The site of Stonehenge and it’s surrounding area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The area around Stonehenge was already considered ancient by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.
Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Stories about Stonehenge mainly center upon the stones themselves. How it was built and why. The first project around Stonehenge involved digging a circular ditch about 330 feet across around 3000 BCE. The term “henge” itself is from an ancient Saxon word meaning “hanging”. Perhaps this was for the lintels sitting atop the upright stones or the ditch enclosures.
The first configuration of Stonehenge lasted nearly 500 years. Between 2600-2400 BCE it assumed its present form, or one that would be recognizable today with the erection of the major upright stones and lintels. The sparseness lintels were brought from Marlborough Downs, about 20 miles away.
Over many centuries the bluestones were rearranged several times. Ritual activity stopped for several millennia from around 1600 BCE.
The question of the purpose of Stonehenge has baffled archaeologists for centuries. In the 1960s a new theory was advanced, that it was some kind of calendar or observatory, which are now considered off the mark. Prehistoric people often aligned their monuments with annual celestial events.
Stonehenge is a world famous attraction with more than 800,000 tourists visit it a year. This led to its inclusion in the South West England universal stamp issue for international postage. Universal stamps are produced for tourists and feature iconic buildings and landmarks from around the country.
Once the political, economic and cultural center of the Silla kingdom (57 BCE – 935 CE), Gyeongju and neighboring areas have more tombs, temples, pagodas and Buddhist rock carvings than any other area in South Korea. Gyeongju traded with the Tang Dynasty in China as well as Japan and others in Southeast Asia.
Gyeongju ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula at its height between the 7th and 9th centuries and was the fourth largest city in the world at that time. Many archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain in the city.
Gyeonju became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The Mapungubwe Hill Cultural landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site has some well-preserved remains of the lives of the ruling class. Excavations began in the 1930s with the discovery of 27 graves, of which three contained gold items.
An elderly person was interred with more than 100 gold wire bracelets, another with a gold scepter. Buried in traditional Iron Age style, seated, facing west. A small gold rhino was also found, made from a wooden core with thin gold sheets secured with gold tacks. Fragments of two other gold rhinos were found in the graves. The significance is unknown.
Mapungubwe’s decline was likely due to aridity around 1300 CE and the population dispersed who traditional farming could not sustain them. This is also believed to have contributed to the rise of the Great Zimbabwe north of Mapungubwe although it is believed both kingdoms existed for at least a century.
It was only in the early 1990s that the petroglyphs of the Coa Valley obtained Portuguese and international attention. In 1992 the government planned to flood the area as part of a dam project. After the river level was lowered and an archaeological survey was made many previously unknown sites were exposed. This brought about cessation of the project and the sites are preserved for posterity as the Coa Valley archaeological Park. The site, dating to the Paleolithic, was declared a UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1998.
The earliest petroglyphs are believed to have been done between 8,000-20,000 years ago, though the Upper Paleolithic dating has been challenged. The dating has been based on three things:
1- Finding an animal figure depicting a species existing In a restricted period of time, such as a horse, deer or ibex.
2- Finding petroglyphs below ground level and dating them through stratigraphy to associated sites of the same period.
3- Finding evidence of occupation; until radiocarbon dates from Coa Valley sites are provided the actual dating remains controversial.
Another characteristic feature of the landscape are the rocky formations outcropping through the predominantly low and open vegetation: granites upstream from Santa Comba, schist downstream to the Douro. Erosion acts upon these different bedrocks in different ways. The granitic plateaus, cut by deep ravines, feature spaced accumulations of large round boulders.