Ellora Caves, India: These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.
Messel Pit Fossil Site, Germany: Messel Pit is the richest site in the world for understanding the living environment of the Eocene, between 57 million and 36 million years ago. In particular, it provides unique information about the early stages of the evolution of mammals and includes exceptionally well-preserved mammal fossils, ranging from fully articulated skeletons to the contents of stomachs of animals of this period.
Nemrut Dag, Turkey: The mausoleum of Antiochus I (6934 B.C.), who reigned over Commagene, a kingdom founded north of Syria and the Euphrates after the breakup of Alexander's empire, is one of the most ambitious constructions of the Hellenistic period. The syncretism of its pantheon, and the lineage of its kings, which can be traced back through two sets of legends, Greek and Persian, is evidence of the dual origin of this kingdom's culture.
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland: The Giant's Causeway lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the sea coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland. It is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea. The dramatic sight has inspired legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland. Geological studies of these formations over the last 300 years have greatly contributed to the development of the earth sciences, and show that this striking landscape was caused by volcanic activity during the Tertiary, some 5060 million years ago.
Tassili n'Ajjer, Algeria: Located in a strange lunar landscape of great geological interest, this site has one of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world. More than 15,000 drawings and engravings record the climatic changes, the animal migrations and the evolution of human life on the edge of the Sahara from 6000 B.C. to the first centuries of the present era. The geological formations are of outstanding scenic interest, with eroded sandstones forming 'forests of rock'.
Choirokoitia, Cyprus: The Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia, occupied from the 7th to the 4th millennium B.C., is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. Its remains and the finds from the excavations there have thrown much light on the evolution of human society in this key region. Since only part of the site has been excavated, it forms an exceptional archaeological reserve for future study.
Megalithic Temples of Malta, Malta: Seven megalithic temples are found on the islands of Malta and Gozo, each the result of an individual development. The two temples of Ggantija on the island of Gozo are notable for their gigantic Bronze Age structures. On the island of Malta, the temples of Hagar Qin, Mnajdra and Tarxien are unique architectural masterpieces, given the limited resources available to their builders. The Ta'Hagrat and Skorba complexes show how the tradition of temple-building was handed down in Malta.
Buffalo Jump, Canada: In south-west Alberta, the remains of marked trails and an aboriginal camp, and a tumulus where vast quantities of buffalo (American Bison) skeletons can still be found, are evidence of a custom practised by aboriginal peoples of the North American plains for nearly 6,000 years. Using their excellent knowledge of the topography and of buffalo behaviour, they killed their prey by chasing them over a precipice; the carcasses were later carved up in the camp below.
Elephanta Caves, India: The 'City of Caves', on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Bombay, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave.