"El Deir ("The Monastery")" by Diego Delso via Wikimedia Commons

What many consider the greatest traces of human civilization can be found in Africa, the Cradle of civilization, most specifically in Egypt. Constructions from the pyramids and sphinx to Royal tombs of the Pharaohs are where the roots of archaeology began. While there is little that remains on the rest of the African continent, great ruins and dig sites in the Middle East in places like Jordan and Israel more than make up for it. Here you’ll find some of the most profound religious sites and ancient monuments.

  1. Jerusalem, Israel The old walled city of Jerusalem, a holy site of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is fominated by historic sites such as the Dome of the Rock, Wailing Wall, and church of the Holy Sepulchre.
  2. Ashkelon, Israel This ancient seaport was inhabited by a flurry of cultures such as the Romans, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Canaanites, Muslims, and Philistines. The city is loaded with archeological finds.
  3. The Pyramids, Egypt The largest man made structures in the world and are one of the most lasting symbols of ancient civilization. Numbering approximately 100, the stone monuments located across the Nile valley date back as many as 5,000 years.
  4. Petra, Jordan The “rose-red city half as old as time” is a rock carved city of the Nabataean culture tucked away in a narrow gorge.
  5. Tel Be’er Sheva, Israel Thought to be the Biblical city of Be’er Sheva, this world heritage site dates back 6,000 years.
  6. Timbuktu, Mali The city of Timbuktu, now threatened by the encroaching Sahara, was home to the Koranic Sankore University and other madrasas and was an intellectual and spiritual capital of Islam in North Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries.
  7. Rock-Hewn Churches, Ethiopia The 11 monolithic cave churches hewn out of rock in the 13th Century in Lalibela are an important Christian pilgrimage site.
  8. Carthage, Tunisia The ruins of the great trading empire of Carthage founded in the 9th century B.C. is one of the most important sites on the Mediterranean.
  9. Tell el-Amarna, Egypt This small city created by king Akhenaten around 1350 BC, was only occupied for a few decades, but still has some important tombs and constructions.
  10. Palmyra, Syria The ruins of this Persian city were once home to one of the greatest cultural centers of the ancient world. It was here, in the first and second centuries, that Graeco-Roman and Persian influences met.

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