The city of York has submitted a bid to become a World Heritage site.
In its proposal it says the accolade would recognise the city's 2,000 years of history.
A bid has been submitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the first step of a process that could take several years.
If successful, York would join Fountains Abbey near Ripon and Saltaire near Bradford as World Heritage sites in Yorkshire.
City archaeologist John Oxley, the author of York's application, said it would not be easy to get on to the government's shortlist for approval.
He said: "The competition, I believe, will be intense.
"It'll be quite a dogfight to get on there, but York is an outstanding place underpinned by the wonderful, immense depth of archaeological deposits we have underneath our feet."
The bid steering group said: "These archaeological deposits continually illuminate York's economic, social and cultural history - a key Roman legionary fortress, a great cathedral city, a Viking capital, a medieval regional capital, an 18th Century social hub, a 19th Century centre of industrial and scientific innovation."
Janet Hopton, steering group chairman, said: "Archaeological discovery never ceases to amaze and surprise us in what it can tell us about our past here in York.
"Only this week we had the exciting news of a large gladiators' cemetery in York.
"Gradually over the years more and more is being revealed of what lies beneath our modern city, an ever unfolding story.
"In archaeological terms, we are sitting on a gold mine."
John Yeomans, chairman of Visit York, said: "York will gain clear economic, social and tourism benefits from gaining World Heritage status. "