Mankind has been around for a meagre 40,000 years but out of that, civilization has not been for more than six thousand. The definition of city has also evolved throughout the centuries. At present, it stands for a central conglomerate hub of economy, governance and advancement for a particular geographical boundary, from which modernizing advancements are spread to the rest of the region. Different cities stand for distinct welfare and interests for the public. For example, Washington D C. may be the administrative capital of USA, but the Big Apple controls the trade and commerce of the region. However, in the ancient past, the interests merged into one specific location; people from afar visited those places where they could receive an abundance of trade, business, medical and hygienic facilities, perhaps also a seat in the ruling administration. Civilizations radiated and sustained with the booming health of the rising cities, out of which these top 5 ancient ones surely captivate the curiosity of modern researchers.
1) Jericho (6000 BCE):
It marks the very beginning of large human settlements in a relatively smaller region and is famous for being the first ever walled city of the world. Situated on the West Bank, the river Jordan flows still flows beside it. Ancient Hebrew Bible depicts Jericho as the “City of Palm Trees” which has undoubtedly resulted in 20 successive settlements throughout the human history from the Holocene epoch. The legacy of this urban city dates back to before Bronze Age. Later, it became the administrative capital under Persian Empire and thereafter Alexander the Great. Jericho is now home to more than 20,000 habitants and has fallen under the jurisdiction of Palestine.
2) Argos (5000 BCE):
The first settlement in Argos is recorded back to Neolithic period and continuously rebuilt until the Pelasgian Greeks colonized it. This city-state was a stronghold of Peloponnese, Greece and gradually gained significance in the 7th Century BCE under the rule of King Pheidon. Being neutral to the raging wars in the mainland, it was repeatedly shunned by other city-states and slipped into oblivion after its ally Athens was defeated by Sparta. After the time of Roman, the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires
followed the Greek War of Independence of 1821. The resultant was Argos becoming part of the Kingdom of Greece, and now has nearly 25,000 people residing in the ancient city.
3) Susa (4200 BCE) :
An important city of the Ancient Near East, Susa is located to the east of Tigris river in the Khuzestan province of Iran. It finds trace in the very old Sumerian history, and Hebrew Bible under Shushan. Two settlements, namely Acropolis and Apadana, merged to form the city of Susa which was surrounded by a thick walled boundary. Susa followed the Uruk culture, deity and administration and raged warfare against Kish in 2700 BCE which was recorded in the scriptures. The Persian conquest was a landmark in its history. It was conquered successively by Macedonia, Parthia and Sassania until inevitably coming under the Islamic reign, after which it was razed to the ground by Mongol Invasion. The lowering significance of Susa propelled the majority of the residents to migrate to Dezful in the 15th Century. At present, “Shusa” is home to a small community of Christians, but has recently gained popularity as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4) Luxor (3200 BCE) :
It was previously known as the prospering city of Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt and the city of the Egyptian deity Amun-Ra. Luxor has been characterized as the greatest open-air museum of the world, as the historic monuments of Karnak and Luxor lay right outside the modern settlements beside River Nile. It grew in prominence in the New Kingdom in terms of wealth, luxury, artistic cultures, economic stability, administrative and military prowess and was the religious capital of the whole of Egyptian civilization until the Greek invasion. The temple of Hatshepsut and that of Amun-Ra at Karnak are Luxor’s primary centres of development, religion and attraction. Opposite that bank of River Nile lay the valley of Kings, the valley of Queens and other tombs and monuments constituting West Bank Necropolis. However, after the Assyrians conquered Thebes, the historic city fell in significance and grandeur, leading to its destruction. In this modern age, it is a city thriving in the business of tourism and home to 0.5 million natives.
5) Babylon (2300 ÂÑÅ) :
It is probably the most well known and the largest city of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization, its traces dating back to the Akkadian Empire. It was the holy city of Mesopotamia, eclipsing the town of Nippur and was probably the most lawful place in ancient world, courtesy to the written “Code of Hammurabi”. Built on the fertile plains lying between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, Babylon saw many ups and downs between the reigns of King Hammurabi and others from the Babylonian dynasty, the Assyrian regime, Darius the Great of Persia, Alexander the Great, the Roman invasion and finally the Islamic rule, during which the city crumbled to its final remains. However the main attraction is the site of Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which was one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. The ruined city is now preserved in Hillah of Iraq as prehistoric debris of mud-brick houses.
The identity of the world’s first city is still open to debate, as archaeologists, historians and researchers are finding new traces of habitation beneath layers of silt, dust and earth. Some dream of reinstating the ruins into fully functional hubs with a historical and cultural value. Whatever be the result, the old monuments and ruins need to be preserved properly and efficiently for future generations to witness the greatest cities ever to be established during the dawn of ancient civilization.