It’s amazing to think that despite their low life expectancy, high risk of disease, and fondness for war, ancient man found the time to get anything done let alone pull off spectacular feats of architecture with only the most primitive of tools. Here are some of the oldest manmade structures on the planet that you can still marvel at today.
Cairn de Barnenez – France
This ancient mausoleum sits alongside the Bay of Morlaix in the Brittany area of France, and is the oldest known structure in the world – it predates even the pyramids in Egypt. The 246 foot long, 16 foot high structure consists of two sections that contain 11 passage tombs. The first section was built in 4500 BC, while the second one was added several hundred years later.
While tourists come from all over to admire the carved lines and symbols on the outside of the tomb, most of the inner passages are closed to the public.
Knap of Howar – Scotland
Knap of Howar on the island of Papa Westray in Orkney, off the Northern shores of Scotland, is known as the oldest standing house in Northwest Europe, dating back to 3700 BC. This well-preserved Neolithic dwelling consists of two stone houses complete with intact doorways, walls, and even cupboards fashioned from the rock.
Excavations have uncovered a number of stone tools, ceremonial items, and animal remains that were left behind by the house’s inhabitants, who called it home more than 5000 years ago.
Maikop Kurgan – Russia
This burial chamber located in the Kuban area of Southern Russia was first excavated in 1897. Inside it they found a jewel encrusted skeleton and some of the last clues we have about the ancient Maikop culture. This Bronze Age tribe built the grave around 3700 – 3200 BC for the entombment of one of its wealthy chieftains.
Artifacts inside the tomb include gold diadems, silver vases, and beads made from non-native stones indicating that the Maikops were a sophisticated tribe who formed strong trade relations with their neighboring cultures.