The most ancient cities

During the development of civilization, people united their scattered dwellings. The walls stood in the sun and rain, they saw the ages come and go.

These cities became silent witnesses of how our civilization revived and fell into decay. Today, not all the great cities of the past continue to give shelter to people, many simply lie in ruins or have completely disappeared from the face of the Earth.

The British newspaper "The Guardian" has selected 15 of the most ancient cities in the world, each with its own unique architecture and unusual history. 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 mentioned several times 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 made it possible to determine the venerable age of the city. The city is located near the Jordan River, on the west bank. Even today, about 20 thousand people live here. And the ruins of 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 pre-pottery Neolithic period (8400-7300 BC). Jericho keeps burials of the Chalcolithic period, city walls from the Bronze Age. Perhaps it was they who fell from the loud trumpets of the Israelites, giving rise to the phrase "Jericho trumpets." In the city you can find the ruins of the winter palace-residence of King Herod the Great with swimming pools, baths, lavishly decorated halls. There is also a mosaic on the floor of the synagogue, dating back to the 5th-6th centuries. And at the foot of the Tel-as-Sultan hill is the source of the prophet Elisha. Historians believe that the hills adjacent to Jericho are home to many archaeological treasures comparable to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

Byblos, Lebanon. The settlement in this place is already about 7 thousand years old. The city of Gebal, mentioned in 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 byblos in Greek. The city has been known since the 4th millennium BC. Byblos became famous for his temples of Baal, here the cult of the god Adonis was born. It was from here that it spread to 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 XII century, the city castle and the remains of the city wall. Now here, 32 kilometers from Beirut, is the Arab city of Jebeil.

Aleppo, Syria. 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 approaching 4 million. Previously, he was known under the names of Halpe or Halibon. For centuries, Aleppo was the third largest city in the Ottoman Empire, second only to Constantinople and Cairo. The origin of the city's name is still unclear. Presumably haleb means copper or iron. The fact is that in ancient times there was a large center for their production. In Aramaic, "chalaba" means "white", which is associated with the color of the soil in the area and the abundance of marble rocks. And Aleppo got its current name from the Italians, who visited here with the Crusades. Ancient Aleppo is attested by Hittite inscriptions, inscriptions of Mari 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, as it was the center of worship of the weather god. Economically, the city has always been an important place. The Great Silk Road passed here. Aleppo has always been a tasty morsel for invaders - it belonged to Greeks, Persians, Assyrians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, and even Mongols. It was here that the great Tamerlane ordered to erect a tower of 20 thousand skulls. With the opening of the Suez Canal, Aleppo's role as a shopping center has diminished. Currently, this city is undergoing a revival, it is one of the most beautiful places in the Middle East.

Damascus, Syria. Many believe. That Damascus is worthy of the title of the oldest city in the world. Although there is an opinion that people lived here 12 thousand years ago, another date of settlement looks more truthful - 4300 BC. The medieval Arab historian Ibn Asakir in the XII argued that after the Flood, the Damascus wall became the first wall to be erected. He attributed the very birth of the city to the 4th millennium BC. The very 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, part of the Hellenistic kingdom of the Seleucids. The city flourished during the Aramaic era. They created a whole network of water canals in the city, which today are the basis of Damascus' modern water supply networks. The urban agglomeration today has 2.5 million people. In 2008, Damascus was recognized as the cultural capital of the Arab world.

Susa, Iran. The settlement in this place is already 6200 years old. And the first traces of a person in Susa date back to 7000 BC. The city is located on the territory of the modern province of Khuzestan, in Iran. They entered the history of Susa as the capital of the ancient state of Elam. The Sumerians wrote about the city in their early documents. Thus, the writings "Enmerkar and the Ruler of Aratta" say that Susa were dedicated to the deity Inanna, the patroness of Uruk. There are repeated references to the ancient city in the Old Testament, especially often its name is found in the Scriptures. The prophets Daniel and Nehemiah lived here during the Babylonian captivity in the VI century BC, in the city of Esther she became queen and saved from persecution by the Jews. The Elamite state ceased to exist with the victories of Ashurbanipal, Susa themselves were plundered, which was not the first time that happened. The son of Cyrus the Great made Susa the capital of the Persian kingdom. However, this state also ceased to exist, thanks to Alexander the Great. The city has lost its former significance. Muslims and Mongols later walked through Susa with destruction, as a result, life in it barely glimmered. Today the city is called Shusha, it is home to about 65 thousand people.

Fayum, Egypt. 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 Crocodilopolis. In this ancient place, the Egyptians worshiped the sacred Sebek, the crocodile god. Pharaohs of the 12th dynasty liked to visit Fayyum, then the city was called Shedit. This fact follows from the remains of the burial pyramids and temples found by Flinders Petrie. In Fayyum was the same famous Labyrinth that Herodotus described. Quite a lot of archaeological finds have been found in this area. But world fame went to Fayum drawings. They were made using the enacaustic technique and were funerary portraits from the time of Roman Egypt. Currently, the population of the city of El-Fayyum is more than 300 thousand people.

Sidon, Lebanon. People founded their first settlement here in 4000 BC. Sidon is located 25 kilometers south of Beirut on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This city was one of the most significant and oldest 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 Hittite. It is believed that both Jesus and the Apostle Paul visited Sidon. And in 333 BC. the city was captured by Alexander the Great. Today the city is called Saida, and is inhabited by Shia and Sunni Muslims. It is the third largest city in Lebanon with a population of 200,000.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria. This city also emerged 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. The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus said that the first name of this settlement was given by the Thracians - Eumolpiada. In 342 BC. the city was conquered by Philip II of Macedon, the father of the legendary conqueror. In honor of himself, the king named the settlement Philippopolis, while the Thracians pronounced this word as Pulpudeva. Since the 6th century, Slavic tribes began to control the city. In 815 he became part of the First Bulgarian Kingdom under the name of Pyldin. For the next several centuries, these lands passed from hand to hand from the Bulgarians to the Byzantines, until the Ottoman Turks seized it for a long time. Crusaders came to Plovdiv four times and plundered the city. Today the city is an important cultural center. There are many ruins here that bear witness to a rich history. The Roman aqueduct and amphitheater, as well as the Ottoman Baths, stand out here. Plovdiv is now home to about 370 thousand people.

Gaziantep, Turkey. This settlement appeared in about 3650 BC. It is located in the south of Turkey, near the Syrian border. Gaziantep takes its history from the time of the Hittites. Until February 1921, the city was called Antep, and the Turkish parliament gave the prefix gazi to residents for their merits during the battles for the country's independence. Today more than 800 thousand people live here. Gaziantep is one of the most important ancient centers in the south-east of Anatolia. This city lies between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia. Here the roads between the south, north, west and east intersected, and the Great Silk Road passed. Until now, in Gaziantep you can find historical relics from the times of the Assyrians, Hittites, the era of Alexander the Great. With the flourishing of the Ottoman Empire, the city experienced times of prosperity.

Beirut, Lebanon. People began to live in Beirut 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 rocky land in the middle of the Mediterranean coast of the modern territory of Lebanon. It is believed that the name of the city comes from the word "birot" meaning "well". For a long time, Beirut remained in the background in the region, behind its more significant neighbors - Tire and Sidon. Only in the era of the Roman Empire, the city became influential. Here there was a famous school of law, which developed the basic postulates of the Justinian Code. Over time, this document will become the basis of the European legal system. In 635, Beirut was occupied by the Arabs, incorporating the city into 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, a city with a glorious history has become an important cultural, financial and intellectual center in the Eastern Mediterranean. And since 1941, Beirut has become the capital of the new independent state - the Lebanese Republic.

Jerusalem, Israel / Palestinian Territories. This great city without a doubt was founded in 2800 BC. Jerusalem was able to 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, and the Temple of the Holy Sepulcher al-Aqsa. It is not surprising that Jerusalem was constantly being conquered. As a result, the history of the city includes 23 sieges, 52 attacks. He 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 initially. Jerusalem is also mentioned on Egyptian figurines of the XX-XIX centuries BC. There, among the curses to hostile cities, Rushalimum was also mentioned. In the XI century BC. Jerusalem was occupied by the Jews, who proclaimed it the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, and from the 10th century BC. - Jewish. After 400 years, the city was captured by Babylon, then the Persian Empire ruled over it. Jerusalem changed owners many times - these were the Romans, Arabs, Egyptians, crusaders. From 1517 to 1917, the city was part of the Ottoman Empire, after which it came under the jurisdiction of Great Britain. Today Jerusalem, with a population of 800,000, is the capital of Israel.

Tire, Lebanon. This city was founded in 2750 BC. Tire was a famous Phoenician city and a major trade center. The date of its foundation was named by Herodotus himself. And there was a settlement on the territory of modern Lebanon. In 332 BC. Tire was taken by the troops of Alexander the Great, which required a seven-month siege. From 64 BC Tire became a Roman province. It is believed that the Apostle Paul lived here for some time. In the Middle Ages, Tire became known as one of the most impregnable fortresses in the Middle East. It was in this city in 1190 that Frederick Barbarossa, King of Germany and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, was buried. Now on the site of a great ancient settlement there is a small town of Sur. It no longer has a special meaning, trade began to be conducted through Beirut.

Erbil, Iraq. This settlement is already 4,300 years old. It is located north of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Erbil is the capital of the Iraqi unrecognized state of Kurdistan. Throughout its history, this city belonged to different peoples - Assyrians, Persians, Sassanids, Arabs and Turks. Archaeological research has confirmed that people have lived in this area without interruption for over 6 thousand years. The most eloquent evidence of this is the hill of the Citadel. It represents the remains of former settlements. There was a wall around it, which was created in pre-Islamic times. When Erbil was under the rule of the Persians, Greek sources called him Hawler or Arbeli. The Royal Road passed through it, 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.

Kirkuk, Iraq. This city appeared in 2200 BC. It is located 250 kilometers north of Baghdad. Kirkuk is located on the site of the ancient Hurrian and Assyrian capital of Arrapha. The city had an important strategic position, so three empires fought for it at once - Babylon, Assyria and Media. It was they who shared control over Kirkuk for a long time. Even today, there are still ruins that are 4 thousand years old. The modern city, due to its proximity to the richest field, has become the oil capital of Iraq. About a million people live here today.

Balkh, Afghanistan. This ancient city appeared around the 15th century BC.Balkh became the first large settlement that the Indo-Aryans created during their transition from Amu Darya. This city became a large and traditional center of Zoroastrianism, it is believed that it was here that Zarathustra was born. In late antiquity, Balkh became an important center of the Hinayana. Historians said that in the 7th century, there were more than a hundred Buddhist monasteries in the city, only 30 thousand monks lived in them. The largest temple was Navbahar, its name translated from Sanskrit means "new monastery". There was a huge statue of Buddha. In 645, the city was first captured by the Arabs. However, after the robbery, they left Balkh. In 715, the Arabs returned here, having already settled in the city for a long time. The further history of Balkh knew the arrival of the Mongols and Timur, nevertheless, even Marco Polo, describing the city, called it “great and worthy”. In the 16th-19th centuries, Persia, the Bukhara Khanate and the Afghans fought for Balkh. The bloody wars ended only with the transfer of the city to the rule of the Afghan Emir in 1850. Today this place is considered the center of the cotton industry, leather is well made here, getting "Persian sheepskin". And 77 thousand people live in the city.

Watch the video: Top 10 Most Magnificent Ancient Cities.

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