10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History

These are some of the oldest buildings ever discovered. Read on to find out more about these amazing structures and when and how they were built.
Christopher McFadden
old buildings1, 2

What are the oldest buildings in the world? A worthy and interesting question, and one we hope to answer faithfully.

As you are about to discover, there have been some very fascinating, and ancient buildings discovered around the world. Some of them are so old that they would have been as ancient to the Ancient Egyptians as their Pyramids are to us today. 

That is simply mind-blowing.

What is the oldest building in the world?

The following 10 are some of the oldest buildings in the world. With regards to the definition of a "building," we have chosen to include any site that has clear evidence, irrespective of condition or remaining extent, that it was a large, purpose-built structure.

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History

For this list, we will only consider a prehistoric structure to be ancient if it meets the following criteria: 

  • Must be a recognizable building.
  • Must incorporate features of building work from the claimed date to at least 4.9 ft (1.5 mt) in height.
  • Must be largely complete or include building work to this height for most of its perimeter.
  • Contains an enclosed area with at least one entry point.

We'll let you decide how you would define a building for the purposes of this list.

1. Göbekli Tepe - Circa 9600 BC 8200 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Sue Fleckney/Wikimedia Commons

Göbekli Tepe, (Go-Beck-Lee-Te-Peh) situated in the South East of Turkey, is possibly the oldest human-built religious structure to be discovered. Its name, roughly translated, means "Belly Hill," and it can be found roughly 7.4 miles (12 km) NE of the modern city of Şanlıurfa.

The existing remains of the ancient structure contains more than 200 pillars in around 20 circles. Each of these pillars is about 20 ft (6 mt) tall and weighs in excess of 7 tons, with many featured carvings of animals and other images.

Göbekli Tepe is officially a UNESCO World Herigate Site, too. 

2. Tell Qaramel - Circa 11000 BC to 9670 BC 

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: R. F. Mazurowski/Wikimedia

Tell Qaramel is another prehistoric building and is believed by some archaeologists to be the oldest known structure. It is located in Syria, 15 miles (25 km) north of Aleppo. 

The site is a tell, or archaeological mound, located in a fertile river valley that was once very important for trade. Digs on the site have found evidence of an early Neolithic settlement that may have been occupied right up to the Hellenistic period. It contains the remains of five round stone structures which were once part of towers.

3. Tower of Jericho - Circa 8000 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Reinhard Dietrich/Wikimedia

The so-called Tower of Jericho is an 27 ft (8.5 mt) tall stone structure built in the Neolithic period. It, as well as Gobekli Tepe and Tell Qaramel, is among the oldest discovered human-built structures. It is unknown what purpose the tower served.

From what can be ascertained about it, it was constructed using undressed stones and had an internal staircase of about 22 steps. It is also roughly conical in form.

4. Çatalhöyük - Circa 7400 BC to 5700 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Omar Hoftun/Wikipedia

Çatalhöyük (Chat-Hawl-Hoi-Yook), located in Southern Turkey, is a very large Neolithic "proto-city" which appears to have been occupied between 7400 and around 5500 BC. Since its discovery and extensive excavation, it has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site is famous for its insights into how people lived at this time. The "city" comprises mainly flat-rooved dwellings that were accessed from hatches in the roof. At its peak, the town housed as many as 8,000 people, who supported themselves through agriculture and raising livestock.

5. Khirokitia - Circa 5800 BC to 3000 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Ophella2/Wikimedia

Khirokitia, sometimes spelled Choirokoitia, meaning "Pig Cradle," is an ancient structure on the Island of Cyprus. It dates to the Neolithic age and is one of the most important Neolithic sites in the eastern Mediterranean. 

The settlement consisted of circular houses built from mudbrick with flat stone roofs, hearths and basins arranged around a small courtyard. The entire settlement was protected by defensive walls, indicating that it was built by an early organized society. 

6. Durankulak - Circa 5500 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Europost

Durankulak, in North Eastern Bulgaria, is a modern-day city with a very long history. Evidence has been uncovered that indicates settlement of the area first started during the Paleolithic period. Archaeologists have also found evidence of eight prehistoric settlement layers, the earliest of which dates from the late Neolithic period and may be around 7,500 years old.

This early settlement mainly features stone structures. And little has been uncovered about this ancient and mysterious site.

7. Perperikon - Circa 5000 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Nenko Lazarov/Wikimedia

Periperikon, in Bulgaria, is the largest megalith site in the Balkans. It sits on a rocky hill around 9.3 miles (15 km) to the north of the present-day town of Kardzhali in Bulgaria. 

The site has a long history of occupation and the first traces of civilization at Perperikon go back to 5000 B.C. However, archeologists are most interested in the more recent (1500 B.C.), and only known example, of a huge Thracian city on the site. 

There are structures on site from the Bronze, Early Iron Age and Roman Periods. It may have once been the home to the famous Temple of Dionysus and is thought to be the place where Medokos declared himself King of Thrace in 424 BC

8. Barnenez - Circa 4500 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: NewPapillon/Wikimedia

Barnenez, located in Brittany, France, is the largest megolihic mausoleum in Europe, and one of the world's oldest. The structure contains two burial chambers, the oldest dating from around 4500 BC and a second one added a few hundred years later.

The cairn has an elongated appearance and measures 256 ft (75 mt) long, 65-82 ft (20-25 mt) wide and is 30 ft (9 mt) tall. In total, it features 230 to 247k ft³ (6,500 to 7,000 m³) of stone and weighs between 12,000 and 14,000 tonnes. 

The stones are decorated with idol crests, V-shaped engravings and dotted axes. Internally, it consists of distinct chambers and associated passageways and is set on top of a hill overlooking the English Channel. 

9. Tumulus of Bougon - Circa 4700 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Joachim Jahnke/Wikimedia

The Tumulus of Bougon, located in the Bougon region of Western France, is a Nolithic necroplois consisting of six tumuli or barrows — circular monumental graves made of stone and earth. The tumuli were built by people who lived in the surrounding villages, and are some of the oldest examples of funerary architecture in the world. The largest is 236 ft (72 mt) in length.

10. Saint-Michel Tumulus - Circa 4500 BC

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Ji-Elle/Wikimedia

The Saint-Michel Tumulus is another series of five megalithic burial mounds located east of Carnac, in Brittany, France. The site dates to around 4500 BC and is 40 ft (12 meters) high by 410 ft (125 mt) long, and 200 ft (60 mt) wide.

It is the largest grave mound in continental Europe. 

What was the first building on earth?

It is very likely this question will never be answered with absolute certainty. After all, if we don't discover it, we can't possibly know about it.

But there have been some very old buildings found that are all candidates for the oldest built structure on Earth. We have already detailed some of the oldest built structures yet discovered, but there are many other candidates.

Is Newgrange the oldest structure in the world?

Newgrange, an ancient passage tomb located in the Boyne Valle of Ireland, is one of the oldest buildings ever discovered. It is estimated to be around 5,200 years old and was probably built by Stone-Age farmers.

10+ of the Oldest Buildings In the World and their History
Source: Tjp finn/Wikimedia

As you have already seen, there are some human-built structures on Earth that are far older than Newgrange. That being said, it is one of the best-preserved ever discovered. 

What is the oldest human-built structure still standing?

Of all the ancient buildings discovered so far, one of the oldest human-built structures is still standing. It is the aforementioned Barnenez in France. It is a cairn that dates to around 4850 BC and is incredibly well-preserved for its age.

And that's a wrap ladies and gentlemen. These are but some of the oldest buildings yet discovered. 

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