The World's Oldest Monuments That Are Seriously Impressive

The world's oldest monuments offer a fascinating glimpse into early civilizations. 

Though the identities and purposes of their builders may be lost to time, these structures stand as testaments to human ingenuity and the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to settled communities.

Perched on a hillside near Portimão, these 18 burial mounds form a necropolis from the Chalcolithic era. The most notable is Tholos 7, which has a diameter of 89 feet. 

1. Megalithic Monuments of Alcalar, Portugal (c. 2000 BC)

Located in ancient Ur, this well-preserved ziggurat was built by the Neo-Sumerians. Constructed from millions of mud bricks stamped with King Ur-Nammu's name, it originally had three tiers leading to a temple.

2. Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq (2100 BC)

This city on the Indus River was a marvel of the Indus Valley Civilization. With a population in the tens of thousands, it featured advanced water management systems, including hundreds of wells, public baths, assembly halls, and a large granary.

3. Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan (2500 BC)

Located in Saqqara, this pyramid is Egypt’s oldest. Built for Pharaoh Djoser and designed by Imhotep, it stands 200 feet tall and consists of six tiers. 

4. Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt (c. 2600 BC)

Older than the pyramids, this massive mud-brick structure in Abydos dates to the reign of Second Dynasty Pharaoh Khasekhemwy. With vast concentric rectangular walls, it served as a funerary enclosure for continued worship of rulers after death.

5. Shunet El Zebib, Egypt (c. 2700 BC)

Situated in the salt marshes of Gujarat, Dholavira was a fortified city and cemetery of the Indus Valley Civilization. It featured an advanced water management system with reservoirs and an early example of urban planning and social order.

6. Dholavira, India (3000 BC)

On Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge’s stone circles emerged around 3000 BC. The purpose of these stones—some transported from 150 miles away—remains a mystery. 

7. Stonehenge, England (3000 BC)

Part of the Norte Chico civilization, Bandurria predates many ancient structures. Featuring huge platforms and sunken plazas, it dates to 3200 BC. 

8. Bandurria, Peru (3200 BC)

Skara Brae is one of the best-preserved Neolithic settlements in Western Europe. Buried under sand dunes for centuries, it was uncovered by a fierce storm in 1850. Radiocarbon dating suggests it was inhabited as early as 3200 BC. 

9. Skara Brae, Scotland (3200 BC)

Located on Hulbjerg Hill on the Danish island of Langeland, this round stone barrow contains the remains of at least 53 people, including children. Dating back to around 3300 BC.

10. Hulbjerg Passage Grave, Denmark (c. 3300 BC)

Near Oldcastle in County Meath, over 20 tombs from the fourth millennium BC dot the landscape. The area, known as Slieve na Calliagh or the Mountains of the Witch, contains tombs with cross-shaped chambers decorated with rare examples of megalithic art.

11. Loughcrew Cairns, Ireland (c. 3300 BC)

Part of the Carrowmore group of tombs in County Sligo, Listoghil is notable for its size and prominence. Designated Carrowmore 51 by Irish antiquarian George Petrie in 1837, it measures 112 feet in diameter and is surrounded by 101 kerbstones.

12. Listoghil, Ireland (c. 3500 BC)

These ancient monuments, spanning continents and millennia, showcase the ingenuity and resilience of early human societies. Each site offers a unique window into the past, preserving the legacy of the people who built them and the civilizations they represent.

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