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UNESCO is an international organization, founded in 1945, dedicated to the identification and safeguarding of all sites - historic, artistic, landscape or natural - identifiable as part of the shared heritage of humanity and threatened with destruction or radical transformation. Since 1972, the year of the creation of the World Heritage Foundation, UNESCO has identified and declared as the inalienable heritage of humanity some 600 places, ranging from natural sanctuaries and man-made landscapes to whole urban centres, archaeological areas and individual monuments. This is the first volume in a three-volume series jointly published by Skira with UNESCO. The aim of the series is to illustrate and describe these valuable sites and to establish them as a shared and universal heritage of contemporary society. This rich volume presents 46 emblematic archaeological areas and urban centres, including places of worship, urban settlements, and historic and architectural complexes, which, in their entirety, constitute an ideal tour of the history, cultures and manifold creative expressions of humanity. Each site is documented with an array of colour reproductions and a rich explanatory text. The volume is completed by the charter map of the World Heritage Foundation and includes a complete list, with justification for inclusion, of the archaeological sites and urban centres identified by the international organization. With this instrument for learning and understanding, and through a particularly rich selection of images, places of all sorts, distant in time and space, can be found together in a singular and fascinating collection devoted to the complex paths of human history and culture: a true heritage of every nation and every individual. Two more volumes in the series will follow: Great Monuments (2004) and Sanctuaries of Nature (2005).
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About the Author

Valerio Terraroli - professor of History of Contemporary Art and of History of Modern Decorative Arts at the University of Turin - is the author of numerous essays and volumes dedicated to decorative arts in Italy such as Milano Deco (1998, Skira) and the Skira Dictionary of Modern Decorative Arts 1851-1942 (2001, Skira). He has also edited Le arti decorative in Lombardia nell'eta moderna 1480-1780 (vol. I), 1780-1940 (vol. II) edited by Skira (1999).

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