Category: 

What are the Oldest Cities in the World?

Varanasi, India.
Jaffa, Israel.
Jerusalem, Israel.
Many of the principles of Western Civilization were developed in the ancient Greek city state of Athens.
Two Egyptian cities are considered among the world's oldest.
The Middle East is home to some of the oldest cities in the world.
The Indian city of Delhi dates to around 3500 BCE.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Images By: n/a, n/a, n/a, Dimitris Karkanis, Pius Lee, Www.doglikehorse.com, Tupungato
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar.  more...

August 29 ,  2005 :  Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.  more...

Answering which settlements are the oldest cities in the world is fraught with debate, and guesswork. For example, how does one define city? If city is defined by population, must it be continuously inhabited in order to qualify as one of the oldest cities in the world? Must the cityin the still exist today?

One way of answering the question about which are the oldest cities in the world is to define city as a largely populous area, and further define that only cities that have been continuously populated count. However, listings are still subject to debate even when these two areas are defined.

In spite of controversy, all of these cities are extremely old:

Ad

  • Byblos in present-day Lebanon may date back as far as 5000 BCE and is considered by many to be the oldest continuously populated city.
  • Damascus in Syria has existed at least since 3000 BCE.
  • Varansi in India also dates back further than 3000 BCE.
  • Medinat Al-Fayoum in Egypt is possibly dated at 4000 BCE.
  • Gaziantep in Turkey dates back to 3650 BCE.
  • Delhi, in India, dates to about 3500 BCE.
  • Hebron in the West Bank is dated at 3500 BCE.
  • Athens in Greece dates to about 3000 BCE.
  • Luoyang, in China, dates to about 2070 BCE.
  • Arbil and Kirkuk in Iraq have dates of 2300 and earlier than 3000 BCE respectively.
  • Adana in Turkey and Jerusalem in Israel were established around 2000 BCE.
  • Hama in Syria was established before 2000 BCE.
  • Luxor/Thebes in Egypt also dates to 2000 BCE.
  • Jaffa, Israel, and Aleppo, Syria are both about 3800 years old.

Some dispute exists about excluding Jericho from the list. In its present day location, it is about 3400 years old. However, Jericho is often indicated as one of the oldest civilizations, with settlements dating back as far as 11,000 BCE. So many call Jericho one of the oldest cities in the world because some settlement has been established in or around Jericho since the shift to domestication of plants and animals.

Another possible candidate for the oldest city in the world is Catal Huyuk, a site in Turkey. It also dates approximately to the time when Jericho would have been founded, or 3000 years later, depending upon different accounts. It is near the current city of Konya, so it has not been continuously inhabited.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon325381
Post 103

The second oldest city is supposed to be Caral en Peru. It is more than 5,000 years old!

anon287998
Post 100

Currently, the earliest area of settled habitation definable as a city, is Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, with the earliest dates at circa 7500 BC.

That doesn't mean that Çatalhöyük was the first city, just the oldest discovered so far. Of all those listed belowm some have signs of habitation at the level of farms and camps, but were not cities at their earliest dated findings (most notably Jericho with 11000 BC finds).

The next oldest are all in the Mesopotamia region being in order: Eridu, Ur and Uruk.

Nothing discovered to date, prior to that, is more than a camp or village. The claims of tens of thousands to millions of years are fantasy, fiction or fable.

anon284847
Post 99

No one mentions Erivan (Armenia) - the oldest city with documented date of its foundation - 782BC!

suni
Post 97

And don't forget Cadiz, Spain, first built by the Phoenicians about 2500bce and continuously inhabited as a city since then.

anon273425
Post 96

I worked with huge numbers of ethnic groups over a 46 year period and heard so many claims about ancient cities and villages. I realize now that most history is written by whoever won the most recent war, and numbers can be widely manipulated to suit any purpose imaginable.

I traveled much of China and do believe many of their claims of 7,000 - 10,000 year old cities and villages. Their magnificent museums have a lot of elaborate documentation, with many artifacts, clothing, tools, pottery, etc.

Friends of mine from Indochina say 7,000 years in some of their cities.

Middle Eastern people often stick with 7,000 - 10,000 years and I have heard Jericho mentioned many times as one of the most ancient cities anywhere in the world.

Maybe we will never know for sure?

anon258594
Post 95

We have to consider the fact mentioned above about the bridge made as early as 1,750,000 BC., between India and Sri Lanka. It was noticed by a NASA satellite.

anon252459
Post 94

Has anybody looked at Adam's bridge photo taken by NASA? This is dated at about 175,000 years. So definitely there was a city there where people built it. It is between India and Sri Lanka.

anon251007
Post 93

Ur (in Iraq) is the oldest city in the world. This is not known to anyone but the coming days will prove it.

anon231553
Post 91

Gwader in Balochistan, or in ancient times it was the city of Gedrosia where I was born, and where Alexander the great passed away.

anon220440
Post 90

and what about Matera, Italy? It is believed to be continuously inhabited since the Middle Paleolithic!

anon183612
Post 89

Ok let us not forget asia. To those who are obsessed with egypt the mid-east and greece as i know many of us are.

It is, after all, something we all are often educated about. The asiatic areas were doing everything along with everyone else and were, i believe, just a nose ahead really, until about rome. This is just my broadened averaging out of all of it. But that's how i pretty much sum it up.

There are some areas we have not even officially touched yet like energy/energy fields (one example, chakras) and the medical science that goes along with it.

So please, i beg you, stop obsessing about other cultures long enough to look east and dig into that for a bit. And for those who may think it matters; no i am not of asian decent myself. Just had a mom who put me in check and told me about china when i started to think myself that the egyptian culture was solely the genesis of everything awesome. And let's not forget the old time seafarers. The polynesians are considered to be an asian culture also. Have fun with all that, kids.

anon157911
Post 88

Nobody knows. Excavations in the Dwarka, submerged city off the coast of India, has revealed artifacts 30000 years old.

Our history (i mean on earth) as per ancient Indian scriptures is more than 200 thousand years old. Ancient texts mention cities on the Arctic circle, Latin America, Iran, Sumeria China, Indonesia, and many many others.

If we excavate deep into the land and water, will find human history is thousand and thousands and thousands years old. Our governments and historians lie to us, just so they can control us.

anon157795
Post 87

Thanks for the information you provided. Perhaps there is a room for improvement. I have noticed the city named Array, which is one of the most historical cities with continuous habitation in Iran, was not mentioned here.

A settlement at the site goes back to the 3rd millennium BC. Rayyis mentioned in the Avesta (an important text of prayers in Zoroastrianism, as a sacred place, and it is also featured in the book of Tobit.[12] --My best regards.

anon156487
Post 86

burned city in sistan, iran.

anon156040
Post 85

Arbil (Erbil, or Irbil), Urban life at Arbil can be dated back to at least 6000 BC.

anon146396
Post 84

Beijing/Peking/Dadu/Cambuluc/Zhongdu

The earliest remnants of human habitation in the Beijing municipality are found in the caves of Dragon Bone Hill near the village of Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District, where the Peking Man lived. Homo erectus fossils from the caves date to 230,000 to 250,000 years ago. Paleolithic homo sapiens also lived there about 27,000 years ago. There were "cities" in the vicinities of Beijing by the 1st millennium BC.

anon143403
Post 82

I live in the city that's 2610 years old.That´s called Kerch (Ukraine), and the previous ancient greek name was Pantikapei. So is this. And in the list of the most ancient cities it wasn't even mentioned.

anon143391
Post 81

If we will try to focus on the city only. I think we will base from the civilization took place first. European countries have this category. But if we will based it on the biblical records I think the first place mentioned in the old testaments.

anon142329
Post 80

The oldest cities in the world are Located in Canaan: Lebanon, Syria, Palestine. Lebanon Byblos and Tyre and Sidon and Beirut are some of the oldest, also the Syrian city Damascus, and also Jerusalem in Palestine.

anon135454
Post 78

Hamadan is believed to be among the oldest Iranian cities and one of the oldest in the world. Also, it is first capital in the world.

anon134277
Post 77

If you want to know how old London is, it's 2000 - 2200 years old.

anon129365
Post 76

The oldest city on planet Earth so far discovered is Pumapunku in present day Bolivia. the age of the city is so ancient that no date can be even given. The technology used in its building is so advanced that today we do not have the same technology capable of cutting the stone in a meticulous and precise manner, not to mention the size and weight of the block stones themselves.

anon127656
Post 73

My guess is that we have yet to find it.

anon127205
Post 72

#40: You are naive to believe history doesn't matter. Most of the laws of many countries are made based on the ideas which come from religious writings. If those writings are incorrect, we should look for a new paradigm.

anon122618
Post 71

it's hard to tell and it depends on the meaning of city, plus if it's still there in our times or not.

i say South iraq "Land of the Sumerians" built the first cities in the old world. The city of Ur, city of Lagash, and city of Kish were the oldest cities in the meaning of city (populated land with settlement) and this was around 7000B.C mean 9000 years ago according to a couple of sources.

But I see numbers like 17,000 years ago. Well we can't call those people civilized. Those were mostly hunters and they didn't know the meaning of true architecture building. Their main materials were animal skin and so they build tents and later, more developed people used reeds, wood, and mud to build their houses.

The main civilization appears in mesopotamia and it started after the last ice age ended in 8000 B.C. other places on the earth were impossible to live in with -90 C degrees. Only the middle east and what we know now as Egypt.

In that place the only people were living and it all started from there, around rivers and good places for your farms.

Some archaeologists stated that the oldest city in the world was the beginning of recorded human history in the Old World to the Early Middle Ages in Europe.

The span of recorded history is roughly 6,500 years, with Cuneiform script, and the oldest discovered form of writing was in south Iraq, Uruk or Ur.

From another point of view, the meaning of a city still populated is Jèriko as the oldest city and the second oldest city with very close ranking Erbil or Howler in Kurd land north of Iraq nowadays, and in the 3rd place Damascus. Those are the oldest still standing cities in the world.

I hope I managed to give you a view with all respect to indio and southern asia and Inca cities which had also a very long history but nevertheless not the oldest ever made.

Regards. Master Student at Harvard Uni, Department of Human History.

anon117377
Post 70

Makomati is the oldest known, though I am sure there were plenty more before that we will never find. For instance. 50 million years ago is buried under earth, rock and soil. then again, if you're looking for old cities, don't rule out mars and our moon.

anon114861
Post 69

The oldest cities in the world, must with no doubt be somewhere in Mesopotamia, present day Iraq, South Eastern Turkey, West Iran and North East Syria. Most scholars agree with this. They invented almost everything.

Great civilizations like the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians all got their technology from the Mesopotamians. They've also found smaller versions of the Sphinx and pyramids which predates the bigger ones in Egypt with at least 5,000 years, I think it was 6,000 years. Mesopotamia is definitely the cradle of civilization.

anon111195
Post 68

I have traveled all over the world for 35years and i have seen over 168 countries and over 50 ancient cities! From what i have seen/read/studied/discovered

Damascus 12700 years of age; Jericho (10000 years);

Byblos (8800 years); Sidon'Saida (7600 years); Gaziantep (6000 years); Plovdiv (5500 years); Gaza Egypt (5100 years); Crocodilopolis (egypt); (4500 years); Plovdiv (4000 years); Gaziantep (3700); Rayy (3400 years); Beirut (3000 years); Jerusalem (2700 years); Tyre (2300 years); Jaffa and Aleppo (2000 years); Chania Greece (1500 years); Athens (1400 years); Varanasi India (1200 years); Ujjain India (1000 years); Samarkand (700 years); Delhi India (500 years).

anon111178
Post 67

oldest town is Bhimavaram, West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, India - Krupa dason V

anon109783
Post 65

All wrong! The oldest city in the world is the earth itself!

anon104380
Post 64

I love Kashi or Varanasi in India by the Ganges river. I travel to Varanasi once when I was a teenager in 1971 and I fell in love with the city, with Hindus, the temples and the holy river, where I took ablutions and watched the burning ghats. Al from Mexico City.

anon103858
Post 63

The holy city Kashi in India is oldest city in entire earth.It is situated in state Uttar Pradesh of India. A A description of Kashi is found in world's oldest holy book: Rugved.

Rugved is so old that nobody knows who has written about it. Look up the word Rigveda. Krunal P.

anon102904
Post 61

Pumapunku near lake Titicaca is over 17,000 years old.

anon99987
Post 60

Mehrgarh is one of the oldest cities in the Indus valley and has scientific proves of more than 7000 BC.

anon99898
Post 59

Hebron and east jerusalem are occupied cities by Israel according to the International law. So you cannot say that they are israeli cities. They are actually like Jericho located in Palestine.

anon94103
Post 58

Jericho in palestine is the oldest city of the world.

anon92279
Post 57

Plovdiv in Bulgaria is the oldest city.

anon89800
Post 56

Everyone is wrong. The oldest city in earth is Thoothukudi (in south india).

anon85266
Post 54

I think describing time lines as 'bce' just causes confusion.

Moderator's reply: This is in common usage. Please see the wiseGEEK article http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-ad-bc-bce-and-ce-in-identifying-historical-dates.htm

anon83687
Post 52

Wrong, wrong! The oldest city is Jericho situated in palestinean territories, is about 430,000 years old!

anon82726
Post 51

Madurai in Southern India is one of the oldest cities of the world.Most importantly it is continuously inhabited up till now. They have traded with Rome and Greece as early as 550 BCE.

It is widely believed an ancient civilization called Lemuria existed in Southern pacific and was subsequently destroyed by a tsunami. It is also believed the olden days Madurai was part of the old Lemuria continent.It is also believed to escape from natural disasters nomad groups started travelling eastwards 35,000,000 million years ago.Some of them reached a land called Lemuria.Madurai was part of the old Lemuria. Lemuria now lies submerged beneath the pacific ocean.

anon82253
Post 50

Amedi is the oldest city!

anon79817
Post 49

Worlds oldest city is Gaziantep (Antep) witch is a Turkish city, and not a kurdish. Get your facts right. 3650 B.C.

anon78863
Post 48

Erbil (or Arbil, Irbil, Hawler) in Kurdistan is the oldest city in the world.

anon76683
Post 46

Not one mention of Makomati known to be at least 65,000 years old with its 20,000 stone buildings and the oldest known man made structure Adams Calendar built for telling the planting seasons.

anon75441
Post 45

Gulf of Cambay in India may be the oldest, inhabited somewhere around 7500 B.C.

Green India

anon73411
Post 44

Damascus is oldest city in the world since 8000 bc.

anon73282
Post 43

varanasi, mathura and prayag are the oldest cities of world because our civilization is oldest. When many points of time as ramayana and mahabharata we used the most developed techenology.

we knew about the aeroplane (pushpak), missiles,atom bombs (brahmastra), pashupatastra (hydrogen bomb), narayanastra (which has not been developed till now).

that time rest of the world was living in caves.

anon72830
Post 42

Not only was the Indian society the oldest civilisation, but even the Indian religion and philosophy have moved east and west from India, I believe.

The Egyptian God or Tum seems to be from the ancient Sanskrit word Atma. The other earthly creatures, called Jev seems to be from Jeev in sanskrit.

There are numerous words from sanskrit which are used in European languages. I shall quote just a few- Good/ cow, pita/ pita, Mata/ mother, muter, dwaar/ door, do/ duo, tri/ three, chaturtha/ quatro, panch/ penta, sasti/ sexa, sapta/ septa, asatha/ octa, nava/ nova, danta/ danta, danta-shastra/ dentistry etc.

The last word is not surprising at all because there is evidence now that in Indus Valley towns like Mehrgarh root canal treatments were being done around 7000BCE.

So I propose an advanced race migrated from India all over the world right after the ice-age around 9000BCE and that's how the Indo-European languages were born.

The skin tone of Indians became fair due to the climate in a few thousand years, just like the Polish and Russian Jews are white compared to original Israeli Jews!

anon72428
Post 41

The ancient Peruvian city of Huaricanga (3500 BCE), Uruk in Mesopotamia (4000 BCE), Caral in Peru (2600 BCE).

ukindian
Post 39

is absolutely right! Mehrgarh of the Indus Valley civilisation (present day Baluchistan, Pakistan) could be the oldest permanent human settlement on Earth from 7000 BCE. The discovery of this city ( by a team lead by French archaeologists) has also rubbished the archaic theory by European historians (William Jones, Max Mueller etc) of the nineteenth and early twentieth century that the Vedic civilisations of India were brought by European settlers who were the aryans.

On the contrary the Indo- European languages may have actually spread around the world from the Indus-Gangetic plains.

Mehrgarh, one of the most important Neolithic (7000 BC to c. 2500 BC) sites in archaeology, lies on what is now the "Kachi plain" of today's Balochistan, Pakistan. It is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in South Asia.

In 2001, archaeologists studying the remains of two men from Mehrgarh made the discovery that the people of the Indus Valley Civilization, from the early Harappan periods, had knowledge of proto-dentistry.

anon65854
Post 36

this is wrong. It's not lebanon. the oldest city actually is damascus.

anon58349
Post 35

Jerusalem?

anon58051
Post 34

Arbil,kirkuk and Gaziniap are kurdish cities, right? when you go there its only kurds. Old kurdistan media

anon57901
Post 33

The oldest city is Tangamandapio Michoacan in Mexico

anon57765
Post 32

According to the history channel a city in Bolivia is over 17,000 years old.

anon52556
Post 31

In terms of community continuously inhabited, some of these suggestions may be right. In terms of peoples using tools and creating art, the earliest people living as related, cooperative groups have to be in Australia.

It is relatively easy to look up time lines that relate to a time before Australia was even a continent, where people were using tools and creating art in cooperative groups with religious ceremonies and division of labor.

anon52277
Post 30

I believe that Larnaca, in Cyprus is one of the oldest cities. Its history goes back 10,000 years.

anon51715
Post 29

Mehrgarh, (Urdu: م‍ﮩ‍رگڑھ ) one of the most important Neolithic (7000 BC to c. 2500 BC) sites in archaeology, lies on what is now the "Kachi plain" of today's Balochistan, Pakistan. It is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in South Asia.

For the first time in the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent, a continuous sequence of dwelling-sites has been established from 7000 BCE to 500 BCE, (as a result of the) explorations in Pirak from 1968 to 1974; in Mehrgarh from 1975 to 1985; and of Naushahro from 1985 to 1996.[5]

In 2001, archaeologists studying the remains of two men from Mehrgarh made the discovery that the people of the Indus Valley Civilization, from the early Harappan periods, had knowledge of proto-dentistry.

anon51570
Post 28

All wrong. It is Milton Keynes in the UK!

anon48431
Post 27

The oldest city in the world is Chalchuapa, the big master Guru Saint Hamad Al Marero, founded it in 15,000 before Christ, but the yankee imperialists came back from the future and destroyed all evidence of its existence. I was able to hide in their time machine when they returned to the present, and in this way I am able to convey to you the only evidence of the existence of this ancient city.

anon46947
Post 26

The oldest evidence of a city, if you define that as a permanent place of trade would be somewhere in or near the "fertile crescent". Many of the oldest continuously inhabited cities lie in or near the crescent, and new excavations often push back time lines in them all, digs in Jericho and Damascus put them as top candidates. As for previously inhabited "cities" that are even older, it must make sense that we look for evidence near the most fertile areas. I would place a river delta in that category. I would select the delta/marsh area in Southern Modern Day Iraq as being a very early stable fertile place. The evidence nearby of very old Ziggurat (temple) bases is a good indication. I would say the Ziggurat bases around Ur would be a good choice for the site of the oldest city or somewhere around there. As power moved further north so did the cities and irrigation developed further upstream starving the southern cities of water/fertility/influence leading to their demise. The mouth of the Euphrates is often talked about in many ancient texts and mythologies point to the oldest kings coming from the area. As the site is now in a US occupied war zone it maybe some time before further excavation takes place.

anon45792
Post 25

The seaport city of Ashkelon in the South District of Israel is also likely a contender for one of the oldest.

anon45592
Post 24

the oldest city is damascus.

anon44438
Post 23

It is said that Heliopolis in ancient Egypt was around in 10,500 BC, supposedly when the Sphinx was built. Who knows, but it's interesting.

anon42720
Post 22

Damascus, Syria is the oldest city of all time. Dates back to 12,000 years ago. Many kings tried to take over this land and failed.

anon40979
Post 21

Sialkot in Pakistan is 5000 years old also verified in wikipedia.

Multan in Pakistan is one of the oldest cities in entire subcontinent.

Also in Indus Valley of Pakistan has been found some very early human inhabitants traces. Pre-historic men.

anon38761
Post 20

what about the city of Arbil(heweler) that's dated back to 2300 BC or earlier

anon36383
Post 19

Jericho in Palestine

Traces of habitation from 9000 BC

Fortifications date to 6800 BC (or earlier), making Jericho the earliest known walled city. Evidence indicates that the city was abandoned several times, and later expanded and rebuilt several times.

anon36311
Post 18

how about hamedan in west of iran. it has been from 2500 bc

anon35272
Post 16

hey what about the city of Kathmandu?

anon35185
Post 15

The oldest continuously inhabited city in the West is Cadiz, Spain (2000 BC). That makes it 3,000 years old, more ancient than anything else in Western Europe.

anon17580
Post 14

I am an Indian. Top of your list Varanasi is shown. Our history education mentioned it otherwise. We knew Indus Valley Civilization is the old known in South Asia. The city of Mohenjodaro and Harappa are some 5000 years old. These cities are now in Pakistan. The editor's point of submerged city on the Gulf of Kutch (Cambay) is also correct. I was given an impression that Chinese civilization are equally old. May be Mongolian city of Ulan Bator.

May be some more research.

Regards

Asesh

anon10819
Post 13

what about tiahuanaco, scholars deem it the oldest.

anon9056
Post 12

The oldest cities in the world are all on mountain tops. Discoveries have been made of cities on top of the Zagros Mountains. Nineveh is hailed as the oldest city in Assyria. What is not known is that Nineveh is the oldest city in the entire Mesopotamia. All other cities established after Nineveh were established in a downward progression from the highlands. This is because all ancient civilizations developed in high mountains. The sea level was much higher back then. As the seas receded civilizations followed downward. See Google and youtube "The Mysterious Receding Seas" See also New York Times article "June 5th 1981 entitled or September 26 2007 entitled" Jersey Rights to Shore prove costly to Casinos" The article explains why civilizations started in high mountains.

anon9054
Post 11

I've been told India has cities over 1,000,000 years old.

Moderator's reply: well, that seems a bit far-fetched! however, some say that a submerged settlement recently discovered in the Gulf of Cambay in India may be the oldest, inhabited somewhere around 7500 BC.

anon9053
Post 10

what about Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that reputes to have the grave site of Eve.

anon8882
Post 9

How about Plovdiv, Bulgaria-about 6 000 BC.

anon7639
Post 8

Here's another! Susa, located in modern day Iran, is also one of the oldest cities in the world. It is said to date back to about 4200 BCE and possibly even 7000 BCE.

olivia
Post 7

it's great to hear readers' contributions to the list of what the oldest cities in the world are. since there are so many factors that determine what a "city" is for the purpose of researching this article, some cities may not have made it onto this list. despite this, they're still old, and still noteworthy! keep 'em coming!

anon7616
Post 6

mesopotamia wasn't a city, it was a region of land

anon7614
Post 5

I noticed that there were no references to cities (communities) in China.

A few years ago I was at a site in Shenyang, China

that was shown to be populated over 7000 years ago.

anon7613
Post 4

China claims to have many cities (villages) more than 10000 years old and their records of the inhabitants are extensive. What about northern India and northern Thailand?

protogere
Post 3

I notice you avoided listing Skara Brae, inhabited as early as 3200 BCE.

anon7602
Post 2

how about mesopotamia ... between iran and iraq ?? it's been there since 20,000 bc

anon7600
Post 1

How about the oldest continuously populated city in the Americas????

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email