Of Henges and Heritage

From July 25th through August 3rd the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is meeting in Brazil to consider additions to the list of World Heritage sites. In countries with limited resources or political will, having a site put on the World Heritage list can mean the difference between preservation and destruction (it can also mean welcome tourist dollars). Many of the sites that modern Pagans make pilgrimage to, or think of as their spiritual and religious heritage, the Acropolis, Delphi, Stonehenge, Avebury, and Bath, are all Heritage sites. This year Ireland’s government is nominating the Hill of Tara, along with several other sites, for consideration. In anticipation of this, they’ve debuted a new website featuring the already-listed and “tentative” Heritage sites.

Seven Wonders

Yesterday, the New7Wonders Foundation named the new seven wonders of the world after a worldwide Internet/phone poll. The list, which updates the seven wonders of the ancient world, includes the Great Wall of China, the Roman Colloseum in Italy, and the Christ Redeemer statue in Brazil (full list). But this Internet-age poll has angered and disappointed many, with criticisms coming from all corners. UNESCO, which runs the World Heritage program, has taken pains to point out that it has no part in this contest, that the contest in biased, and that it in no way helps preserve ancient sites.”UNESCO’s objective and mandate is to assist countries in identifying, protecting and preserving World Heritage. Acknowledging the sentimental or emblematic value of sites and inscribing them on a new list is not enough …