Sites in Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China join UNESCO's World Heritage List

6 July 2008

A former slave hideout in Mauritius, an archeological site in Saudi Arabia, earthen houses in China and monasteries in Iran have been inscribed on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it was announced today.

The decision to add these sites was made by the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which is currently meeting in Quebec City, Canada.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, runaway slaves sought shelter on the mountain of Le Morne, which juts out into the Indian Ocean in south-west Mauritius, where they formed small settlements. The mountain became a symbol of the slaves' search for freedom, as well as their suffering and sacrifice due to the oral traditions linked to the maroons.

Al-Hijr, or Madâin Sâlih, is the first Saudi Arabian site to be added to the World Heritage List. The largest conserved Nabataean civilization area south of Petra, Jordan, it features over 100 tombs dating back from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD.

Located in south-west Fujian province in China, Fujian Tulou comprises 46 earthen houses constructed between the 12th and 20th centuries. Each are several stories, built for entire clans and sheltering up to 800 people.

The Armenian Monastic Ensembles in north-east Iran were a major hub for the dissemination of the Armenian culture into Azerbaijan and Persia. The site comprises three monastic ensembles, with the oldest edifice dating back to the 7th century.

The World Heritage Committee's annual meeting is scheduled to wrap up on 10 July.


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