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Why doesn't North America have old cities?



In Italy there is Rome, where you can see ruins dating back thousands of years. China has older cities, and in the Middle East we find remnants of the very first civilizations – the oldest known could be Göbekli Tepe, although it is probably not considered a "city". But we don't seem to have old cities in North America – why not?

Well, it depends on what you mean.

What is a "city" (how many people must have lived there?) What is "old" (how old must it be?) And perhaps most important for this question, what do we mean by "have" – ​​are old Ruins enough or does it have to be a city in which people live still live ?

And there are other factors as well

Building materials are part of the problem. If you build a massive stone pyramid, it will be around thousands of years later. If you build things out of wood, they are much more likely to be destroyed over time and leave little or no traces. So the visible presence of cities will depend on whether local cultures use stone and metal or other things ̵

1; and that depends in part on geology. You will not build your house from stone unless there is a good stone nearby. This could explain why we do not see America as a place where ancient cities can be found. But …

Still we have really old cities – like in Central America.

Our most famous ancient city is probably Mexico City. Today it has a population of almost 9 million people (definitely large enough to be a “city”) and is the capital of Mexico (definitely part of the North American continent). In the center of the city you can still see the remains of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco, the Aztec cities that existed before the Spanish conquest. They date back to around 1325 CE or around 900 years ago. Is it old enough to be "old"? Well, we can get much older than that … the city of Cholula is still inhabited today and has been there since 200-500 BC. BC … that is well over 2000 years. You can even see a large pyramid there, covered with so much earth and green that it looks like a hill. In today's Guatemala, the ancient city of Flores may even be older than Cholula and remains a wonderful place to visit and live.

What about the United States?

The best-known ancient cities in the United States are probably in the southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico because they were built of stone. The cities of Acoma Pueblo and Oraibi are older than Tenochtitlan and people still live there today. The historic Cahokia Mounds site in Illinois allows tourists to visit and learn about the city that existed 1000 years before contact with Europe – and was in its heyday larger and busier than London. Other, less famous or less visible Native American settlements are known to exist in many locations in America and Canada today.

What about European cities?

Well, the obvious answer to why we are not older European cities is that Europeans were stuck on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean until Vikings discovered Newfoundland. The earliest continuously occupied European city would be Santo Domingo, which dates from AD 1496 in what is now the Dominican Republic.


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