Damascus in Syria is the oldest inhabited city in the world, with settlement evidence dating back to 9000 BC. But not many buildings and ruins are left to tell the tale except prehistoric evidence of villages and ancient documents. These buildings have survived through rough climates and thousands of years of civilization before being discovered almost always by accident. These buildings are even older than the pyramids and some are older than the wheel itself.
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Oldest Buildings in the World
12. THE GAVRINIS TOMB: 3500 BC
The tomb at Gavrinis was discovered on an uninhabited, Southern French island in the Gulf of Morbihan in Brittany, France. It is a stone building for burials and an important Neolithic passage grave with a layer of stone and earth on top. The iconic 46 feet long entrance passageway has Neolithic carvings in stone such as swirls and drawings of horned animals and axe heads. The diameter of the mausoleum is 164 feet with a 17-tonne monolith that acts as the ceiling. In fact, the entrance of the passage grave is located in a way that on the Winter Solstice, the sunlight fills the main passage right up to the rear wall of the tomb.
11. MIDHOWE CHAMBERED CAIRN: 3500 BC
The Midhowe Chambered Cairn in Rousay, Scotland is a chambered cairn from the Neolithic Period with a large broch from the Iron Age. Being a burial site, plenty of human remains were discovered when the site was excavated during 1932 and 1933. Some chambered cairns, graves protected by posts of stone, are also passage graves, both of which are found in the England and Ireland region. As a trend of graves being near the shore, this building is on the northern Scottish island of Rousay, purposefully designed to make it easier to visit along with being away from the mainland.
10. LA HOUGUE BIE: 3500 BC
La Hougue Bie is historically a ritual site but termed as just another Neolithic burial site with time. Located on the island of Jersey, this site is one of the best preserved Neolithic burial sites in western Europe. It was in use around 3500 BC and is comprised of large monolithic stones that were dragged into spot. Although abandoned in the Late Neolithic period, it has been an active site throughout history; findings include a 12th century and 16th-century chapels, a signal tower from the 1700s and hideouts used in the Second World War. Originally a site for rituals and incidental burials, this was converted from into a religious area with chapels and cathedrals. As of now, a chapel, museum and tourist structures exist on the site in addition to the ancient ruins.
9. SECHIN BAJO: 3500 BC
Located in the valley of the Sechin River in Caral, Peru, Sechin Bajo was found in 2008 and dates back to 3500 BCE to 1300 BCE making it the oldest site of civilization in the Americas. Sechin Bajo is a circular plaza and a surrounding frieze with many ancient ruins covering a total area of 91 acres. With a civilization dating back to 4500 BCE, it is likely the oldest urban settlement in the American continent and has several other similarly ancient sites in its neighborhood in the Casma and Sechin Valley and the Norte Chico civilization at Huaricanga.
8. LISTOGHIL: 3550 BC
Listoghil is part of the Carrowmore megalithic group of prehistoric tombs in Ireland and is thus named as Carrowmore 51. Excavated in the 1990s, this site is the largest of passage grave sites in Ireland with an area of approximately 1.5 sq. miles. The covering stone of the tomb itself measures 110 feet in diameter. Before the discovery, the site was damaged by quarry workers extracting road material before realizing the existence of an ancient tomb. Just like some other Neolithic structures, the sunlight enters the Listoghil passage and lighting it up till the end, on days like the equinox. Remains of bone were carbon-dated to approximately 3500 BCE while some carbon material was calibrated to around 6100 years ago.
7. WEST KENNET LONG BARROW: 3650 BC
Classified as a chambered long barrow and one of the Severn-Cotswold tombs, the West Kennet Long Barrow is one of the biggest chambered tombs in Britain. In fact, it is just a few miles away from the historic Stonehenge. Part of the long series of barrows In Britain, this Neolithic structure was built using limestone transported from 20-30 miles away and took nearly 15,000 man hours to build. The hard work paid off as this tomb was open for 1,000 years before being filled to the roof by the Beaker people. At least 46 deceased are buried there, along with items such as pottery, beads and a dagger.
6. GGANTIJA: 3700 BC
Located in Gozo, Malta and a UNESCO protected world heritage site, the Ggantija megalithic temples are the oldest standing stone structures in the world, hundreds of years older than even the Egyptian pyramids and the Stonehenge. The temples of Ggantija were the site for ceremonial and fertility rituals. The architecture of the temple incorporates five large apses, with traces of the roof over the apses and plaster that covered the irregular wall. It is notable that these huge structures were created before the wheel was invented or any metal tools were available for cutting. It is just as significant inbuilt as the pyramids, if not in size.
5. KNAP OF HOWAR: 3700 BC
Another Neolithic structure in Scotland, instead of an ancient grave, the Knap of Howar is considered to be the oldest stone houses in northern Europe. Located on the island of Papa Westray in northern Scottish islands, this ancient farmstead consists of two side-by-side rectangular stone houses complete with preserved fireplaces, beds and shelves as well as a passage linking the two buildings. Currently, they are right along the coast but 5000 years ago they were fairly inland.
4. MONTE D’ACCODDI: 4000 BC
In the midst of the Mediterranean, Monte d’Accoddi is believed to be an ancient shrine, with a massive stone altar, located on the Italian island of Sardinia near Porto Torres. Despite two decades of excavating and studying, the nature and origin of the architecture are disputed since the site was used and abandoned on and off again with intervals of thousands of years. Originally built by the Ozieri culture as a presumed step-pyramid, it was destroyed and rebuilt as Mesopotamian ziggurats. The history and utility of this site is as disputed as it is intriguing.
3. TUMULUS SAINT-MICHEL: 4500 BC
At about 410 feet long and 33 feet tall, the Saint-Michel Tumulus is the largest burial mound in continental Europe. It was Excavated between 1862 and 1907, with initial restoration completed in 1927. The center of the tumulus is a megalithic chamber enclosed on all sides with stone walls. In addition to the structure, they excavated burnt human bones on the floor, 39 stone axes stuck in the ground with the sharp edge up, ten pendants and a necklace with 97 Callaïs pearls as well as the remains of a kind of ivory pearl necklace and 13 boxes containing remains of burnt and unburned animal bones.
2. NECROPOLIS OF BOUGON – 4700 BC
Five Neolithic barrows in Bougon, France make up the Tumulus of Bougon or the Necropolis of Bougon. Dated at around 4800-4700 BCE, they are the oldest burial mounds in Europe. Excavated over many decades since the discovery in 1840, they contain hundreds of human bone fragments, skeletons and burial items that have been preserved over many years of excavation. With the architectural development over a period of 1,000 years, Bougon’s largest tumulus measures 236 feet long and one with a massive sepulchral chamber. Tourists can visit the Tumulus of Bougon Museum, some educational models, ancient relics and the ruins of a Cistercian monastery while at the Necropolis.
1. BARNENEZ – 4850 BC
Cairn de Barnenez, in Brittany France, is the largest mausoleum in Europe and one of the oldest manmade structures in the world. The Neolithic and megalithic monument measures around 246 feet in length and 82 feet in width with 11 passage graves that form the interior and some chambers exposed to the outdoors. Carbon dating shows that the construction was done in phases between 4850 and 4250 BC, and between 4450 and 4000 BC for the second phase. Interestingly, some of the many patterns engraved onto the stones in the entrance and passageways are similar to those in the Gavrinis tomb, which is also found in Brittany. There are plenty of relics and items discovered from the excavations of Barnenez such as pottery, axe heads, and arrowheads.
Many of these sites are found in or around Britain and France, while some in South America. Although humans migrated from Africa. A proper civilization was developed in the northern areas as well as the Indus areas. But there are no proper building structures in these older sites, just ruins of cities and buildings. Thus, preservation matters a lot to know about the historical civilizations which prevailed even before the wheel.