There are 29 new sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List, the most prominent being the ancient city of Babylon. The site of the city is a partly-excavated, partly restored ruin in Iraq, but getting on the list can bring more attention and care to places that are important to history. The new additions to the list are not all that old- eight of them are buildings by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
To qualify for World Heritage status, sites must meet at least one of ten selection criteria, and securing the coveted designation can be hard work. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, for instance, said it took 15 years of “extensive, collaborative efforts” to complete the nomination process. Financial assistance is available to sites on the World Heritage List, particularly to those that are threatened. But for the most part, the designation is honorary, conferring prestige that “often helps raise awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation,” according to Unesco.
A nomination could fall through if Unesco feels that a country needs more time to bolster its management plan for a given site; according to Iliana Magra of the New York Times, that was the case this year for Jamaica’s Underwater City of Port Royal, also known as the Sunken Pirate City due to its history as a swashbucklers’ hub. Babylon, a major historic site, has only now been included on the Heritage List because in the past “it hasn’t been treated very well,” writes NPR’s Jane Arraf.