10 Oldest Buildings in the World

Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, ‎Gozo‎, ‎Malta
Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, ‎Gozo‎, ‎Malta

Human beings have come a long way since the invention of the wheel, largely accredited to the ancient Sumerians in Lower Mesopotamia, at least five thousand years ago. Since then, Humankind has progressed leaps and bounds as is evident from the level of advancement in the technology we use in our day-to-day life, to make life simpler. Here is a list of the Ten Oldest Buildings in the World (used mostly for the living rather than as only a mausoleum for the dead,

Oldest Buildings in the World

1. Knap of Howar, Papa Westray, Scotland

Discovered in the 1930s, the Knap of Howar is one of the oldest structures known to man. This Scottish building is estimated to have been constructed around 3600 BCE. It consists of two buildings with stone walls connected to each other via a common passage. On further examination, archaeologists concluded that the larger structure was used as the main house and the smaller building connected to it was a workshop. The Knap of Howar is believed to have been built on the ruins of an earlier structure.

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Knap of Howar, Papa Westray, Scotland
Knap of Howar, Papa Westray, Scotland

Image Source: Wikimedia

2. Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, ‎Gozo‎, ‎Malta

Located in Gozo, Malta, these temples are estimated to have been built around 3600 to 3200 BCE. They are the oldest megalithic temples of Malta. In the process of their investigation, archaeologists found evidence of animal sacrifices at the site, supporting the belief that this site had a ritualistic purpose. This site is listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. According to folklore, these temples were named after a race of mysterious giants (“ġgant” literally means giant).

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Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, ‎Gozo‎, ‎Malta
Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, ‎Gozo‎, ‎Malta

Image Source: Wikimedia

3. Tarxien Temples, Tarxien, Malta

Another set of megalithic structures on the island of Malta, the Tarxien Temples were constructed between 3600 to 2500 BCE. This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of a set of four temples, with the oldest one being substantially eroded over time. These temples are known for their splendid relief work, engravings, and carvings of animals and shapes on stone blocks, screens, and more. There were also several altars found at this site.

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Tarxien Temples, Tarxien, Malta
Tarxien Temples, Tarxien, Malta

Image Source: Wikimedia

4. Shunet el-Zabib, Egypt

Constructed around 2750 BCE, this Egyptian structure is amongst the oldest mud-brick buildings to still exist. This building was made as a posthumous tomb shrine for King Khasekhemwy who reigned as part of ancient Egypt’s second dynasty. Shunet el-Zabib is considered to be the predecessor of the Egyptian pyramids. This mud-brick structure houses the Kings royal tomb underground. Above ground, was a structure created for the purpose of collectively paying respects and worshipping the king.

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Shunet el-Zabib, Egypt
Shunet el-Zabib, Egypt

Image Source: Wikimedia

5. Palace of Knossos, Knossos, Greece

Located in Crete, Greece, the Palace of Knossos was at the political and cultural heart of the Minoan Bronze age. This palace had been victim to several catastrophes such as wars, loots and natural disasters over the years, and is said to have been rebuilt multiple times. The structure was finally destroyed around 1300 BCE and abandoned less than a century after. What remains for people to see at the archaeological site is mostly ruins of the old structure.

Palace of Knossos, Knossos, Greece
Palace of Knossos, Knossos, Greece

Image Source: Wikipedia

6. Nuraghe Santu Antine, Italy

Located in the Valley of Nuraghi, in Sardinia, Italy, the megalithic structure remains largely well preserved. Locally known as “ Sa Domu de su Re” or the House of the King, the purpose of this building remains unknown, though the local name suggests it to have been associated with persons of prominence as a castle. Archaelogists suggest that this structure dates back to 1600 BCE.

Nuraghe Santu Antine, Italy
Nuraghe Santu Antine, Italy

Image Source: Wikimedia

7. Su Naraxi, Italy

Another structure located in Italy, Su Naraxi is located in the Barumini region. It is one of the best-preserved structures on the list. The structure is a very important historical site, as the only site with evidence of the old Nuragic civilization. This complex is listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage sites and consists of four towers in each corner with another tower at its center. The central tower of Su Naraxi is estimated to have been built in the 16th century BCE.

Su Naraxi, Italy
Su Naraxi, Italy

Image Source: Wikimedia

8. Dun Aonghasa, Ireland

This site is a very well preserved cliffside fort constructed in the Aran Islands of Ireland, around 1100 BCE. A unique feature of this Protected Monument of Ireland is its Chevaux de Frise made up of jagged stones as a mode of defense against intruders, which was a much later installation. Archaeologists have discovered multiple layers of habitation on the site.

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Dun Aonghasa, Ireland
Dun Aonghasa, Ireland

Image Source: Wikimedia

9. Van Fortress, Turkey

Located in the Van province of Turkey, much of this structure is in ruins. This fortress was commissioned by the ancient kingdom of Uratu, known for its extensive architectural marvels, in the 8th century BCE. This structure stood through many important occasions in history and even housed the trilingual inscription of Xerxes the Great, dated to the fifth century BCE. The structure was under continuous occupation even after regimes changed. The   Medes, Achaemenids, Armenians, Parthians, Romans, Sassanid Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks, Safavids, Afsharids, Ottomans, and Russians are all known to have staked claim to the fortress, at one time or the other.

Van Fortress, Turkey
Van Fortress, Turkey

Image Source: Wikimedia

10. Nalanda, Mahavihara

One of the oldest buildings in the world now mostly in ruins, Nalanda used to attract seekers of knowledge from all over during the 7th to 12th centuries BCE. Located in present-day Bihar, India, this ancient university housed two thousand teachers and over ten thousand students who came from all over Asia. This was a large structure with dormitories, classrooms, spaces for meditation, and temples. Among the most ancient universities in South Asia, what remains of the site is now listed under UNESCO’s Sites of World Heritage.

Nalanda, Mahavihara
Nalanda, Mahavihara

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