The Middle East was the cradle of civilization long before the Greeks and Romans began writing philosophy. Trade, culture and even the concept of the alphabet developed in this region. Along with these developments came the establishment of great cities. While many have long been abandoned and nearly forgotten, these 9 Middle Eastern cities have stood the test of time and remain inhabited after thousands and thousand of years.
1. El Fayum, Egypt
Located about 130 km southwest of Cairo, the city's origins go back to 4,000 B.C. making it the oldest city in Egypt and also one of the oldest in the African continent.
2. Susa, Iran
Reference to Susa can be found in some of the earliest Sumerian literature. The city was part of the ancient Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires and has been dated back to 4,395 B.C.
3. Jericho, Palestine
Archaeologists have unearthed successive settlements in Jericho dating back to 9,000 B.C. The city is also mentioned in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible and in the Jewish Tanakh.
4. Byblos, Lebanon
First occupied between 8,800 and 7,000 B.C., Byblos is also considered the birthplace of the alphabet. According to ancient legends, the city was constructed by Cronus as the first city in Phoenicia.
5. Aleppo, Syria
First founded around 4,300 B.C., the city remained under Hittite control until 800 B.C. when it began passing back and forth between Assyrian, Greek and Persian control.
6. Gaziantep, Turkey
The city dates back to the Hittites as far back as the 4th millennium B.C. It is located 127 km north of Aleppo, which was also part of the Hittite empire.
7. Erbil, Iraq
With the first signs of settlement dating back to 5,000 B.C., Erbil is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
8. Damascus, Syria
It's debated, but some sources suggest that Damascus was inhabited as early as 10,000 B.C. Regardless, the city has an ancient history dating back thousands of years. The Aramaeans are credited with establishing a network of canals throughout the city that still serve as the base of the modern water network.
9. Beirut, Lebanon
An ancient Phoenician city, which was long known as a center of education and learning, Beirut's history stretches back at least 5,000 years. Archaeological excavations in recent years have uncovered significant Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman ruins.