Very little stays a secret nowadays, not least when it comes to the world's ancient sites. After all, in the big business of the tourist industry we're constantly bombarded with information about great things to see and do. Yet, whether they've only recently been discovered, have been underrated or have just plain been ignored, some ancient sites have slipped through the net.
Indeed there are some ancient sites which remain hidden, at least from the usual track of tourists and tour operators. Here, history travel website Historvius.com lists ten of these hidden ancient gems.
Text and captions courtesy of Historvius.com.
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Not far from the buzz of Cairo but seemingly a world away is the ancient Egyptian site of Dahshur. Part of a military base until 1996, it seems that Dahshur has managed to retain its secretive edge. For, despite boasting some of Egypt’s oldest pyramids, it is still relatively quiet. Those who visit Dahshur are greeted by sites such as the skewed Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, probable burial site of the pharaoh Sneferu. Over time, more and more of these pyramids are being opened to the public, making Dahshur an up and comer in the world of historic sites. (AP)
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If something can be hidden in plain sight, then the Crypte Archeologique is it. With its entrance just outside the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris, one would think this ancient site would be thronging with tourists. Yet, because this is an underground attraction with an unassuming stairway as the only hint of its existence, it seems to escape the notice of anyone not seeking it out. Inside Paris’ Archaeological Crypt are the remains of the city’s Roman predecessor, the ancient city of Lutetia, which grew from the first century BC. A fascinating site and great place to spend an hour or so, this is a real treat for any Roman history fan. (Getty)
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It would seem difficult, if not slightly strange, to categorize the Great Wall of China as a hidden ancient site. After all, this amalgamation of ancient defensive walls first brought together under the Qin Dynasty is one of the world’s most famous landmarks. Yet, having once stretched for over 5,500 miles, it is not the Great Wall itself but certain parts of it which remain unknown. So, while most tourists visit the wall at Bādálǐng, there are several other spots at which you can find less crowded segments of this fantastic site. For example, around 90km outside Beijing and accessible by public transport is the stunning section at Mutianyu. (AP)
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Ancient burial ground to the Athenian elite and one time home of the potters of early Greece, Kerameikos is an archaeological gem. Its streets of tombs contain graves dating from the third millennium BC right through to the sixth century AD, when the Romans used it. Also visible here are the remains of the city wall and some of its gates, starting point for the ancient festival of the Panathenaic procession. Only in Athens, capital of ancient Greek ruins, could such a wonder be overshadowed. (AP)
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Site of a great Thracian sanctuary which transformed into a thriving Roman town, the history of Perperikon is a heady mix of legend and fact. Once renowned for its prophecies - Alexander the Great himself is said to have received an important divination here - Perperikon met its end in the fourth century AD, when it was destroyed by the Goths. Today, the ruins of this ancient wonder sprawl across the rocky landscape of southern Bulgaria and include, amongst other things, the remains of palaces, tombs and an acropolis. (Getty)
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Located in a small village in northern Ethiopia, the Yeha Temple is believed to have been founded in around 700AD, putting it in the running to be the country’s oldest surviving building. Later used as a church, parts of this once ancient temple remain in an excellent state of preservation. (Jialiang Gao, commons.wikimedia.org)
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The Mesopotamian city of Qatna was a commercial and political hub located in between the Mitanni and Egyptian empires and which even became a local kingdom in 1600BC. Located in modern day Syria, this site has until recently been entirely closed to the public. There are plans to open the whole complex as an archaeological park by 2013, but for now visitors can enjoy a newly opened section of the palace which houses the remains of an ancient well. (Photo: Bertramz, wikimedia.commons.org)
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Amidst miles of desert and without a hint of tourist trail in sight is a magnificent remnant of Roman history - Qasr Bashir. Once a base for Roman soldiers to assure the security of the surrounding area, this ancient treasure now watches over a silent landscape. Originally built in the early fourth century AD, this Roman fort has been utterly forgotten by time and, as a result, is beautifully preserved with two story towers and some of its walls rising to an impressive height of up to 20 feet. This site is of particular interest to fans of author Simon Scarrow, whose novel Eagle in the Sand is set there. (AP)
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In archaeological terms, the Mexican city of Oaxaca is renowned for Monte Alban. Indeed, with its pretty ruins built by several ancient cultures, this stunning feat of engineering is all the more impressive when you consider that its sites were built at 1,600 feet. Yet, so incredible is this famous site that it dwarfs everything around it, not least Yagul. First inhabited in around 500BC, Yagul continued to be used for centuries, even up to the Spanish conquest. The result is a great mix of sites, including a well preserved Zapotec ball court and palace. (Getty)
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From ancient baths and villas to a burial site and even a theatre, the remains of the once prosperous Greco-Roman port of Leukaspis have much to offer both tourists and history buffs. Only just opened to the public, this rare classical site in Egypt is still a relatively safe secret, but not for long. With its location set within one of the country’s most luxurious new resorts and with plenty of other attractions nearby, this is set to become a tourist hotspot. (Photo: Ancient graffiti in Leukaspis; AP)