What are the oldest cities?

This might be sort of a fuzzy question with a fuzzy answer, but I’m curious. What are the oldest cities that have been, and still are, continuously inhabited? I’m not talking about some old dead city that’s been excavated, or one that was bombed out, forgotten, then eventually reinhabited. What cities have had a constant, dynamic population for a millenium? Two millenia? Dare I say it, three?

I would guess that London, Paris, and Prague have been around for more than a thousand years.

Two thousand? Rome, Alexandria, Bagdhad.

Three thousand? Athens? Jerusalem?

What about, say, Kyoto, Beijing, Cairo, Mexico City, Istanbul, or New Delhi?

What might be the absolute oldest?

I do not know, but both Jericho and Damascus have laid claim to the title. There are older cities (or perhaps villages) but they are now abandoned.

National Geographic had an article on Damascus, Syria a few years which made that claim. Or see:


Re: Damascus; does the "Street called Straight’ mentioned in the NT still exist? Is paul’s house still there?

Huh, interseting list.

It seems that Jericho doesn’t really make the list because it was abandoned for so long.

So Byblos is the oldest? That Wiki article didn’t have much about that city today, such as current population.

Don’t know about Paul’s house, but here’s a picture of the street.


Oldest village (not provably continuously inhabited): Dolne Vestonice, Czech Rep., ~30,000 years. (Accurate and cros-check-able radiocarbon dating to 28,000 BC(E).)

Jericho is known to have been inhabited relatively continuously (with a few periods when it was a deserted ruin) since something like 8000 BC(E).

I believe it’s inappropriate to conclude from the Wiki article and its references that Byblos is definitely older than Damascus, only that proof of age runs further back for the first than the second.