5) Gaziantep in present day Turkey (3700 BC) –
Presently the sixth largest city in Turkey with over 1.3 million people, Gaziantep in south-eastern Anatolia had its beginnings from at least the very late-Neolithic era. The settlement came into religious prominence as the ‘Widow City’ during the peak of the Hittite civilization. Later on, it had been ruled by a multitude of factions including that of Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Parthians and Sassanids.
After a century (during the early medieval period), the site steeped in antiquity, became the bone of contention between the Arabs and the Romans (Byzantine Empire). Gaziantep also has the distinction of being one the very few large cities that had been briefly ruled by the dynamic Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.
4) Athens in present day Greece (5000 BC) –
According the many historians, the capital city of Greece (with its contemporary 3 million population) has been continuously inhabited for at least 7,000 years. More interestingly, evidences of human presence were found in the Cave of Schist (which in itself is situated in the bedrock of the Acropolis Hill of Athens) that date from the 11000 – 7000 BC period.
As with many of the cities mentioned in this list, the settlement became a major habitation center only during the Mycenaean Bronze Age period. But the true flowering of Athens reached its peak after 900 years, with the settlement’s transformation into a truly democratic city-state with its powerful navy, intellectual philosophers and great leaders.
3) Byblos in present day Lebanon (8800 BC) –
In many ways, Byblos is the most unique city in this list, as the Mediterranean settlement had the incredible reputation of being the ‘oldest city in the world’ even during the middle-Classical period of 2nd Century AD. Archaeological evidences suggest – the primary habitation in the area started between the years of 8800 BC to 7000 BC.
And, as the millenniums went by, the strategic city was ruled by various empires, including that of Egyptians, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans and French (set in chronological order). In the contemporary state of affairs, the tourist spot still boasts of a 100,000 strong population.
2) Damascus in present day Syria (9000 BC) –
The great Damascus with its current 2 million population credibly sits near the top of the pantheon of oldest cities. In fact, carbon dating results have startlingly shown that the site has been occupied in large scale since at least 6300 BC, while evidences of an expansive settlement (along the basin) with low habitation activity had been found from the 9000 BC time period.
However, Damascus (also called as Dimasqu in Egyptian sources) began to prosper as an important area during the transition from Bronze to Iron Age, after centuries of warfare. This state of emergence as a crucial settlement was fueled by the arrival of various Aramaic tribes during the 11th century BC.
1) Jericho in present day West Bank (10000 BC) –
The designated town of Jericho is arguably THE oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. In that regard, archaeologists have found settling activities with semi-permanent habitats during the ‘Younger Dryas’ period of around 10,000 BC. After around 400-1,000 years, the macro weather significantly changed for the better, and the hunter-gatherer groups gradually started to build their permanents abodes in the area.
The settling pattern continued till the late-Iron Age period, with a whopping 20 successive settlements being uncovered in the site, all of which were built during the extended 9,000 years epoch. However, the city was considerably depopulated by Assyrian and then Babylonian invasions, and finally thrived under the Arab Caliphate era (after 1,000 years).