If you plan on nominating a historic site for UNESCO’s World Heritage List, bring a good book, get in line and don’t hold your breath.
The application process is rigorous. In addition, one of the decisive factors is “a site must be of an outstanding universal value to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.” Wow!
So it’s always astounding when the World Heritage Committee updates their list and believe me, there are some incredible recent entries.
The number of sites added to the list are slowly growing but, limited at 1007 sites as of this posting.
Some of the lucky recruits include the Grotte Chauvet in France, the Erbil Citadel in Iraq – the most protected cave on Earth and, the Pyu Ancient Cities of Myanmar.
A distinguished add-on was the caves of Beit Guvrin-Maresha, a highly advanced chain, of over 2,000 years old, man-made caves just outside of Jerusalem and, listed as the 8th World Heritage site for Israel.
Recognized as a “city under a city” the World Heritage Committee declared this site as sacred, just two days following UNESCO naming the Palestinian village of Battir as a World Heritage site ‘at risk,’ raising awareness and optimism that its locals will guard their society against Israel’s West Bank blockade.
The complex Beit Guvrin-Maresha caves have been utilized for thousands of years as pits, dovecotes, hideaways, stock rooms and burial sites. They are made up of compartments and intricate networks with an assortment of purposes and are located below the ancient twin towns of Maresha and Beit Guvrin.
Israel now possesses a total of 8 World Heritage sites, in addition to the Baha’i Holy Shrines in Haifa, Masada and the Old City of Acre.
Specific nations that have signed the World Heritage convention, vowing to guard their natural and cultural heritage, can nominate a site, which must have an “outstanding universal value” to succeed in qualifying.
The town of Battir, situated just south of Jerusalem in the West Bank, was selected by the UNESCO committee following an emergency nomination by the Palestinians. The well known gorge is popular for its ancient farming verandas and a water system which dates back to roman times.
In registering Battir, UNESCO said the town faced “irreversible damage,” by saying “the start of construction of a separation wall that may isolate farmers from fields they have cultivated for centuries.”
Israel started constructing a blockade in the West Bank over a decade ago, saying they’re purpose is to stop terrorists like Palestinian suicide bombers and other terror militia groups. The Palestinians say the blockade has actually resulted in the struggle for land because it cuts off about 10% of the West Bank.