List of the oldest, still surviving, towns and cities in the world

Posted in Geography

This is a list of the oldest, still surviving, towns and cities in the world.

There are some points of contention here and care should be taken when using the list below. The cities have been listed because either the archaeological record has shown, or documents have supported the claim, that the settlement was in existence at the time given. However, presence here should in no way indicate that there is total consensus over the date the city was founded - differences in opinion can result from different definitions of "city" (usually relating to the population size" as well as "continuously inhabited" (relating to changing population size; changes in location and changes in name).

Additionally, where an approximate date has been given, the date was treated as the lower end of the estimate for the purposes of the table.

The definition of "continuously inhabited city" for the purposes of this list was that there must be evidence to show that the city had been constantly settled by a population of more than 250 for the entire time since the date shown. This is different from there simply being 'evidence of human occupation in the area' and that it may well be different from the numerous other definitions of the term 'city' that are in use. In spite of all this, several cities listed here (Varanasi, Aleppo, Arbil, Byblos and Hebron) each claim to be 'the oldest city in the world'.

Rank Name Location Approximate time founded
1 Byblos Lebanon 5,000 BC
2 Jericho West Bank, Palestinian territories 9,000BC
3 Sanliurfa (as Edessa) Turkey
4 Susa Iran (Persia) 4200 BC (As a city, up to 7500 years of inhabitation)
5 Sidon Lebanon Earlier than 4,000 BC
6 Medinat Al-Fayoum (as Crocodilopolis or Arsinoe) Egypt 4,000 BC
7 Yerevan Armenia 4,000 BC
8 Gaziantep Turkey 3,650 BC
9 Hebron West Bank, Palestinian territories 3,500 BC
10 Beirut Lebanon Earlier than 3,000 BC
11 Damascus Syria Earlier than 3,000 BC
12 Varanasi India Earlier than 3,000 BC
13 Harappa Pakistan 3,300 BC
14 Athens Greece 3,000 BC
15 Tyre Lebanon 2,750 BC
16 Xinzheng China 2,700 BC
17 Mohenjo-daro Pakistan 2,600 BC
18 Delhi India 2,500 BC
19 Arbil Iraq Before 2,300 BC
20 Kirkuk (As 'Arrapha') Iraq 2,200-3,000 BC
21 Adana Turkey c. 2,000 BC
22 Hama (as Hamath) Syria Before 2,000 BC
23 Jerusalem Israel, West Bank 2,000 BC
24 Luxor (as Thebes/Weset) Egypt c. 2,000 BC
25 Jaffa Israel 1,800 BC
26 Aleppo Syria 1,800 BC
27 Kutaisi Georgia 1,700 BC
28 Cholula Mexico 1,700 BC
29 Asyut Egypt Before 1,500 BC
30 Gaza Gaza Strip Before 1,500 BC

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