Until recently, the generally accepted archaeological view of why and when cities arose was fairly solid. According to this, people abandoned the nomadic lifestyle, settled down and founded cities to cultivate the land and raise cattle. However, with the discovery of Göbekli Tepe in our country, this point of view was refuted, and it was suggested that people really began to settle in order to stay near religious monuments. Be that as it may, the Neolithic Revolution was a time when people abandoned the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and built villages, towns and cities. The cities founded during this period were the first cities of mankind. Let’s see which are the oldest cities in the world together.
Catal Huyuk in Konya is one of the oldest cities, believed to have been founded 9,000 years ago. Unlike modern cities, they had neither streets nor public buildings. Rooftops were the first way to get around the city. Because these adobe houses were planned next to each other. Although each house had a staircase leading to the roof, these roofs also served as ventilation.
There were no mass graves in the city. Instead, when people died, he was buried under his house. The skulls were removed while people were being buried. The head was made from clay and paint to recreate the face and leave a beautiful memory. Archaeologists believe that these memories of the dead were probably used in rituals.
The most striking detail of Chatal Huyuk is the figure of a “seated woman” in almost every part of the settlement. James Mellart, who first visited and excavated the site in 1958, claimed that these figurines form the basis of the Çatal Huyuk religion. Archaeologist Ian Hodder said that the figurines represent something else because although the figurines show a female image on the front and only a skeleton on the back, this most likely represents the role of life and death in society. At the same time, Hodder argued that the people of Çatal Huyuk were egalitarian, had no private homes, and there was no evidence of discrimination between men and women.
The economy of Chatal Huyuk consisted of agriculture. The region cultivated mainly barley, peas, almonds and pistachios. In addition, archaeologists state that there was animal husbandry in the city and traces of cutlery were found in the city. The total population of Chatal Huyuk, one of the most ancient cities of mankind, is estimated at 10,000 people.
Eridu, Uruk and Ur
If we are talking about the first cities of mankind, then we cannot fail to mention the Sumerians. Considered the oldest civilization in the world, the Sumerians were, of course, among the first to build large cities. The oldest city built by the Sumerians was Eridu. It is estimated to have been founded around 5400 BC. near the Persian Gulf, the city was abandoned after about 4800 years. This magnificent span of time means that the city has gone through many eras and has been rebuilt and rebuilt many times.
The city of Ur, which was also founded by the Sumerians in 3800 BC, was located on the Mesopotamian plain. Around 2500 BC the city was home to unprecedented wealth. The most famous of the Sumerian temples, called the ziggurat, was located in the city of Ur. However, new archaeological discoveries show that the area was inhabited well before 3800 BC, possibly around 6500 BC.
Uruk, built by the Sumerians and considered one of the oldest cities in the world, was founded around 4000 BC. In 3100 BC, when the city was at its peak, about 40,000 people lived in it. In addition, it is believed that about 90,000 people live in its immediate vicinity. This population made Ur the most populous city of the time. In Ur, which consisted of mud-brick buildings, there were also many water channels. Also, according to legend, around 2800 BC. Gilgamesh ruled the city.
Settlement at Ain Ghazal, one of the oldest cities in the world, is believed to have begun around 10,300 BC. Founded on the banks of the Warka River in present-day Jordan, the city had a population of 3,000 and reached its peak around 7000 BC. The inhabitants of Ain Ghazal, who lived in rectangular adobe houses, each consisting of two rooms, benefited from the region’s rich ecology and met their nutritional needs through agriculture and animal husbandry.
The most important element of the culture of this people were sculptures, of which 195 pieces have been found to date. Over the human statues are hair and clothes, as well as body paints and ornamental tattoos. The most striking feature of the discovered sculptures is that 3 of them have two heads.
As in Chatal Huyuk, people in Ain Ghazal were buried under their houses after death. After their flesh had rotted away, the skulls were removed and decorated. However, not all who died at Ain Ghazal were solemnly buried. Archaeological finds show that most of the people were buried in waste pits.
The ruins of Mehrgarh, one of the first cities of civilization, are located on the Kachchi Plain in what is now Pakistan. It is estimated to have been founded around 7000 BC. The inhabitants of this city are considered the ancestors of the civilizations of the Indus Valley. Archaeological finds show that the mud-brick dwellers of Mergarh grew a range of crops such as barley, wheat, dates and jujube. However, the ruins show that the inhabitants also attached great importance to handicrafts; shows that the production of beads, stone crushing and metalworking are some of the important industries in which the public is involved.
Ceramic figurines were also of great importance to the people of Mergarh. Although until about 4000 BC. only female figurines were created, it is argued that these figurines may have religious significance and possibly represent a mother goddess. Early figurines lacked detail, while later figurines have details such as hairstyles, curly breasts, and a woman holding a child.
Bonus: the first city of Atlantis
Although archaeologists and historians often consider it nothing more than a fairy tale, some argue that the city of Atlantis is now located in Western Mauritania. This place also corresponds to the geographical description of Plato. Because to the north of this place, called by Plato’s description “The Eye of the Sahara”, there is a large geological structure, consisting of huge mountains with running water and concentric rings. Evidence also suggests that there may have been a series of major catastrophes that swept the remnants of civilization into the Atlantic Ocean. To learn more about Atlantis, you can check out our material called “Atlantis: the lost continent under the sea and its mysterious history.”
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