10 Dream Destinations for Archeologists

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    Giza, Egypt

    Egypt's UNESCO-listed pyramid fields, extending from Giza to Dahshur, are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and it's not hard to see why. These spectacular ancient funerary monuments - temples, pyramids, stone tombs and limestone Sphinx - took colossal effort to construct given the technology of the time.

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    Angkor Complex, Cambodia

    One of Southeast Asia's most important archeological sites, the temples of Angkor were constructed during the reign of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th century but remained cloaked in dense jungle until their discovery by French archeologists during the late 18th century. Since then, thousands of smaller archeological sites have been discovered in the area, making it one of the world's largest archeological finds.

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    Machu Picchu, Peru

    Considered the most important creation by the Incan empire at the height of its power, Machu Picchu sits perched on the slopes of the Andes Mountains - a dramatic setting that adds to its beauty. The site was abandoned in the early 16th century, and scholars and archeologists have yet to unlock the mystery of its purpose. 

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    Pompeii, Italy

    On August 24, AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the Roman city of Pompeii. Archeological teams have been uncovering the ruins since the mid-18th century, making it one of the earliest archeological excavations. It also numbers among the best preserved, and walking among the unearthed structures reveals eerie details, like the negative imprints of the city's residents frozen in the very positions they died in.

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    Xian, China

    In 1974, farmers digging a well outside the city of Xian unearthed a clay head, sparking an archeological excavation that continues to this day. The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, more commonly known as the Terracotta Army, contains more than 7,000 clay-crafted statues, each one different and each weighing 300 to 400 pounds. So far, some 600 individual archeological sites have been uncovered in an area spanning 35 square miles.

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    Petra, Jordan

    A former caravan stop between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, the half-finished city of Petra was carved directly into the red sandstone cliffs. Behind the enormous Hellenistic facade lies a massive network of tunnels and gorges built by the Nabataean over 2,000 years ago. So mysteriously beautiful are the ruins that they served as an inspiration - and a filming location - for the blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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    Ephesus, Turkey

    The Temple of Artemis, another of the Seven Wonders of the World, is found on the edge of the ancient city of Ephesus. The site also witnessed important events in the early days of Christianity. Today, some 2 million visitors walk the ancient streets each year, streets where you can still see the imprints from chariot wheels or a brothel advertisement carved into the marble stone.

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    Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

    Located within the Navajo Nation in Northeastern Arizona, the archeological ruins found beneath the towering cliffs of Canyon de Chelly tell the story of the American Southwest's original residents who lived here as far back as 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest continually inhabited landscapes in the country.

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    Bagan, Myanmar

    Gaze across the plains of Bagan in modern-day Myanmar, and you'll see the tops of the more than 2,200 temples and pagodas of the Bagan Archeological Zone - the last surviving remnants of the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Pagan who ruled from the 9th to the 13th century. This massive archeological site, impressive enough to warrant a visit in its own right, is made even more appealing by its location in a part of the world only recently open to visitors.

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    Easter Island, Chile

    Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island, located off the coast of Chile, is home to a series of mysterious moai, 14-ton stone statues of heads and torsos left behind by a Polynesian society isolated from any other cultural influences for more than 1,000 years, who carved an estimated 900 of these ancestral statues during their cultural prime.  Got your favorite spot chosen?  For free travel planning help, call a travel specialist at Tripology.

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