The ranking of the 10 most ancient Cities of the world

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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Archaeological remains of ancient inhabited centers testify that there are places in the world that have resisted for millennia to the adversities of time, to the attacks inflicted by history, becoming historical heritage of inestimable value and fascinating tourist attractions. One of the things that most fascinates is knowing that many of those millenary places, those roads trampled by ancient populations, have never been abandoned. The date of birth of many cities is still the subject of dispute for many historians. So let's see which are the oldest cities, those that have managed to withstand the passing of centuries allowing the peoples of today to relive their legend and history.

NB: The following ranking is not based on official data, therefore it is subject to continuous revisions and updates. We invite you to notify us of any changes and corrections in the comments, attaching your sources. We will be happy to evaluate possible additions. Thanks to all for the valuable contribution.

10 - Varanasi (India): 3.500 years

Sacred city to Hindus and also one of the oldest (the settlement dates back to 1200 BC) and inhabited in the world. At the time of the Vedas it was called Kashi, then it became Varanasi, from the Varuna (which flows to the north) and Assi (which flows to the south) rivers and then deformed by the English, who could not pronounce its name well, in Benares. Mark Twain he wrote:
Benares is older than history, older than tradition, more than legend and seems twice as old as all of this put together Today is Varanasi again, one of the most fascinating cities in India, a holy city in Shiva. Today the city, very chaotic, does not preserve any of the stones of its ancient past, but you can still breathe, see, live millennial and immutable rites. Varanasi is a place where people come on pilgrimage for the sacred baths in the Ganges river. According to the Hindus, the Ganges River is the river of heaven and paradise; every Hindu, at least once in his life, must go to Varanasi, and immerse himself in the waters of the Ganges, making at least 5 ghats (flights of stone stairs that end in the water of the Ganges) to wash and cleanse of sins. At sunset, around 18pm, it is time for the Puja, when the sun and light are offered to the river with chants, mantras, played shells, cymbals and thousands of luminous votive offerings floating on the water of the great river.

9 - Jerusalem (Israel): 4.000 years

Sacred and eternal city, built thousands of years ago, of great historical and geopolitical importance, holy city for Jews and Christians and third holy city in order of importance, later Mecca e Medina, for Islam.
The history of Jerusalem dates back to the Stone Age, but is mentioned only in the second millennium BC on Egyptian texts and in some letters from 1400 BC; the city remained under the Amorrite dominion of the Jebusites (around the year 1.000 BC) until conquest by David who made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom.

8 - Damascus (Syria): 4.500 years

Founded around 2.500 BC, located inside theGhouta oasis capital of Syria among the cities still inhabited, it is considered by many to be the oldest in the world. The unique charm of the city is determined by the artistic testimonies that date back to very ancient times; a mix of cultures, Byzantine, Arab, Ottoman have left evidence of a past made of mystery, legend merged with reality.

7 - Uruk (today's Warka, Mesopotamia): 5.000 years

The first settlement dates back to around 5.000 years and was at the end of the fourth millennium BC one of the largest settlements in Mesopotamia; it was a center of commerce, there were kings, monuments and works of art. In Uruk, the Sumerians invented the first cuneiform writing system, as evidenced by ancient Sumerian documents found after long excavations and searches.

6 - Ur (Mesopotamia): 6.000 years

One of the first inhabited settlements of Mesopotamia, dating back to before 4.000 BC; from a small agricultural and pastoral center it was transformed, around 3.000 BC, into a real city, also developing crafts and commercial activities. The city of Ur was originally located near the mouth of the Tigris and the Euphrates, on the Persian Gulf; today, due to debris, the ruins of Ur they are located inland, in Iraq, 15km west of the current course of the Euphrates, near Nassiriya. In archaeological site of Ur there are the ruins of a Ziggurat and the remains of a temple dedicated to Inanna, deity of the moon in Sumerian mythology.

5 - Athens (Greece): 7.000 years

Homeland of democracy, philosophy and Western civilization, the capital of Greece has a thousand-year history, between mythological legends and reality, and has always been inhabited for at least 7.000 years. The first settlement of Athens, located on the rock of the acropolis, dates back to 3.000 BC

4 - Çatalhöyük (about 60 km south of the city of Konya, Turkey): 9.500 years

Considered the first city of humanity. It had a considerable number of inhabitants, between 5.000 and 10.000; on the highest mound, to the east, there are 18 levels of Neolithic settlements, dating back to a period between 7.400 and 6.200 BC: presence of wall paintings, sculptures and symbolic figures, reliefs, depictions of female divinities, linked to the domestic cult of fertility and generation. Çatalhöyük is the older testimony of the transition from the villages, which by now had consolidated, towards the urban agglomeration that has resisted in the same place for more than 2.000 years. Since 2012, the Unesco commission has decided to officially name the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük World Heritage Site.

3 - Matera (Basilicata, Italy): 10.000 years

Known as "City of Stones", Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world to be inhabited, with settlements dating back to about 10.000 years ago. In the caves around the Gravine Materane objects were found that testify to the presence of groups of hunters; in the Neolithic the settlements became more stable , as evident traces of villages testify. Many of the houses that descend along the ravines have been lived in without interruption from the Bronze Age to the forced displacement of the s.Domenico Ridola"of Matera, are preserved finds from the necropolis of the area. In 1993 the Sassi of Matera were registered in the list of World Heritage Sites by Unesco.

2 - Jericho (West Bank): 12.000 years

Located near the Jordan River, the green oasis of Jericho, 30km east of Jerusalem, is considered one of the oldest cities in the world and being about 240m below sea level, it is also the lowest on Earth. The first settlements date back to 10.000 BC; around 9.400 BC, i early buildings of brick and mud in which about 1.000 people lived.

1 - Aleppo (Southern Syria): 13.000

Nicknamed "The capital of the North", Unesco heritage since 1986, today unfortunately bloody by the civil war. According to some archaeological findings, such as the 13.000-year-old tower found about 25km from the city, Aleppo appears to be older than Damascus and Jericho. Despite many debates on the true age of Aleppo, the only certain thing is that the current geographical area was already inhabited 8.000 years ago, as shown by cuneiform tablets of about 5.000 years ago, where Aleppo is described as city ​​of enormous commercial and military importance. An important center of the ancient world, between the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia.

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