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13 Things That Are Older Than the United States of America

Updated: Aug. 21, 2023

It may be well over 200 years old, but in the grand scheme of things, America's still just a baby! Check out these surprising things that are older than the USA.

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Tennis Ball and Racket


Even cave people had some version of “tennis, anyone?” There’s evidence that games similar to modern tennis were played on courts dating back to ancient civilizations, including a version played by 11th century monks. The modern form dates back to France in the 1500s. Shakespeare even includes tennis in his play Henry V. In the play, a French prince sends a bunch of tennis balls to the English king to taunt him, inspiring Henry’s line, “When we have matched our rackets to these balls, We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set.” The French lost that match, of course.

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Greenland shark, Somniosus microcephalus, shark with the longest known lifespan of all vertebrate species (3d illustration)
Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock

The Greenland Shark

Turns out, Jaws has been scaring people for at least a few centuries. This oldest vertebrate creature, discovered by Danish scientists, is thought to be somewhere between 272 and 512 years old. What a codger! This creature may have been swimming in northern arctic waters since before the founding fathers were even born.

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PORTSMOUTH, UK - JUNE 12, 2014: View of Portsmouth historical dockyard on June 12, 2014 in Portsmouth, UK. Historical warships of the UK royal navy are displayed in this landmark dockyard.

The HMS Victory

As one of the most famous battleships, this British vessel of the Royal Navy first launched in 1765, over a decade before the official “birth” of America. The ship is known best for its role in the Battle of Tralfagar. It’s now a museum stationed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, still afloat after various restorations over the years. Check out these split-second decisions that changed history.

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an old theater auditorium, interior

The theater

The U.S. boasts Broadway and many other famous stages across the nation, but it was pretty late to the game. Theater is one of the earliest forms of literary entertainment. In fact, the first Greek plays date back to the 5th century B.C. Early plays were extremely popular cultural forces, just like the ones that are performed on stages today.

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Ye Olde Mitre
Alys Tomlinson/Shutterstock


Great Britain is home to a number of pubs that date back to the Renaissance era. Many are still standing and hosting patrons looking to eat, drink, and be merry. Ye Olde Mitre, located in the London district of Holborn, dates back to the Tudor times, founded in 1586. It still features old world décor and flavor. Bottoms up! Here are more random trivia facts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Backgammon Game
Susan Law Cain/Shutterstock


The word backgammon might derive from terms that mean “small battle.” That’s the perfect name for this board game, originally called “Tables” before the official name was first recorded in 1645. The game likely has origins dating back to early dice games played in ancient civilizations. So yes, family game nights have been going on since way before they were a U.S. pastime.

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Vintage record player with vinyl record.

Hit pop songs

You know that hit summer tune that plays everywhere and gets stuck in your head? Basically, that type of song has been around since medieval times. The most famous popular song on record topped the charts (or would have topped them—charts didn’t even exist then!) back in 1239. It was called “Summer is Icumen In, meaning “summer has arrived,” and included the lyric, “loud sing the cuckoo.” Time for Katy Perry or The Chainsmokers to do a remix.

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Chumash cave paintings
via cyark.org

Chumash cave paintings

The Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park in the Santa Ynez Mountains near Santa Barbara features spectacular cave paintings. The impressive art work is estimated to be at least 500 years old. The paintings depict what appear to be mythic scenes applied with crushed mineral pigment that still holds its color. Don’t miss these 18 history lessons your teacher lied to you about.

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This photo was taken in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire / United Kingdom - September, 20th 2018: A Stella Artois beer can
Toby Parsons/Shutterstock

The Stella Artois Logo

Hey, if your company’s logo is working, don’t change a thing. The Belgium beer company Stella Artois has an easily recognized logo, that features a horn image said to “beckon travelers in Belgium.” The company name changed throughout the years, but the original horn, atop the gold frame that surrounds the logo, remains. It’s been there since 1366 when the company was founded.

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A bowl of delicious caramel popcorn on a white wooden background

Butter, pita bread, and popcorn

Humans figured out how to make some of the most essential foods pretty early on in their history. There’s evidence of something called “bog butter,” which hopefully tasted better than it sounds, dating back 3,000 years. Scientists figured out that people in Peru ate popcorn 6,700 years ago. It may also comfort you to hear that 14,000-year-old bread was discovered in an ancient oven. Hopefully, some version of bog butter was around serve with the early bread and popcorn! Check out these 18 science facts you never learned in school.

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Britain Gospel, London, Gbr Xen
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Shutterstock


Humans has been writing essentially since the start of civilization. One of the oldest intact books is the St. Cuthbert Gospel, which dates back to at least the 7th or 8th century. It’s worth over $11 million (in today’s U.S. dollars), contains the Gospel of John, and somehow survived various invasions and mayhem across the years.

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UNESCO World Heritage Site Taos Pueblo outside of Taos, New Mexico, continuously inhabited for over 1000 years.

Taos Pueblo

The Taos Pueblo community in New Mexico has been continuously inhabited for at least 1,000 years, long before America was founded. The pueblo structures were built between 1000 and 1,450 A.D. and are home to a vibrant community that is open for visits from the general public. Around 150 members of the native Pueblo tribe still reside in the historic adobe buildings. Don’t miss these 15 more fascinating facts about America you never learned in school.

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Tambov, Russian Federation - August 28, 2017 Cup of Twinings English Breakfast tea with teabag. Black background. Top view. Studio shot.

Twinings Tea

How about a lovely cup of tea? Twinings tea is considered the world’s oldest still-recognizable brand name. Thomas Twining opened the first shop in London in 1706, and that location is still in operation today. Twinings is known the world over as the go-to brand for tea lovers. Next, read on for the 24 U.S. state facts everyone gets wrong.