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Machu Picchu…Ephesus…Chichen Itza…the Parthenon…Angkor Wat…the Roman Forum…Luxor…Petra…Stonehenge…Pompeii…all archaeological treasures reflecting the finest cultural achievements of ancient civilizations around the world. Many tours include these and other famous ruins and sites in their itineraries, while others offer travelers opportunities to engage in some amateur archaeology themselves. Whether you “dig” ancient ruins an d sites figuratively or literally, you can find a tour that will breathe new life into your appreciation of their cultures.
Tours to ancient ruins and archaeological sites around the globe offer some of the best introductions into the often remarkable achievements of past cultures. Here are some of the questions a good guide can help answer:
How did the ancient Mayans uncover their startling insights into astronomy that enabled them not just to predict when the spring and fall equinoxes would appear, but produce special effects to mark the occasion? If you visit the pyramid at Mexico’s Chichen Itza on the equinoxes, for instance, you’ll be treated to a dazzling display at sunset, when the shadow of a serpent carving appears to slither down the face of the pyramid all the way to the ground.
How did the ancient Egyptians build the Pyramids without modern technology?
What ancient culture produced the enormous religious complex of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, and why was it abandoned?
What is the history behind ancient Petra’s Treasury – carved out of red rock and so vividly featured in the Indiana Jones film "The Last Crusade"?
What gods inspired the ancient Greeks to build the Parthenon in Athens, the temples of Delos, the ruins of Delphi?
How are the best ways to interpret the symbols in ancient Native American petroglyphs (rock art)?
What is the evidence that dinosaurs once roamed the American West in great numbers?
How did Egypt and the world save the incredible archaeological treasures at Abu Simbel from flooding during the building of the Aswan Dam?
Are there still more ruins likely to be uncovered at the Roman Forum?
How did ancient Easter Islanders move multi-ton stone statues miles away from their quarries?
What is the mystery behind England’s Stonehenge?
How can travelers help prevent further damage to endangered archaeological sites?
What is working on a real archaeological dig really like?
The possibilities are almost limitless, but here’s a small sampling of some key archaeological sites and ruins around the world that you can tour:
Greece: The Acropolis (Athens); the island of Delos; Delphi; Epidaurus; Marathon; Mycenae; Olympia; Temple of Poseidon (at Cape Sounion)
Italy: The Colosseum, Forum; and Ostia Antica (Rome); Hadrian’s Villa; Pompeii; Herculaneum; Agrigento, the old city of Siracusa and Taormina’s Greek theater (Sicily)
England: Stonehenge; Hadrian’s Wall
Ireland: Skellig Michael (island); Carrowmore
France: Lascaux caves (replica)
Spain: The Alhambra (Granada); The Great Mosque (Cordoba)
Croatia: Emperor Diocletian’s Palace (Split)
Cambodia: Angkor Wat (Siam Reap)
China: Terracotta Army (Xian); The Great Wall
Japan: Kyoto’s temples; Kasuga Shrine (Nara)
India: Taj Mahal; Fatehpur Sikri; Ajanta and Ellora Caves
Nepal: Lumbini, Changu Narayan
Jordan: Petra, Wadi Rum
Israel: Old Jerusalem; Akko; Be’er Sheva; Caperneum; Herodium; Masada
Turkey: Ephesus, Pergamon
Egypt: the Pyramids of Giza and Saqqara; Temple of Karnak and Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens at Luxor, Abu Simbel at Aswan
Tunisia: Roman amphitheater at El Djem
Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe Ruins
Tanzania: Olduvai Gorge
Benin: Royal Palaces of Abomey
Peru: Machu Picchu
Chile: The Moai (Easter Island)
Mexico: Chichen Itza; Tulum; Teotihuacan
United States: Cahokia Mounds (Illinois); Capitol Reef National Park and Horseshoe Canyon, Utah; Canyon de Chelly and Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona
Canada: Writing on Stone Provincial Park (Alberta)