Some of these cities existed before written history, and before mankind existed on Earth, at least according to the Bible. But before religion, and before written history, ancient cultures around the world built massive cities, extremely old cities.
And when we talk about the oldest cities on Earth, we mean the oldest continuously inhabited cities. Note that different sources have different dates for the cities.
Starting off with what many claim is to be the oldest city on the surface of the planet: Jericho.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Joshua 6:2-5
Traces of habitation: 9000 BC.
The ruins of Jericho. Image Credit: Shutterstock
Fortifications date to 6800 BC (or earlier), making Jericho the earliest known walled city on the surface of the planet.
Jericho is believed to have been continuously inhabited from 9,000 BC. Archaeologists have unearthed more than 20 remains of successive settlements, which are said to go back as far as 11,000 years. Jericho is mentioned in the biblical and is located on the banks of the Jordan River, at the bottom of the slope that leads to the mountainous plateau of Judah, about 8 km from the northern coast of the Dead Sea dry basin, almost 240 m below the level of the Mediterranean Sea and approximately 27 km from Jerusalem.
Some say it isn’t Jericho, but Damascus the oldest city on Earth.
This ancient city was established sometimes between 10,000 and 8,000 BC, and many authors argue Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city on Earth.
Consisting of a maze of narrow alleys, the walled city of Damascus characterized by stunning ancient doors leading into radiant courtyards and blank-faced houses.
Damascus is commonly known in Syria as ash-Sham and nicknamed the “Jasmine City” it is the capital and the second largest city in Syria after Aleppo.
Byblos is believed to have been inhabited since 5,000 BC and is considered by many authors the third oldest continuously inhabited city on Earth. It is believed that it was founded around the year 5000 BC, and according to sources attributed to the Phoenician historian Sanjuniatón, was built by Crono, and was the first Phoenician city.
This ancient metropolis was founded by the Phoenicians, despite the fact that its name was given to it by Greeks, who imported large amounts of papyrus from it.
In fact, the English word ‘bible’ derives from Byblos.
Aleppo in Syria is another ancient city worth including in our list of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on Earth.
Ruins of the Ancient city of Aleppo. Image Credit: Shutterstock
According to scholars, this ancient city was inhabited from around 4,300 BC. It’s currently Syria’s most populated city with around 4.4 million inhabitants.
The ancient city was founded around 4,300 BC as Halab, and the ruins of the ancient city have not been excavated nor studied by experts.
During the city’s long history, Aleppo was under Hittite control until around 800 BV, after which it passed to Assyrian, Greek, and Persian hands. It was also occupied by the Romans, Byzantines, and Arabs. The city of Aleppo was besieged by the Crusaders and was also invaded by the Mongols and Ottomans. In modern times, the city is a war zone, and most of its history has been lost in conflict.
The ancient city of Sidon, another wonder of the ancient world.
Considered as one of the most important ancient Phoenician cities, Sidon is located some 40 kilometers south of Beirut. According to experts, archaeological excavations have found evidence of human occupation since 4,000 BC. Before being captured by the Assyrians, this city was the capital of the Elamite Empire. It was also ruled by Cyrus the Great. It currently has a population of around 65,000 people.
Featured image credit:
Aleppo Syria depicted by the great Ottoman cartographer and artist Matrakçı Nasuh.