Oldest Buildings

WHS containing remains of the world's oldest "buildings" - Cut off date 2000BC. A "Building" is defined as any man-made structure which originally had a roof and walls. This definition excludes caves, standing stones/circles, and "Dolmens" (single chamber megalithic tombs) but allows more complex "passage tombs". Show approx date. Where a WHS contains buildings of different ages only the oldest is identified. Identify specific structures and/or locations meeting the definition rather than referring merely to a general statement of "period of occupation".

Connected Sites

Site Rationale Link
Ahwar of Southern Iraq 5000-3000 BC "The archaeological cities of Uruk and Ur and the Tell Eridu archaeological site form part of the remains of the Sumerian cities and settlements that developed in southern Mesopotamia between the 4th and the 3rd millennium BCE in the marshy delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers."
Ancient Thebes 2100-2000 11th Dynasty tombs. Thebes was inhabited from around 3200 BC.. (and) was the capital of Egypt during part of the 11th Dynasty (Middle Kingdom) and most of the 18th Dynasty" Wiki (After which its use for burials continued throughout the New Kingdom period to the 20th Dynasty - 1189-1077BC). The 11th Dynasty ruled from c 2200BC to 1991BC approx and the tombs of its rulers are visible today at Thebes. Most of "its rulers were buried in complexes cut into low gravel hills at Tarif, at the northern end of the Theban Necropolis. Called saff tombs (saff meaning "row" in Arabic), these complexes were fronted by a long rectangular courtyard and a western portico consisting of a row of pillars behind which lay rock-cut offering chambers and burial crypts. Some think these saff tombs had pyramidal superstructures, but no traces of these now survive." Mentuhotep II (2061 - 2010BC) broke with tradition and had his mortuary temple built at Deir el-Bahar. This structure certainly had "buildings" with walls and roofs and its built ruins are visible today
Arslantepe Mound 4000-3000 BC: The Arslantepe 4th millennium "palace" complex is an outstanding example of a new type of monumental public architecture. (Executive summary, p. 4)
Ashur Temple of Ishtar 2600BC "The city was occupied from the mid-3rd millennium BC (Circa 2600-2500 BC) to the 14th Century AD" (Wiki). " Early Dynastic period (first half of the third millennium B.C.). Some remains may even date to preceding periods. For this early part the stratigraphic excavation of the temple of Ishtar provided substantial information about the development of the religious architecture. Two of the five major building stages of it belong to this period." (Nom file) "The earliest traces of settlement in Ashur can be found in layer H of the Ishtar temple, but also in the oldest layers beneath the Old Palace, dating to the late Early Dynastic period (in the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C.). In the following Akkadian period (ca. 2340-2200 B.C.) which is represented by layer G of the Ishtar temple, Ashur is under the rule of the kings of Akkad. During the time of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2100-2000 B.C.) a governor of this dynasty is attested in Ashur." (Assur.de)
Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn 3000 - 2000BC "Most of these tombs are small, single-chambered, round tombs with dry masonry walls dating to the beginning of the 3rd millennium BCE. Others are more elaborate, bigger, multi-chambered tombs from the second half of the 3rdrd millennium BCE" and "The earliest known tower at Bat is the mud-brick Hafit-period structure underneath the Early Umm an-Nar stone tower at Matariya. The latest known tower is probably Kasr al-Rojoom, which can be ceramically dated to the Late Umm an-Nar period (ca. 2200-2000)".
Biblical Tells 3500-2200BC "Settlement on Tel Megiddo covers four main periods. The earliest settlement during the Neolithic period is revealed by pottery finds in caves, and habitation sites within stonewalls" (AB). However the earliest visible remains date to the Early Bronze age "The Early Bronze monumental temple is the best manifestation of the first urbanisation process in the Levant (Nom File)
Brú na Bóinne 3200BC Newgrange "Passage Tomb"/Temple
Byblos 5000BC "the site of Byblos has been continuously inhabited since the Neolithic period. The oldest human settlement, some 7,000 years old, appears to have been a fishing village whose numerous monocellular huts have been rediscovered" (UNESCO). "To the south of the site is the Neolithic...enclosure. The crushed limestone floors and low retaining walls can still be seen" (Lonely Planet). The French archaeologist Dunand excavated at Byblos between 1924-75 and discovered the Neolithic dwellings. This link provides descriptions and a discussion on dating which suggests that the habitation started c600 years earlier than 5000BC
Caral-Supe 2627 BC. "The date of 2627 BCE is based on carbon dating reed and woven carrying bags that were found in situ" (Wiki) "has a core area with 32 public architectural structures, two residential groups, two public plazas, three sunken circular plazas, streets, craftsmen's workshops, housing units for government officials, and an outlying area with several sub-groups of houses for the workers, located on the edge of the city, belonging to the farming population. In the central area, the buildings are distributed in two halves: one high-lying area or 'upper half', where we find the most outstanding pyramidal volumes, surrounded by officials' houses and a large residential group with interior divisions" (Nom file)
Choirokoitia 5800-3200BC. "Some 20 houses have been excavated; they were constructed directly on the ground, without foundations, of undressed limestone blocks, mud-brick and rammed clay." (UNESCO). Carbon dating of seeds found in/outside numbered houses at the site date them as from 5800-5400BC. The circular remains of the houses are clearly visible within the site
Dholavira: A Harappan City The Castle of Dholavira, part of the Citadel, has proof of habitation that dates back to Stage I of the city, "around the beginning of third millennium BCE". (Nomination text, p. 58) In "Stage III (c. 2800-2500 BCE) (...), [t]he walled settlement was further reinforced and transformed into the Castle. The Bailey was added to it from the west." (AB Ev)
Göbekli Tepe built by groups of hunter-gatherers in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period, between 9600 and 8200 BC (AB ev)
Megalithic Temples of Malta 3600BC - Ggantija. "The southerly (temple) is the larger and older, dating back to approximately 3600 BC. It is also better preserved." and "The temples are built in the typical clover-leaf shape, with inner facing blocks marking the shape which was then filled in with rubble. This led to the construction of a series of semi-circular apses connected with a central passage. Archaeologists believe that the apses were originally covered by roofing." (Wiki)
Moenjodaro 2600BC "Composed of the ruins of several major structures - Great Bath, Great Granary, College Square and Pillared Hall - as well as a number of private homes. The extensive lower city is a complex of private and public houses, wells, shops and commercial buildings. These buildings are laid out along streets intersecting each other at right angles, in a highly orderly form of city planning that also incorporated important systems of sanitation and drainage" (UNESCO) Although the oldest remains date back to 3600BC the majority of the excavated areas are from 2600BC
Neolithic Orkney 3180 -2500BC - Skara Brae "A stone-built Neolithic settlement, ... It consists of eight clustered houses, and was occupied from roughly 3180-2500BC. Europe's most complete Neolithic village" (Wiki) "Because nothing survived of Skara Brae's roof structures, we must assume that they were made of a perishable, organic material - whalebone or driftwood beams supporting a roof of turf, skins, thatched seaweed or straw"
Prehistoric Pile Dwellings 5000-500BC. The oldest are given as being from between 5000-4000BC. Visibility varies according to the site. That at Molina di Ladro in Italy, whose piles are visible above the water, dates to 2000BC - there may or may not be older examples visible
Pyramids (Memphis) 2667-2648BC - The earliest "Old Kingdom" structures are those of the Complex of the Stepped Pyramid of Djoser. "Djoser's step pyramid was surrounded by a 10.5 metres high niched enclosure wall, building an inner courtyard of 37.06 acres (15 ha). This courtyard contains several cultic buildings, such as the Southern Tomb, the Southern Courtyard, the Southern Pavillon, the Northern Pavillon, the Entrance Colonnade and the Serdab with the famous seating statue of Djoser" ... "the oldest complete stone building complex known in history" (Wiki)
Shahr-i Sokhta - 3200-1800 BC "Founded around 3200 BC, it was populated during four main periods up to 1800 BC, during which time there developed several distinct areas within the city: those where monuments were built, and separate quarters for housing, burial and manufacture."
Stonehenge 3700-1600 BC (West Kennet Long Barrow) "Together with inter-related monuments, and their associated landscapes, they demonstrate Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and mortuary practices resulting from around 2000 years of continuous use and monument building between circa 3700 and 1600 BC. As such they represent a unique embodiment of our collective heritage."
Çatalhöyük 7200-6400BC. "•Çatalhöyük East was continuously occupied between 7200 - 6400 cal BC. However it cannot be assumed that these represent the earliest or the latest dates of occupation" (Man plan). Within the East mound a "shelter covers the South area excavations in their entirety" and permits visitors to view a large number of individual houses. This report describes many of the buildings under the South shelter


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