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Biggest Cities in History

Try to name the cities that were the most populous on Earth at any time from 1000 BC–2000 AD.
According to Wikipedia. We added cities mentioned by at least 2 of 3 sources.
Country = modern-day country where the city or its ruins are located
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: March 22, 2024
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First submittedMay 9, 2013
Times taken70,095
Average score58.8%
Rating4.49
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Years
Max Pop.
Country
City
1965–2000
26.0 m
Japan
Tokyo
1925–1950
12.5 m
USA
New York
1825–1914
7.42 m
UK
London
1425–1825
1.35 m
China
Beijing
1358–1420
1 m
China
Nanjing
1180–1350
1.5 m
China
Hangzhou
1013–1200
1 mil
China
Kaifeng
775–1200
1.2 mil
Iraq
Baghdad
600–900
1 mil
China
Xi'an
Years
Max Pop.
Country
City
340–600
600 k
Turkey
Constantinople
1–400
1.2 mil
Italy
Rome
320 BC–100 BC
1 mil
Egypt
Alexandria
1000 BC–400 BC
200 k
Iraq
Babylon
700 BC–650 BC
120 k
Iraq
Nineveh
1000 BC–700 BC
100 k
China
Luoyang
1980 BC–700 BC
120 k
Egypt
Luxor
3100 BC–700 BC
100 k
Egypt
Memphis
1000 BC
100 k
China
Xi'an
+10
Level 82
Jun 19, 2013
Great quiz. One of my favorites on the site. I know I already plug this quiz quite a lot:

Oldest Cities by Country

But this may be the single most appropriate place to do so, the subject matter is so similar. And not everyone cares about ancient geography.

+3
Level 77
Jun 19, 2013
Well...i only missed 3 that I had ever heard of or had a chance to spell. I call it a success.
+1
Level 21
Jul 4, 2013
I can't believe I didn't think of Rome!
+1
Level 37
Aug 8, 2014
This was a great quiz. I would have liked to see a couple more 20th/21st century entries though.
+5
Level 76
Jan 29, 2024
There aren't any to add. It's just New York and Tokyo.
+2
Level 68
May 21, 2017
Heck, I didn't feel so bad when I saw the ones I'd missed. Sheesh!
+6
Level 90
Nov 27, 2017
Maybe accept Nineve? And if you're feeling generous, Ninive, which seems to be the most common spelling in other European languages.
+6
Level 86
Nov 30, 2017
What... is the capital of Assyria?
+5
Level 63
Mar 13, 2018
I, I... I don't know that!

:::BOING!!!:::

Yaaaaaah!!!

+4
Level 71
Mar 13, 2018
Blue....... no!
+1
Level 66
Mar 27, 2024
What… is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
+2
Level 51
Jun 9, 2018
Nineveh !
+1
Level 61
Nov 5, 2022
Assur
+1
Level 82
Mar 13, 2018
I think you added some cities to this? I think the dates might extend back farther than they used to. Still no Akkad, Anyang or Uruk. This is much easier for me than the sports quizzes.
+1
Level 66
Mar 13, 2018
Uruk is mentioned by two sources for 3000 BCE. That's also the case with Girsu in 2075, Akkad in 2240, Ur in 2000, Avaris in 1600 (BCE of course).
+6
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2018
"Name the cities that were the most populous on Earth at any time from 1000 B.C. - 2000 A.D."
+2
Level 76
Mar 13, 2018
i forgot to mention, forgot to mention memphis
+2
Level 60
Mar 15, 2018
lol
+1
Level 71
Mar 14, 2018
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir ............ one of my favourite poems
+1
Level 75
Mar 20, 2018
Nice one, QM.
+2
Level 37
Apr 10, 2019
Can you not accept Mosul for Nineveh?
+1
Level 73
Jul 2, 2019
Very interesting. I learned a lot from this one.
+2
Level 71
Jun 27, 2020
I was rather surprised that only one of these cities was in India.
+1
Level 65
Apr 6, 2022
I'm Spanish and I had to try like 15 cities before guessing the right one from Spain... Obvious in retrospect, didn't seem so. Amazing quiz, loved it!
+4
Level 89
Mar 23, 2024
So what what were the Spanish and Indian ones?
+3
Level 68
Jul 18, 2022
I still find it very interesting how it took almost 2000 years for a city to get well past 1 million people after Alexandria, despite the global population growing substantially during this time.
+2
Level 76
Feb 16, 2024
Well, Rome had about 1.2 million people as it surpassed Alexandria, unless you mean for a city to get into the multi-million people range. But even as the population of the world increased greatly, all civilizations remained predominantly agrarian, and the means didn't quite exist to support huge populations in the relatively small space of a city. It seems that around 1 million people was the sustainable spot until the late 1700s/early 1800s when the Industrial Revolution hit and changed everything.
+5
Level ∞
Mar 22, 2024
Yes. It's pretty remarkable that cities never grew much larger than Alexandria until the 19th century.

I think this has to do with transportation. If you have to walk everywhere or take a horse, then city sizes are constrained. In ancient Rome, 1 million people were crammed into an area much smaller than the modern city, perhaps 15 square kilometers.

Trains and cars changed that, allowing people to commute from tens or hundreds of miles away. So density is much lower but the city size is much higher as continuous urban centers become spread out.

+1
Level 83
Jan 21, 2024
Very interesting quiz thank you.
+10
Level 71
Mar 22, 2024
I love how Xi’an reclaimed its title as largest city in the world after 1,600 years!
+1
Level 73
Mar 27, 2024
Thank you from saving me from making the erroneous "I can't believe no city lost and then later regained the top spot" comment I was about to post!
+1
Level 82
Mar 22, 2024
'Nineve' should be an acceptable answer
+1
Level ∞
Mar 22, 2024
This is an English-language quiz. Also, people hate it when the answer fills in before they finish type.
+5
Level 80
Mar 22, 2024
"We use the modern name for the city, but ancient names are accepted as type-ins" says the caveat, but the quiz itself seems inconsistent. Istanbul (modern name) is accepted as a type-in but Constantinople (old name) is what appears as the answer, while Beijing (modern name) is the answer but Peking (old name) isn't accepted as a type-in.
+2
Level 82
Mar 22, 2024
and 3rd case: Nineveh (old name) is the answer but Mosul (modern name) isn't accepted.
+1
Level 73
Mar 22, 2024
Nineveh = Mosul ??????? 🤯
+2
Level 84
Mar 23, 2024
You learn something every day. I knew of ancient Nineveh, but never realized that it's actually part of modern Mosul.
+2
Level ∞
Mar 22, 2024
Removed the useless caveat. Also, Mosul will work now.
+1
Level 76
Mar 25, 2024
How come Constantinople, with half the size of Rome, is listed? Or did Rome's population suddenly collapse at some point?
+5
Level ∞
Mar 26, 2024
I think you just answered your own question.
+1
Level 76
Mar 27, 2024
No, I asked it. If you answer "Yes" you'll have answered my own question :)
+1
Level 61
Mar 27, 2024
Wasn't Rome the first city to hit 1 Million?