Urbanization in History: 8 out of the 10 oldest and continuously inhabited cities around the world are in the Islamic world

History History of Islamic Societies
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Throughout history, thousands of cities were established that were settled by humans and then abandoned for some reason, so they disappeared and only their ruins remained, but some of those historical cities have preserved the flame of life in them and have continued since their founding until now. In this article, we chose to talk about the 10 oldest cities in the world that have been inhabited by humans since their founding.

1. Damascus (12,000 years old)

While no one knows for sure when Damascus was founded, archaeologists mostly agree that the first settlement within the area of the city walls dates back to at least the third millennium BC. However, people may have inhabited Damascus much earlier, as there is archaeological evidence in the Tal Ramad area on the outskirts of Damascus indicating that the city was inhabited from 10,000 to 8,000 BC, according to Oldust.org, making it one of the The oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Therefore, although other cities compete for this title – especially Jericho and Byblos – many scholars believe that Damascus is the oldest inhabited city in the world. Damascus was part of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic civilizations, and each of these civilizations left their traces behind in Damascus through the architecture and cultural traditions that still exist throughout the city.

2. Jericho, Palestine (11,600 years old)

The Palestinian city of Jericho is located near the Jordan River, and although the exact date of Jericho’s founding is unknown, it is believed to be the oldest inhabited city on earth, as archaeological excavations indicate that the oldest settlement in the region dates back to between 9600 and 9000 BC.

The inhabitants of Jericho have been known since the dawn of history as the Canaanites, and they are the original inhabitants of Palestine, and Jericho contains a large number of antiquities belonging to the stone man. Archaeological evidence documented 23 layers of ancient sites and civilizations there dating back to the tenth millennium BC. During the excavations, traces of the visits of hunters from the Mesolithic period, dating back to around 9000 BC, were discovered, in addition to the ancient ruins of a huge stone wall, confirming that Jericho is also the oldest known walled city in the world.
Incredibly, Jericho has remained inhabited – and dry – throughout history, despite its location below sea level. This fact also makes the city the lowest permanently inhabited site on Earth.

3. Byblos, Lebanon (10,000 years old)

The ancient city of Byblos in Lebanon is located on a sandstone cliff along the Mediterranean coast, 40 kilometers north of Beirut. The ruins of many successive civilizations were found in Byblos, which is one of the oldest Phoenician cities, and is directly linked to the history and spread of the Phoenician alphabet.

The city has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, when it was built on a site where a community of hunter-gatherers first settled in 8000 BC, according to UNESCO. According to archaeological research, the Byblos region has been inhabited since the Neolithic period between 8800 and 7000 BC, and like all ancient cities, it was inhabited by many peoples of ancient civilizations, such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans who built there one of the largest Roman theaters. During the ancient Egyptian period, Byblos became a major trading center, as the city was the main source of rice and valuable timber for Egypt, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Fayoum,  Egypt (7,000 years)

The Egyptian city of Fayoum is one of the oldest cities in the world, and currently occupies an area on the Nile River that has hosted human settlements for thousands of years, including the city of Shedet. Archaeological evidence showed that the area supported farming communities from around 5000 B.C., while the Shedat settlement (present-day Fayoum) was established between 2686 and 2181 B.C.

The ancient Egyptians called it “built”, which means the island, because at the time of its formation it was located in Lake Morris (currently Lake Qarun), and its religious name was “Bir Sebek”, which means the house of the crocodile, because it was the idol of the people of Fayoum in the past, and that is why the Romans called it “Crocodilepolis”. Meaning crocodile city. There are Pharaonic monuments in Fayoum, such as the pyramids of Lahoun and Hawara. It also includes a number of antiquities of the Greek and Roman civilizations, as well as Coptic and Islamic antiquities. The city also includes the largest museum that contains fossils of extinct creatures such as dinosaurs.

5. Shushan, Iran (6,200 years old)

Susa, or Shush, is currently located at the base of the Zagros Mountains in southwestern Iran, and has been inhabited for centuries. It is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East.

The city dates back to 4200 BC, and an archaeological site on the borders of the modern city of Shushan contains multiple layers of urban settlements that include Elamite, Parthian and Persian civilizations, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city of Shushan contains the play “The People of Persia,” which is the oldest preserved play in human history by the Roman writer Aeschylus. Today, it has a population of more than 52,000 people, according to the World Population Review.

6. Plovdiv, Bulgaria (6,000 years old)

The second largest city in Bulgaria in terms of area, and it is one of the oldest cities in Europe, dating back to about 4 thousand years BC.

And it was called Plovdiv in the 15th century, while before that it was called the city of Philippe; Named after the Roman Emperor Philip, father of Alexander the Great, who conquered it in 342 BC. The ancient city has a tumultuous history of invasion and occupation over the centuries by Persians, Greeks, Celts, Romans, Goths, Huns, Vikings, Crusaders and Ottomans, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Russian and Eastern European Studies.

Today Plovdiv has a population of nearly 350,000 and is a major cultural center of Europe, according to World Population magazine.

7. Athens, Greece (6,000 years old)

The ancient city of Athens has been continuously inhabited by humans since the Neolithic period towards the end of the fourth millennium BC, but became the forerunner of ancient Greece between 1300 and 1200 BC as part of the Mycenaean civilization (the Mycenaean civilization flourished in the late Bronze Age around 1700-1100 BC).

Athens survived its burning by the Persian invaders in 480 BC, in addition to its occupation by the Spartans during the Second Peloponnesian War in the fourth century BC, and Philip II of Macedon in 338 BC.

8. Sidon, Lebanon (6,000 years old)

Sidon has been inhabited since it was built by the Phoenicians around 4000 BC, and its location on an important port on the Mediterranean made it one of the most important Phoenician cities. The city has been occupied by many of the world’s great empires, including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans.

The people of Sidon were famous for their handicrafts of glass, and their people were the first peoples of the world to know the use of murex shells in dyeing.

Sidon remains to this day a major center for fishing, market and trade in the region.

9. Jerusalem, Palestine (6,000 years old)

Archaeological evidence shows that Jerusalem has been inhabited since at least the fourth millennium BC. The first known permanent settlement in the city dates back to the Early Bronze Age between 3000 and 2800 BC, while physical evidence of settlement was found in the Chalcolithic period (4500-3400 BC). The end of the Bronze Age (about 1200 BC) saw the conquest of the New Kingdom of Egypt (under the rule of Thutmose III) and many Egyptian artifacts are still found in excavations at this level.

As a city sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews, it has always carried great symbolic importance, and among its 220 historical landmarks, the Dome of the Rock, built in the seventh century, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was built in 335 AD, stand out. Given its long history and religious importance, it is estimated that Jerusalem was destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, occupied and recaptured 44 times, and attacked 52 times, according to the British Telegraph website. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Aleppo, Syria (5,300 years old)

Aleppo has many advantages, as it is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the richest cities in the world with monuments and unique and very rare archaeological finds globally, and the most important sources of the world in the study, understanding and development of architecture and decoration in the Islamic world. Therefore, the ancient city of Aleppo has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1986.

Aleppo, according to the UNESCO Organization for Historical and Archaeological Research, is the oldest city in the world, dating back to 12,200 BC, preceding Jericho by 1,600 years and preceding Damascus by three thousand years. Several studies indicate that the city of Aleppo has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, making it a reference for scholars from all over the world. Most sources indicate that the first builder of Aleppo was Balukush al-Mawsili, one of the kings of Assyria, and his reign was determined to be 3962 years for Adam Abu al-Bishr. The village of Tell Maribat, near the Euphrates Valley, was discovered in Aleppo, and it contains ruins dating back to the year 11,000 BC, making it the oldest known area in Syria–accoring to this report. We took the conservative position and placed its continuously inhabited status for 5300 years only.

Honorable mentions

In addition to these ancient cities, there are other cities steeped in antiquity that have been inhabited since their founding, including the city of Gaziantep in Turkey, which dates back to a period between 5,000 and 6,000 years; Luxor in Egypt, which dates back to about 5,300 years; Beirut in Lebanon, which dates back to 5,000 years ago; and Babylon in Iraq, which dates back to 4,000 years ago.


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