The cradle of civilization. Those words have been used by historians throughout the ages to describe the Middle East. The rich history of the Middle East has always been a significant component of world history and its high antiquity has been the marvel of many. Traces of it can still be witnessed today and some of these ancient wonders and archeological treasures of the Middle East have been listed below.
The Middle East has been home to some of the oldest civilisations and cultures in the world. Its history dates back to the earliest human settlements and later to the rise of civilisations in Mesopotamia, Egypt and other regions.
The ancient town of Baalbek in Lebanon is one such example. Also known as Heliopolis during the Roman Ages, Baalbek is home to some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the Middle East. Its astonishing ruins and colossal structures have earned its status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it remains to be one of the best examples of a sanctuary of the imperial Roman period.
Persepolis in Iran is another ancient wonder of the Middle East and was also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire and is found about 650 kilometres towards the south of Tehran. Its magnificent ruins have made it a fascinating archaeological site, with some of its earliest remains dating back to around 515 B.C.
The walled city of Shibam in Yemen is a 16th-century city which is considered to be one of the world's best and oldest examples of using vertical construction for urban planning. Located in the desert of central Yemen, Shibam is presently home to a population of around 7,000 and is famed for its unique mudbrick tower house structures. It is known as the oldest skyscraper city in the world and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Karnak Temple Complex in Egypt dates back to 3,200 B.C. when it was founded by Senusret I - the second Pharaoh of Egypt's Twelfth Dynasty. The complex is the world's second largest ancient religious site and is made up of several decayed temples, chapels and other building structures. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
The ancient city of Troy in present Turkey is one of the best-known ancient sites in the world. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it offers rich history and is the birthplace of many legends. Troy is particularly famed for being the setting of the Trojan War in Greek mythology.
The ancient city of Carthage in Tunisia was founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century B.C. It is located towards the east of Lake Tunis and presently is an extensive archaeological site. Carthage later developed into the capital of a great ancient empire covering much of the Mediterranean and home to a rich civilisation. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Other prominent ancient sites in the Middle East include Babylon in Iraq, Mada'in Saleh in Saudi Arabia and Crac des Chevaliers in Syria.