With all of the conveniences that are taken for granted today, it’s interesting to see how people lived in ancient civilizations. Scholars who study these ancient civilizations are still working to put together the pieces of the puzzle as they uncover more and more information from the past. Each new excavation uncovers more and more facts that help to decipher the facts from the myths.
10 Ancient Civilizations
Existing period: Pre-Classic 2000 BC to AD 900
Location: The southern Pacific highlands, northern and southern lowlands
The Mayans were responsible for creating the first comprehensive writing system for the pre-Columbian people. They made great contributions in the fields of astronomy, math, and architecture. Today the Mayans make up parts of Mexico and all of Belize, but their influences can be felt in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The Mayan people created pyramids similar to the ones built by the Egyptians. They have often been credited with predicting the end of the world based on their calendar. The periods that have been predicted as the last days on earth have come and gone. This has been attributed to the calendars which lacked precision especially compared to the modern Gregorian calendar.
Existing period: 350 BC to 1500 AD
Location: The Atlantic Ocean
There has always been a mystery about the city of Atlantis. Many people believe that it was real while others think it remains a myth. The person who is always closely tied to stories about Atlantis is Plato, a famous Greek philosopher. It is said that the god Poseidon lived in Atlantis. Poseidon supposedly divided Atlantis into 10 portions because he had 10 children. The residents of Atlantis were said to be highly with some of the devices and luxuries that they lived with were even more advanced than what we have today. Back then they were said to be living with air conditioning, electric rifles, and an airplane that levitated. It was said that the people became so greedy and misused their powers that Atlantis was finally destroyed.
Ancient Mu or Lemuria
Existing period: 22,500 BC to 24,000 BC
Location: In the Southern Pacific in between Australia and North America
One of the ancient civilizations that has sketchy evidence about its existence. It is recorded that Mu, also known as Lemuria, was the first recorded civilization. The large continent was in existence 78,000 years ago and lasted for about 52,000 years. History states that it met its demise by major earthquakes that came about due to a pole shift. The residents of Mu were known for their indestructible buildings, some of which were able to make it through earthquakes. But they are better known for the way they structured their government. They had only one government and spoke one language. They were highly educated and prosperous with mandatory education for everyone until they turned 21 years old.
Existing period: 180 BC to 10 AD
Location: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India
This Hellenistic civilization was overseen by over 30 different kings throughout its existence. One of the kings, Menander, became a Buddhist although the influences of the Greek people were evident in every aspect of this culture. In fact at some point it was found that the Buddhists practiced their religion wearing Greek tunics rather than the robes and turbans that were usually worn. The Indo-Greeks enjoyed a popular and thriving trade industry with a special type of coin created by the people and used in trading with China. The native Indians took over from the south and the Yuezhi came at them from the north resulting in the end of this civilization.
Existing period: 322 BC to 185 BC
Founded in 322 BC by Chandragupta Maurya, this empire was one of the largest of its kind during this time period. It was a thriving civilization with its successful import and export trade business. The people were happy living under one system of government that was financially successful and provided security for its residents. There were around 50 to 60 million people who lived during this empire, but there were many different rulers each having different strengths and weaknesses. There were also shifts in religious orders but the main religions seemed to be Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
Existing period: 9000 BC to 6500 BC
Location: Chad in Africa
One of the famous ancient civilizations is Yam, which was a kingdom that was known for its booming trading business with Egypt. It successfully dealt in ebony, elephant tusks, incense, and boomerangs. It is said that Yam was actually located near the Nile as it would have been impossible to survive trying to navigate through the Sahara Desert successfully. There was only a short distance that a traveler could go through the desert riding on a donkey and with limited water supplies. Their journeys were also hampered because the wheel had not been invented yet, so their only source of transportation was by donkey. The water situation must have gotten better because the name Yam means swamp.
Existing period: 1071 BC to 350 AD
The residents of Kush were known for their valuable attributes that included an abundance of gold. They were taken over by their neighbors to the north for around a half of a millennium. They are also recognized for their ceramic artifacts and the superior agriculture that matched their upscale society. The Kushites were able to take back their independence and conquered Egypt in 750 BC. They were responsible for encouraging the building of pyramids which had ceased for a while. An Assyrian takeover ended their ruling and they took off to the south to start over again in Meroe on the banks of the Nile. They shed some of their Egyptian influence and created their own style of writing which is called Meroitic.
Existing period: 100 – 940 AD
Aksum, one of the ancient civilizations, was once considered a major place for international traders. It was close enough to both the Res Sea and the Nile making it a convenient place for importers and exporters. It had long been designated as the location of the Ark of the Covenant. By the third century Aksum had earned its place as one of the four largest kingdoms in the world. Rome, Persia, and China rounded out the other leaders. Aksum was made up primarily of Christians until the beginning of the Middle Ages when it expanded to include people from Islam. Eventually the shift in religion was responsible for Aksum losing its position of power in the trading industry.
Existing period: 128 BC to 450 AD
The people of Yuezhi were believed to have originated in Bactria and India but documentation shows they were the rulers of India and Bactria for a period of time. The nomads lived in the province of Gansu in northwestern China. When Lao Shang ruled Xiongnu between 174 to 161 BC, he took over the North China area killing their king. It was then that the Yuezhi moved into Sogdiana and Bactria as the Greeks no longer ruled these areas. The Yuezhi started out as successful traders dealing in horses, silk and jade. They did so well that they conflicted with the Xiongnu and were forced out of the trading business in China.
The Mitanni Kingdom
Existing period: 1500 BC to 1200 BC
Location: Syria and northern Iraq
It has been determined that Queen Nefertiti was born in this kingdom in Mesopotamia. The people from this kingdom were Indo-Aryans with strong influences from the Indian culture. They adhered to many of the principles that were part of the Hindu religion, such as reincarnation, cremation, and karma. Nefertiti played a big part in many situations that came up during the volatile times, even taking over where the Pharaoh usually served. There are still many questions relating to this kingdom and scholars who study ancient civilizations are hoping to find out more details through further excavations. They believe they will learn more when they dig deeper into Washukanni, the capital of Mitanni.