In the course of the development of civilization, people united their scattered dwellings. So there were cities. History erected great settlements and just as mercilessly washed them from the face of the Earth. Only a few cities could go through the centuries, having transferred all the blows of fate. The walls stood under the sun and rain, they saw how the epochs came and went.
These cities became dumb witnesses of how our civilization revived and fell into decay. Today, not all great cities of the past continue to give shelter to people, many simply lay in ruins or even disappeared from the face of the Earth.
The British newspaper The Guardian selected 15 of the world’s oldest cities, each with its own unique architecture and unusual history. These places have such an ancient history that only approximate dates can be given, historians are arguing around them. So where does a person live continuously the longest? Jericho, Palestinian Territories.
This settlement appeared here 11 thousand years ago. This is the oldest residential city in the world, which was repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. Jericho is also known in ancient texts as the “city of palm trees”. Archaeologists have found here the remains of 20 successive settlements, which allowed to determine the venerable age of the city. The city is located near the Jordan River, on the west bank. Even today there live about 20 thousand people. And the ruins of the ancient Jericho are located west of the center of the modern city. Archaeologists were able to find here the remains of a large tower from the time of the pre-ceramic Neolithic (8400-7300 BC). Jericho keeps the burials of the period of the Chalcolithic, the city walls of the Bronze Age. Perhaps, they fell from the loud pipes of the Israelites, giving rise to the phrase “Jericho pipes”. In the city you can find the ruins of the winter palace-residence of King Herod the Great with swimming pools, baths, magnificently decorated halls. There is also a mosaic on the floor of the synagogue, belonging to the V-VI centuries. And at the foot of the hill Tel-as-Sultan is the source of the prophet Elisha. Historians believe that in the neighboring hills of Jericho, many archeological values, comparable to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, are hidden.
Settlement in this place is already about 7 thousand years old. The city of Hebal, mentioned by the Bible, was founded by the Phoenicians. His other name, Byblos (Byblos), he received from the Greeks. The fact is that the city supplied them with papyrus, which was called in Greek “biblos”. The city is known from the 4th millennium BC. Biblé became famous for his temples of Baal, the cult of the god Adonis was born here. It was from here that it spread to the territory of Greece. The ancient Egyptians wrote that it was in this city that Isis found the body of Osiris in a wooden box. The main tourist attractions of the city are the ancient Phoenician temples, the church of St. John the Baptist, built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, the city castle and the remains of the city wall. Now here, 32 kilometers from Beirut, is the Arab city of Jebeil.
Archaeologists believe that people settled here in 4300 BC. Today, this city is the most populated in Syria, the number of inhabitants in it is close to 4 million. Previously, it was known under the names Khalpe or Halibon. For many centuries, Aleppo was the third largest city in the Ottoman Empire, second only to Constantinople and Cairo. Origin of the name of the city to the end is unclear. Presumably “haleyb” means copper or iron. The fact is that in ancient times there was a large center for their production. In Aramaic, “halaq” means “white”, which is due to the color of the soil in this area and the abundance of marble. And his current name Aleppo received from the Italians, who visited here with the crusades. About the ancient Aleppo testify Hittite inscriptions, inscriptions of Marie in the Euphrates, in central Anatolia and in the city of Ebla. These ancient texts speak of the city as an important military and commercial center.For the Hittites, Aleppo was of particular importance, since it was the center of worship of the god of weather. Economically, the city has always been an important place. There was the Great Silk Road. Aleppo has always been a tasty morsel for the invaders – it belonged to the Greeks, Persians, Assyrians, Romans, Arabs, Turks and even Mongols. It was here that the great Tamerlane ordered the erection of a tower of 20,000 skulls. With the opening of the Suez Canal, the role of Aleppo as a shopping center has become less. Currently, this city is experiencing a revival, this is one of the most beautiful places in the Middle East.
Many believe. What exactly is Damascus worthy of the title of the oldest city in the world. Although there is an opinion that people lived here 12,000 years ago, another date of settlement – 4300 BC looks more truthful. The medieval Arab historian Ibn Asakir in the XII claimed that after the World Flood the Damascus Wall was the first wall erected. He himself attributed the birth of the city to the 4th millennium BC. The first historical evidence of Damascus dates back to the 15th century BC. Then the city was under the rule of Egypt and its pharaohs. Later Damascus was part of Assyria, the New Babylonian kingdom, Persia, the empire of Alexander the Great, and after his death in the Hellenistic kingdom of the Seleucids. The heyday of the city came in the era of Aramaic. They created a whole network of water canals in the city, which today are the basis of modern water supply networks in Damascus. City agglomeration today has 2.5 million people. In 2008, Damascus was recognized as the cultural capital of the Arab world. Susa, Iran.
Settlement in this place is already 6200 years old. And the first traces of man in Susa refer to as early as 7000 BC. The city is located on the territory of the modern province of Khuzestan, which is in Iran. In the history of Susa entered, as the capital of the ancient state of Elam. The Sumerians wrote about the city in their early documents. So, the writings of “Enmerkar and the Ruler of Aratta” say that Susa was dedicated to the deity Inanna, the patroness of Uruk. Repeated mention of the ancient city is in the Old Testament, especially often its name is found in the Scriptures. Here lived the prophets Daniel and Nehemiah during the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC, in the city of Esther became the queen and saved from persecution by the Jew. The state of the Elamites ceased to exist with the victories of Ashurbanipal, Susa himself was plundered, which happened not for the first time. The son of Cyrus the Great made Susa the capital of the Persian kingdom. However, this state ceased to exist, thanks to Alexander the Great. The city lost its former importance. Susa later went through the destruction of Muslims and Mongols, as a result of life in him barely flickered. Today the city is called Shusha, it has about 65 thousand people.
This city has a history of 6 millennia. It is located south-west of Cairo, in the oasis of the same name, occupying part of the Crocodile Field. In this ancient place, the Egyptians worshiped the sacred Sebek, the crocodile god. In Feiume loved to visit the pharaohs of the 12th dynasty, then the city was called Shedit. This fact follows from the remains of the funeral pyramids and temples found by Flinders Petri. In Faiyum there was that same famous Labyrinth, which Herodotus described. In this area, in general, quite a few archaeological finds have been found. But world fame went to Fayyum’s drawings. They were made using the technique of enacoustics and were funerary portraits of the times of Roman Egypt. Currently, the population of the city of El Fayyum is more than 300 thousand people.
People founded their first settlement here in 4000 BC. Settled Sidon 25 kilometers south of Beirut on the Mediterranean coast. This city was one of the most significant and old Phoenician cities. It was he who was the heart of that empire. In the X-IX centuries BC. Sidon was the largest trading center of that world.In the Bible he was called the “firstborn of Canaan”, the brother of the Amorite and the Hittite. It is believed that in Sidon there were both Jesus and the Apostle Paul. And in 333 BC. The city was captured by Alexander the Great. Today the city is called Saida, it is inhabited by Shiite Muslims and Sunnis. This is the third largest city in Lebanon with a population of 200 thousand people.
This city also originated 4 thousand years BC. Today it is the second largest in Bulgaria and one of the oldest in Europe. Even Athens, Rome, Carthage and Constantinople are younger than Plovdiv. Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus said that the first name for this settlement was given by the Thracians – Eumolpiada. In 342 BC. The city was conquered by Philip II of Macedonia, the father of the legendary conqueror. In honor of himself, the king called the settlement Philipopolis, the Thracians also pronounced this word as Pulpudeva. Since VI century, the city began to control the Slavic tribes. In 815 he entered the First Bulgarian Kingdom under the name of Põldin. The next few centuries, these lands passed from hand to hand from the Bulgarians to the Byzantines, until for a long time it was captured by the Ottoman Turks. Four times in Plovdiv came the crusaders, who plundered the city. Now the city is an important cultural center. There are many ruins here, which testify to a rich history. The Roman aqueduct and amphitheater, as well as the Ottoman baths, stand out. About 370 thousand people live in Plovdiv now.
This settlement appeared around 3650 BC. It was located in the south of Turkey, next to the Syrian border. His history takes Gaziantep since the time of the Hittites. Until February 1921, the city was called Antep, and the Turkish parliament gave the Gazi prefix to the inhabitants for their services during the battles for the country’s independence. Today there are more than 800 thousand people. Gaziantep is one of the most important ancient centers in the southeast of Anatolia. This city lies between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia. Here the roads crossed between the south, north, west and east, and the Great Silk Road passed. Until now, Gaziantep can be found historical relics of the time of the Assyrians, the Hittites, the era of Alexander the Great. With the flowering of the Ottoman Empire and the city experienced a time of prosperity.
In Beirut people began to live 3 thousand years before the birth of Christ. Today, this city is the capital of Lebanon, the economic, cultural and administrative center of the country. And Lebanon was laid by the Phoenicians, choosing a stony ground in the middle of the Mediterranean coast of modern Lebanon. It is believed that the name of the city came from the word “birot”, meaning “well.” For a long time, Beirut remained in the background in the background, behind the more important neighbors – Tire and Sidon. Only in the era of the Roman Empire the city became influential. There was a famous law school, which developed the basic postulates of the Code of Justinian. Over time, this document will become the basis of the European system of law. In 635, Beirut was occupied by the Arabs, including the city in the Arab Caliphate. In 1100 the city was captured by the Crusaders, and in 1516 – by the Turks. Until 1918, Beirut was part of the Ottoman Empire. In the last century the city with a glorious history became an important cultural, financial and intellectual center in the Eastern Mediterranean. And since 1941 Beirut became the capital of a new independent state – the Lebanese Republic.
Jerusalem, Israel / Palestinian Territories.
This great city was undoubtedly founded in 2800 BC. Jerusalem could become both the spiritual center of the Jewish people, and the third holy city of Islam. The city has a large number of important religious sites, including the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher of Al-Aqsa. Not surprisingly, Jerusalem was constantly trying to win. As a result, the city’s history includes 23 sieges, 52 attacks. It was captured 44 times and destroyed 2 times.The ancient city lies on the watershed between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, in the spurs of the Judean Mountains at an altitude of 650-840 meters above sea level. The first settlements in this area date back to the 4th millennium BC. In the Old Testament, Jerusalem is spoken of as the capital of the Jebusites. This population lived in Judea even before the Jews. It was they who founded the city, populating it originally. The mention of Jerusalem is also found in the Egyptian statuettes of the XX-XIX centuries BC. There among the curses hostile cities mentioned and Rushalimum. In the XI century BC. Jerusalem was occupied by Jews who proclaimed it the capital of the kingdom of Israel, and from the 10th century BC. – The Jewish. After 400 years, the city was conquered by Babylon, then the Persian Empire ruled them. Many times Jerusalem changed the hosts – they were Romans, Arabs, Egyptians, Crusaders. From 1517 to 1917, the city was part of the Ottoman Empire, and then passed under the jurisdiction of Britain. Now Jerusalem with a population of 800 thousand people is the capital of Israel.
This city was founded in 2750 BC. Tire was a famous Phoenician city, a major shopping center. The date of its foundation was called by Herodotus himself. And there was a settlement in the territory of modern Lebanon. In 332 BC. Tire was taken by the armies of Alexander the Great, it took a seven-month siege. From 64 BC. Tire became a Roman province. It is believed that for a while there lived the apostle Paul. In the Middle Ages, Tire was recognized as one of the most impregnable fortresses in the Middle East. It was in this city in 1190 that Friedrich Barbarossa, the King of Germany and the Holy Roman Emperor, was buried. Now on the site of the great ancient settlement stands a small town of Sur. It does not matter much anymore, trade began to be conducted through Beirut.
This settlement is already 4300 years old. It is located north of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Erbil is the capital of the Iraqi unrecognized state of Kurdistan. This city throughout its history belonged to different peoples – Assyrians, Persians, Sassanids, Arabs and Turks. Archaeological research confirmed that people lived in this locality without a break for more than 6 thousand years. The hill of the Citadel is the most evocative of all this. It represents the remains of former settlements. Around him was a wall, which was created in pre-Islamic times. When Erbil was under the rule of the Persians, the Greek sources called him Havel or Arbel. Through it passed the Tsar’s road, which ran from the very center of the Persian center to the coast of the Aegean Sea. Erbil was also a staging post on the Great Silk Road. Until now, the ancient city citadel 26 meters high is visible from afar.
This city appeared in 2200 BC. It is 250 kilometers north of Baghdad. Kirkuk is located on the site of the ancient Hurri and Assyrian capital Arrapha. The city had an important strategic position, so it was fought immediately by three empires – Babylon, Assyria and Media. It was they who for a long time divided the control over Kirkuk. Even today there are still ruins that are 4 thousand years old. The modern city, thanks to its proximity to the richest deposit, became the oil capital of Iraq. Today, there are about a million people.
This ancient city appeared around the 15th century BC. Balkh became the first major settlement that the Indo-Aryans created during their transition from the Amu Darya. This city has become a large and traditional center of Zoroastrianism, it is believed that it was here that Zarathustra was born. In the late antiquity Balkh became already an important center of Hinayana. Historians told that in the 7th century there were more than a hundred Buddhist monasteries in the city, only 30,000 monks lived in them. The largest temple was Navbahar, its name means “new monastery” in Sanskrit. There was a huge statue of Buddha.In 645, the city was first captured by the Arabs. However, they left Balkh after the robbery. In 715, the Arabs returned here, having settled in the city for a long time. The further history of Balkh was known by the arrival of the Mongols and Timur, nevertheless even Marco Polo, describing the city, called him “great and worthy”. In the 16th and 19th centuries, Persia, the Bukhara Khanate and the Afghans fought for Balkh. Bloody wars ended only with the transition of the city under the authority of the Afghan Emir in 1850. Today, this place is considered to be the center of the cotton industry, it is good for skin, getting “Persian Sheepskin”. And there are 77 thousand people living in the city.