The Avebury World Heritage Site looking west from the south-east quadrant
©
The Heritage Trust
UNESCO reports that –
 
 
Created in 2003 within the framework of the Global Strategy for the balanced, representative and credible World Heritage List, as a pilot activity for the identification of the sites connected with astronomy, the Thematic Initiative on Astronomy and World Heritage, aims to establish a link between Science and Culture towards recognition of the monuments and sites connected with astronomical observations dispersed throughout all the geographical regions, not only scientific but also the testimonies of traditional community knowledge.
 

This Initiative offers to the States Parties a possibility to evaluate and recognize the importance of this specific heritage, in terms of enrichment of the history of humanity, the promotion of cultural diversity and the development of international exchanges.

It provides an opportunity not only to identify the sites connected with astronomy but also of keeping their memory alive and preserving them from progressive deterioration, through the inscription on the World Heritage List of the most representative properties.

Why “Astronomy” and World Heritage”

The sky, our common and universal heritage, forms an integral part of the total environment that is perceived by mankind. Including the interpretation of the sky as a theme in World Heritage is a logical step towards taking into consideration the relationship between mankind and its environment. This step is necessary for the recognition and safeguarding of cultural properties and of cultural or natural landscapes that transcribe the relationship between mankind and the sky.

More here. See also the Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy website which offers a, “…new integrated web portal for the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative, launched on August 24, 2012…”