What is the oldest continually lived in city?

Defining city as “an inhabited place of greater size, population, or importance than a town or village” (m-w.com), what is the oldest continually lived in city that is still inhabited today?

Nothing but a guess: Damascus?

Support for that guess: List of oldest continuously inhabited cities - Wikipedia


It appears that you are excluding settlements that would be considered too small to be a bona-fide city. What about “cities” today that were, at one time, villages, towns, or forts/military bases? For the purpose of determining for how long it has been a continually inhabited city, are you counting the time since it was founded as long as it is a city today, or are you counting only the time from when it grew from its village/town origins to become a city? For example, if “Coolsburg” was founded as a small town in 1633 and most scholars agree that it grew to bona-fide city size in 1764 and has been a city ever since, how old is the “city”?

Thanks. You said it better than I could have. I kinda meant that too but I couldn’t figure out how to put it into words so I went to m-w.com for help. Anywhere that people have lived in constantly for a long time fits.

Damascus is older than Baghdad?

Baghdad was founded in 762 – not even close.


That was my thought.

Whereas Damascus was

Not even close.

I was thinking Jericho, too. A couple of older neolithic towns but not still inhabited.

Except, according to that Wikipedia cite, Jericho wasn’t continuously inhabited:

Most of us are probably Western-civilization and Christian-centric, which is fine and the answers so far reflect that bias, but I’d be curious to see what the Chinese take on this question is.

It is not bias. Chinese civilization is not generally thought to pre-date middle eastern civilization. It probably does not even pre-date European civilization (although no doubt there is room for argument as to what should count as civilization in either location). The notion that Chinese civilization is “more ancient” than European, arises not from the fact that the Chinese got started earlier, but from the fact that China never suffered the sort of dark age, that Europe did in the wake of the fall of Rome.

Well, Wikipedia is contradicting itself (big surprise :rolleyes:). Anyway, the quote I gave, to the effect that Jericho is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world provides three fairly authoritative looking cites in its support. (No similar claims are made in the article on Damascus.) I daresay that if one went in detail into the history of Damascus one could also find intervals of depopulation.

This will all depend on how strictly you define terms such as “continuously” and “city” (how many people have to live there for it to count as a city at any particular time?). Certainly Jericho was founded much longer ago, and has had a reasonably sized population for nearly all of the time since. I think that makes it the better candidate.

Jericho was supposedly abandoned for significant periods before being reinhabited, on multiple occasions, according to archaeological findings. Jericho seems to be the main reason people talk about the oldest “continuously-inhabited” cities, rather than the oldest.