ENVIRONMENT

Old German caves, Poland silver mines make UN heritage list

Ancient caves in west Germany with art dating back to the Ice Age and disused silver ore mines in southern Poland were among the sites that a United Nations cultural agency has added to its list of heritage treasures during its current session.

The UNESCO World Heritage List Committee added the mines and caves, and nine other sites, to the roster of places called out for special recognition on Sunday. During its 11-day session in Poland that started July 2, the committee so far has added 22 sites to the list.

The designation, which recognizes the outstanding universal values of the sites, is meant to draw attention to them and the need to preserve them.

Among the other new sites on the list are the modernist architecture in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea; the historic city of Yazd, in Iran; Japan's sacred and restricted-access island of Okinoshima, and Los Alerces National Park in Argentina.

The caves are in the western German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where archeologists have discovered ancient instruments and carvings made from mammoth ivory, including a 40,000-year-old figure known as the Venus of Hohle Fels. Historians say it is the oldest known image of a human.

The old mines in Tarnowskie Gory are an underground tourist site, visited partly by boat, and are the only industrial site that was added to the list this year.

Also added Sunday were Turkey's 3rd century B.C. Aphrodisias temple; England's Lake District and the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Heated controversies surrounded the addition to the World Heritage List of west China's Qinghai Hoh Xil mountain area, on the Tibetan Plateau, and of Hebron, which was described in the submission as a Palestinian site, drawing vehement protests from Israel.

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Online: http://whc.unesco.org/en/newproperties/