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Oldest city in the world?

Oldest city in the world?
Oldest city in the world?



Founded in the 3rd millennium B.C., Damascus stands as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Middle East, showcasing an extraordinary tapestry of civilizations throughout its rich history. With approximately 125 monuments from various epochs, including the magnificent 8th-century Great Mosque of the Umayyads, Damascus stands as a cultural and historical treasure.

In the annals of ancient civilizations, the city of Crocodilopolis, established around 4,000 BC on the Nile, worshipped the crocodile god Sobek. Their devotion reached a unique zenith with Petsuchos, a living crocodile adorned in gold and gems, housed in a temple. Crocodilopolis, now part of modern Faiyum, Egypt, potentially vies for the title of the oldest continuously inhabited city globally, yet the quest to determine this distinction is fraught with challenges.

Identifying the world’s oldest city involves navigating through claims, counterclaims, myth, and disputed evidence. The ambiguity arises partly from defining when a settlement attains city status – is it when it engages in trade, develops plumbing, or predates agriculture? The contenders range from Varanasi, India, to Plovdiv, Bulgaria, with each presenting its case supported by historical legend, archaeological finds, and continuous settlement evidence.

The Middle East, particularly the Fertile Crescent, emerges as a fertile ground for ancient urbanity, although the claimants, like Kirkuk in Iraq, Erbil, and Susa (Shush) in Iran, have not asserted their claims as vigorously as more renowned ancient cities. Jerusalem, Beirut, and Jericho in the West Bank boast urbanization dating back to 3,000 BC, while Byblos in Lebanon contends to be the first Phoenician city since 7,000 BC.

Oldest city in the world?
Oldest city in the world?

Damascus, historically a strong contender, faces challenges as evidence suggests meaningful activity in what is now Damascus proper only from the 2nd millennium BC. Ironically, Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, stands as a formidable candidate for the title of the world’s oldest city, with evidence of settlement dating back to 6,000 BC and even earlier nomadic camps.

The fluidity of this historical debate, marked by ongoing discoveries and shifting perspectives, makes declaring the world’s oldest city a challenging endeavor. While Aleppo carries a compelling case, the ravages of recent conflicts cast a somber shadow on the preservation of its ancient heritage. As cities continue to evolve and face the test of time, the quest for the title of the world’s oldest city remains an intriguing journey into the annals of human history.


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