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"Ancient" redirects here. For other uses, see Antiquity. The times before writing belong either to protohistory or to prehistory.

Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history in the Old World until the Early Middle Ages in Europe and the Qin Dynasty in China.

The period or era following these events includes the Imperial era in China and the period of the Middle Kingdoms in India;The span of recorded history altogether is roughly 5,000 years, with Sumerian cuneiform emerging from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC being the oldest form of writing discovered so far. This is the beginning of history, as opposed to prehistory, according to the definition used by most historians.

The term classical antiquity is often used to refer to ancient history since the beginning of recorded Greek history in about 776 BC (First Olympiad). This coincides, roughly, with the traditional date of the founding of Rome in 753 BC, the beginning of the history of ancient Rome. Although the ending date of ancient history is disputed, Western scholars use the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476, or the death of the emperor Justinian I, or the coming of Islam and the rise of Charlemagne as the end of ancient European history.

The study of ancient history

The fundamental difficulty of studying ancient history is the fact that only a fraction of it has been documented and only a fraction of those recorded histories have survived into the present day. It is also imperative to consider the reliability of the information obtained from these records. Literacy was not widespread in almost any culture until long after the end of ancient history, so there were few people capable of writing histories.

The Roman Empire was one of the ancient world's most literate cultures, but many works by its most widely read historians are lost. For example, Livy, a Roman historian who lived in the 1st century BC, wrote a history of Rome called Ab Urbe Condita (From The City Having Been Founded) in 144 volumes; only 35 volumes still exist, although short summaries of most of the rest do exist. Indeed, only a minority of the work of any major Roman historian has survived.

Historians have two major avenues which they take to better understand the ancient world: archaeology and the study of source texts. Primary sources have been described as those sources closest to the origin of the information or idea under study. Primary sources have been distinguished from secondary sources, which often cite, comment on, or build upon primary sources.
Archaeological field surveys
Reasons that an area undergoes an archaeological field survey.
  • Artifacts found: Locals have picked up artifacts.
  • Literary sources: Old literary sources have provided archaeologists with clues about settlement locations that have not been archaeologically documented.
  • Oral sources: In many locations, local stories contain some hint of a greater past, and there is often some truth to them.
  • Local knowledge: In many cases, locals actually know where to find something that is of interest to archaeologists.
  • Previous surveys: In some places, a survey was carried out in the past, and is recorded in an obscure academic journal.
  • Previous excavations: Excavations carried out before the middle of the 20th century are notoriously poorly documented.
  • Lack of knowledge: Many areas of the world have little known about the nature and organisation of past human activity.


Archaeology is the excavation and study of artifacts in an effort to interpret and reconstruct past human behavior. In the study of ancient history, archaeologists excavate the ruins of ancient cities looking for clues as to how the people of the time period lived. Some important discoveries by archaeologists studying ancient history include:
  • The Egyptian pyramidsmarker: giant tombs built by the ancient Egyptians beginning around 2600 BC as the final resting places of their royalty.
  • The study of the ancient cities of Harappamarker (India , now Pakistan), Mohenjo-daromarker(Pakistan), and Lothalmarker in South Asia.
  • The city of Pompeiimarker: an ancient Roman city preserved by the eruption of a volcano in AD 79. Its state of preservation is so great that it is a valuable window into Roman culture and provided insight into the cultures of the Etruscansmarker and the Samnites.
  • The Terracotta Armymarker: the mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor in ancient China.
  • The Grand Anicutmarker, also known as the Kallanai, is an ancient dam built on the Kaveri River in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India.

Source text

Perhaps most of what is known of the ancient world comes from the accounts of antiquity's own historians. Although it is important to take into account the bias of each ancient author, their accounts, are the basis for our understanding of the ancient past. Some of the more notable ancient writers include Herodotus, Josephus, Livy, Polybius, Sallust, Suetonius, Tacitus, Thucydides, and Sima Qian.



Prehistory is a term often used to describe the period before written history. The early human migrations patterns in the Lower Paleolithic saw Homo erectus spreads across Eurasia. The controlled use of fire from ca. 800 thousand years ago occurred. Near c. 250 thousand years ago, Homo sapiens evolves in Africa. Around c. 70–60 thousand years ago, modern humans migrate out of Africa along a coastal route to South and Southeast Asia and reach Australia. About c. 50 thousand years ago, modern humans spread from Asia to the Near East. Followed by c. 40 thousand years ago, in which Europe was first reached by modern humans. By c. 15 thousand years ago, the migration to the New World occurred.

In the 10th millennium BC, Invention of agriculture is the earliest given date for the beginning of the ancient era. In the 7th millennium BC, Jiahu culture began in Chinamarker. By the 5th millennium BC, the late Neolithic civilizations saw the invention of the wheel and spread of proto-writing. In the 4th millennium BC, the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the Ukrainemarker-Moldovamarker-Romaniamarker region develops. By 3400 BC, "proto-literate" Sumerian cuneiform is spread in the Middle East. The 30th century BC, referred to as the Early Bronze Age II, saw the beginning of the literate period in Sumer and Ancient Egypt arise. Around ca. 27th century BC, the Old Kingdom of Egypt and the First Dynasty of Uruk are founded, according to the earliest reliable regnal eras.

Timeline of Ancient History

Middle to Late Bronze Age

The Bronze Age forms part of the three-age system. In this system, it follows the Neolithic in some areas of the world.In the 24th century BC, Akkadian EmpiremarkerIn the 22nd century BC, the First Intermediate Period of Egypt occurredThe time between the 21st to 17th centuries BC around the Nile has been denoted as Middle Kingdom of Egypt. In the 21st century BC, the Sumerian Renaissance occurs. By the 18th century, the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt begins.

By 1600 BC, Mycenaean Greece begins to develop. Also by 1600 BC, the beginning of Shang Dynasty in Chinamarker emerges and there is evidence of a fully developed Chinese writing system.Around 1600 BC, the beginning of Hittite dominance of the Eastern Mediterraneanmarker region is seen. The time between the 16th to 11th centuries around the Nile is called the New Kingdom of Egypt. Between 1550 BC and 1292 BC, the Amarna Period occurs.

Early Iron Age

The Iron Age is the last principal period in the three-age system, preceded by the Bronze Age. Its date and context vary depending on the country or geographical region.During the 13th to 12th centuries, the Ramesside Period occurred. Around c. 1200 BC, the Trojan War was thought to have taken place. By c. 1180 BC, the disintegration of Hittite Empire was underway.

In 1046 BC, the Zhou force, led by King Wu of Zhou, overthrows the last king of Shang Dynasty. The Zhou Dynasty is established in Chinamarker shortly thereafter. In 1000 BC, the Mannaeans Kingdom begins. Around the 10th to 7th centuries, the Neo-Assyrian Empire forms. In 800 BC, the rise of Greek city-states begins. In 776 BC, the first recorded Olympic Games are held. The Ancient Olympic Games origins are unknown, but several legends and myths have survived.

Classical Antiquity

Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history, with a focus on the interlocking civilizations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
Before the Common Era
Early ancient history
Eastern Hemisphere in 500 BC.
  • 500 BC: Panini standardizes the grammar and morphology of Sanskrit in the text Ashtadhyayi. Panini's standardized Sanskrit is known as Classical Sanskrit
  • 500 BC: Pingala uses zero and binary numeral system
  • 490 BC: Greek city-states defeat Persian invasion at Battle of Marathonmarker
  • 480 BC: Invasion of Greece by Xerxes; Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis
  • 475 BC: Warring States Period begins in China as the Zhou king became a mere figurehead; China is annexed by regional warlords
  • 469 BC: Birth of Socrates
  • 465 BC: Murder of Xerxes
  • 460 BC: First Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta
  • 447 BC: Building of the Parthenon at Athens started
  • 424 BC: Nanda dynasty comes to power.
  • 404 BC: End of Peloponnesian War between the Greek city-states
  • 399 BC: February 15—The Greek philosopher Socrates is sentenced to death by Athenian authorities in Athens, condemned for impiety and the corruption of youth. He refuses to flee into exile and is sentenced to death by drinking hemlock.
  • c. 385 BC: The Greek philosopher Plato, a former disciple of Socrates, founds a philosophical school at the Akademia in Athens--later famously known as the Academy. There, Plato, and the later heads of the school, called scholarchs, taught many of the brilliant minds of the day, including the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle

Late ancient history
Eastern Hemisphere in 323BC.
Eastern Hemisphere in 200BC.
Eastern Hemisphere in 100 BC.

In the Common Era
World in 1.
World in 100.
Eastern Hemisphere in 200 AD.
World in 300.

End of Classical Antiquity

The transition period from Classical Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages is known as Late Antiquity. Some key dates marking that transition are:
Eastern Hemisphere in 476 AD.

The beginning of the Middle Ages is a period in the history of Europe following the fall of the Western Roman Empire spanning roughly five centuries from AD 500 to 1000. Aspects of continuity with the earlier classical period are discussed in greater detail under the heading "Late Antiquity". Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the transitional centuries from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world: generally from the end of the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century (c. 284) to the Islamic conquests and the re-organization of the Byzantine Empire under Heraclius.

Prominent ancient historical civilizations

Southwest Asia (Near East)

The Ancient Near East is considered the cradle of civilization. It was the first to practice intensive year-round agriculture; it gave the rest of the world the first writing system, invented the potter's wheel and then the vehicular- and mill wheel, created the first centralized governments, law codes and empires, as well as introducing social stratification, slavery and organized warfare, and it laid the foundation for the fields of astronomy and mathematics.
Sumer, located in southern Mesopotamia, is one of the earliest known civilizations in the world. It lasted from the first settlement of Eridumarker in the Ubaid periodmarker (late 6th millennium BC) through the Uruk period (4th millennium BC) and the Dynastic periods (3rd millennium BC) until the rise of Babylonmarker in the early 2nd millennium BC. The term "Sumerian" applies to all speakers of the Sumerian language. Although other cities pre-date Sumer (Jerichomarker, Çatalhöyükmarker and others, either for seasonal protection, or as year-round trading posts) the cities of Sumer were the first to practice intensive, year-round agriculture (from ca. 5300 BC). The surplus of storable foodstuffs created by this economy allowed the population to settle in one place instead of migrating after crops and herds. It also allowed for a much greater population density, and in turn required an extensive labor force and division of labor. This organization led to the necessity of record keeping and the development of writing (ca. 3500 BC).

Babylonia was an Amorite state in lower Mesopotamia (modern southern Iraqmarker), with Babylonmarker as its capital. Babylonia emerged when Hammurabi (fl. ca. 1728 – 1686 BC (short chronology) created an empire out of the territories of the former kingdoms of Sumer and Akkadmarker. The Amorites being a Semitic people, Babylonia adopted the written Semitic Akkadian language for official use, and retained the Sumerian language for religious use, which by that time was no longer a spoken language. The Akkadian and Sumerian cultures played a major role in later Babylonian culture, and the region would remain an important cultural center, even under outside rule. The earliest mention of the city of Babylonmarker can be found in a tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad, dating back to the 23rd century BC.

The Neo-Babylonian Empire, or Chaldea, was Babylonia under the rule of the 11th ("Chaldean") dynasty, from the revolt of Nabopolassar in 626 BC until the invasion of Cyrus the Great in 539 BC, notably including the reign of Nebuchadrezzar II.

Akkadmarker was a city and its surrounding region in central Mesopotamia. Akkad also became the capital of the Akkadian Empiremarker.Mish, Frederick C., Editor in Chief. “Akkad.” Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1985. ISBN 0-87779-508-8, ISBN 0-87779-509-6 (indexed), and ISBN 0-87779-510-X (deluxe). The city was probably situated on the west bank of the Euphrates, between Sipparmarker and Kishmarker (in present-day Iraqmarker, about southwest of the center of Baghdadmarker). Despite an extensive search, the precise site has never been found. Akkad reached the height of its power between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC, following the conquests of king Sargon of Akkad. Because of the policies of the Akkadian Empire toward linguistic assimilation, Akkad also gave its name to the predominant Semitic dialect: the Akkadian language, reflecting use of akkadû ("in the language of Akkad") in the Old Babylonian period to denote the Semitic version of a Sumerian text.

Assyria was originally (in the Middle Bronze Age) a region on the Upper Tigrismarker river, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assurmarker. Later, as a nation and empire that came to control all of the Fertile Crescent, Egyptmarker and much of Anatoliamarker, the term "Assyria proper" referred to roughly the northern half of Mesopotamia (the southern half being Babylonia), with Ninevehmarker as its capital. The Assyrian kings controlled a large kingdom at three different times in history. These are called the Old (20th to 15th c. BC), Middle (15th to 10th c. BC), and Neo-Assyrian (911–612 BC) kingdoms, or periods, of which the last is the most well known and best documented. Assyrians invented excavation to undermine city walls, battering rams to knock down gates, as well as the concept of a corps of engineers, who bridged rivers with pontoons or provided soldiers with inflatable skins for swimming.

Mitanni was an Indo-Iranian"Mitanni." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 9 June 2008 /> empire in northern Mesopotamia from ca. 1500 BC. At the height of Mitanni power, during the 14th century BC, it encompassed what is today southeastern Turkeymarker, northern Syriamarker and northern Iraqmarker, centered around its capital, Washukanni, whose precise location has not been determined by archaeologists.

For more details on this topic, see Mesopotamia and the History of Iraq

Elammarker is the name of an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iranmarker. Archaeological evidence associated with Elam has been dated to before 5000 BC. According to available written records, it is known to have existed beginning from around 3200 BC — making it among the world's oldest historical civilizations — and to have endured up until 539 BC. Its culture played a crucial role in the Gutian Empire, especially during the Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded it, when the Elamite language remained among those in official use. The Elamite period is considered a starting point for the history of Iran.

The Medes were an ancient Iranian people. By the 6th century BC, after having together with the Chaldeans defeated the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Medes were able to establish their own empire. The Medes are credited with the foundation of the first Iranian empire, the largest of its day until Cyrus the Great established a unified Iranian empire of the Medes and Persian, often referred to as the Achaemenid Persian Empire, by defeating his grandfather and overlord, Astyages the king of Media.

The Achaemenid Empire was the first of the Persian Empires to rule over significant portions of Greater Iran, and followed the Median Empire as the second great empire of the Iranian Peoples. The empire was forged by Cyrus the Great. It is noted in western history as the foe of the Greek city states in the Greco-Persian Wars, for freeing the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity, and for instituting Aramaic as the empire's official language. Because of the Empire's vast extent and long endurance, Persian influence upon the language, religion, architecture, philosophy, law and government of nations around the world lasts to this day. At the height of its power, the Achaemenid Empire encompassed approximately 7.5 million square kilometers and was territorially the largest empire of classical antiquity.
Parthia was an Iranian civilization situated in the northeastern part of modern Iran. Their power was based on a combination of the guerrilla warfare of a mounted nomadic tribe, with organizational skills to build and administer a vast empire — even though it never matched in power and extent the Persian empires that preceded and followed it. The Parthian empire was led by the Arsacid dynasty, which reunited and ruled over the Iranianmarker plateau, after defeating and disposing the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, beginning in the late 3rd century BC, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia between 150 BC and 224 AD. It was the third native dynasty of ancient Iran (after the Median and the Achaemenid dynasties). Parthia had many wars with the Roman Empire.

The Sassanid Empire, lasting the length of the Late Antiquity period, is considered to be one of Iran's most important and influential historical periods. In many ways the Sassanid period witnessed the highest achievement of Persian civilization, and constituted the last great Iranian Empire before the Muslim conquest and adoption of Islam. Persia influenced Roman civilization considerably during the Sassanids' times, and the Romans reserved for the Sassanid Persians alone the status of equals. Their cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India and played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asiatic medieval art.

For more details on this topic, see Persian Empire and the History of Iran

Anatolia and Armenia
The early history of the Hittite empire is known through tablets that may first have been written in the 17th century BC but survived only as copies made in the 14th and 13th centuries BC. These tablets, known collectively as the Anitta text, begin by telling how Pithana the king of Kussara or Kussar (a small city-state yet to be identified by archaeologists) conquered the neighbouring city of Nešamarker (Kanesh). However, the real subject of these tablets is Pithana's son Anitta, who continued where his father left off and conquered several neighbouring cities, including Hattusamarker and Zalpuwa (Zalpa).

Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser I (ca. 1270 BC) first mention Uruartri as one of the states of Nairi – a loose confederation of small kingdoms and tribal states in Armenian Highlandmarker in the 13th - 11th centuries BC. Uruartri itself was in the region around Lake Vanmarker. The Nairi states were repeatedly subjected to attacks by the Assyrians, especially under Tukulti-Ninurta I (ca. 1240 BC), Tiglath-Pileser I (ca. 1100 BC), Ashur-bel-kala (ca. 1070 BC), Adad-nirari II (ca. 900), Tukulti-Ninurta II (ca. 890), and Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC).

The Kingdom of Armenia was an independent kingdom from 190 BC to 387 АD, and a client state of the Roman and Persian empires until 428. Between 95 BC - 55 BC under the rule of King Tigranes the Great, the kingdom of Armenia became a large and powerful empire stretching from the Caspianmarker to the Mediterranean Seasmarker. During this short time it was considered to be the most powerful state in the Roman East.

The history of Pre-Islamic Arabia before the rise of Islam in the 630s is not known in great detail. Archaeological exploration in the Arabian peninsula has been sparse; indigenous written sources are limited to the many inscriptions and coins from southern Arabia. Existing material consists primarily of written sources from other traditions (such as Egyptiansmarker, Greeksmarker, Persiansmarker, Romans, etc.) and oral traditions later recorded by Islamic scholars.

The first known inscriptions of Kingdom of Hadhramaut are known from the 8th century BC. It was first referenced by an outside civilization in an Old Sabaic inscription of Karab'il Watar from the early 7th century BC, in which the King of Hadramaut, Yada`'il, is mentioned as being one of his allies.

Dilmun appears first in Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets dated to the end of fourth millennium BC, found in the temple of goddess Inanna, in the city of Urukmarker. The adjective Dilmun is used to describe a type of axe and one specific official; in addition there are lists of rations of wool issued to people connected with Dilmun.

The Sabaeans were an ancient people speaking an Old South Arabian language who lived in what is today Yemenmarker, in south west Arabian Peninsula; from 2000 BC to the 8th century BC. Some Sabaeans also lived in D'mt, located in northern Ethiopiamarker and Eritreamarker, due to their hegemony over the Red Seamarker. They lasted from the early 2nd millennium to the 1st century BC. In the 1st century BC it was conquered by the Himyarites, but after the disintegration of the first Himyarite empire of the Kings of Saba' and dhu-Raydan the Middle Sabaean Kingdom reappeared in the early 2nd century. It was finally conquered by the Himyarites in the late 3rd century.

The ancient Kingdom of Awsan with a capital at Hagar Yahirr in the wadi Markha, to the south of the wadi Bayhan, is now marked by a tell or artificial mound, which is locally named Hagar Asfal. Once it was one of the most important small kingdoms of South Arabia. The city seems to have been destroyed in the 7th century BC by the king and mukarrib of Saba Karib'il Watar, according to a Sabaean text that reports the victory in terms that attest to its significance for the Sabaeans.

The Himyar was a state in ancient South Arabia dating from 110 BC. It conquered neighbouring Saba (Sheba) in c.25 BC, Qataban in c.200 CE and Hadramaut c.300 AD. Its political fortunes relative to Saba changed frequently until it finally conquered the Sabaean Kingdom around 280 CE. It was the dominant state in Arabia until 525 AD. The economy was based on agriculture.

Foreign trade was based on the export of frankincense and myrrh. For many years it was also the major intermediary linking East Africa and the Mediterranean world. This trade largely consisted of exporting ivory from Africa to be sold in the Roman Empire. Ships from Himyar regularly traveled the East African coast, and the state also exerted a considerable amount of political control of the trading cities of East Africa.

The Nabataean origins remain obscure. On the similarity of sounds, Jerome suggested a connection with the tribe Nebaioth mentioned in Genesis, but modern historians are cautious about an early Nabatean history. The Babylonian captivity that began in 586 BC opened a power vacuum in Judah, and as Edomites moved into Judaean grazing lands, Nabataean inscriptions began to be left in Edomite territory (earlier than 312 BC, when they were attacked at Petramarker without success by Antigonus I). The first definite appearance was in 312 BC, when Hieronymus of Cardia, a Seleucid officer, mentioned the Nabateans in a battle report. In 50 BC, the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus cited Hieronymus in his report, and added the following: "Just as the Seleucids had tried to subdue them, so the Romans made several attempts to get their hands on that lucrative trade."

Petramarker or Sela was the ancient capital of Edom; the Nabataeans must have occupied the old Edomite country, and succeeded to its commerce, after the Edomites took advantage of the Babylonian captivity to press forward into southern Judaea. This migration, the date of which cannot be determined, also made them masters of the shores of the Gulf of Aqabamarker and the important harbor of Elath. Here, according to Agatharchides, they were for a time very troublesome, as wreckers and pirates, to the reopened commerce between Egypt and the East, until they were chastised by the Ptolemaic rulers of Alexandria.

The Lakhmid Kingdom was founded by the Lakhum tribe that immigrated out of Yemenmarker in the second century and ruled by the Banu Lakhm, hence the name given it. It was formed of a group of Arab Christians who lived in Southern Iraqmarker, and made al-Hirahmarker their capital in (266). The founder of the dynasty was 'Amr and the son Imru' al-Qais converted to Christianity. Gradually the whole city converted to that faith. Imru' al-Qais dreamt of a unified and independent Arab kingdom and, following that dream, he seized many cities in Arabia.

The Ghassanids were a group of South Arabian Christian tribes that emigrated in the early 3rd century from Yemenmarker to the Hauran in southern Syriamarker, Jordanmarker and the Holy Land where they intermarried with Hellenized Roman settlers and Greek-speaking Early Christian communities. The Ghassanid emigration has been passed down in the rich oral tradition of southern Syriamarker. It is said that the Ghassanids came from the city of Ma'ribmarker in Yemenmarker. There was a dam in this city, however one year there was so much rain that the dam was carried away by the ensuing flood. Thus the people there had to leave. The inhabitants emigrated seeking to live in less arid lands and became scattered far and wide. The proverb “They were scattered like the people of Saba” refers to that exodus in history. The emigrants were from the southern Arab tribe of Azd of the Kahlan branch of Qahtani tribes.

Though the Ugariticmarker site is thought to have been inhabited earlier, Neolithic Ugarit was already important enough to be fortified with a wall early on. The first written evidence mentioning the city comes from the nearby city of Eblamarker, ca. 1800 BC. Ugarit passed into the sphere of influence of Egypt, which deeply influenced its art.

Concerning the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, the Book of Genesis traces the beginning of Israel to three patriarchs of the Jewish people, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the last also known as Israel from which the name of the land was subsequently derived. Jacob, called a "wandering Aramaean" (Deuteronomy 26:5), the grandson of Abraham, had travelled back to Harran, the home of his ancestors, to obtain a wife. Whilst returning from Haran to Canaan, he crossed the Jabbokmarker, a tributary on the Arabian side of the Jordan Rivermarker (Genesis 32:22-33). After having sent his family and servants away that night, he wrestled with a strange man at a place henceforth called Penielmarker, who in the morning asked him his name. As a result, he was renamed "Israel", because he had "wrestled with God" and became, in time, the father of twelve sons by Leah and Rachel, (daughters of Laban), and their maidservants Bilhah and Zilpah. The twelve were considered the "Children of Israel." These stories of the origins of the Israelites locate them first on the east bank of the Jordan. The stories of Israel move to the west bank with the story of the sacking of Shechemmarker (Genesis 34:1-33), after which the hill area of Canaan is assumed to have been the historical core of the area of Israel.



Ancient Egypt was a long-lived civilization geographically located in north-eastern Africa. It was concentrated along the middle to lower reaches of the Nile River reaching its greatest extension during the second millennium BC, which is referred to as the New Kingdom period. It reached broadly from the Nile Deltamarker in the north, as far south as Jebel Barkalmarker at the Fourth Cataract of the Nile. Extensions to the geographical range of ancient Egyptian civilization included, at different times, areas of the southern Levant, the Eastern Desert and the Red Seamarker coastline, the Sinai Peninsulamarker and the Western Desert (focused on the several oases).

Ancient Egypt developed over at least three and a half millennia. It began with the incipient unification of Nile Valley polities around 3500 BC and is conventionally thought to have ended in 30 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered and absorbed Ptolemaic Egypt as a province. (Though this last did not represent the first period of foreign domination, the Roman period was to witness a marked, if gradual transformation in the political and religious life of the Nile Valley, effectively marking the termination of independent civilisational development).

The civilization of ancient Egypt was based on a finely balanced control of natural and human resources, characterised primarily by controlled irrigation of the fertile Nile Valley; the mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions; the early development of an independent writing system and literature; the organisation of collective projects; trade with surrounding regions in east / central Africa and the eastern Mediterraneanmarker; finally, military ventures that exhibited strong characteristics of imperial hegemony and territorial domination of neighbouring cultures at different periods. Motivating and organizing these activities were a socio-political and economic elite that achieved social consensus by means of an elaborate system of religious belief under the figure of a (semi)-divine ruler (usually male) from a succession of ruling dynasties and which related to the larger world by means of polytheistic beliefs.


Kushite state was formed before a period of Egyptian incursion into the area. The Kushite civilization has also been referred to as Nubia. The first cultures arose in Sudanmarker before the time of a unified Egyptmarker, and the most widespread is known as the Kermamarker civilization. It is through Egyptian, Hebrew, Roman and Greek records that most of our knowledge of Kush (Cush) comes.

It is also referred to as Ethiopia in ancient Greek and Roman records. According to Josephus and other classical writers, the Kushite Empire covered all of Africa, and some parts of Asia and Europe at one time or another. The Kushites are also famous for having buried their monarchs along with all their courtiers in mass graves. The Kushites also built burial mounds and pyramids, and shared some of the same gods worshipped in Egypt, especially Amon and Isis.


The Axumite Empire was an important trading nation in northeastern Africa, growing from the proto-Aksumite period ca. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD. Its ancient capital is found in northern Ethiopia, the Kingdom used the name "Ethiopia" as early as the 4th century. Aksum is mentioned in the 1st century AD Periplus of the Erythraean Sea as an important market place for ivory, which was exported throughout the ancient world, and states that the ruler of Aksum in the 1st century AD was Zoscales, who, besides ruling in Aksum also controlled two harbours on the Red Seamarker: Adulis (near Massawamarker) and Avalites (Assabmarker). He is also said to have been familiar with Greek literature. It is also the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the home of the Queen of Sheba. Aksum was also the first major empire to convert to Christianity.

Land of Punt

The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals. Information about Punt has been found in ancient Egyptianmarker records of trade missions to this region.The exact location of Punt remains a mystery. The mainstream view is that Punt was located to the south-east of Egypt, most likely on the coast of the Horn of Africa. The earliest recorded Egyptian expedition to Punt was organized by Pharaoh Sahure of the Fifth Dynasty (25th century BC) although gold from Punt is recorded as having been in Egypt in the time of king Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt. Subsequently, there were more expeditions to Punt in the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt, the Eleventh dynasty of Egypt, the Twelfth dynasty of Egypt and the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. In the Twelfth dynasty of Egypt, trade with Punt was celebrated in popular literature in "Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor" (Informational excerpt copied from Land of Punt article)


The Nokmarker civilization appeared in Nigeria around 1000 B.C. and mysteriously vanished around 200 AD. The civilization’s social system is thought to have been highly advanced. The Nok civilization was considered to be the earliest sub-Saharan producer of life-sized Terracotta which have been discovered by archaeologists. A Nok sculpture resident at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, portrays a sitting dignitary wearing a "Shepherds Crook" on the right arm, and a "hinged flail" on the left. These are symbols of authority associated with ancient Egyptian pharaohs, and the god Osiris, and suggests that an ancient Egyptian style of social structure, and perhaps religion, existed in the area of modern Nigeria during the late Pharonic period. (Informational excerpt copied from Nigeriamarker and Nokmarker articles)


Carthagemarker was founded in 814 BC by Phoenicianmarker settlers from the city of Tyremarker, bringing with them the city-god Melqart. The Carthaginian Empire was an informal empire of Phoenicianmarker city-states throughout North Africa and modern Spainmarker from 575 BC until 146 BC. It was more or less under the control of the city-state of Carthagemarker after the fall of Tyremarker to Babylonian forces. At the height of the city's influence, its empire included most of the western Mediterranean. The empire was in a constant state of struggle with the Roman Republic, which led to a series of conflicts known as the Punic Wars. After the third and final Punic War, Carthage was destroyed then occupied by Roman forces. Nearly all of the empire fell into Roman hands from then on.

South Asia

The earliest evidence of human civilization in South Asia is from the Mehrgarhmarker region (7000 BC to 3200 BC) of Pakistanmarker. Located near the Bolan Pass, to the west of the Indus River valley and between the present-day Pakistani cities of Quettamarker, Kalat and Sibimarker, Mehrgarh was discovered in 1974 by an archaeological team directed by French archaeologist Jean-François Jarrige, and was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986. The earliest settlement at Mehrgarh—in the northeast corner of the 495-acre (2.00 km2) site—was a small farming village dated between 7000 BC–5500 BC.Early Mehrgarh residents lived in mud brick houses, stored their grain in granaries, fashioned tools with local copper ore, and lined their large basket containers with bitumen. They cultivated six-row barley, einkorn and emmer wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle. Residents of the later period (5500 BC to 2600 BC) put much effort into crafts, including flint knapping, tanning, bead production, and metal working. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BC.[2]

In April 2006, it was announced in the scientific journal Nature that the oldest evidence in human history for the drilling of teeth in vivo (i.e. in a living person) was found in Mehrgarh.Mehrgarh is sometimes cited as the earliest known farming settlement in South Asia, based on archaeological excavations from 1974 (Jarrige et al.). The earliest evidence of settlement dates from 7000 BC. It is also cited for the earliest evidence of pottery in South Asia. Archaeologists divide the occupation at the site into several periods. Mehrgarh is now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization.The Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300–1700 BC, flourished 2600–1900 BC), abbreviated IVC, was an ancient civilization that flourished in the Indusmarker and Ghaggar-Hakra river valleys primarily in what is now Pakistanmarker, although scattered settlements linked to this ancient civilization have been found in eastern Afghanistanmarker, Bahrainmarker, eastern Iranmarker, western Indiamarker and Turkmenistanmarker. Another name for this civilization is the Harappan Civilization, after the first of its cities to be excavated, Harappamarker in the Pakistani province of Punjabmarker. The IVC might have been known to the Sumerians as the Meluhha, and other trade contacts may have included Egypt, Africa, however the modern world discovered it only in the 1920s as a result of archaeological excavations and rail road building. Prominent historians of Ancient India would include Ram Sharan Sharma and Romila Thapar.

In the book, Pakistan before the Aryans, written by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, he stated "Within this immense territory, archaeologists have found no fewer than thirty-seven town or village sites (tells) representing this civilization, and many more un-doubtedly await discovery." Much archeological work still remains in order to fully understand Ancient Pakistan's history which has all too often been neglected and under-funded by the government of Pakistan.

The births of Mahavira and Buddha in the 6th century BC mark the beginning of well-recorded history in the region. Around the 5th century BC, the ancient regions of Pakistan was invaded by the Achaemenid Empire under Darius in 522 BC forming the easternmost satraps of the Persian Empire. The provinces of Sindh and Panjab were said to be the richest satraps of the Persian Empire and contributed many soldiers to various Persian expeditions. It is known that a Indian contingent fought in Xerxes' army on his expedition to Greece. Herodotus mentions that the Indus satrapy supplied cavalry and chariots to the Persian army. He also mentions that the Indus people were clad in armaments made of cotton, carried bows and arrows of cane covered with iron. Herodotus states that in 517 BC Darius sent an expedition under Scylax to explore the Indus. Under Persian rule, much irrigation and commerce flourished within the vast territory of the empire. The Persian empire was followed by the invasion of the Greeks under Alexander's army. Since Alexander was determined to reach the eastern-most limits of the Persian Empire he could not resist the temptation to conquer Pakistan, which at this time was parcelled out into small chieftain- ships, who were feudatories of the Persian Empire. Alexander amalgamated the region into the expanding Hellenic empire. The Rigveda, in Sanskrit, goes back to about 1500 BC. The Indian literary tradition has an oral history reaching down into the Vedic period of the later 2nd millennium BC.

Ancient India is usually taken to refer to the "golden age" of classical Hindu culture, as reflected in Sanskrit literature, beginning around 500 BC with the sixteen monarchies and 'republics' known as the Mahajanapadas, stretched across the Indo-Gangetic plains from modern-day Afghanistan to Bangladeshmarker. The largest of these nations were Magadha, Kosala, Kuru and Gandhara. Notably, the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata are rooted in this classical period.

Amongst the sixteen Mahajanapadas, the kingdom of Magadha rose to prominence under a number of dynasties that peaked in power under the reign of Ashoka Maurya, one of India's most legendary and famous emperors. During the reign of Asoka, the three Tamil dynasties of Chola, Chera and Pandya were ruling in the south. These kingdoms, while not part of Asoka's empire, were in friendly terms with the Maurya Empire. The Satavahanas started out as feudatories to the Mauryan Empire, and declared independence soon after the death of Ashoka (232 BC). Other notable ancient South Indian dynasties include the Kadambas of Banavasi, western Ganga dynasty, Chalukyas of Badami, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Kakatiya dynasty, Pallavas, Rashtrakutas of Manyaketha and Satavahanas.

The period between AD 320–550 is known as the Classical Age, when most of North India was reunited under the Gupta Empire (ca. AD 320–550). This was a period of relative peace, law and order, and extensive achievements in religion, education, mathematics, arts, Sanskrit literature and drama. Grammar, composition, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy became increasingly specialized and reached an advanced level. The Gupta Empire was weakened and ultimately ruined by the raids of Hunas (a branch of the White Huns emanating from Central Asia). Under Harsha (r. 606–47), North India was reunited briefly.

The educated speech at that time was Sanskrit, while the dialects of the general population of northern India were referred to as Prakrits. The South Indian coast of Malabar and the Tamil people of the Sangam age traded with the Graeco-Roman world. They were in contact with the Phoeniciansmarker, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Syrians, Jews, and the Chinesemarker.

The regions of South Asia, primarily present-day Pakistan and India, were estimated to have had the largest economy of the world between the 1st and 15th centuries AD, controlling between one third and one quarter of the world's wealth up to the time of the Mughals, from whence it rapidly declined during British rule.

East Asia


Ancient Era
Replica of an Oracle Bone
Territories occupied by different dynasties and modern political states throughout the history of China.
Written records of China's past dates from the Shang Dynasty (商朝) in perhaps the 13th century BC, and takes the form of inscriptions of divination records on the bones or shells of animals—the so-called oracle bones (甲骨文). Archaeological findings providing evidence for the existence of the Shang Dynasty, c. 1600–1046 BC is divided into two sets. The first, from the earlier Shang period (c. 1600–1300) comes from sources at Erligang (二里崗), Zhengzhoumarker (鄭州) and Shangcheng. The second set, from the later Shang or Yin (殷) period, consists of a large body of oracle bone writings. Anyangmarker (安陽) in modern day Henan has been confirmed as the last of the nine capitals of the Shang (c. 1300–1046 BC).

By the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the Zhou Dynasty (周朝) began to emerge in the Yellow Rivermarker valley, overrunning the Shang. The Zhou appeared to have begun their rule under a semi-feudal system. The ruler of the Zhou, King Wu, with the assistance of his uncle, the Duke of Zhou, as regent managed to defeat the Shang at the Battle of Muye. The king of Zhou at this time invoked the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to legitimize his rule, a concept that would be influential for almost every successive dynasty. The Zhou initially moved their capital west to an area near modern Xi'anmarker, near the Yellow River, but they would preside over a series of expansions into the Yangtze Rivermarker valley. This would be the first of many population migrations from north to south in Chinese history.

Spring and Autumn
In the 8th century BC, power became decentralized during the Spring and Autumn Period (春秋時代), named after the influential Spring and Autumn Annals. In this period, local military leaders used by the Zhou began to assert their power and vie for hegemony. The situation was aggravated by the invasion of other peoples from the northwest, such as the Qin, forcing the Zhou to move their capital east to Luoyangmarker. This marks the second large phase of the Zhou dynasty: the Eastern Zhou. In each of the hundreds of states that eventually arose, local strongmen held most of the political power and continued their subservience to the Zhou kings in name only. Local leaders for instance started using royal titles for themselves. The Hundred Schools of Thought (諸子百家) of Chinese philosophy blossomed during this period, and such influential intellectual movements as Confucianism (儒家), Taoism (道家), Legalism (法家) and Mohism (墨家) were founded, partly in response to the changing political world. The Spring and Autumn Period is marked by a falling apart of the central Zhou power. China now consists of hundreds of states, some only as large as a village with a fort.
Warring States
After further political consolidation, seven prominent states remained by the end of 5th century BC, and the years in which these few states battled each other is known as the Warring States Period (戰國時代). Though there remained a nominal Zhou king until 256 BC, he was largely a figurehead and held little power. As neighboring territories of these warring states, including areas of modern Sichuanmarker (四川) and Liaoningmarker (遼寧), were annexed, they were governed under the new local administrative system of commandery and prefecture (郡縣). This system had been in use since the Spring and Autumn Period and parts can still be seen in the modern system of Sheng & Xian (province and county, 省縣). The final expansion in this period began during the reign of Ying Zheng (嬴政), the king of Qin. His unification of the other six powers, and further annexations in the modern regions of Zhejiangmarker (浙江), Fujianmarker (福建), Guangdongmarker (廣東) and Guangxi (廣西) in 214 BC enabled him to proclaim himself the First Emperor (Qin Shi Huangdi, 秦始皇帝).


Japan first appeared in written records in AD 57 with the following mention in China's Book of Later Han: Across the ocean from Luoyangmarker are the people of Wa. Formed from more than one hundred tribes, they come and pay tribute frequently. The Book of Wei written in the 3rd century noted the country was the unification of some 30 small tribes or states and ruled by a shaman queen named Himiko of Yamataikoku.

During the Han Dynasty and Wei Dynasty, Chinese travelers to Kyūshūmarker recorded its inhabitants and claimed that they were the descendants of the Grand Count (Tàibó) of the Wu. The inhabitants also show traits of the pre-sinicized Wu people with tattooing, teeth-pulling and baby-carrying. The Book of Wei records the physical descriptions which are similar to ones on Haniwa statues, such men with braided hair, tattooing and women wearing large, single-piece clothing.


Gojoseon was the first Koreanmarker kingdom. According to the Samguk Yusa and other Korean medieval-era records, Gojoseon was founded in 2333 BC by the legendary ruler Dangun, said to be descended from the Lord of Heaven.

The Three Kingdoms (Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla) conquered other successor states of Gojoseon and came to dominate the peninsula and much of Manchuria. The three kingdoms competed with each other both economically and militarily; Goguryeo and Baekje were the more powerful states for much of the three kingdoms era. At times more powerful than the neighboring Sui Dynasty, Goguryeo was a regional power that defeated massive Chinese invasions multiple times. As one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, Silla gradually extended across Korea and eventually became the first state since Gojoseon to cover most of Korean peninsula in 676. In 698, former Goguryeo general Dae Jo-yeong founded Balhae as the successor to Goguryeo.

Unified Silla itself fell apart in the late 9th century, giving way to the tumultuous Later Three Kingdoms period (892-936), which ended with the establishment of the Goryeo Dynastymarker. After the fall of Balhae in 926 to the Khitan, much of its people were absorbed into Goryeo Dynastymarker.


Around 3000 BC, the 15 different Lạc Việt ethnic tribes lived together in many areas with other inhabitants. Due to increasing needs to control floods, fights against invaders, and culture and trade exchanges, these tribes living near each other tended to gather together and integrate into a larger mixed group. Among these Lac Viet tribes was the Van Lang, which was the most powerful tribe. The leader of this tribe later joined all the tribes together to found the Hồng Bàng Dynasty in 2897 BC. He became the first in a line of earliest Vietnamese kings, collectively known as the Hùng kings (Hùng Vương). The Hùng kings called the country, which was then located on the Red Rivermarker delta in present-day northern Vietnam, Văn Lang. The people of Văn Lang were referred to as the Lạc Việt. The next generations followed in their father's footsteps and kept this appellation. Based on historical documents, researchers correlatively delineated the location of Văn Lang Nation to the present day regions of North and north of Central Vietnam, as well as the south of present-day Kwangsi (China).

The Đông Sơn culture was a prehistoric Bronze Age culture that was centered at the Red Rivermarker Valley of northern Vietnammarker. Its influence flourished to other parts of Southeast Asia, including the Indo-Malayan Archipelago from about 2000 BC to 200 AD. The theory based on the assumption that bronze casting in eastern Asia originated in northern China; however, this idea has been discredited by archaeological discoveries in north-eastern Thailand in the 1970s. In the words of one scholar, "Bronze casting began in Southeast Asia and was later borrowed by the Chinese, not vice versa as the Chinese scholars have always claimed. Evidence of early kingdoms of Vietnam other than the Đông Sơn culture in Northern Vietnam was found in Cổ Loamarker, the ancient city situated near present-day Hà Nộimarker.


The first surviving Mongolian text is the Stele of Yisüngge, a report on sports in Mongolian script on stone, that is most often dated at the verge of 1224 and 1225. Other early sources are written in Mongolian, Phagspa (decrets), Chinese (the Secret history), Arabic (dictionaries) and a few other western scripts.


The Huns left practically no written records. There is no record of what happened between the time they left Chinamarker and arrived in Europe 150 years later. The last mention of the northern Xiongnu was their defeat by the Chinese in 151 at the lake of Barkol, after which they fled to the western steppe at Kangju (centered on the city of Turkistanmarker in Kazakhstanmarker). Chinese records between the 3rd and 4th century suggest that a small tribe called Yueban, remnants of northern Xiongnu, was distributed about the steppe of Kazakhstanmarker.

Mediterranean Europe

[[Image:Mediterranian Sea 16.61811E 38.99124N.jpg|right|300px|thumb|
Classical antiquity by region



The history of the Etruscans can be traced relatively accurately, based on the examination of burial sites, artifacts, and writing. Etruscansmarker culture that is identifiably and certainly Etruscanmarker developed in Italy in earnest by 800 BC approximately over the range of the preceding Iron Age Villanovan culture. The latter gave way in the seventh century to a culture that was influenced by Greek traders and Greek neighbors in Magna Graecia, the Hellenic civilization of southern Italy.

From the descendants of the Villanovan people in Etruria in central Italymarker, a separate Etruscan culture emerged in the beginning of the 7th century BC, evidenced by around 7,000 inscriptions in an alphabet similar to that of Euboean Greek, in the non-Indo-European Etruscan language. The burial tombs, some of which had been fabulously decorated, promotes the idea of an aristocratic city-state, with centralized power structures maintaining order and constructing public works, such as irrigation networks, roads, and town defenses.


Phoeniciamarker was an ancient civilization centered in the north of ancient Canaan, with its heartland along the coastal regions of modern day Lebanonmarker, Syriamarker and Israelmarker. Phoenician civilization was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterraneanmarker between the period of 1550 BC to 300 BC.

A written reference, Herodotus's account (written c. 440 BC) refers to a memory from 800 years earlier, which may be subject to question in the fullness of genetic results. (History, I:1). This is a legendary introduction to Herodotus' brief retelling of some mythical Hellene-Phoenician interactions. Though few modern archaeologists would confuse this myth with history, a grain of truth may yet lie therein.

Classical Antiquity

Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Seamarker, which begins roughly with the earliest-recorded Greek poetry of Homer (7th century BC), and continues through the rise of Christianity and the fall of the Western Roman Empire (5th century AD), ending in the dissolution of classical culture with the close of Late Antiquity.

Such a wide sampling of history and territory covers many rather disparate cultures and periods. "Classical antiquity" typically refers to an idealized vision of later people, of what was, in Edgar Allan Poe's words, "the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome!" In the 18th and 19th centuries reverence for classical antiquity was much greater in Western Europe and the United Statesmarker than it is today. Respect for the ancients of Greece and Rome affected politics, philosophy, sculpture, literature, theatre, education, and even architecture and sexuality.

In politics, the presence of a Roman Emperor was felt to be desirable long after the empire fell. This tendency reached its peak when Charlemagne was crowned "Roman Emperor" in the year 800, an act which led to the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. The notion that an emperor is a monarch who outranks a mere king dates from this period. In this political ideal, there would always be a Roman Empire, a state whose jurisdiction extended to the entire civilised world.

Epic poetry in Latin continued to be written and circulated well into the nineteenth century. John Milton and even Arthur Rimbaud received their first poetic educations in Latin. Genres like epic poetry, pastoral verse, and the endless use of characters and themes from Greek mythology left a deep mark on Western literature.

In architecture, there have been several Greek Revivals, (though while apparently more inspired in retrospect by Roman architecture than Greek). Still, one needs only to look at Washington, DCmarker to see a city filled with large marble buildings with façades made out to look like Roman temples, with columns constructed in the classical orders of architecture.

In philosophy, the efforts of St Thomas Aquinas were derived largely from the thought of Aristotle, despite the intervening change in religion from paganism to Christianity. Greek and Roman authorities such as Hippocrates and Galen formed the foundation of the practice of medicine even longer than Greek thought prevailed in philosophy. In the Frenchmarker theatre, tragedians such as Molière and Racine wrote plays on mythological or classical historical subjects and subjected them to the strict rules of the classical unities derived from Aristotle's Poetics. The desire to dance like a latter-day vision of how the ancient Greeks did it moved Isadora Duncan to create her brand of ballet. The Renaissance was partly caused by the rediscovery of classic antiquity.

The Mediterranean in ca. the 6th century BC.
Phoenician cities are labelled in yellow, Greek cities in red, and other cities in grey.

Ancient Greece is the period in Greek history lasting for close to a millennium, until the rise of Christianity. It is considered by most historians to be the foundational culture of Western Civilization. Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe.

The civilization of the ancient Greeks has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, art, and architecture of the modern world, fueling the Renaissance in Western Europe and again resurgent during various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and The Americas.

"Ancient Greece" is the term used to describe the Greek-speaking world in ancient times. It refers not only to the geographical peninsula of modern Greecemarker, but also to areas of Hellenic culture that were settled in ancient times by Greeks: Cyprusmarker and the Aegean islands, the Aegeanmarker coast of Anatoliamarker (then known as Ionia), Sicily and southern Italymarker (known as Magna Graecia), and the scattered Greek settlements on the coasts of Colchis, Illyria, Thrace, Egyptmarker, Cyrenaica, southern Gaul, east and northeast of the Iberian peninsulamarker, Iberia, Taurica and further to the east in exotic Asian cities such as Taxilamarker, Sagalamarker and Jhelummarker in modern day Pakistanmarker.

During its twelve-century existence, the Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to a vast empire. It came to dominate Western Europe and the entire area surrounding the Mediterranean Seamarker through conquest and assimilation. However, a number of factors led to the eventual decline of the Roman Empire. The western half of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, and Italy, eventually broke into independent kingdoms in the 5th century; the eastern empire, governed from Constantinoplemarker, is referred to as the Byzantine Empire after AD 476, the traditional date for the "fall of Rome" and subsequent onset of the Middle Ages.

For more details, see the articles in the category of Ancient Greek culture

Timelapse of area under Roman control.

Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew out of the city-state of Rome, originating as a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula in the 9th century BC. In its twelve centuries of existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to an increasingly autocratic empire.

Roman civilization is often grouped into "classical antiquity" with ancient Greece, a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a major influence on the world today. The Roman civilization came to dominate Western Europe and the Mediterranean region through conquest and assimilation.

Throughout the territory under the control of ancient Rome, residential architecture ranged from very modest houses to country villas. A number of Roman founded cities had monumental structures. Many contained fountains with fresh drinking-water supplied by hundreds of miles of aqueducts, theatres, gymnasium, bath complexes sometime with libraries and shops, marketplaces, and occasionally functional sewers.

Late Antiquity
The Roman Empire underwent considerable social, cultural and organizational change starting with reign of Diocletian, who began the custom of splitting the Empire into Eastern and Western halves ruled by multiple emperors. Beginning with Constantine the Great the Empire was Christianized, and a new capital founded at Constantinoplemarker. Migrations of Germanic tribes disrupted Roman rule from the late fourth century onwards, culminating in the eventual collapse of the Empire in the West in 476, replaced by the so-called barbarian kingdoms. The resultant cultural fusion of Greco-Roman, Germanic and Christian traditions formed the cultural foundations of Western Europe.

Germanic tribes

Migration of Germanic peoples to Britain from what is now northern Germany and southern Scandinavia is attested from the 5th century (e.g. Undley bracteate). Based on Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, the intruding population is traditionally divided into Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, but their composition was likely less clear-cut and may also have included Frisians and Franks. The Parker Library holds the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which contains text that may be the first recorded indications of the movement of these Germanic Tribes to Britain. The Angles and Saxons and Jutes were noted to be a confederation in the Greek Geographia written by Ptolemy in around AD 150.

The Anglo-Saxon is the term usually used to describe the peoples living in the south and east of Great Britainmarker from the early 5th century AD. Benedictine monk Bede identified them as the descendants of three Germanic tribes: the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, from the Jutland peninsula and Lower Saxonymarker (German: Niedersachsen, Germanymarker). The Angles may have come from Angelnmarker, and Bede wrote their nation came to Britain, leaving their land empty. They spoke closely related Germanic dialects. The Anglo-Saxons knew themselves as the "Englisc," from which the word "English" derives.

The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age Europe. Proto-Celtic culture formed in the Early Iron Age in Central Europe (Hallstatt period, named for the site in present-day Austria). By the later Iron Age (La Tènemarker period), Celts had expanded over wide range of lands: as far west as Irelandmarker and the Iberian Peninsulamarker, as far east as Galatia (central Anatoliamarker), and as far north as Scotlandmarker. By the early centuries AD, following the expansion of the Roman Empire and the Great Migrations of Germanic peoples, Celtic culture had becomerestricted to the British Islesmarker (Insular Celtic), with the Continental Celtic languages extinct by the mid-1st millennium AD.

Viking refers to a member of the Norse (Scandinavian) peoples, famous as explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates, who raided and colonized wide areas of Europe beginning in the late 8th. These Norsemen used their famed longships to travel. The Viking Age forms a major part of Scandinavian history, with a minor, yet significant part in European history.

Religion and philosophy

New philosophies and religions arose in both east and west, particularly about the 6th century BC. Over time, a great variety of religions developed around the world, with some of the earliest major ones being Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in Indiamarker, and Zoroastrianism in Persia. The Abrahamic religions trace their origin to Judaism, around 1800 BC.

The ancient Indian philosophy is a fusion of two ancient traditions: Sramana tradition and Vedic tradition. Indian philosophy begins with the Vedas where questions related to laws of nature, the origin of the universe and the place of man in it are asked. Jainism and Buddhism are continuation of the Sramana school of thought. The Sramanas cultivated a pessimistic world view of the samsara as full of suffering and advocated renunciation and austerities. They laid stress on philosophical concepts like Ahimsa, Karma, Jnana, Samsara and Moksa. While there are ancient relations between the Indian Vedas and the Iranian Avesta, the two main families of the Indo-Iranian philosophical traditions were characterized by fundamental differences in their implications for the human being's position in society and their view on the role of man in the universe.

In the east, three schools of thought were to dominate Chinesemarker thinking until the modern day. These were Taoism, Legalism and Confucianism. The Confucian tradition, which would attain dominance, looked for political morality not to the force of law but to the power and example of tradition. Confucianism would later spread into the Korean peninsula and Goguryeo and toward Japanmarker.

In the west, the Greek philosophical tradition, represented by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, was diffused throughout Europe and the Middle East in the 4th century BC by the conquests of Alexander III of Macedon, more commonly known as Alexander the Great. After the Bronze and Iron Age religions formed, the rise and spread of Christianity through the Roman world marked the end of Hellenistic philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of Medieval philosophy.

Ancient science and technology

In the history of technology and ancient science during the growth of the ancient civilizations, ancient technological advances were produced in engineering. These advances stimulated other societies to adopt new ways of living and governance.

The characteristics of Ancient Egyptian technology are indicated by a set of artifacts and customs that lasted for thousands of years. The Egyptians invented and used many basic machines, such as the ramp and the lever, to aid construction processes. The Egyptians also played an important role in developing Mediterranean maritime technology including ships and lighthouses.

The history of science and technology in India dates back to ancient times. The Indus Valley civilization yields evidence of hydrography, metrology and sewage collection and disposal being practiced by its inhabitants. Among the fields of science and technology pursued in India were Ayurveda, metallurgy, astronomy and mathematics. Some ancient inventions include plastic surgery, cataract surgery, Hindu-Arabic numeral system and Wootz steel.

The history of science and technology in China show significant advances in science, technology, mathematics, and astronomy. The first recorded observations of comets and supernovae were made in China. Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and herbal medicine were also practiced.

Ancient Greek technology developed at an unprecedented speed during the 5th century BC, continuing up to and including the Roman period, and beyond. Inventions that are credited to the ancient Greeks such as the gear, screw, bronze casting techniques, water clock, water organ, torsion catapult and the use of steam to operate some experimental machines and toys. Many of these inventions occurred late in the Greek period, often inspired by the need to improve weapons and tactics in war. Roman technology is the engineering practice which supported Roman civilization and made the expansion of Roman commerce and Roman military possible over nearly a thousand years. The Roman Empire had the most advanced set of technology of their time, some of which may have been lost during the turbulent eras of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Roman technological feats of many different areas, like civil engineering, construction materials, transport technology, and some inventions such as the mechanical reaper went unmatched until the 19th century.

A significant number of inventions were developed in the Islamic world, a geopolitical region that has at various times extended from al-Andalus and Africa in the west to the Indian subcontinent and Malay Archipelago in the east. Many of these inventions had direct implications for Fiqh related issues.

Ancient maritime activity

In ancient maritime history, the earliest known reference to an organization devoted to ships in ancient India is to the Mauryan Empire from the 4th century BC. It is believed that the navigation as a science originated on the river Indusmarker some 5000 years ago. Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact refers to interactions between the Americans and peoples of other continents – Europe, Africa, Asia, or Oceaniabefore the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Many such events have been proposed at various times, based on historical reports, archaeological finds, and cultural comparisons.

The Ancient Egyptians had knowledge to some extent of sail construction. According to the Greekmarker historian Herodotus, Necho II sent out an expedition of Phoeniciansmarker, which in three years sailed from the Red Seamarker around Africa to the mouth of the Nile. Many current historians tend to believe Herodotus on this point, even though Herodotus himself was in disbelief that the Phoenicians had accomplished the act.

Hannu was an ancient Egyptian explorer (around 2750 BC) and the first explorer of whom there is any knowledge. Hannu made the first recorded exploring expedition. He wrote his account of his exploration in stone. Hannu travelled along the Red Seamarker to Punt. He sailed to what is now part of eastern Ethiopiamarker and Somaliamarker. He returned to Egypt with great treasures, including precious myrrh, metal and wood.

Ancient warfare

Ancient warfare is war as conducted from the beginnings of recorded history to the end of the ancient period. In Europe, the end of antiquity is often equated with the fall of Rome in 476. In China, it can also be seen as ending in the fifth century, with the growing role of mounted warriors needed to counter the ever-growing threat from the north.

The difference between prehistoric and ancient warfare is less one of technology than of organization. The development of first city-states, and then empires, allowed warfare to change dramatically. Beginning in Mesopotamia, states produced sufficient agricultural surplus that full-time ruling elites and military commanders could emerge. While the bulk of military forces were still farmers, the society could support having them campaigning rather than working the land for a portion of each year. Thus, organized armies developed for the first time.

These new armies could help states grow in size and became increasingly centralized, and the first empire, that of the Sumerians, formed in Mesopotamia. Early ancient armies continued to primarily use bows and spears, the same weapons that had been developed in prehistoric times for hunting. Early armies in Egyptmarker and Chinamarker followed a similar pattern of using massed infantry armed with bows and spears.

Ancient artwork and music

Ancient music is music that developed in literate cultures, replacing prehistoric music. Ancient music refers to the various musical systems that were developed across various geographical regions such as Persia, India, China, Greece, Rome, Egypt and Mesopotamia (see music of Mesopotamia, music of ancient Greece, music of ancient Rome). Ancient music is designated by the characterization of the basic audible tones and scales. It may have been transmitted through oral or written systems. Arts of the ancient world refers to the many types of art that were in the cultures of ancient societies, such as those of ancient China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome

Cultures in the New World

In pre-Columbian times, several large, centralized ancient civilizations developed in the Western Hemispheremarker, which included the Olmecs and Maya. Between 1800 and 300 BC, complex cultures began to form and many matured into advanced Mesoamerican civilizations such as the: Olmec, Izapamarker, Teotihuacanmarker, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huastec, Tarascan, "Toltec" and Aztec, which flourished for nearly 4,000 years before the first contact with Europeans. These civilizations progress included pyramid-temples, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and theology.

The Zapotec emerged around 1500 years BC. They left behind the great city Monte Albanmarker. Their writing system had been thought to have influenced the Olmecs but, with recent evidence, the Olmec may have been the first civilization in the area to develop a true writing system independently. At the present time, there is some debate as to whether or not Olmec symbols, dated to 650 BC, are actually a form of writing preceding the oldest Zapotec writing dated to about 500 BC. Olmec symbols found in 2002 and 2006 date to 650 BC and 900 BC respectively, preceding the oldest Zapotec writing. The earliest Mayan inscriptions found which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BC in San Bartolo, Guatemalamarker,.

See also


Citations and notes

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  8. see Jemdet Nasr, Kish tablet; see also The Origin and Development of the Cuneiform System of Writing, Samuel Noah Kramer, Thirty Nine Firsts In Recorded History, pp 381-383
  9. WordNet Search - 3.0, "History"
  10. Clare, I. S. (1906). Library of universal history: containing a record of the human race from the earliest historical period to the present time; embracing a general survey of the progress of mankind in national and social life, civil government, religion, literature, science and art. New York: Union Book. Page 1519 (cf., Ancient history, as we have already seen, ended with the fall of the Western Roman Empire; [...])
  11. United Center for Research and Training in History. (1973). Bulgarian historical review. Sofia: Pub. House of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences]. Page 43. (cf. ... in the history of Western Europe, which marks both the end of ancient history and the beginning of the Middle Ages, is the fall of the Western Empire.)
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  16. Smith, M. S. (2002). The early history of God: Yahweh and the other deities in ancient Israel. The Biblical resource series. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Page xxii - xxiii
  17. Nadin, M. (1997). The civilization of illiteracy. Dresden: Dresden University Press.
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  19. "Primary, secondary and tertiary sources"
  20. "Library Guides: Primary, secondary and tertiary sources"
  21. Oscar Handlin et al., Harvard Guide to American History (1954) 118-246
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  25. Barton, G. A. (1900). Archaeology and the Bible. Green fund book, no. 17. Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union 1816 Chestnut Street.
  26. "The Great still one of the largest structures ever raised by man, its plan twice the size of St. Peter's in Rome"
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  32. Jane Portal and Qingbo Duan, The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Arm, British Museum Press, 2007, p. 167
  33. H. Liu, F. Prugnolle, A. Manica, F. Balloux, A Geographically Explicit Genetic Model of Worldwide Human-Settlement History. The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 79 , Issue 2 , Pages 230 - 237
  34. akkadian,
  35. Wells, H. G. (1921). The outline of history, being a plain history of life and mankind. New York: Macmillan company. Page 137.
  36. Strauss, Barry S. (2006) The Trojan War: A New History. Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-7432-6441-9
  37. , During two seasons of excavation, Caldwell unearthed 7 different sections of the massive 7000 year old village. He also discovered the oldest known center for copper smelting and bread baking ovens in the world.
  38. , Iran recently sent an appeal to a Belgian court asking for the return of nine boxes of smuggled ancient artifacts and a 2800-year-old pin stolen from the exposition "7000 Years of Persian Art".
  39. , The Municipality of Shoush (Susa) accepted a proposal by the cityÕs Cultural Heritage Department for the transfer of an under-construction passenger terminal from the 7,000-year-old city, but conditioned destruction of the terminal to demolition of other constructions and residential units in the area.
  40. Jiroft Iran - Jiroft archaeology museum -
  41. "Persia 7000 years of civilisation" by David Abbasi (Siyavash AWESTA), The discovery in Iran of a civilisation old of 7000 turns all the archaeological data’s ups and down.
  42. , The south-western part of Iran was part of the Fertile Crescent where most of humanity's first major crops were grown. 7000 year old jars of wine excavated in the Zagros Mountains and ruins of 7000 year old settlements such as Sialk are further testament to this.
  43. , Archaeologists believe that Jiroft was the origin of Elamite written language in which the writing system developed first and was then spread across the country and reached Susa. The discovered inscription of Jiroft is the most ancient written script found so far.
  44. J. B. Bury, p. 109.
  45. Durant, p. ??.
  46. Transoxiana 04: Sasanians in Africa
  47. Sarfaraz, pp. 329–330
  48. Iransaga: The art of Sassanians
  49. ed. StBoT 18
  50. Time Almanac - Page 724 by Editors of Time Magazine
  51. The New Review - Page 208 edited by Archibald Grove, William Ernest Henley
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  53. Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity, 1991.
  54. See, e.g., Bafaqih 1990.
  55. Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity. Edinburgh: University Press, 1991, pp.57.
  56. Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia, 2005.
  57. Periplus of the Erythreaean Sea, chs. 4, 5
  58. Ian Shaw & Paul Nicholson, The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, British Museum Press, London. 1995, p.231.
  59. Shaw & Nicholson, p.231.
  60. , vol. 1.
  61. Shaw, Thurstan, Nigeria: Its Archaeology and early history. Retrieved February 22, 2007.
  62. As recounted by Timaeus, FrGrH 566, fr. 60. Archaeological attestation for so early a date is still wanting, though recent discoveries in situ may point nearly as far back in time.
  63. Indus Valley Civilization
  64. Achaemenian rule of Pakistan
  65. Alexander's invasion of Pakistan
  66. (Bjorn Landstrom, 1964; Miller, J. Innes. 1969; Thomas Puthiakunnel 1973; & Koder S. 1973; Leslie Brown, 1956
  67. 後漢書, 會稽海外有東鯷人 分爲二十餘國
  68. See also Jewang Ungi, Dongguk Tonggam, Sejong Sillok, and Chronicle of Korean Rulers, 제왕연대력 帝王年代曆 Jewang yeondaeryeok, Choe Chiwon (최치원) (857 - ?)
  69. Korea's History (Ko-Choson, Three Kingdoms, Parhae Kingdom, Unified Shilla, Koryo Dynasty, Colonial Period, Independence Struggle, Provisional Government of Korea, Independence Army, Republic of Korea,)
  70. Wang Geon changed the name of dynasty to Goryeo.
  71. eg Γarudi 2002: 7
  72. Rybatzki 2003: 58
  73. The Renaissance discovery of Classical Antiquity by Roberto Weiss
  74. Ancient Britain Had Apartheid-Like Society, Study Suggests
  75. BBC - History - Anglo-Saxons
  76. English and Welsh are races apart
  77. Britannica (Turkey) People and Culture
  78. Roesdahl, Else. The Vikings. Penguin, 1998. ISBN 0140252827 p. 9-22.
  79. ::: 자랑스런 성균관 꽃피우는 유교문화 올바른 인성교육 성균관 예절교실 :::
  80. This is governed by the science of aerodynamics. A primary feature of a properly designed sail is an amount of "draft", caused by curvature of the surface of the sail.
  81. Hatshepsut oversaw the preparations and funding of an expedition of five ships, each measuring seventy feet long, and with several sails. Various other examples of Egyptian sailing vessels] exist, also.
  82. The Encyclopedia of world history By Peter N. Stearns, William Leonard Langer. Page 21. "Ancient and Classical Periods; 3500 BCE - 500 BCE."
  83. Script Delivery: New World writing takes disputed turn Science News December 7th, 2002; Vol.162 #23
  84. Pohl, Mary; Kevin O. Pope, and Christopher von Nagy (2002). "Olmec Origins of Mesoamerican Writing". Science 298: 1984–1987. doi:10.1126/science.1078474.
  85. Science (subscription required)

General Information

  • Thorndike 1923, Becker 1931, MacMullen 1966, MacMullen 1990, Thomas & Wick 1993, Loftus 1996.

  • Web edition is constantly updated.

  • Eight volumes.

See also

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