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List of cities of the ancient Near East

The earliest cities in history were in the ancient Near East, an area covering roughly that of the modern Middle East: its history began in the 4th millennium BC and ended, depending on the interpretation of the term, either with the conquest by the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC or with that by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC.

The largest cities of the Bronze Age Near East housed several tens of thousands of people. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age, with some 30,000 inhabitants, was the largest city of the time by far. Ebla is estimated to have had a population of 40,000 inhabitants in the Intermediate Bronze age.[1] Ur in the Middle Bronze Age is estimated to have had some 65,000 inhabitants; Babylon in the Late Bronze Age similarly had a population of some 50,000–60,000. Niniveh had some 20,000–30,000, reaching 100,000 only in the Iron Age (around 700 BC).

In Akkadian and Hittite orthography, URU𒌷 became a determinative sign denoting a city, or combined with KUR𒆳 "land" the kingdom or territory controlled by a city, e.g. 𒄡𒆳𒌷𒄩𒀜𒌅𒊭 LUGAL KUR URUHa-at-ti "the king of the country of (the city of) Hatti". The KI 𒆠 determinative is used following place names (toponyms) in both Sumerian and Akkadian.[2][3]


Lower Mesopotamia

Map of Mesopotamian cities in modern-day Iraq, Syria and Iran.
Map of Mesopotamia.

(ordered from north to south)

Upper Mesopotamia

Map of Syria in the second millennium BC

(ordered from north to south)


Anatolia (Turkey)

Settlements of Bronze Age Anatolia, based on Hittite records.

(ordered from north to south)

The Levant

Arabian Peninsula

The Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, separated by just a few miles of the Red Sea, have a history of related settlements, especially near the coast


Horn of Africa


See also


  1. ^ Kohl, Philip L. (1991). "The use and abuse of world systems theory: The case of the "pristine" west Asian state". In Lamberg-Karlovsky, Clifford Charles (ed.). Archaeological Thought in America. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-40643-7.
  2. ^ Electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (EPSD)
  3. ^ Edzard, Dietz Otto (2003). Sumerian Grammar. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Vol. 71. Leiden: Brill. p. 9. ISBN 90-04-12608-2.
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List of cities of the ancient Near East
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