Some of the most well-known archaeological sites on Earth are those that have been featured in popular culture. The world’s most historic archaeology sites and ruins are worth a visit for anyone interested in history. From Stonehenge to The Colosseum, these sites offer a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Stonehenge is a masterpiece of engineering. The ring of standing stones was built using some of the most advanced techniques available at the time. It’s still an awe-inspiring sight today, more than 4500 years after it was built. No one knows what purpose Stonehenge served, or why it was constructed during the Neolithic period. It is possible that it was used as a religious site or as a way to remember important events in people’s lives.
Some believe that the structure was originally built as a burial ground, while others think that it may have been used as a place to worship the gods.
Whatever the purpose of the monument may have been, it is clear that it has been a source of fascination for many people over the course of history. The area surrounding Stonehenge has been investigated by archaeologists for years, and more information about the monument and its surrounds is likely to be revealed in the future. UNESCO has added Stonehenge and its surrounding Archaeological Sites to its list of World Heritage Sites.
One of the most iconic ancient sites in the world is Pompeii, located in Italy. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was first discovered by an excavator named Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1748, but it wasn’t until 1817 that it was fully excavated and revealed to the world as a collection of incredible ruins. Today, visitors can explore all of the site’s wonders firsthand, from its well-preserved frescoes and mosaics to its sheer size – it’s easily one of the most comprehensive archaeological sites in existence!.
The astonishingly well-preserved ruins of Pompeii are a testament to both its historical significance and the skill of the ancient Roman builders. The site is home to some of the best preserved ancient Roman architecture in the world, and visitors can explore everything from stately homes to marketplaces and bathhouses.
This ancient city was once a thriving metropolis, and thanks to its well-preserved ruins, tourists from all over the world are able to visit it today.
3 The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt
The Great Sphinx of Giza is perhaps one of the oldest and most iconic monuments in Egypt. It’s a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a symbolic creature with the head of a human, and the body of a lion. The Great Sphinx of Giza is located on the outskirts of Cairo, across the River Nile from the ancient City of Giza.
The Great Sphinx of Giza stands 240 feet (73 meters) long and 66 feet (20meters) high. Some people believe that it is 2,000 years old, while others think that it may be as old as 4,500 years old! Some believe that it was an accurate representation of a god or king, while others maintain that it was simply a giant sculpture meant to demonstrate the power and might of Egypt’s ruling class.
Whether you’re a tourist looking to snap selfies next to its imposing figure or an archaeologist studying the hieroglyphics carved into its body, there’s no denying that The Great Sphinx is an awe-inspiring site.
The Sphinx is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.
4 Angkor, Cambodia
Angkor, Cambodia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is well-known for its prevalent Hindu and Buddhist architecture. Angkor, also known as Yasodharapura, was the capital city of the Khmer Empire.
It is home to some of the most impressive ruins in the world. With sandstone temples dating back more than 1,000 years, Angkor is one of the iconic ruins of Southeast Asia and comprises some of the most well-preserved temples in the world.
It is estimated that up to 300,000 people worked on its construction. The site is estimated to contain over 150 temples and must-see attractions such as the Bayon, Ta Prohm, Preah Vihear, and Baksei Chamkrong temples. Angkor in Cambodia is estimated to have been built between the 9th and 15th centuries.
The temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to be one of the world’s great archaeological sites. If you’re ever in Cambodia and have the opportunity to visit Angkor, don’t miss it!
5 Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is one of the most well-known and highly esteemed archaeological sites in South America and the world. Located in the Andes Mountains of Peru, it has been called “the lost city of the Incas” and “the most amazing site on earth.”
The site was constructed between 1438 and 1472, and was abandoned in 1536 due to a conflict with the Inca Empire. In 1911, Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu while on an archaeological expedition.
Located in Peru, this enigmatic site is home to one of the most impressive ancient civilizations on earth. Built approximately 1400 years ago, Machu Picchu was probably used as an administrative center by the Inca Empire. Animals naturally live at Elevation of 4,000 m (13,000 ft) rather than the 2,430 m (7,900 ft) elevation of Machu Picchu.
Visitors can explore Machu Picchu’s ruins from uphill or downhill routes. The summit of Machu Picchu offers stunning views of the valleys, highest mountain at 3082 meters (10111 feet) below as well as neighboring peaks. Although the trek up and down is strenuous, it’s definitely worth it for the spectacular scenery.
6 Easter Island, Chile
Located in the Southern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is famous for its impressive archaeological sites, including nearly 1000 monumental statues that’s called Moai which are approximately 10 metres (33 ft) high and weighed 82 tonnes (80.7 tons) and created by inhabitants during the 13th–16th centuries..
Easter Island was first settled by the island’s Rapa Nui people, Because of its remote location and inhospitable climate, the island was largely uninhabited until 1862, when Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen landed on Easter Island and began slaughtering the native Rapanui for food. The Spanish naval officer Francisco de Eliza discovered the island in 1722.
Overall, Easter Island is a beautiful place with plenty of history and culture to explore.
7 Nazca Lines, Peru
The Nazca Lines are a group of pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched into desert sands or floors of the Nazca Valley in Peru. The Lines were first discovered by an Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe in 1926,They are some of the most famous prehistoric drawings in the world and continue to baffle experts even after over 100 years of research.
Nazca Lines, Covering an area of nearly 1,000 sq. kilometers, there are about 300 different figures, including animals and plants. Some of the most well-known figures include a series of zoomorphic lines depicting creatures such as spiders, stingrays, and condors.
Though their exact purpose is unknown, theories abound as to what these markings may have been used for. Some say they may have been used as a form of navigation or as religious symbols, while others believe they could have been used for calendar rituals or initiations.
So If you’re ever in Peru and want to see some amazing geoglyphs for yourself, make sure to visit the Nazca Lines!
8 Skara Brae, Scotland
Skara Brae is a prehistoric village that was in use between roughly 3200 B.C. and 2500 B.C. Located on the west coast of the main island of Orkney, in Scotland. Skara Brae is an extremely unique Neolithic village which was excavated in the 1850s.
Located within walking distance of a stone circle at Brodgar, the village was part of a prehistoric landscape on Orkney that included other stone villages, farmsteads, tombs and stone circles. While the village’s buildings were modified throughout its 600-year history, the site was never large and consisted of about 10 houses that, in total, probably housed no more than 100 inhabitants at any one time.
Visitors can still see the furniture of the stone houses that people used 5,000 years ago.After it was abandoned, it was covered with sand dunes and wasn’t discovered until A.D. 1850, when a ferocious winter storm blew part of the turf off the ruins.
9 Tikal, Guatemala
Tikal, Guatemala is a Maya archaeological site located in the Sierra de Tikal National Park, Guatemala is one of the most important archaeological sites in Central America. The city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982 and is considered one of the “seven wonders of the world.” Tikal is estimated to have been built between 200 and 800 A.D. and was abandoned around 1200 A.D. The ruins are spread over an area of about 50 square miles.
Its iconic ruins of temples and palaces include the giant, ceremonial Lost World (Mundo Perdido) Pyramid and the Temple of the Grand Jaguar. Situated in the Petén rainforest, Tikal was first settled over 2,500 years ago by the Mayan people.
Two things make Tikal, Guatemala special for visitors For one, its location. The ruins are situated in the middle of a jungle – providing an eerie backdrop to everything that happens inside the ruins. And while other Central American ruins are located near major cities, Tikal is quite removed from civilization. This allows visitors to truly appreciate the site’s historical significance and unique architecture.
10 Ggantija Temple, Malta
The Temple of Ggantija is a megalithic temple found on the Mediterranean island of Gozo in Malta. The Ggantija Temples are one of the most iconic archaeological sites in Malta, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ggantija Temples are a remnant of an ancient megalithic temple complex in Malta. The site consists of a series of megalithic temples, built between 3600 to 2500 BC.
The massive blocks of limestone were cut using simple but effective methods, and then sculpted into elaborate designs.
It is said that the construction of these temples started in the 4th century BC and ended in the 2nd century AD. The temples are some of the oldest and largest megalithic structures in the world.
11 Terra-Cotta Army, China
The Terra-Cotta Army Historic Archaeology Site is located in the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, China. The site is home to one of the largest Terra-Cotta Army terracotta figurines collections in the world and contains evidence of human activity dating back over 2,200 years. The Terra-Cotta Army was created between 247 and 208 BC during the Qin Dynasty to protect the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China. The site, near the city of Xian, was first discovered in 1974.
The terracotta army in Xi’an, China is estimated to consist of 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry. The Terra-Cotta Army was a burial complex for the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC). The monument is one of the most famous archaeological sites in China and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
If you’re ever in China and want to see an amazing example of ancient Asian artwork, make sure to visit the Terra-Cotta Army!
12 Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Chichén Itzá, located in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, is one of the most renowned archaeological sites in the world. Chichen Itza was discovered in 1841 by two great explorers John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. Chichen Itza is classified as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and in 1988 was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city boasted several great temples, including the Temple of Inscriptions, which remains one of the most impressive structures at Chichén Itzá. The complex is made up of temples, palaces and pyramids and is thought to be over 1500 years old.
The complex features an extensive network of ball courts, plazas, ceremonial centers, and pyramids. The city was probably abandoned between 900 and 1250 AD, although it may have been occupied for a much longer period of time.
The architectural style of Chichén Itzá is markedly different from any other Maya ruins and indicates that it may have been the capital of a larger kingdom. The site is still under excavation, and new discoveries are being made all the time.
The Teotihuacán archaeological site is located in the Valley of Mexico, about 25 miles southeast of the city of Mexico City. The site is famous for its monumental pyramids and intricate sculpture.
Teotihuacan is the earliest known planned urban complex in the Americas, flourishing during a period of 150 B.C.E.-750 C.E. This area was strategically situated a few miles northeast of Mexico City in the Valley of Mexico.
The pyramid rises 216 feet above ground level, and it measures approximately 720 by 760 feet at its base.
The most iconic features of Teotihuacán include the so-called Sun Temple, which is thought to have been one of the largest and most impressive religious buildings in the ancient world, and the Pyramid of the Moon, which is considered one of the most beautiful examples of Olmec art.
14 Moche, Peru
Located in the south-central highlands of Peru, Moche is one of the country’s most significant archaeological regions. Moche is an ancient pre-Columbian culture in Peru. In 1899 and 1900, Max Uhle was the first archaeologist to excavate a Moche site.
One of the most famous bronze artifacts from Moche is the so-called ” Skull Head” statue, thought to be more than 3,000 years old.
This ancient culture thrived from A.D. 100 to 700. Moche craftsmen produced complex pottery with vibrant colors and intricate designs, as well as imposing stone statues of human and animal figures. Many of the Moche monuments are still standing and make excellent tourist destinations.
15 Tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi
The tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in China. The mausoleum is located in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province of China.
The tomb was built more than 2,500 years ago, from 246 to 208 BC by the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi and situated underneath a 76-meter-tall tomb mound shaped like a truncated pyramid. His powerful army conquered many territories and he is considered to be one of the most successful emperors in Chinese history.
Construction of The tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi was built over a period of 38 years, from 246 to 208 BC. The tomb consists of an outer circular burial chamber and an inner square burial chamber and the tomb chamber itself is 80 meters long east to west, 50 meters north to south, and is about 15 meters high.
It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is also said to be one of the largest tombs ever constructed.
16 Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens is one of the most iconic and well-known landmarks in the world. The word acropolis derives from Greek words ἄκρον and πόλις. The ruins of the temple are located on a rocky outcrop in central Athens, Greece and date back to 525 BC.
The site is traditionally known for its impressive Parthenon temple, which is still standing today. The Acropolis has a flat top and rises 150 (490 ft ) meters above sea level in Athens, Greece. It covers about 3 hectares or 7.4 acres of land.
The Acropolis is made up of several different structures, the most famous of which is the Parthenon. The Parthenon was built between 447 and 432 BC and is one of the best-preserved ruins from antiquity. The Acropolis was captured and destroyed by the Persians 10 years later (in 480 B.C.).
After Cimon and Themistocles won at Eurymedon, they ordered the reconstruction of the southern and northern walls of the Acropolis to make it safe again. They rebuilt major temples such as the Parthenon as a part of Athens’ Golden Age in 460–430 BC. Today, the Acropolis is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.
17 Ziggurat of Ur
The Ziggurat of Ur is one of the most impressive and mysterious of ancient Mesopotamian structures located on the eastern side of the city of Ur in southern Iraq. The ziggurat is a stepped pyramid with a series of ascending terraces, and was originally built as a religious center by the Sumerian king Ur-Nammu between the 24th and 21st centuries BC. The ziggurat was built approximately 2100 BC, and was used as a temple to the Sumerian god Enlil.
The massive step pyramid measured 210 feet (64m) in length, 148 feet (45m) in width and over 98 feet (30m) in height. The height of the Ziggurat of Ur is estimated to be around 30 m, and it is thought that it may have been used as a temple for religious ceremonies.
The Ziggurat of Ur has been extensively damaged by time, but still remains an impressive sight. The structure is composed of several layers including a lower layer of ashlar blocks that are carved into intricate designs, and an upper layer made of baked bricks.
18 Domus Aurea
The Domus Aurea (Latin for “House of Gold”) was the imperial palace of the Roman Emperor Nero. Built on the Palatine Hill, Constructed by Emperor Nero from 64 A.D. to 68 A.D. It is considered one of the most impressive structures of ancient Rome and stands as an example of successful palatial planning and construction.
The Domus Aurea was the palace of Emperor Nero. It is now a ruin in Rome, Italy. The palace was located on the Palatine Hill, above the Forum Romanum. The palace extended for more than 50 hectares. The Domus Aurea House of Gold is the grandest and most splendideton imperial palace ever built. The Domus Aurea was destroyed by fire in A.D. 68 after Nero committed suicide.
No one knows for sure what purpose the Domus Aurea truly served, but it remains one of the most enigmatic structures in Roman history.
Petra is an amazing site located in Jordan’s southwestern desert. It dates back to around 300 BC the Nabataean period. The city was first settled by the ancient Nabateans in the 7000 and 6000 BC, and was known as Umm al-Qurba.
Nabatean civilization was one of western Asia’s most advanced at its height. The Nabateans were an ancient people who inhabited the area that is now southwestern Jordan and northeastern Saudi Arabia. Al Siq, their capital, is one of the most spectacular sites in Jordan. It contains tombs and temples carved into pink sandstone cliffs, earning its nickname, the “Rose City.” In Petra, Nabatean influence can still be seen in the rock-cut architecture and the use of stucco.
Its great architecture, carved out of red sandstone over a period of more than two centuries, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
In 1985, UNESCO declared Petra a World Heritage Site.
20 Leptis Magna
Leptis Magna was a prominent city in the ancient world. It was located on the Mediterranean coast of modern-day Libya, at the mouth of the Wadi Lebda.
Leptis Magna, which is in western Libya, North Africa, was originally a Phoenician city and in the 7th century BCE it became a major city. It used to be the birthplace of Septimius Severus (193-211 CE), an emperor for the Roman Empire. It is located 62 miles (100 km) southeast of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast of Libya.
It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. The city was first settled in the 7th century BC by the Phoenicians, who were later followed by the Romans.
It was briefly occupied by Rome in 204 BC, but regained its independence under the rule of the Berbers. Leptis Magna declined in importance after it was sacked by the Vandals in 439 AD, but regained some importance during the Muslim period.
Today, Leptis Magna is a popular tourist destination with many ancient ruins still remaining intact.
Copán is a spectacular archaeological site in northwestern Honduras. It features well-preserved stonework and is one of the most easily visited sites in Central America. Spanning more than 900 years, Copán’s architecture is a mix of Pre-Columbian, Classic Period, and even Renaissance styles.
This city, located in modern-day Copán Ruinas, played a significant role in the development of the Maya civilization.
This ancient Mayan city is one of the largest and best-preserved examples of urban planning and architecture from the Classic Period (300 BC-AD 900).
The Copan site represents one of the most scenically stunning achievements of the Classic Maya Period, due to the number and magnitude of its buildings and sculptures. The stelae and altars at the Plaza create one of the most beautifully sculpted collectives in the region.
22 Cliff Palace
The cliff palace is a beautiful and mysterious site. It is located in Mesa Verde National Park, US. The site was first discovered in december,1888. The Ancestral Puebloan people are believed to have built the structure between AD 600 and 1050.
The cliff dwelling and park are known for their incredible cliff dwellings and archaeological sites. Cliff Palace is the largest and most complex of these structures.
The Cliff Palace consists of 150 rooms and 23 kivas, and houses 100 people. Out of the 600 cliff dwellings found in the park, 75% only have 1-5 rooms with many being single room storage units.
It remains one of the few intact Ancestral Puebloan sites and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
The ‘Sacred City of Caral-Supe’ is an archaeological site with the remains of the main city of the Caral civilization. The Caral culture is one of the most iconic and important in the Andean region. The site, located in Peru, and irrigation agriculture began in the Americas by 5000 years before the present (2627 calibrated years B.C.) to 4500 years before the present (1977 calibrated years B.C.).
Caral was a large, densely populated city with over 370 acres of architecture, making it larger than any other known pre-Columbian city in the Americas.
Caral’s immense size and intricate architecture has made it one of the most studied sites in prehistoric America. The city is home to over 1,500 excavated structures, including an impressive central pyramid with sides measuring 162 feet long and 55 feet wide. In 2007, archaeologists discovered a previously unknown section of the pyramid that measures 88 feet by 54 feet at its base and 17 stories high. This discovery increased speculation about Caral’s true purpose and potential significance.
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the largest city in the Middle East. Jerusalem was founded around 3000 BC by humans. Jerusalem became an important city in the Middle East in the Roman and Byzantine Empires.
Jerusalem was captured by Muslim forces in 638 AD and has been under Muslim rule ever since. In 1980, Jerusalem was declared the capital of Israel. The Israeli government re-occupied Jerusalem in 1967 and controls all governmental institutions within its boundaries. There are several Muslim religious sites located within Jerusalem, including the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, which are both considered to be holy by Muslims.
The Israeli government maintains a strict security regime in Jerusalem to protect these sites from damage or destruction by fundamentalist groups within Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. In general, relations between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem remain complex and often hostile.
The Mohenjo-daro ruins are one of the most fascinating archaeological sites on the Indian subcontinent. The site, which is located in a predominantly arid region in the Sindh province of Pakistan, contains an incredible trove of evidence about life in South Asia during the 2500 BC. Among the most intriguing finds at Mohenjo-daro are evidence of a sophisticated urban culture and complex irrigation system.
R. D. Banerji, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India, discovered Mohenjo-daro in 1922. Major excavations had begun at Harappa 590 km north from Mohenjo-daro 2 years before discovery.
The ruins also contain finely crafted ceramics and sophisticated metallurgy, which suggests that the residents of Mohenjo-daro were well-educated and prosperous. The site provides valuable insights into ancient India’s relationships with neighboring countries, as well as its technological and economic achievements.
Beyond its impressive architecture, which included grandiose stone gateways and shrines, Mohenjo-daro is also known for its elaborate pottery and textiles.
26 The Parthenon In Athens
The Parthenon in Athens is an amazing temple that still stands today. It is located on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. It was built in 447 BC by the architect Iktinos in the mid 5th century BC. The Parthenon is made of marble and has a very ornate design.
The Parthenon building is 101.34 feet (30.89 metres) wide and 228.14 feet (69.54 metres) long. The Parthenon had 46 outer columns and 23 inner columns in total, each column having 20 flutes.
It is a tribute to the goddess Athena, and is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In 1987, UNESCO declared Petra a World Heritage Site.
27 Sydney’s Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is a landmark in the city of Sydney, Australia. It was opened on 20 October 1973 and seats approximately 5.738 people.
Designed by Jørn Utzon, it has been the home of the Australian National Opera since its inception and has welcomed many renowned opera stars to its stage. Since its opening, the Sydney Opera House has become a popular tourist destination.
The building is constructed from Australian red sandstone and features a curtain wall with LED light displays. The opera house is owned by the New South Wales Government and managed by Sydney Opera House Trust.
On 28 June 2007, the Sydney Opera House was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status due to its cultural significance.
28 The Temple of Hatshepsut
The mortuary temple of Hatshepsut was built during the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt and located Deir al-Bahari, on the west bank of Luxor.
Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She ruled for 18 years, from 1478 BC to 1458 BC.
This temple is a masterpiece of ancient Egyptian architecture. The temple was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and was used as a place of worship by the queen herself. The temple was dedicated to Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh and widow of Thutmose III.
This temple measured 13.25 m (43.5 ft) deep by 5.25 m (17.2 ft) wide and had an vaulted ceiling 6.35 m (20.8 ft) high. When it was finally finished, it was an enormous structure covering over (3,300 ft).
In 1979, the temple was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
29 King Tutankhamun’s Tomb
The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 was one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. The tomb, which had remained sealed for more than 3245 years, yielded an incredible trove of artifacts that helped to build up understanding of ancient Egyptian life.
The tomb of Tutankhamun, also known by its tomb number, KV62, is the burial place of Tutankhamun, a pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. It consists of four chambers and an entrance to a staircase and corridor.
The tomb is located in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, and was decorated with beautiful artifacts and decorations. The king’s remains were found in a royal golden sarcophagus, which is still on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Among the most famous items found within the tomb are the artifacts of Queen Nefertiti, including her own golden mask and unusual funerary coffin.
The mysterious and powerful king, who died in 1323 BC, was buried in a luxurious tomb with an elaborate burial ceremony.
30 The Colosseum
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater or simply the Colosseum, was a large amphitheater in Rome, Italy. Built of sandstone and travertine between 70 and 80 AD by Vespasian and his son Titus, it is one of the largest Roman structures ever built.
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy, is a large amphitheater that hosts events like gladiatorial games.
The Colosseum can hold up to 50,000 people and it has been said that over 1 million people have visited the Colosseum since it opened in 80 AD.
It has been used for a variety of events including Roman gladiator games and Christian martyr ceremonies. The Colosseum was constructed in the first century BC and was used for entertainment and competitions. It has been called the “Greatest Spectacle of the Ancient World”.
As the world changes and evolves, so does archaeology. From prehistoric sites to settlements from different time periods, this list of 30 most historic archaeology sites & ruins of the world is sure to interest anyone looking for some incredible places to explore. If you’re planning a trip sometime in the future and are interested in discovering some of history’s most significant footings, be sure to add these places to your list.