Unesco slams the new 7 wonders list

Lisbon: The UN body for culture on Sunday blasted a private initiative that drew nearly 100 million Internet and telephone voters to choose seven "new" wonders of the world.

"This campaign responds to other criteria and objectives than that of Unesco in the field of heritage," said Sue Williams, the spokeswoman for Unesco, the UN cultural body that designates world heritage sites. "We have a much broader vision," she said.

Short-listed sites that missed the final cut included the Acropolis in Athens; Paris' Eiffel Tower; the Easter Island statues; Britain's Stonehenge; Cambodia's Angkor Wat temples; New York's Statue of Liberty; and the Alhambra in Spain. Christian Manhart, Unesco's press officer, criticised the ballot, saying it sent out a "negative message to countries whose sites have not been retained."

All of these wonders obviously deserve a place on the list, but what disturbs us is that the list is limited to just seven," he said, that "seven were adequate in Antiquity because the Antique world was much smaller," onlycomprising the regions around the Mediterranean.

The privately-sponsored campaign was the brain child of a Swiss filmmaker and museum curator Bernard Weber, following the destruction of Afghanistan's giant Buddha statues at Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001, and part of the money made on Saturday's ceremony was to go towards rebuilding the sculptures.

But Manhart said "Unesco is not in favour of rebuilding," pointing out that remains of the old statues stay in the rocky niches . "If you build new statues you destroy those remains," he said. In light of the strong Islamist presence, Manhart also insisted it would be difficult to rebuild another reli gion's "idols".

New Seven Wonders: Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, Statue of Christ Redeemer, Chichen Itza pyramid, the Great Wall of China, the Colosseum in Rome and Jordan's Petra.

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