness of the location made it difficult to access. The first archaeological teams arrived at the site in the 1880s.
(Pictured) The ruins and surrounding tree tops around Tikal.
It has since become one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
(Pictured) Looking out over the Grand Plaza in the Tikal National Park.
The Rosetta Stone, Egypt
hey ancient stone was discovered in July, 1799 by a French soldier named Pierre-François Bouchard, who was part of Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign. Since the defeat of the French troops by the British in Egypt in 1801, the stone has been under the possession of the British and remains the biggest attraction for the tourists visiting the British museum.
(Pictured) A tourist examines the historic stone at the British Museum.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and has become one of the most visited places on earth. In fact, the overwhelming foot traffic has put the site under a serious threat of deterioration.
(Pictured) A general view of Machu Picchu.
Historical view of Pompeii
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The site once had a thriving population of 750,000 inhabitants but was eventually abandoned and remained dormant before it was accidentally discovered by Portuguese missionaries in the late 16th century. To this day, the reason for abandonment of the site has not been established with certainty.
(Pictured) A view of the Angkor temple, circa 1910.
Angkor Wat has now become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its flag, and is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, with more than a million visitors every year.
(Pictured) An aerial view of the Angkor Wat temple.
Abu Simbel temples, Egypt
The two statues eventually fell in disuse and became covered by sand. The temple was forgotten until 1813, when Jean-Louis Burckhardt found the top frieze of the main temple. The tour guides at the site tell an apocryphal story of a boy named Abu Simbel guiding the re-discoverers to the site. Eventually, the complex was named after him.
(Pictured) The facade of the temple of Abu Simbel with four figures of Ramses II.
Threatened by the rising waters of the Nile River, the Abu Simbel temples were relocated from 1963 to 1968 to the plateau of Abu Simbel, where they attract a steady stream of visitors from across the globe.
(Pictured) Abu Simbel temples.