ARCHES Backstories: additional endangered objects and sites

Scroll down to the bottom of these Smarthistory essays to read about the threatened status of these objects and sites, as well as the preservation and restoration efforts currently underway.


Warka (Uruk) Vase, Uruk, Late Uruk period, c. 3500-3000 B.C.E., 105 cm high (National Museum of Iraq)
One of the most precious artifacts from Sumer, the Warka Vase was looted and almost lost forever.

Warka Vase


Nasca culture
These images carved into the desert floor cannot be truly appreciated from the ground—so who were they made for?

Nasca Geoglyphs


These records tell us a great deal about the ancient world, with topics ranging from receipts to school assignments.

Cuneiform Tablets






Capitoline Brutus, 4th-3rd century B.C.E. bronze, 69 cm (Capitoline Museums, Rome)
Once identified as the founder of the Roman Republic, debate over this figure’s true identity rages on.

Capitoline Brutus





West niche, c. 6th-7th c C.E., stone, stucco, paint, Bamiyan, Afghanistan, Buddha destroyed 2001 (photo: Carlos Ugarte, CC BY-NC 2.0)
These colossal figures presided over the Bamiyan Valley for over 1000 years; the Taliban demolished them in 2001.

Bamiyan Buddhas


Feathered headdress
The Mexica were long-distance traders, and Tenochtitlan received luxury goods from distant conquered cities.

Aztec feathered headdress




Mogao caves
Located at a desert crossroads along the Silk Road, these famous caves boast wall paintings and colorful sculpture.

Mogao caves at Dunhuang


Machu Picchu
The Inka emperor hosted feasts, performed religious ceremonies, and ruled his empire from this remote citadel.

Machu Picchu


The Paracas Textile
This nearly 2000-year-old old textile survives thanks to the arid environment of southern Peru where it was buried.

The Paracas Textile




The Taj Mahal
This huge white-marble mausoleum is recognized the world over for its splendor, symmetry, and stunning gardens.

The Taj Mahal


Saint-Trophime, Arles (France) - detail of sinners
On the doorway, sinners shuffle to their doom. Beneath, hellfire burns—its brighter, now, thanks to restoration.

Saint Trophime, Arles


Temple of Portunus (formerly known as Fortuna Virilis), travertine, tufa, and stucco, c. 120-80 B.C.E., Rome
This small temple is a rare surviving example from the Roman Republic. It is both innovative and traditional.

Temple of Portunus, Rome


The Great Pyramids of Giza
Rising out of the Western Desert—the only remaining monument of the Seven Wonders, the Great Pyramids.

The Great Pyramids of Giza