Russia’s Wealth of Archaeological Wonders

Russia’s Wealth of Archaeological Wonders

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The treasures and ancient mysteries of Russia provide evidence of vital stages in not only human evolution, but the very origins of life on planet earth. Although archaeology was practiced in the Russian Empire in the 1850s, it formally became 'Soviet archaeology’ in the early 20th century with the journal Sovetskaya Arkheologiia having been published since 1957.

The Shigir wooden sculpture dates to 11,000 years ago ( CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Shigir Idol

One of Russia’s greatest ancient treasures is called the Shigir Idol; carved in the Mesolithic period around 11,000 years ago, it is the world’s oldest wooden sculpture. Discovered in 1890 in the mid Ural region, about 100 kilometers (62.13 miles) from Yekaterinburg, it was pulled from a four meter (13.12 feet) deep peat bog and this unique Siberian larch idol is estimated to have stood over 17 feet (5 meters) high. It is today displayed at the Sverdlovsk Regional Lore Museum in Yekaterinburg and while one pictures this dominant artifact in situ , overlooking a hunter’s camp, one is reminded of author Rob Waugh’s 2015 Yahoo News article in which he reminds that this: “Mysterious Russian statue is twice as old as the pyramids in Egypt”.

On this map; the formative Sintashta-Petrovka culture is shown in red; the maximum extent of the Andronovo culture is in orange; the location of the earliest spoke-wheeled chariot finds is indicated in magenta. Afanasevo culture and Srubna cultures overlap and are shown in olive green. ( Dbachmann / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Country of Towns

Between the 1960s and 1980s Soviet archaeologists exploring in the Southern Urals discovered a range of ancient settlements which are now known as the ‘Country of Towns’. The once inhabited area covers approximately 350 square kilometers (217 square miles) and has over 20 scattered settlements in what archaeologists call ‘advanced design’ featuring storm drains, dams and canals. How the buildings functioned is relatively well understood but archaeologists were somewhat shocked in learning that they were built by the Sintashta culture and the youngest town is 3,700 years old.

Sintashta culture settlements reveal what scientists have called ‘intense evidence’ of copper mining and bronze metallurgy, which according to the paper, Late Prehistoric Mining, Metallurgy, and Social Organization in North Central Eurasia, is: “unusual for a steppe culture.” Another way in which these settlements stand out from all other contemporary towns elsewhere the world is that: “the earliest known chariots ever discovered have been found in Sintashta burials.”

History of Russia

Indo-European, Ural-Altaic, and diverse other peoples have occupied what is now the territory of Russia since the 2nd millennium bce , but little is known about their ethnic identity, institutions, and activities. In ancient times, Greek and Iranian settlements appeared in the southernmost portions of what is now Ukraine. Trading empires of that era seem to have known and exploited the northern forests—particularly the vast triangular-shaped region west of the Urals between the Kama and Volga rivers—but these contacts seem to have had little lasting impact. Between the 4th and 9th centuries ce , the Huns, Avars, Goths, and Magyars passed briefly over the same terrain, but these transitory occupations also had little influence upon the East Slavs, who during this time were spreading south and east from an area between the Elbe River and the Pripet Marshes. In the 9th century, as a result of penetration into the area from the north and south by northern European and Middle Eastern merchant adventurers, their society was exposed to new economic, cultural, and political forces.

The scanty written records tell little of the processes that ensued, but archaeological evidence—notably, the Middle Eastern coins found in eastern Europe—indicates that the development of the East Slavs passed through several stages.

From about 770 to about 830, commercial explorers began an intensive penetration of the Volga region. From early bases in the estuaries of the rivers of the eastern Baltic region, Germanic commercial-military bands, probably in search of new routes to the east, began to penetrate territory populated by Finnic and Slavic tribes, where they found amber, furs, honey, wax, and timber products. The indigenous population offered little resistance to their incursions, and there was no significant local authority to negotiate the balance between trade, tribute, and plunder. From the south, trading organizations based in northern Iran and North Africa, seeking the same products, and particularly slaves, became active in the lower Volga, the Don, and, to a lesser extent, the Dnieper region. The history of the Khazar state is intimately connected with these activities.

About 830, commerce appears to have declined in the Don and Dnieper regions. There was increased activity in the north Volga, where Scandinavian traders who had previously operated from bases on Lakes Ladoga and Onega established a new centre, near present-day Ryazan. There, in this period, the first nominal ruler of Rus (called, like the Khazar emperor, khagan) is mentioned by Islamic and Western sources. This Volga Rus khagan state may be considered the first direct political antecedent of the Kievan state.

Within a few decades these Rus, together with other Scandinavian groups operating farther west, extended their raiding activities down the main river routes toward Baghdad and Constantinople, reaching the latter in 860. The Scandinavians involved in these exploits are known as Varangians they were adventurers of diverse origins, often led by princes of warring dynastic clans. One of these princes, Rurik, is considered the progenitor of the dynasty that ruled in various portions of East Slavic territory until 1598 (see Rurik dynasty). Evidences of the Varangian expansion are particularly clear in the coin hoards of 900–930. The number of Middle Eastern coins reaching northern regions, especially Scandinavia, indicates a flourishing trade. Written records tell of Rus raids upon Constantinople and the northern Caucasus in the early 10th century.

In the period from about 930 to 1000, the region came under complete control by Varangians from Novgorod. This period saw the development of the trade route from the Baltic to the Black Sea, which established the basis of the economic life of the Kievan principality and determined its political and cultural development.

The degree to which the Varangians may be considered the founders of the Kievan state has been hotly debated since the 18th century. The debate has from the beginning borne nationalistic overtones. Recent works by Russians have generally minimized or ignored the role of the Varangians, while non-Russians have occasionally exaggerated it. Whatever the case, the lifeblood of the sprawling Kievan organism was the commerce organized by the princes. To be sure, these early princes were not “Swedes” or “Norwegians” or “Danes” they thought in categories not of nation but of clan. But they certainly were not East Slavs. There is little reason to doubt the predominant role of the Varangian Rus in the creation of the state to which they gave their name.

Early Scandinavian settlements in the East

Vikings founded Kievan Rus in the mid-9th century, but Scandanavian settlements in Eastern Europe actually date back to at least A.D. 750. This is when pre-Viking-Age Scandanavians likely settled the northwestern Russian town of Staraya Ladoga (or “Old Ladoga”), across Lake Ladoga from what is now Finland. One of the artifacts archaeologists have unearthed from the city is a talisman with the face of Odin, the Norse god of war.

“The early Scandinavians were particularly attracted to Ladoga by the appearance of Islamic silver coins or dirhams there,” writes scholar Thomas S. Noonan. “The regular flow of Islamic dirhams from Russia to Scandinavia via Ladoga began in the early ninth century and is further evidence of a Viking presence in Ladoga long before 840.”

The Nabataeans of Petra

The ‘Corinthian Tomb’, one of the spectacular and monumental ‘Royal Tombs’, carved into the living rock of the Jabal al-Khubtha, Petra.

Neil Faulkner has been guiding groups around Petra for the best part of two decades. We asked him to share his thoughts on what it all means.

According to the Old Testament, the land of Edom was under firm Israelite control in the age of Solomon. ‘The weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, and beside that he had of the merchants, and of the traffic of the spice merchants, and of all the princes of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.’

Solomon, it seems, was master of a tributary empire that stretched from the Levantine coast deep into the interior. The civilisation of the coast dominated the barbarism of the wilderness. The lords of ‘the sown’ ruled the nomads of ‘the desert’. The town held the trader in thrall.

Were Petra’s tombs a first step towards urbanism? Here the modest ranks of tombs on the ‘Streets of Façades’ can be seen.

God implied that this was very much part of the natural order of things. Leviticus portrayed a world divided into haves and have-nots, rulers and ruled, the free and the enslaved. ‘Of the heathen that are about you,’ explained Leviticus, ‘of them shall you buy bondmen and bondmaids.’ As far as the ancient Israelites were concerned, the nomads in the interior were destined to be hewers of wood and drawers of water.

By the middle of the 3rd century BC, however, even though roles had not actually been reversed, a very different ‘natural order’ had emerged. Edom – today in southern Jordan – was now controlled not by the lords of the Levantine coast but by the merchants of the Arabian desert. The Nabataeans controlled Edom and paid tribute to no one. Soon they were building a new desert-edge emporium for the sale of the highly prized eastern luxuries which their caravans carried across the desert: the rose-red city of Petra.

An oasis settlement

It is easy to explain the city’s location. The Nabataeans were the Arab caravan-traders of the desert. In the desert, there are three priorities: water, water, and again water – water for people, water for beasts (camels, sheep, and goats), and water for plants (that is, for grazing and garden plots).

Channels and ceramic pipes in the sides of the Siq, the long, winding passage that leads to Petra, carried water down to the city.

The topography of Petra is that of a gigantic semicircle of rock that channels both spring-water and winter floodwater downwards and along a series of natural fissures. Left alone, these streams and surges of precious water simply vanish into the sand. But if the rock is reconfigured by hydraulic engineers, the water may be directed into cisterns, accumulating the trickles from the springs and holding the winter floods captive so as to provide a supply through the long, hot, dry summer months.

Petra has always been a desert-edge oasis. Close by the ancient city is a prehistoric agricultural settlement nine millennia old. The Early Neolithic village at El-Beidha – so ancient it pre-dates the invention of pottery – is among the earliest farming communities known. Why is it here? Because water was relatively abundant during the great global warming that resulted in what used to be called ‘the agricultural revolution’.

Much later, Iron Age peoples – first the Edomites, then the Nabataeans – cut conduits and tunnels, laid lines of earthenware pipes, and carved great water-tanks out of the solid rock to provide a year-round water supply for thousands of people and beasts.

By far the most famous of Petra’s monuments: ‘the Treasury’. Whether it was a tomb remains disputed, but it certainly displays a compelling fusion of Graeco-Roman and Nabataean influences.

Cities of the dead

Given Petra’s fame, it may be surprising to learn that the chronology of the city is woefully inadequate: we still know far too little about its historical development. But it seems reasonable to assume that the availability of water made the site a place for resting and grazing, and therefore a place for social interaction, for the exchange of goods, and for the rituals and rites of passage of an essentially nomadic people.

Though the dating is vague, and no reliable sequence can be proved, we can guess that there were tombs before there were temples, and temples before there were houses. Because people would stop and gather here, they also began to bury their dead here, probably in family mausolea, probably grouped by clan, perhaps with this cliff face belonging to one tribe, that to another.

The ‘Obelisk Tomb’ and, directly underneath it, the ‘Bab as-Siq Triclinium’.

Wealth accumulated. Some larger tombs – all cut out of solid rock – appeared and eventually, certainly by the 1st century BC, some that were so monumental as to rank today among the world’s greatest archaeological wonders.

Around the time the tombs took on a monumental character, huge temple complexes were constructed in the wide wadi between the cities of the dead in the mountains either side. Beyond them – beyond the urban downtown represented by the colonnaded street lined with temples that is the main tourist route across the site today – on the slopes rising on either side, there must have been tiers of grand houses, though so little of ‘everyday’ Petra has been dug that we are hazy about even this.

Nomads no more

What is certain, however, is that Nabataean Petra experienced an ‘urban revolution’, probably at some time between the later 2nd and the earlier 1st century BC. This is a ballpark daterange based on the fact that there appear, in the present state of knowledge, to be hardly any monumental buildings – or, indeed, permanent structures of any kind – that can be dated much earlier.

For sure, historical references to the Nabataeans go back to the late 4th century BC. The historian Diodorus Siculus records a war between the Nabataeans and the Seleucid ruler of Syria in 312 BC. The Greeks were able to storm and loot Petra because the fighting men were away – though the Nabataeans, once alerted, counterattacked, massacred their enemies, and recovered their property.

Facing a second onslaught, most of the Nabataeans packed up their belongings and departed into the desert. The implication seems to be that they were still nomads, so could literally ‘up sticks’ and vanish. Indeed, Siculus virtually says as much, reporting that the Nabataeans ‘neither sow corn, nor plant any fruit tree, nor drink wine, nor build houses’.

Ships of the desert. The key to Petra’s wealth is seen in this depciton of a camel caravan from a mosaic in a Byzantine church in the city.

Nor build houses: Petra must have been a tented emporium in the late 4th century BC nothing more. And the present state of archaeological knowledge does not really permit us to speak of it as a ‘city’ until another two centuries have passed. The date, though, is less important than the fact of the transition: from nomadic pastoralism to ‘civilisation’ – in the literal sense of urban living.

What is urbanism? It is an accumulation of surplus wealth invested in infrastructure and facilities capable of supporting a large agglomeration of people in a single central place. In the ancient world, it usually involved an accumulation of agricultural wealth to create a centre of elite consumption in the form of monumental architecture, grand houses, and luxury living but it sometimes involved an accumulation of mercantile wealth to the same effect and so it was at Petra.

The tumbled columns of the ‘Great Temple’.

There hangs a question. How come the Arab merchants once taxed by Solomon had become a ruling class in their own right, beholden to no one, setting the terms, acquiring agency, shaping their own destiny? How come ‘the heathens’, once enslaved by the Israelites, were now among history’s makers and shakers?

This is an extract from the full article in featured in issue 85 of Current World Archaeology. Click here for more information about subscribing to the magazine.


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Like the more-well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paquimé, Huápoca was founded by the culture known as Casas Grandes. The main feature of the site is its cliff dwellings, similar to many found in the Southwest United States, which shows the cultural continuity that existed before the modern border between both countries was established.

A majority of the dwellings found in Huápoca date to between 1000 and 1400, and are separated into groups with names such as “The Snake Cave” and “The Eagle’s Nest.” Located near the Papigochi River on a semi-desert zone of the state of Chihuahua, the archaeological value of the site is huge, in part because the site has seen little modern intervention—in part because it is so isolated. For the same reason, it doesn’t get many visitors or much attention.

Given the archaeological wealth of the country, many of the areas designated as archaeological sites by the National Anthropology and History Institute are not officially open to the public. Many others are closed due to natural damage or a lack of security, and some of the ones that are open have no visitor records due to understaffing. Out of the sites with regular record keeping and staff for the year, Huápoca’s 67 visitors in 2018 made it officially the country’s least-visited.

The Russian Philosopher Who Sought Immortality in the Cosmos

Left to right: Nikolai Fedorov in his study and his monument in Borovsk, Kaluga Oblast. Public Domain

The elderly librarian was a staple at the Rumyantsev Museum and public library in pre-Revolutionary Moscow. With a long white beard growing from his weathered face, he looked almost as old as the ancient artworks and tomes that he shuffled about each day. He was a quiet, humble, and deeply pious man who spoke softly. His demeanor was so unobtrusive that he appeared to seamlessly blend into the Rumyantsev’s austere neoclassical architecture. But like the books he dedicated his life to tending, this man was a silent wealth of knowledge, full of groundbreaking ideas that would influence scientists, philosophers, and writers for years to come.

This librarian’s name was Nikolai Fedorov. He lived from 1829 to 1903 and was one of the most ambitious and quietly influential thinkers in Russian history. His philosophy, which is classified today as “Russian cosmism,” explores ideas of space travel and scientifically-engineered immortality through the lens of Christian mysticism. Though his writings were repressed by Stalin in the 1930s, Federov was highly influential to the Russian space program. One of his students was the astrophysicist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who is widely considered to be the father of spaceflight for the groundbreaking equations he developed.

The Pashkov House which housed Russia’s first public museum, the Rumyantsev Museum, in the 19th century c. 1890-1905. Public Domain

Federov was the illegitimate child of a prince and a noblewoman. Fedorov, his mother, and his siblings were forced out of his family home after his father’s death when Nikolai was only four. In spite of this embarrassment, the family remained relatively wealthy. In 1868, he became the librarian at the Rumyantsev Museum, the first public museum and library in Russia, where he worked for 25 years. It was during this period that he became the teacher and mentor of Tsiolkovsky. His works were compiled and published posthumously in 1903 under the name The Philosophy of the Common Task. Fedorov never copyrighted his works and insisted that they should be available to the public free of charge.

Fedorov’s insistence that his philosophy be highly accessible to all perhaps owed to the fact that it proposed nothing short of a new phase of human evolution. As a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church, Fedorov was dismayed by what he saw as a rampant lack of love and compassion amongst human beings. While good will towards man is a familiar and central tenet of Christianity, Fedorov found its focus only on the living to be exclusionary. His proposed cures for the lack of love he saw between the living and the dead were ambitious to say the least: immortality and resurrection.

The cover and inside contents page of Federov’s The Philosophy of the Common Task. Public Domain

Using science, art, and technology, Fedorov believed that humanity’s primary goal should be to create the Kingdom of Heaven. He, unlike most Christians who equate this concept with the movement of the disembodied soul to the afterlife, saw the acceptance of death as false Christianity and believed that it was every human being’s duty to work towards abolishing death. “Death is merely the result or manifestation of our infantilism […]” he wrote in The Philosophy of the Common Task. “People are still minors, half-beings whereas the fullness of personal existence, personal perfection is possible.”

On top of being a daring religious philosopher, Fedorov was also an avid and highly capable student of the sciences. His propositions for a death cure were shockingly prescient, though they seemed outlandish during his lifetime. To fix what he believed was the innate “flaw” of decay, Fedorov proposed replacing human body parts with artificial organs when needed. Today, the practice of using artificial organs, including hearts, eyes, lungs, livers, and more, is fairly commonplace and an area of intense focus for contemporary Transhumanists, who support life extension via machine augmentation. In fact, theorists such as Ray Kurzweil, author of 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines, propose replacing the entire body with a technological host by uploading the brain to a computer.

For Fedorov, the quest for immortality required all of humanity to unite against the universal enemy of death. He was convinced that immortality would act as a panacea for all of humanity’s greatest struggles, including war, poverty, and disease.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky among his inventions c. 1920. SPUTNIK / Alamy

But The Philosophy of the Common Task stipulates that immortality for the living is impossible without the resurrection of the dead. In order to accomplish this, Fedorov proposed that humanity should assemble expeditions to fly out into the cosmos in search of particles belonging to their long-dead ancestors. He also suggested that dead tissue, specifically the tissue of the deceased ancestors, could be used to somehow revive them, effectively arriving at the idea of cloning without having any knowledge of DNA structure.

In order to make room for all the billions of resurrected dead and immortals, Fedorov envisioned the human race colonizing the galaxy, making homes for the returned on larger planets such as Jupiter. This idea clearly influenced Tsiolkovsky, who was a lifelong supporter of space exploration and colonization, believing that it would lead to “the perfection of the human race.”

Mountain of Light by Boris Alexeyevich Smirnov-Rusetsky, a member of the Amaravella Collective, a group of artists who subscribed to the ideology of Russian Cosmism. c.1922-1927 Courtesy of MacDougall Arts

The sweeping beauty of Fedorov’s ideas inspired early Soviet artists and writers. The paintings of the Amaravella Collective, Aleksei Tolstoi’s science fiction novels, and Iakov Protazanov’a film Aelita, for example, all fused space exploration with mysticism.

“[Fedorov’s] quasi-mystical ideas were in some ways deeply embedded in many of [Tsiolkovsky’s] more scientific and technical writings from the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s,” explains Dr. Asif Siddiqi, author of The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Russian Imagination, 1857-1957. “Because Tsiolkovsky’s influence was monumental in the establishment of the Soviet space program, one can say that Russian cosmism was also an important part of the puzzle of the history of Russian space.”

Aelita: The Queen of Mars movie poster, c.1929. Ivan Velichko/CC BY-ND 2.0

Today, Fedorov’s ideas continue to influence philosophers, scientists, and historians the world over, particularly in the field of Transhumanism. Both Federov and the Transhumanists believe that it is humanity’s destiny to defeat death, becoming immortal either by bioengineering or technology.

Many Transhumanists find Fedorov’s spiritual approach to life extension and space exploration deeply inspiring. Take for example Giulio Prisco, founder of the Turing Church, a “meta-religion” dedicating to finding the intersection between spiritual beliefs, science, and technology. “In particular, cosmism is open to the possibility that future science and technology might be able to resurrect the dead from the past, and to the idea that our universe might be, for want of a better word, a simulation,” says Prisco. “These ideas are, like it or not, both compatible with science and totally indistinguishable from religion. Many Transhumanists, who tried to kick religion out through the back door of superstition, are now finding that religion is coming back to them through the main door of science.”

USSR pilot-cosmonauts at a TV studio, Gherman Titov is on the far right. RIA Novosti archive, image #879591 / Khalip / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Cosmism’s popularity in the early decades of the Soviet Union was crushed under Stalin’s regime. On top of their spiritual approach to science and technology, which ran directly counter to Stalin’s atheistic vision of Soviet Russia, many cosmists were publically supportive of his rival Leon Trotsky. As a result, the vast majority of Cosmists were jailed, sent to labor camps, silenced, or executed after Stalin’s victory. By the early 1960s, when the Soviet space program was in full swing and cosmonauts were lauded as national heroes, it seemed that cosmism’s mystical influence on space exploration had been forgotten entirely. For example, one of the first cosmonauts, Gherman Titov, famously proclaimed during a visit to the United States that “no God helped build our rocket,” adding that during his 17 orbits of Earth he had seen “no God or angels.”

But in spite of its suppression, cosmism lived on thanks to a few dedicated adherents who were able to save Fedorov’s writings, which finally emerged from Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. Transhumanism’s revisitation of Fedorov’s work poetically speaks to his philosophy, mentally reviving him from the dead through a camaraderie that crosses several lifetimes.

The Startling Truth About One of History&rsquos Greatest Kings

E ven today, more than 2,500 years after his death, Cyrus the Great of ancient Persia remains one of humanity’s most brilliant and outstanding monarchs. There is much to learn and admire about King Cyrus, and no dearth of knowledge on this subject.

But the most interesting feature about this man and his towering accomplishments is also the most obscure. It is also profoundly inspiring.

Who Was Cyrus?

Cyrus ii ruled the Persian Empire from 559 to 530 b.c . The history of his life and accomplishments is well documented by Greek and Roman historians and by archaeological evidence. Among his many feats, Cyrus conquered the invincible Babylonian-Chaldean Empire and established Persia as the world power.

Under Cyrus, the borders of the Persian Empire rapidly expanded to create the largest empire humanity had ever seen. Under his leadership, ancient Persia’s borders stretched to Central Asia (Russia’s southern border today) as far east as the Indus River (the Pakistan-India border) as far north as the Danube, including Turkey, Crete and the southern parts of Greece and Bulgaria and as far south as Libya.

But Cyrus was much more than a prodigious conqueror. He heralded a new breed of leadership and politics. Unlike the Assyrians and others before him, he did not rule exclusively by sword and spear. Subjects were not beaten, tortured and killed into acquiescence and cooperation. In fact, many consider this king the world’s first true humanitarian.

“Cyrus was an outstanding soldier and statesman,” the Encyclopedia Britannica says. “He founded an empire that stretched from the Indus and Jazartes to the Aegean and the borders of Egypt and left behind him a reputation for justice and clemency …” (emphasis added). The Mainstream of Civilization says, “Cyrus created a new type of empire. Under the close supervision of his government, he permitted the conquered peoples to retain their own customs and religions and their own forms of government.”

For a world inured to cruel, forceful governance, King Cyrus’s disposition was revolutionary and much welcomed. His subjects tended not to revolt, hence the staying power of the Persian Empire.

The World’s Greatest City

In the time of Cyrus, Babylon was extraordinarily well fortified, teemed with top-notch Babylonian soldiers, and had a well-earned aura of impenetrability. It was the greatest city in the world.

Originally constructed by Nimrod soon after the Flood, the city had experienced a massive makeover by King Nebuchadnezzar ii in the late seventh and early sixth centuries b.c . Laden with materials and manpower plundered from neighbors, Nebuchadnezzar spared nothing in expanding, fortifying and beautifying his city. Babylon’s legendary hanging gardens, built for the queen who missed her lush, mountainous homeland in Media, were an engineering marvel, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Herodotus records that Babylon covered 196 square miles and was protected by an outer wall that was 311 feet high and 87 feet thick. The walls were so thick, even at the top, that chariots could be driven on them. Controlling access through this barrier were more than 100 bronze gateways.

The Euphrates River meandered through Babylon, much like the Thames through London. Inside the outer wall, the riverbanks “were lined and walled with brick. In the wall on either side of the river were 25 gates. There was a bridge 1,080 yards long and 30 feet broad across the river. At either end of this bridge was the royal palace. The more magnificent of these palaces was surrounded by three walls. The middle wall was 300 feet high, with towers 420 feet in height. The inner wall was yet higher. The two inner walls, Cterias tells us, were of colored brick. Upon them were portrayed hunting scenes—the chase of the leopard and the lion” (A Handbook of Ancient History in Bible Light).

Cyrus sought to do the impossible: to conquer this impenetrable fortress.

His strategy was brilliantly simple. First, he dug trenches upstream and diverted water from the Euphrates into a large reservoir. Once the water level had dropped, and under the cover of darkness, Persian soldiers slipped into the knee-deep water, marched up the riverbed, and snuck under Babylon’s giant gates.

Although the soldiers had infiltrated the outer gates, there were still brass and iron internal gates controlling access out of the riverbed and into the city. If they couldn’t get through the gates, the soggy riverbed would turn the Persians’ tactical advantage into a massive kill box. All the Babylonian soldiers had to do was rain spears and arrows down on them. In fact, if they could block the Persians’ retreat, the Babylonians could conceivably kill every last Persian soldier, to a man—like shooting fish in a barrel.

But strangely, on the night of the invasion, there were no soldiers, and the internal gates were wide open. King Nabonidus, his son Belshazzar, the imperial guard, the soldiers, and many of the people of Babylon were partying! Consumed with drinking and games, they had failed to close the gates and to station guards. Having quenched the Euphrates and penetrated the outer gates, the Persian soldiers were able to stroll through the internal gates, taking the city—including the shocked king—by surprise!

It was a magnificent victory, bordering on—and crossing into—the miraculous !

Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon recorded the history-changing event. King Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon in 539 b.c . was one of his most notable accomplishments. By conquering this mighty city, he toppled the world-ruling Babylonian-Chaldean Empire.

Cyrus the Humanitarian

In 1879, British archaeologists digging in Iran discovered a barrel-shaped cylinder made out of clay. Inscribed on the cylinder in ancient cuneiform was a decree by King Cyrus of Persia. In the 40-line decree, the king recalled his defeat of Babylon and clearly outlined a number of policies designed to defend the rights of the conquered.

You can find this incredible artifact, called the Cyrus Cylinder, in the British Museum. This cylinder confirms the historical records showing that King Cyrus displayed a tremendous and heretofore unprecedented respect and tolerance for the peoples he conquered. The United Nations says the Cyrus Cylinder is the “world’s first charter of human rights” and is proof that King Cyrus was one of mankind’s first great humanitarians.

Cyrus’s governance really is remarkable. For a man with so much power, he displayed incredible tolerance and even respect for the religion, customs and politics of the people he conquered.

His greatest and most famous humanitarian act was releasing the captive Jews in Babylon and allowing them to return to Judea to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem. This decision by Cyrus is well known and well documented by Greek and Roman historians, as well as Josephus, the most recognized Jewish historian. Many believe the text on the Cyrus Cylinder alludes to the king’s decision to release the Jews.

King Cyrus issued his decree releasing the Jews in 538 b.c. , about a year after he conquered Babylon. Zerubbabel, a leading Jewish figure in Babylon at the time, became responsible for mustering the party and leading it back to Jerusalem. There, they set about rebuilding Solomon’s temple. One of the most astonishing features about this decree is that there was no cost or price to the Jews. In fact, the king of Persia actually financed the Jews’ return to their homeland, their reconstruction of the temple, and their reconstruction of Jerusalem!

Any historian will agree: Such magnanimity and benevolence from a man with supreme power is extremely rare! Cyrus the Great was truly an anomaly among world leaders.

Biblical History

All of this history is well documented by secular historians and archaeological evidence. But there is another source that records these events in detail: the Bible. In Ezra 1:1-4, for example, we read of Cyrus’s decree releasing the Jews to return to Jerusalem. These scriptures in Ezra were recorded a few decades after the event. More records about King Cyrus can be found in Jeremiah 25 and 2 Chronicles 36, both of which were written after Cyrus was on the scene.

A passage in Isaiah 44 also discusses Cyrus the Great—and this is where the history gets exciting.

Isaiah 44:24 reads: “Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things that stretcheth forth the heavens alone that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Here God is establishing His supremacy, even over the daily affairs of mankind.

Isaiah continues: “[God] saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (verse 28). Isaiah is writing about how King Cyrus would be an instrument in God’s hands—“my shepherd”—and explaining how God would inspire Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

The thought continues in Isaiah 45:1: “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates and the gates shall not be shut.” Isaiah is saying that God would empower King Cyrus, even helping him “subdue nations” and make massive territorial goals.

The narrative becomes even more specific: “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron ” (verse 2). If you study this passage and Bible commentaries, you will easily see that these scriptures are specifically discussing King Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon. Notice, God says He will help Cyrus rupture the “gates of brass” and “bars of iron.”

Isaiah’s account is similar to the accounts in Ezra and 2 Chronicles. Except for one critical factor.

The book of Isaiah was written about 150 years before Cyrus the Great was born !

It’s true. King Cyrus, his rise to power, his defeat of Babylon, his humanitarian legacy, his name—even Babylon’s gates of iron and brass—were all prophesied by God about one and a half centuries before Cyrus’s birth!

Slow down and think about this. This is awesome proof of God’s existence and the veracity of the Holy Bible .

How do we know Isaiah was written before Cyrus was born? It’s not hard to prove. Isaiah 1:1 says: “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”

This verse clearly says that Isaiah was alive and writing during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Biblical history, as well as Jewish history and established historical record, clearly show that these all reigned in the eighth century b.c. This is nowhere disputed.

Bible commentaries agree that Isaiah was on the scene for about 50 years, roughly between 760 and 710 b.c . For example, Isaiah 38:3-8 show that he prophesied during the reign of King Hezekiah.

Critics of the Bible despise Isaiah 44 and 45. Over the last century or so, numerous theories have emerged to explain how this passage of scripture was written after King Cyrus. The most prominent theory says that the book of Isaiah has multiple authors, and that some parts of the book, mainly the latter chapters, were written at a different time and much later than the first part of the book. According to this theory, the book of Isaiah was compiled into a single book around 70 b.c .

But this theory has been proven false. A copy of the entire book of Isaiah was discovered as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls on which the text of Isaiah was discovered were dated to around 200 b.c ., proving that the entire book of Isaiah was completed well before 70 b.c. !

Consider too: Josephus recorded that King Cyrus actually read this prophecy about himself in the book of Isaiah ! If the prophecy in Isaiah 44-45 was written after Cyrus lived and by another author, how could King Cyrus have read about it himself?

Perhaps this explains why Cyrus was so benevolent and so enthusiastic about releasing the Jews. After reading Isaiah’s prophecy, he realized that he was predestined to make this wondrous decision!

But how did Cyrus gain access to Isaiah’s prophecy? We don’t know the specifics, but we do know that King Cyrus knew the Prophet Daniel well. Daniel was well versed in Isaiah’s prophecies and probably owned a copy of Isaiah’s text. Daniel lived in Babylon. After Cyrus took Babylon and toppled the Babylonian Empire, Daniel became a high-ranking official in Cyrus’s Medo-Persian Empire.

All Hail King Cyrus

Take some time to really think on this, and to study Isaiah 44 and 45. The evidence is irrefutable.

First, it is obvious that Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1-4 are talking about King Cyrus. He is mentioned by name !

Next, consider Cyrus’s relationship with Jerusalem. Isaiah 44:28 records Cyrus “even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” The temple in Jerusalem hadn’t even been destroyed— and here was God prophesying that it would be rebuilt !

Verse 28 also explains the origins of Cyrus’s humanitarianism. Cyrus treated all his conquered peoples much the same way as he treated the Jews. Cyrus didn’t just allow the Jews to practice their religion: He released them from captivity, loaded them up with wealth and treasures, gave them letters of endorsement, and sent them home to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem!

Surely this is one of the greatest humanitarian acts in history.

And to think, it was prophesied to happen 150 years before it actually did!

Isaiah 45:1 says Cyrus would “subdue nations before him.” Study the history books: Cyrus conquered more than 15 different peoples—all the way from Egypt in the south to Turkey to Central Asia to the Indus River.

Verse 1 also says God would “loose the loins of kings” before Cyrus. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states: “The loose outer robe of the [kings], when girt fast around the loins, was the emblem of strength and preparedness for action ungirt was indication of feebleness [and weakness].” This is a perfect description of Belshazzar the night of Babylon’s fall!

In addition, verse 1 says God would “open before him the two leaved gates and the gates shall not be shut.” The history of Babylon’s destruction shows that the king of Babylon left some of the internal gates of the city open that night! “In the revelry in Babylon on the night of its capture, the inner gates, leading from the streets to the river, were left open … which, had they been kept shut, would have hemmed the invading hosts in the bed of the river, where the Babylonians could have easily destroyed them. Also, the gates of the palace were left open, so that there was access to every part of the city” (ibid).

Look how specific God is—even prophesying the exact gates that would be left open in Babylon the night of its capture!

In verse 2, God says, “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” The strongest doors in Babylon were not able to withstand the army of Cyrus that night. Again, God prophesied the exact material that the gates of Babylon would be made of! Herodotus recorded that the gates of the inner walls were made of brass and some were reinforced with iron!

This is some of the most moving and powerful history you can study. Why? Because it proves the existence of God and the veracity of His Word!

God Reigns Supreme

Why would God prophesy the life and accomplishments of a Persian king 150 years before his birth? The answer to that question is the theme of Isaiah 44-46. In Isaiah 45:3, God says, “And I will give thee [Cyrus] the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel .”

God makes the purpose of this prophecy abundantly clear: The life and work of King Cyrus prove the existence of God !

Cyrus himself understood this. “Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (Ezra 1:2). This great king knew God existed, and he knew that God reigns supreme in the world of man.

The history of Cyrus the Great is interesting and inspiring—but it is also much more. This history proves the authority of the Holy Bible! It shows that this Book of books is true and accurate. It shows that it is authored by an omnipotent God who can prophesy what He will do and bring it to pass!

For anyone willing to study and prove it, this history shows that the Holy Bible is the true Word of God!

29 New World Heritage Wonders From UNESCO: Full Winners List

Twenty-nine additional extraordinary places in the world have been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee that just ended on Wednesday, June 10th, in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan.

Long ago, there was a list of "wonders of the world" memorized by every elementary school student. They were a collection of seven remarkable constructions of the ancient world and included, among others, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Cairo, Egypt (the only one still surviving), the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the gigantic statue of the Colossus of Rhodes on the Greek island.

Each year, representatives of the 21 states that constitute the World Heritage Committee meet to determine the new sites, cultural or natural, to include on the list that now features 1,121 exceptional places across 167 countries topped by Italy and China with 55 sites each, followed by Spain (48), Germany (46), France (45), India (38), and Mexico (35).

Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Italy, in the wine growing landscape of . [+] Prosecco production.

© Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg

The "new" places that must be preserved for their "outstanding universal value," are a surprise of wonders stretching from the region that produces Prosecco in northern Italy to eight architectural masterpieces in the U.S. by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

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The session lasted 10 days and the new listed sites were announced as they were chosen.

Among the first were the natural Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf between China and the Korean Peninsula, the Dilmun Burial Mounds in Bahrain, Australia's Budj Bim volcano, as well as 10 churches and temples of the city of Pskov in Russia, the oldest dating back to the 12th century, that have influenced Russian architecture for five centuries.

Also Jesus do Monte, a sanctuary in Tenoes, northern Portugal, and the Khan Palace and the historical center of Sheki in Azerbaijan.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai, Gulf of China, an intertidal mudflat . [+] system considered to be the largest in the world..

Unesco, © Yancheng Broadcasting Television

Many of the sites were selected to preserve the traces of the height of different civilizations and they will benefit from financial assistance to preserve their history.

Babylon, in Iraq, was chosen after five successive refusals starting in 1982. The city, located 85 kilometers from Baghdad, was the capital 4,000 years ago of one of the most influential empires of the ancient world. It occupies a special place in history and world mythology with its famous Ishtar Gate, Hanging Gardens and the Tower of Babel, emblematic monuments whose location and existence is still debated. Today's ruins attest to such an important past, despite the ravages of time and war.

The Plain of Jars in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, with its 2,100 megalithic jars in Xieng Khouang destined for funeral practices, is one of the most important remnants of the Iron Age, just as the sacred landscape of Bagan, in Myanmar, is a reminder of the religious fervor of an ancient Buddhist empire.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Exterior of Fallingwater in Pennsylvania by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Hollyhock House, built in 1919–1921 in East Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, originally designed . [+] as a residence for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Among the most-remarked architectural works to enter the prestigious list this year are eight buildings by the American Frank Lloyd Wright, designed in the first half of the twentieth century and that are the only modern American architecture sites on the list.

They include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1959) in New York. the Fallingwater House (1939) in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (1937) in Madison, Wisconsin, Unity Temple (1909) in Oak Park, Illinois, the Frederick C Robie House (1910) in Chicago, Hollyhock House (1919), in the East Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, Taliesin (1911) in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West (1938) in Scottsdale, Arizona

"A villa in Los Angeles and a church near Chicago have been granted the same level of cultural recognition as the pyramids of Giza and the Great Barrier Reef, and have been declared Unesco World Heritage sites," The Guardian reported.

Wright's buildings reflect the concept of “organic architecture” represented in open plans, blurring of the boundaries between exterior and interior and unprecedented use of materials like steel and concrete and had a strong impact on the development of modern architecture in Europe.

Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria, Spain: cliffs, ravines and volcanic . [+] formations in a landscape of rich biodiversity.

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, north Portugal,on the slopes of Mount Espinho, overlooking . [+] the city of Braga, a Baroque style sacred mount crowned with a church developed over more than 600 years,

The French Austral Lands and Seas, the largest of the rare emerged land masses in the southern . [+] Indian Ocean, supports one of the highest concentrations of birds and marine mammals in the world.

Another highly noted new site is Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene in northeastern Italy, part of the vine growing landscape and Prosecco wine production area. A series of hills with small plots of vines on the edge of narrow terraces (ciglioni), some forests, villages and farmland, the rugged terrain has been cultivated for centuries. Since the 17 th century, the use of ciglioni has created a breathtaking checkerboard landscape.

Other selected sites in Europe include:

The Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region Czechia, Germany: The Ore Mountain contains a wealth of several metals mined since the Middle Ages, triggering technological innovations, with mining, pioneering water management systems, innovative mineral processing, smelting sites and mining cities.

The Jodrell Bank Observator, Great Britain and Northern Ireland: In a rural area free from radio interference, it's one of the world's leading radio astronomy observatories since 1945 and has had substantial scientific impact on the study of meteors and the moon, the discovery of quasars, quantum optics and the tracking of spacecraft.

Krzemionki Prehistoric Striped Flint Mining Region, Poland: An ensemble of four mining sites in the mountain region of Świętokrzyskie, dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age (about 3900 to 1600 BCE), dedicated to the extraction and processing of striped flint, which was used mainly for making axes. It's among the most comprehensive prehistoric underground flint extraction and processing systems identified to date.

Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria, Spain: In a vast, mountainous area in the center of the Grand Canary island, Risco Caído comprises cliffs, ravines and volcanic formations in a landscape of rich biodiversity. The landscape includes a large number of troglodyte settlements — habitats, granaries and cisterns — cult cavities and two sacred temples, or almogarenes, where seasonal ceremonies were held and thought to be linked to a possible cult of the stars and “Mother Earth.”

Royal Building of Mafra – Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden, Portugal: Northwest of Lisbon, the site was conceived by King João V in 1711 as a representation of his conception of the monarchy and the State. It houses the king’s and queen's palaces, the royal chapel shaped like a Roman baroque basilica, a Franciscan monastery and a library containing 36,000 volumes. Mafra is considered an exceptional example of Italian Baroque.

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, Portugal: On the slopes of Mount Espinho, overlooking the city of Braga in the north of Portugal, evokes Christian Jerusalem. The sanctuary was developed over a period of more than 600 years. The church was built between 1784 and 1811. The celebrated Stairway of the Five Senses, with its walls, steps, fountains, statues and other ornamental elements, is the most emblematic Baroque work within the property.

Water Management System of Augsburg, Germany: The water management system of the city of Augsburg has evolved in successive phases from the 14th century to today. It includes a network of canals and water towers dating from the 15th to 17th centuries. The technological innovations generated by this water management system have helped establish Augsburg as a pioneer in hydraulic engineering.

French Austral Lands and Seas, France: The largest of the rare emerged land masses in the southern Indian Ocean, the Crozet Archipelago, the Kerguelen Islands, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Islands, as well as 60 small, sub-Antarctic islands. This remote “oasis” in the middle of the Southern Ocean supports one of the highest concentrations of birds and marine mammals in the world, a unique terrain for scientific research.

Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region, Albania, North Macedonia: The part of Lake Ohrid located in Northern Macedonia and its hinterland, including the town of Ohrid, was first added to the World Heritage List in 1979. Now it has been extended to the northwestern Albanian part of Lake Ohrid, the small Lin Peninsula and the strip of land along the shoreline that connects the peninsula to the Macedonian border. The peninsula is site of the remains of an Early Christian church founded in the middle of the 6 th century. In the shallow waters near the shores of the lake, three sites testify to the presence of prehistoric pile dwellings. The lake provides a refuge for numerous endemic species of freshwater fauna and flora dating from the Tertiary period.

The 43th Unesco session also adopted the 'Baku Declaration' to emphasize the need to increase efforts towards the preservation and effective protection of monuments, included in the World Heritage List, and their management. It expressed concern over the destruction of natural and cultural monuments in zones of armed conflicts, the conduct of illegal archaeological excavations, the illegal transportation of cultural property and the illegal exploitation of cultural resources.

The Unesco designation means that the selected sites may now enjoy better funding and preservation.

Bagan in Myanmar is a sacred landscape, featuring an exceptional range of Buddhist art and . [+] architecture.

Department of Archaeology and National Museum

Churches, cathedrals, monasteries, fortification towers in the historic city of Pskov, in the . [+] northwest of Russia

State budgetary institution of culture “Research and Development Centre for Conservation and Use of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Pskov Region

Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace at the foot of the Greater Caucasus Mountains in . [+] Azerbaijan

This is the complete list of new World Wonders and here you will find a complete descriptions of each one.

1. Ancient ferrous metallurgy sites of Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso

2. Archaeological ruins of Liangzhu City, China

5. Budj Bim cultural landscape, Australia

6. Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture, Russia

7. Dilmun Burial Mounds, Bahrain

8. Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region, Czechia and Germany

9. French Austral Lands and Seas, France

10. Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan's Palace, Azerbaijan

11. Hyrcanian Forests, Iran

13. Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK

14. Krzemionki Prehistoric Striped Flint Mining Region, Poland

15. Landscape for Breeding and Training of Ceremonial Carriage Horses at Kladruby nad Labem, Czechia

16. Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene, Italy

17. Megalithic Jar Sites in Xiengkhuang – Plain of Jars, Lao People's Democratic Republic

18. Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China (Phase I), China

19. Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group: Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japan, Japan

20. Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto, Indonesia

21. Paraty and Ilha Grande – Culture and Biodiversity, Brazil

22. Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape, Spain

23. Royal Building of Mafra – Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden and Hunting Park (Tapada), Portugal

Ancient Theatre, Plovdiv

Frescoe detail in the replica tomb at Kazanlak (c) Depositphotos
This tomb from the 4th century BC with its remarkably intact frescoes and bell shaped dome was discovered in 1944 and added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. Nowadays most visitors only get to view the replica as the original tomb is too fragile. The delicate figurative artwork of the dome in the original white, yellow, red and black mineral paints, portray the marriage rites of a couple whose skeletons were found in the antechamber along with a horse, buried with its master for the afterlife.
The gold treasures found here can be seen at the Kazanluk museum.

Mexico - Nature and Scientific Wonders

Mexico harbors a wealth of ecosystems and species that make it one of the richest countries in the world in terms of biological diversity. This wealth of natural resources is one of the greatest and most beautiful treasures of Mexico, one that attracts thousands of tourists as well as many scientists.

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Mexico is considered the fourth country in the world in terms to the variety of unequaled ecosystems it has: you can find rainforests, mountains, volcanoes, deserts, reefs, caves and cenotes, a kind of limestone wells considered sacred by the Mayans which are ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling.

There is a myriad of natural sceneries in this vast territory of over 758,000 square miles. The country is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Cortes and the Gulf of Mexico and is covered by different mountain ranges, all full of flora and fauna.  There are 58 National Parks and 121 Protected Natural reserves, with an extension of 14 million acres.

The territory encompasses nearly every type of geologic formation found in the Western Hemisphere. Abrupt topographic and climatic changes make Mexico a mosaic of natural diversity. This erratic mixture of settings creates the perfect stage for ecological adventure and exploration. Its vast landmass supports an astonishing variety of flora and fauna- nearly 30,000 species of flowering plants, including 1,000 species of orchids, and more than 1,000 species of birds, including 50 species of humming birds alone. There are more than 1,500 species of reptiles, mammals, and amphibians as well as breeding and nesting areas for endangered sea turtles, dolphins and whales.

Discover what Mexico has to offer: take an exotic trip through the Lacandona Jungle in Chiapas explore the Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre) in Chihuahua live the adventure of going down the rapids of Veracruz in a raft fly over the state of Mexico and go sky diving share the country life of the Zapotec community in Oaxaca find unique resident and migratory bird species of unequal beauty—such as the pink flamingo—in Yucatan witness the wonderful show of the grey whales that come to mate in the Sea of Cortes or find yourself surrounded by millions of Monarch butterflies which migrate every winter from Canada to their protected reserve in Angangueo, in the state of Michoacan.

In the northern part of the country you will find the Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre), a wonderful geological formation which is four times bigger than the Colorado Canyon and where you can take different tours to explore this natural setting and live an adventure. Exuberant tropical forests are a landmark in the southern part of the country: try to visit the outskirts of Tenosique, in Tabasco. Chiapas is full of attractions: visit the Blue Mountains (Montes Azules) Biosphere Reserve, the magnificent Monte Bello Lagoons, or get on a boat to go through the Sumidero Canyon. Quetzal —the most beautiful bird in the world—can be found in El Triunfo, a biosphere reserve close to Escuintla.

The rich natural resources, privileged geographic location and biodiversity make Mexico an excellent territory to explore. You can do so by train, on foot, on horseback, in a kayak or you can go camping and mountain climbing. The canyons, plateaus, waterfalls and rivers are ideal for trekking, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, rock climbing, camping, bird watching and rappelling.  The country offers you fascinating ecosystems along its beaches and seas where you can go scuba diving, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, windsurfing, and whale-watching.

Watch the video: Ουκρανία: Επιθεώρηση στο κονβόϊ από τη Ρωσία (November 2022).

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