These 9 Must-Visit Archaeological Sites Will Take You Back In Time

The world is full of fascinating archaeological sites that give us an idea what the lives and cultures of ancient communities were like. From vast temples to towering pyramids, and megalithic monuments to sandy ruins, add these impressive destinations to your bucket list:

Luxor, Egypt


While most people immediately think of the pyramids of Giza as the jewel in Egypt’s archaeological crown, there are indeed a wealth of other ancient Egyptian sites worth visiting. The city of Luxor, known in ancient times as Thebes, sits alongside the mighty Nile River and is surrounded by archaeological sites and ruins that are sure to impress. The colossal Luxor Temple complex with its famous entrance flanked by massive stone sculptures, as well as the enormous hieroglyphic-inscribed pillars at the precinct of Amun-Re in the immense Karnak Temple, are just two of the incredible sights you can expect to see.

Parthenon, Greece


As far as iconic archaeological points of interest go, there is perhaps no greater spot than the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens. As the temple dedicated to the ancient Greek goddess Athena, the Parthenon is widely regarded as the most significant remnant of Ancient Greece. Hundreds of thousands of visitors descend upon this site every year, easily making it the most visited archaeological site in Greece. The Parthenon is classic bucket list material that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

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Carved into the rocks of the dusty desert in Southern Jordan, is the majestic Nabatean city of Petra. This ancient Middle Eastern city is made up of a number of tombs, grand temples and other monumental structures, with the intricately carved Treasury (or Al Khazneh) being Petra’s most iconic and recognisable feature. The cultural and historic significance of Petra is considered so integral to humankind’s collective heritage that the site has, since the 1980s, been given UNESCO World Heritage status and was even named as one of the new 7 wonders of the world.

Terracotta Army, China


Anyone who’s ever visited the Chinese city of Xi’an’s most famous attraction, the Terracotta Army, can attest to its wholly remarkable nature. A mind-boggling collection of terracotta figurines, each unique and depicting a member of the army of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang, the Terracotta Army is arguably China’s most renowned archaeological find and dates back to as far as the third century BC. Not only does this astonishing feat of ancient sculpture feature some 8,000 individual soldiers, set to safeguard the emperor in his tomb for all eternity, but a collection of chariots, horses and other officials add a sense of wonder to this archaeological marvel.

Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan


Even if this relic of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation is not well known to many outside of the archaeology discipline, Mohenjo Daro is certainly significant historically. Constructed as far back as 2500BC (over 4,500 years ago), Mohenjo Daro is considered one of the earliest major urban centres in the world. At its zenith, Mohenjo Daro was the most advanced city on earth, with sophisticated civil engineering and urban planning. If ancient human history is of interest, then now’s the time to visit Mohenjo Daro because though the site’s been granted UNESCO World Heritage status, it is threatened with erosion and poor restoration efforts, with experts warning that the site may collapse by 2030.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia


About 5.5km outside of Siem Reap lies one of the greatest religious monuments on the planet: Angkor Wat. A vast network of shrines, monuments and magnificent reliefs that has, in its long history, been both a Hindu and Buddhist temple compound, Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s most famous and popular attraction. Though the crowds at Angkor Wat make it feel overwhelmingly touristy, there’s no denying this archaeological treasure’s worthiness as a must-see destination.

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Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe


Although not widely known, the Great Zimbabwe complex in south-eastern Zimbabwe is by no means less extraordinary. Construction of the extensive stone city began in the 11th century and the compound is believed to have served as the palace of the local royal family. One of the most impressive structures within the compound would have to be the conical tower, which stands at about 30 feet tall, towering over the rest of the Great Zimbabwe site.

Chichen Itza, Mexico


Found deep within the jungle of Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, Chichen Itza is viewed as the greatest remnant of the ancient Maya civilisation of Mesoamerica. Part city, part temple complex, the stunning archaeological site is dominated by El Castillo, the enormous step pyramid that acted as a temple of devotion to the Mayan god Kukulkan. Additional noteworthy features of the complex include the Great Ball Court, where the ancient Mayans would play the legendary Mesoamerican ball game, the Temple of Warriors with its large sculpted columns as well as the Las Monjas complex, which is believed to have been a governmental palace.

Moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island)


The fact that Easter Island (or Rapa Nui as it’s known in the local Polynesian vernacular) is one of the most remote inhabited islands on the planet makes the existence of the island’s iconic moai (large carved monolithic figures) all that more phenomenal. There are almost 900 moai created by the islanders some 500 to 700 years ago, and meant to represent their deified ancestors.

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Story originally appeared on SilverKris.

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