Viking Fortresses, Burial Mounds in Mongolia, and Other Sites Added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List

The World Heritage Committee, a cultural body within the United Nations, has inscribed 13 sites of historical or artistic significance in countries including Ukraine, China, Ethiopia and Palestine to its list of protected world heritage. 

The committee, comprising representatives from 21 UN member states, voted on the additions on Sunday, during the second week of its meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the group also approved the extension of two existing sites. 

Among the list are 54 historical Iranian caravanserais (a sort of roadside inn or shelter for travelers) dotted across 24 provinces in the country. The caravanserais line the network of trade routes linking Asia with Africa and Europe, the most famous being the Silk Road.  

The inscription of the Tell es-Sultan archaeological site, located near the Palestinian city of Jericho, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, provoked ire from Israel, who quit UNESCO in 2019. In a statement published Sunday by the Jerusalem Post, a spokesperson for the government called the inclusion “another sign of [UNESCO’s] cynical use of the Palestinians.”

In a surprising move, Venice was omitted from the list despite the dire state of its very foundation. This past July, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee said the Italian city was not taking strong enough steps to mitigate the consequences of over tourism and climate change, and had recommended it be added to its endangered heritage list. The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, appeared pleased with the vote’s outcome. “Great Victory at UNESCO…Venice is not at risk,” he tweeted on Thursday. He had previously described the attempt to list the city as endangered as  “purely political.”

Last week, the committee added more Ukrainian sites to its list: The Saint Sophia Cathedral and the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery in Kyiv, as well as the historic center of the city of Lviv. The decision was made “due to the threat of destruction the Russian offensive poses,” according to a statement from UNESCO.

Below are the world heritage sites newly recognized as endangered by UNESCO.