Commodities & Metals

This Is the Oldest Thing in the World

How old is old? The so-called early modern human first appeared about 200,000 years ago. By most measures, the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. Old “things” must have had their origins sometime after that. Scientists have a fascination with old things. These experts run a range from anthropologists to astronomers, who estimate the universe began 14 billion years ago. The subject has fascinated people for centuries.

Some old things are markers of the development of humans. The early cave paintings, like the 40,000-year-old ones in El Castillo, Spain, lack some of the later-developed perspective techniques and drawing tools. Those paintings are new when measured against “old” categories that have nothing to do with humans. This includes the oldest tree, which is over 5,000 years old, and the oldest known rock, which is slightly older than that — by about 229,995,000 years.

24/7 Tempo reviewed scientific journals, record collecting organizations, newspapers and other sources to identify the oldest known item in several categories. Often, there is less than a historical or scientific consensus as to which is the actual oldest item. These are not necessarily the first thing made in a particular category. Rather, they are the oldest surviving version.

The oldest thing in the world based on that yardstick is a mineral. Here are the details:

  • Oldest: The Jack Hills Zircon
  • Approximate Date: 4.4 billion BCE
  • Location: Jack Hills, Australia


The oldest known materials of any kind on the planet are zircon crystals found in Australia’s Jack Hills region that are more than 4 billion years old. Elements in these zircons suggest they came from water-rich, granite-like rocks. The presence of quartz, as well as the result of isotopic studies of the materials, suggests that continental crust was forming early in Earth’s history and that tectonic activity was occurring as well.

Click here to see all the 25 oldest things in the world.

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