Top 20 World’s Oldest Buildings
In our modern days, we’re constantly racing to build wider and taller structures that can support our commercial, housing and technological needs, but if we were to go back in time a few thousands of years, we’d see that the very first buildings raised by man were actually used in religious purposes or for burial. Nonetheless, many of the oldest buildings on the planet are quite imposing, which is impressive since our early ancestors had no access to any kind of technology. Today we are going to present to you a list regarding some of the oldest buildings in the world, all of which were constructed many millennia BC.
Dolmen de Bagneux (3000 BC)
The Dolmen de Bagneux dates back to the Megalithic period, and it can be found in Saumur, France. As one of the largest dolmen in the country and in Europe, this majestic monument was made using sandstone and measures 75 feet in length. The dolmen is composed of an interior chamber and a porch that sustained some damage. Even though the landmark is located on private property, it can be visited by the public freely.
Tarxien Temples (3100 BC)
The archeological complex called Tarxien Temples is located in the village o Tarxien in Malta. Dating back to 3150 BC, these temples officially became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. The site includes 3 temples that boast incredible decorations depicting domestic animals and spiral-based patterns. As archaeologists proceeded to excavate the site, they learned that the Traxien Temples were probably used for a variety of rituals that involved animal sacrifice.
Newgrange (3100 – 2900 BC)
The prehistoric monument named Newgrange can be found in the Meath county of Ireland, in close proximity to the Boyne River. Since it was raised during the Neolithic period in about 3200 BC, this large circular mound predates Stonehenge. The purpose of Newgrange is still a mystery to this day, but many archaeologists concur that it must have been used for religious purposes, especially since the light of the rising sun floods its chambers during the winter solstice. Nowadays, the site is a very important tourist attraction and one of the most significant national monuments of the country.
Tomb of the Eagles (3150 BC)
The Neolithic chambered tomb called Tomb of the Eagles can be found in Orkney, Scotland. What makes this incredible landmark special is that houses as many as 725 bird bones and 16,000 human bones. The name of the tomb was chosen because many of the bird bones belonged to white-tailed sea eagles that died inside about a millennia after the landmark was built. The first man to explore the Tomb of the Eagles was Ronald Simison, while an archaeologist named John Hedges performed a much deeper analysis of the site.
Skara Brae (3180 BC)
Skara Brae is located on the Bay of Skaill in Scotland, and it is currently one of the most renowned Neolithic settlements in the country. The settlement includes jus 8 stone-made houses, but since they form one of the most complete Neolithic settlements in Europe, Skara Brae eventually became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a matter of fact, the site is so well preserved that it has been referred to as the “Scottish Pompeii”.
Quanterness (3250 BC)
Quanterness is a tomb that can be found on a slope of the Wideford Hill in Scotland. When the site was excavated during the 1970s, archaeologists discovered the remains of about 157 individuals within, out of which 10 were infants, 26 children, 85 adults and 36 teenagers. Other discoveries included animal bones as well as certain artifacts and domestic tools. Nowadays, the site is closed to the public for preservation purposes and so that it may be analyzed further in the future.
Knowe of Yarso (3350 BC)
The Knowe of Yarso can be found in proximity to the village of Rousay in Scotland, and it dates back to 3350 BC. This outstanding landmark includes a chamber that was divided into 4 compartments, and it can be reached via a 13-foot long passage. Excavations in 1934 revealed the remnants of about 29 people as well as a few flint knives and pottery pieces. The decorations on the stonework involve numerous triangular designs.
Unstan Chambered Cairn (3450 BC)
Going further into the past, we uncover the Neolithic chambered cairn called Unstan, which can be found on Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. This excellently preserved tomb is a bit unusual when compared to other Orkney chambered cairns, since it features a circular burial mound as well as a side chamber. Excavations in 1884 revealed a unique type of pottery that was created using a technique named “stab-and-drag”. The pottery involved round bowls, and some of them featured pieces of volcanic rock embedded inside for a plus of durability.
Wayland’s Smithy (3460 BC)
Wayland’s Smithy can be found in Oxfordshire, England, just a stone’s throw away from the Uffington White Horse. This incredible Neolithic long barrow and chamber tomb is one of numerous old sites that are linked to the Germanic smith-god named Wayland. This ancient site is shrouded in myth and legend, which is why numerous visitors feel compelled to leave certain offerings on its premises such as fruit, flowers or various objects.
Gavrinis (3500 BC)
The Gavrinis island is located in the Gulf of Morbihan in Brittany, France and includes an outstanding megalithic monument called Gavrinis tomb. The island itself is uninhabited and can be reached by boat from the nearby town of Larmor-Baden, but archaeologists agree that it was actually linked to the mainland in 3500 BC when the tomb was built. Apart from its remarkable preservation, the tomb impresses with a series of beautiful megalithic art decorations.
Midhowe Chambered Cairn (3500 BC)
Also dating back to 3500 BC is the Neolithic chambered cairn called Midhowe, which sits on the island of Rousay in Orkney, Scotland. The cairn got its name because of a magnificent Bronze Age broch that can be found just to the west of its location. The remains of about 25 individuals were discovered within the tomb’s walls, but animal bones were also present. Due to its generous proportions, the Midhowe chambered cairn must have been of great significance during its glory days.
La Hogue Bie (3500 BC)
The Jersey parish of Grouville in Great Britain is home to the La Hogue Bie historic site, which was actually featured on the 2010 issue of the Jersey 1-pound note. It was the Société Jersiaise that excavated this incredible site for the first time in 1925, but their discoveries were somewhat limited since the place had been ransacked at a certain point in its past. The site includes a 61-foot long passage chamber as well as a 40-foot tall earth mound. Two medieval chapels were raised on the mound, one dating back to the 12th century while the other was built in the 16th century.
Sechin Bajo (3500 BC)
The only non-European site on our list is the Sechin Bajo, which is a very old stone plaza in Lima, Peru. The site was excavated in 2008 by German and Peruvian archaeologists. Since it is about 500 years older than the Caral ancient city, the Sechin Bajo is probably the oldest archaeological complex in the New World right now.
Listoghil (3550 BC)
Listoghil is located in County Sligo, Ireland, and it represents the largest and most important monument in a cluster of prehistoric tombs called Carrowmore. At 164 feet above sea level, Listoghil is undoubtedly the tallest in the complex, but it also differentiates itself from its neighboring satellites through its imposing size (111 feet in diameter). The central room of the monument can be reached via a man-made route consisting of several gabions.
West Kennet Long Barrow (3650 BC)
The Neolithic barrow called West Kennet Long Barrow is located in close proximity to Silbury Hill in in Wiltshire, England. The construction process of the landmark started in 3600 BC, which means that it predates Stonehenge by 400 years. Even though the site sustained some damage because of some neglectful digging, experts did manage to uncover 46 burials that contained the remains of young and elderly humans alike. A renowned archaeologist named Stuart Ernest Piggott suggested that the site had been used in religious or ritualistic purposes before acting as a burial place.
Ġgantija Temple Complex (3700 BC)
The Ġgantija temple complex is located on the Isle of Gozo. The temples that form this wonderful complex are among the first in Malta, which means that they are definitely older than the famous pyramids of Egypt. As the second oldest man-built religious buildings after Göbekli Tepe, these fantastic structures are over 5500 years old, which is an overwhelming amount of time if you think about it. Historians and archeologists suspect that the Ġgantija temple complex is connected to a fertility cult, especially since several statues and figurines were found on the site. Ġgantija is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Knap of Howar (3700 BC)
The oldest and best-preserved stone home in northern Europe can be found in Scotland at the Knap of Howar. The site comprises 2 neighboring buildings that flaunt thick walls as well as low entries that face towards the endless sea. The buildings are connected by a passageway, but one of them is definitely larger and older and seems to have been used as a second home or as a workspace of sorts. Since they both feature holes in their rooftops, the homes were probably heated and illuminated by fire.
Saint-Michel Tumulus (4500 BC)
The megalithic grave mount named Saint-Michel Tumulus features a length of 410 feet, a width of 196 feet and a height of 32 feet. This very old grave mound dates to 4500 BC, and it can be found in Brittany, France, to the east of the commune of Carnac. Many of the artifacts that were uncovered during the site’s excavation can now be seen at the Carnac Museum. Even though visiting the inner chamber of the mound was possible during the 1980s, the room is now sealed to visitors.
Tumulus of Bougon (4700 BC)
Also known as the Necropolis of Bougon, the Tumulus of Bougon consists of five Neolithic barrows that can be found in Poitou-Charentes, France. The complex was discovered in 1840 and stirred much interest in the scientific community, but it wasn’t excavated thoroughly until the 1960s. A big part of the material unearthed from the site can be found at the Bougon Museum.
Cairn of Barnenez (4850 BC)
Finally, the oldest megalithic monument in the world is the Cairn of Barnenez, which is located in Finistère, Brittany, France. Dating to the early times of the Neolithic period, this extraordinary landmark boasts an impressive collection of megalithic art as well as 11 chambers. Built using about 13,000 tons of stone, the monument was built in 2 phases, one before 4500 BC and one between 4200 and 3900 BC. The site was privately owned until the 1950s, when the local community decided to claim ownership of it in response to the discovery of some of its chambers.