Ancient City Of Mohenjodaro May Disappear In Twenty Years

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The remains of the world’s oldest planned city may crumble to dust in twenty years if action isn’t taken, the Telegraph reports.

Mohenjodaro, a 5,000 year-old city in Pakistan, is under threat from extreme temperatures and monsoon rains, which leave deposits of salt on the unbaked clay bricks that were used to create its buildings. That salt leeches out any moisture in the bricks and slowly turns them to dust.

A crew of workmen is coating the ancient structures with salt-free mud, but there are far too few people on the job and very little money.

The Bronze Age city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded around 3,000 BC and shows a remarkable amount of urban planning. There were toilets in every house, separate water systems for drinking and sewage, roads laid out on a grid system, a large communal bath shown in the above photo, and a communal granary. It was the center of the Indus Valley civilization and traded as far away as Mesopotamia, using a set of standardized weights and measures to regulate commerce.

UNESCO officials met with Pakistani archaeologists last week to draw up a plan to save the site, which includes burying some of the most threatened structures. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan’s government, strapped for cash and stuck in a grueling war with the Taliban, will foot the bill.

I visited Mohenjodaro back in 1994 when Pakistan was safer to visit than it is now and found the place to be enchanting. The layout can be clearly seen and it almost feels like you’re in a living city. It would be a shame if such a landmark of human development disappeared.

Four natural wonders added to UNESCO World Heritage List

The UNESCO World Heritage list grew by four with the additon of new natural wondersThe United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO, has added four new locations to its list of World Heritage sites. The destinations fall under the category of “natural wonders,” and were cited for their spectacular beauty, biodiversity, and importance to the surrounding ecosystems.

Newly added to the list was Japan‘s Ogasawara Islands, which are home to more than 200 endangered bird species, as well as a “critically endangered” bat. Much like the Galapagos Islands, this remote archipelago has a number of unique plants and animals, some of which can only be found there. The islands are also viewed as a living laboratory where the process of evolution can be studied in a self-contained environment that mixes influences from both northeast and southeast Asia in unusual ways.

The Ningaloo Coast, located along Australia‘s lonely western shores, was also given the nod thanks in no small part to its outstanding biodiversity. Just off the coast is one of the world’s largest near-shore coral reef systems, which stretches for miles and is home to sea turtles, whale sharks, and other exotic sealife. An intricate network of underwater caves spiderwebs across the region as well, creating a distinct ecosystem all its own, that boasts even more unusual and unique wildlife. Back on dry land, the Ningaloo Coast also provides spectacular scenery along rugged hiking trails.
Jordan‘s Wadi Rum received World Heritage status thanks to its blend of both nature and culture. The towering rock walls and maze-like canyons, surrounded by a breathtakingly beautiful desert, is only part of the reason this destination was recognized by UNESCO. It is also home to several distinct Bedouin tribes who have inhabited the region for thousands of years, leaving traces of their culture that date back to before the pyramids were built. There are reportedly more than 25,000 rock carvings and an additional 20,000 inscriptions, found throughout the area, some of which show the earliest examples of what would eventually evolve into the earliest alphabet.

The fourth location added to the list is the Lake System in Kenya. Consisting of three interconnected bodies of water, all located inside the Great Rift Valley, the region is home to one of the most biologically diverse avian populations in the world. UNESCO notes that there are no less than 13 species of threatened birds that live in the Lake System, some of which exclusively breed and nest there. The region also plays host to plenty of other wildlife as well, including giraffes, lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, and black rhinos.

Any one of these locations would make an amazing destination for adventurous travelers. These are fragile ecosystems however, so if you do go, be sure it is with a reputable guide service that believes in sustainable travel and ecotourism. After all, these places have been designated as World Heritage sites for a reason, and UNESCO isn’t the only one that wants to see them stick around for future travelers to enjoy as well.

[Photo credit: Alessandro Balsamo/UNESCO]