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Luxor Temple, Egypt, circa 1858
Francis Frith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I remember the first time I saw the Pyramids of Giza. Looming out from the desert on the outskirts of Cairo, they felt like a monumental buffer against the spreading cacophony of the Egyptian capital. It was equally mind-blowing, though in a different way, to see pictures of how they looked before the encroachment of the modern world.

And that’s what I find so romantic and humbling about these old archaeological sites: They stand in mute testament to an older time, while anchoring the present and (if I’m feeling particularly gushy) pointing towards the future. Which is another way of saying that they afford us some much-needed perspective on the nature of change and continuity.

In that spirit, we’ve dug up some old photos (and other pictures) of archaeological sites around the world, so you can see how they used to look. Enjoy!

 

Karnak Temple
Temple Complex at Karnak, Egypt, 1914
Cornell University Library – originally posted to Flickr as Temple Complex at Karnak. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru, 1912
Hiram Bingham III [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Petra
 The Petra Siq, Jordan, 1947
Michael Quentin Morton [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Pyramids of Giza
The Great Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt, 1871
M. Delie & E. Bechard [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Parthenon
The Parthenon, Greece, 1839
Gaspard-Pierre-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Philae
Philae Temple, Egypt, 1908
William Henry Goodyear [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Easter Island
Moai, Easter Island, 1775
William Hodges [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, Mexico, 1892
Teobert Maler [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

 

Colosseum
The Colosseum, Italy, 1944
Tanner (Capt), War Office official photographer [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Baalbeck
Baalbek, Lebanon, 1891
Author unknown [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

 

Stonehenge
Stonehenge, England, circa 1885
Author unknown [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, Cambodia, circa 1860
Henri Mouhot [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

 

Roman Forum
Roman Forum, Italy, 1742
Web Gallery of Art [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Teotihuacan
 Teotihuacan, Mexico, 1853
Author unknown [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons