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10 Oldest Ancient Civilizations That Changed The World

The world has experienced the magnificence of old civilizations in the world from the banks of the Nile in Egypt, in the Indus Valley in South Asia, and in the center of Mesopotamia in the Middle East. 

Early homo sapiens, or modern humans, are very unfamiliar, having emerged in Africa about 200,000 years ago, while the earliest hominids or human-like creatures did so approximately 2 million years ago

In this article, we travel across time to examine the depth, complexity, and enduring legacy of 10 ancient civilizations in the world

  • Cradle of Civilization: Mesopotamia
  • Indus Valley Civilization
  • Roman Civilization
  • Persian Civilization
  • Ancient Greek Civilization
  • China Civilization
  • Maya Civilization
  • Egyptian Civilization
  • Incan Civilization
  • Aztec Civilization

1) Cradle of Civilization: Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia, also referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization,” was a civilization that existed between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Some of the first cities, such as Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon, were founded in this region.

The Mesopotamian civilisation, which ascended to power circa 3500 BCE, is famous for its outstanding accomplishments in a number of disciplines.

Hammurabi Code

The Code of Hammurabi was one of the first legal codes ever produced, and it was produced in Babylon during the reign of King Hammurabi. It created regulations and penalties for many crimes, serving as a model for contemporary legal structures.

Astronomy and Mathematics

Mesopotamians made important contributions to the fields of Astronomy and Mathematics. They created the idea of a 60-second minute and a 60-minute hour, which still has an impact on how we keep track of time today.

Writing 

Cuneiform, one of the first writing systems ever created, was created by the Sumerians. The “Epic of Gilgamesh” was only one of the stories that were written in this wedge-shaped writing, along with regulations. Future written languages were built on the foundation of cuneiform.

2) Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley civilisation, one of the first on this list, served as the foundation for all other civilizations that developed in the Indus Valley.

This civilisation thrived in regions that now make up northwest India and Pakistan, as well as northeast Afghanistan. 

It was one of the three early civilizations of the ancient world, together with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and of the three, it was the most broad, spanning a region of 1.25 million kilometers.

The Indus River Basin, one of Asia’s major rivers, and the Ghaggar-Hakra River, which formerly flowed through northeast India and eastern Pakistan, were populated entirely.

The peak period of this old civilization of the world is thought to have lasted from 2600 BC to around 1900 BC. It is also known as the Harappan civilization and the Mohenjo-Daro civilization, named after the excavation sites where the civilization’s relics were discovered.

The Indus Valley civilization became the first urban center in the area thanks to its complex and technologically advanced urban culture.

The Indus Valley civilization had very accurate methods of measuring length, mass, and time, and it is clear from the objects uncovered during excavations that the civilization was also highly skilled in the arts and crafts.

3) Roman Civilization

The Roman period began to develop in the sixth century BC. Even the history of how ancient Rome was founded is shrouded in tale and myth. All of the modern Mediterranean nations were a part of ancient Rome, which at its height controlled over a huge area of land.

The citizens of Rome gained control of their own city and controlled it themselves after just seven rulers had ruled in its early history. They established the Senate, a body that governed them.

Some of the most notable rulers in human history, including Julius Caesar, Trajan, and Augustus, rose to power in Rome and then fell. However, the empire finally grew to such a size that it was simply impossible to unify it under a single monarch.

Millions of barbarians from northern and eastern Europe eventually took control of the Roman Empire.

4) Persian Civilization

The ancient Persian civilization once held the title of most powerful empire on Earth.

The Persians only ruled for over 200 years, yet during that time they occupied more than two million square kilometers of territory.

The Persian Empire was renowned for its military might and intelligent leaders from southern Egypt to parts of Greece and east to sections of India.

Persia was split into factions before 550 BC by a number of rulers before they built such a massive empire in just 200 years.

When King Cyrus II rose to prominence and united the whole Persian empire before conquering ancient Babylon, he subsequently became known as Cyrus the Great.

His conquest took place so quickly that by the end of 533 BC, they had already conquered India, which was located in the far east. Even after Cyrus passed away, his ancestors carried on with this repressive expansion and even took part in the now fabled conflict with the valiant Spartans.

Ancient Persia dominated all of central Asia as well as Egypt at its height. In the year 330 BC, a renowned Macedonian general named Alexander the Great defeated the whole Persian Empire, ultimately putting an end to civilization.

5) Ancient Greek Civilization

The ancient Greeks were undoubtedly one of the most important civilizations.

Since the Cycladic and Minoan civilizations (2700 BC–1500 BC) were responsible for ancient Greece’s ascent, there is proof of graves in the Franchthi Cave in Argolid, Greece, that date back to around 7250 BC.

The most well-known of these periods are the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic. As the history of this civilization spans such a vast amount of time, historians have split it into many periods.

Many of the ancient Greeks who grew to prominence during these times affected the world permanently and remain known.

The ancient Olympics were created by the Greeks, who also developed democracy and the Senate.

They created the framework for contemporary physics, biology, and geometry. 

The history books are replete with names like Pythagoras, Archimedes, Socrates, Euclid, Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great, whose innovations, theories, convictions, and bravery had a profound influence on later civilizations.

6) China Civilization

Han China, sometimes referred to as ancient China, is ranked fifth and undoubtedly has one of the most complex histories.

The oldest dynasties were rooted in the Yellow River culture, which is considered to be the start of all Chinese civilization. The fabled Yellow Emperor assumed power somewhere about 2700 BC, ushering in a number of dynasties that subsequently ruled mainland China.

Based on ancient historical records, the Xia dynasty became the first to dominate all of China in 2070 BC. From that point until the Xinhai Revolution that brought an end to the Qing dynasty in 1912 A.D., a number of dynasties maintained power for varying lengths of time.

More than four millennia of ancient Chinese civilization came to an end at this point. The Chinese had produced a number of the world’s most valuable technologies and goods, including cannons, alcohol, paper, printing, compass, and gunpowder.

Qin Dynasty

China was united under Emperor Qin Shi Huang, and construction on the Great Wall of China began. The Terracotta Army, a sizable collection of life-size clay warriors and horses, is another thing that makes the Qin Dynasty renowned.

Xia and Chang

Among the earliest known Chinese dynasties are the Xia and Shang dynasties. They created the framework for upcoming governmental structures and cultural norms.

Daosim Tradition

Confucianism and Daoism, two philosophical systems that originated in ancient China and still influence contemporary Chinese philosophy and culture.

7) Maya Civilization

The Maya civilisation, which flourished in Central America from around 2600 BC, has received great attention due to the calendar it invented.

The Mayan civilization flourished and advanced after it was created, reaching an all-time high population of roughly 19 million people. The Mayans created stone solar calendars around 700 BC using their own writing system, which they had already developed.

They contend that the genesis of the world occurred on August 11, 3114 BC, the date on which their calendar is based. It was supposed to expire on December 21, 2012.

In contrast to many of their modern counterparts, the ancient Mayans had a rich cultural heritage, and they and the Aztecs both constructed pyramids, many of which are bigger than those in Egypt.

One of ancient history’s most interesting mysteries has always been the precipitous collapse and untimely death of the Mayans: Why did the Mayans, who numbered over 19 million and had a wonderfully advanced society, abruptly disintegrate somewhere in the eighth or ninth century?

The Maya people did not entirely vanish, some of their descendants still reside in Central America.

8) Egyptian Civilization

Ancient Egypt is among the oldest and most culturally advanced civilizations. Ancient Egypt was a magnificent civilisation that flourished along the banks of the Nile. It is known for its illustrious culture, surviving pyramids, and Sphinx in addition to its gigantic architecture.

After the political union of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, the civilisation came into being approximately 3150 BC (according to standard Egyptian chronology).

However, if no one had previously settled in the area of the Nile Valley in early 3500 BC, this would not have been conceivable.

Ancient Egypt’s history may be broken down into three stable kingdoms—the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age, and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age—each are separated by small intervals of relative instability which is also known as intermediate periods.

The pyramids, the mummies that still preserve the old pharaohs, hieroglyphic writing, and many other things came from ancient Egypt.

When pharaohs like Ramesses the Great governed with such sway that another modern culture, the Nubians, also fell under Egyptian power, ancient Egypt was at its height.

Pyramids

Among the world’s most recognizable architectural wonders are the Egyptian pyramids. The Great Pyramid of Giza, which was built under Pharaoh Khufu, is evidence of the ancient Egyptians’ building ability.

Culture

The worship of deities like Ra, Osiris, and Isis was a significant aspect of ancient Egypt’s religious beliefs. They had a strong belief in the afterlife, which was reflected in their complex funeral customs and mummification rites.

Hieroglyphics

The hieroglyphic writing system of ancient Egypt is distinguished by its elaborate graphic symbols. These buildings, temples, and tombs were decorated with hieroglyphs that helped historians understand the cultures’ complex past.

9) Incan Civilization

The Incan Empire in the pre-Columbian period was the biggest empire in South America. Incan Civilisation thrived across the regions that are now Ecuador, Peru, and Chile with Cusco, Peru’s capital city, serving as its administrative, military, and political hub.

The Incas were devoted worshipers of the sun deity Inti, and the name “Sapa Inca,” which means “child of the sun,” was given to their ruler.

The capital was once a small town that the first Incan ruler, Pachacuti, turned into a vast city with a puma-shaped layout. He persisted in fostering the practice of ancestor worship.

The king’s wealth would be divided among his relatives, who in exchange would keep his mummies preserved and continue to wield political sway after the king’s death. The king’s son will inherit all his authority and power.

The Incas became outstanding builders, building fortifications and locations like Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco, which resulted in a tremendous increase in their dominance.

10) Aztec Civilization

The Aztecs began to appear on the horizon about the time the Incas started to emerge as serious competitors in South America.

Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan were the three major competing cities where most of the population of modern-day Mexico lived in the early 1300s.

These competitors formed an alliance around the year 1325, and as a result, the new state grew to rule the Valley of Mexico. Mexico was once more popular than Aztecs among the populace.

The Aztec monarch did not personally administer every city or province, but Tenochtitlan served as the military power center and a spearhead for the conquest of new land.

Local governments continued to exist and were compelled to provide the Triple Alliance varied sums of tribute.

The Aztec civilisation was undoubtedly at its pinnacle of dominance in the early 1500s but after that, the Spanish arrived at the horizon.

This resulted in a significant conflict in 1521 between the Incas, the Spanish conquistadors, and the native allies they had gathered under the command of the renowned (or rather notorious) Hernan Cortes.

Conclusion

Ancient civilizations have improved grasp of science, math, architecture, government, and culture. Their timeless legacies continue to have an impact on contemporary culture.

World may learn more about the historical accomplishments of humanity and the roots of our own culture by studying previous civilizations.

These prehistoric societies serve as a reminder that the human spirit has always been driven to discover, invent, and create a better future while also leaving a lasting legacy for future generations.

FAQs

How Many Ancient Civilizations Existed?

The ancient world witnessed the emergence of eight separate civilizations which included Mesopotamia, Egypt, Maya, India, China, Rome, Greece, and Persia. 

Which Civilization Emerged First?

Mesopotamia is the first urban literate society on Earth which emerged around 4000–3500 B.C, according to Kenneth Harl, author, consultant, and retired professor of history at Tulane University.

Who Founded the First Civilization?

Sargon of Akkad (unknown-2279 B.C.), whose name means “true king,” used this presumption of legitimacy to build the world’s first empire in Mesopotamia, the fertile region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, circa 2330 B.C.

Where was First Civilization Founded?

The ancient Mesopotamian peoples that gave rise to the world’s earliest writing, agriculture, and cities between 10,000 and 3,000 BCE lived in Iraq, which is sometimes referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization.” 

What is Europe’s Most Ancient Civilization?

The Minoan civilization, which thrived on the island of Crete from 3,200 to 1,450 BC, is the first civilization in Europe.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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