To explore a site inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List is to see a place of outstanding universal value.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has been considering new sites at a meeting in Qatar since June 15.
New World Heritage Sites include the earthen remains of a Louisiana civilization dating back to 3700 B.C., Myanmar's Pyu ancient cities (Myanmar's first-ever site), and evidence of the end of the age of dinosaurs at the cliffs of Stevns Klint in Denmark.
Trading routes that crossed modern borders across South America and Asia were also inscribed on the list. The Qhapac Nan, the Andean road system, runs through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. A 5,000-kilometer section of the Silk Roads known as the routes network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor crosses through China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
In addition to being of "outstanding universal value," an inscribed site must also meet at least one of 10 criteria such as "representing a masterpiece of human creative genius," containing "exceptional natural beauty" or being an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement.
Other new sites include the Okavango Delta (Botswana); the Grotte Chauvet-Pont d'Arc (France); Rani-ki-Vav (India); Caves of Maresha and Bet Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands (Israel); the vineyard landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato (Italy); Namhansanseong emergency capital city (South Korea); and Saudi Arabia's historic Jedda, the Gate to Makkah.
UNESCO has been gradually adding to the World Heritage List since 1978.
Sites in danger
The West Bank village of Battir, a few miles outside Bethlehem, was named to the World Heritage List, and at the same time, it was added to another UNESCO list for sites in danger.
The hills where Battir's ancient terraces are located date back some 2,000 years to Roman times. Some of the terraces are irrigated for market garden production and others are planted with grapevines and olive trees. The landscape is in danger of being damaged by Israel's plans to build a barrier through the area. The wall "may isolate farmers from fields they have cultivated for centuries," according to a UNESCO press statement.
In addition to Battir, the committee added two other sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger last week. One is Bolivia's city of Potosi, which is threatened by mining operations. Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve was added to the danger list because of widespread poaching that has caused a serious decline in the wildlife populations there, including a 90% drop in the elephant and rhinoceros populations since 1982.
At the same time, Tanzania's ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and ruins of Songo Mnara were removed from the danger list due to improved management and safeguards.
Getting on the list
Nations sometimes spend years developing their pitches to qualify for the World Heritage List, and they must convince the UNESCO committee that they will protect their sites and support them financially.