Our present civilization is indebted to our predecessors who with their might and mind have laid the foundation of human civilization throughout the world. We will now discuss some of the ancient civilizations in brief.
The History Of Ancient Greece
The Greek civilization is the foundational civilization of the western world. Ancient Greece is not limited to today’s Greek peninsula, all the places where the Greeks established Hellenic culture in ancient times comes under this purview.
Ancient Greek empire influenced the spheres of science, technology, architecture, art, language, education, polity, and philosophy. Ancient Greece stimulated Renaissance in Western Europe. Greek classicism was revived to elevate literature in the 18th and 19th century Neo-classical period in Europe and in the Americas.
The Mighty Roman Empire
The Roman Empire is the base structure of European civilization. Though the Romans were the conquerors they learned a lot from the Greek heritage. Usually the name of Ancient Rome is uttered together with ancient Greece as contenders of “classical antiquity”. Ancient Roman civilization has a huge influence on European law, war, art, architecture and language, which is still continuing its legacy.
The Roman Empire spread its rule on the vast landmasses of Western Europe and areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. During the 12th century Roman Empire transformed from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to a huge empire.
The traditional date of the fall of Rome is 476 B.C after the vast empire was broke into independent kingdoms in the west and the eastern empire came to be known as the Byzantine empire, governed from Constantinople.
China has preserved the earliest written evidence of civilization of 13th century B.C Shang dynasty. The evidences are written inscriptions, prediction records on animal bones and shells called “oracle bones”. The last of the nine capitals of Shang is modern Anyang of modern day Henang. The Zhou dynasty emerged as the new power in 2nd millennium B.C. The Zhou king Wu with the help of his uncle, the duke of Zhou defeated the Shangs in the battle of Muye. The Zhou king established the concept of “Mandate of Heaven” to strengthen his rule and this concept lived long through the gradual succession of the dynasty.
Initially the area of modern Xian, near the Yellow river was the capital of Zhou dynasty but gradually they expanded their rule to the Yangtze River valley. This is the first ever record of north to south migration of Chinese population.
However, the 8th century episode of Spring and Autumn periods was the history of decentralization of Zhou power in the hands of local leaders who rose to power. China now had hundreds of small states. The arena of intellectual thoughts saw the rise of many intellectual movements like the Hundred School of thoughts, Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism and Mohism.
In the 5th century B.C these few states battled with each other. This period is known as the Warring states period. King Ying Zhen , the king of Qin annexed, assimilated and unified several states and proclaimed himself as the First Emperor of China.
As per Sanskrit literature Ancient India revolves round the rich history of the classical Hindu age termed as “golden age”. This age began during the 500 BCE with the Mahajanapadas, the sixteen monarchies and republics, which occupied the territory of Indo-Gangetic plain stretching from Afghanistan to Bangladesh. Four great Mahajanapadas were Magadha, Kosala, Kuru and Gandhara.
Ancient India had a grand oral literary tradition starting with the Rig Veda, compiled in circa 1500B.C. The epics Ramayana and Mahabharata belong to the classical period. Indian history embraced the well-recorded written form from 6th century B.C after the birth of Buddha and Mahavira.
Amongst the sixteen Mahajanapadas, Magadha rose to eminence and became famous under the legendary rule of king Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty. The south was under the rule of the Chera, Chola and the Pandya dynasties.
After Ashoka, the Gupta Empire integrated the north India (320-550 BCE). Gupta period saw immense progress in law, order, art, mathematics, education, Sanskrit drama, grammar, logic, metaphysics, medicine and astronomy. The Gupta Empire declined with the invasion of the Hunas.
The south Indian Tamil people of the Sangam age traded with the Greco Roman world from the coast of Malabar. They had connections with the Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, Arabs, Jews and Chinese.
India was the richest subcontinent of the world till the Mughal period.
The Ancient Civilizations Of Sub- Saharan Africa
The ancient civilization of Egypt is the most famous African civilization mothered by the river Nile. It spanned over three and a half millennia. The inception of the civilization was the unification of Nile valley polities around 3500 B.C and ended in 30B.C with the Roman conquest.
Egyptian civilization balanced nature and human resources effectively with the gift of fertility from Nile.
Ancient Civilization Mesopotamia
The name Mesopotamia is derived from the Greek words for “between” and “river”. Ancient Mesopotamia was spread in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins and the area in-between. Mesopotamia is referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization” as it is the place where first literate societies evolved in the 4th millennium B.C. The time span of ancient Mesopotamia is from 4th millennium BCE to the rise of the Achaemenids in 6th century BCE.
Mesopotamia homed ancient civilizations like the Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires.
Ur Nammu (king of Ur), Sargon (Established the Akkadian empire) and Hammurabi (Established the Babylonian empire) and Tiglath Pileser (established the Assyrian empire) are some prominent names in the pages of ancient Mesopotamia.
The History Of Phoenicia
The ancient Phoenician civilization is a maritime trading civilization, which was centered on the ancient Cannan and did spread across the Mediterranean with its vital concentration on the lands of modern Lebanon during the first millennium B.C.
The language of the Phoenicians is Phoenician, a member of Canaanite language of the Semitic family. The most important historical sources are the inscriptions. The Phoenician Punic colonies of North Africa are also a valuable source to know about the ancient Phoenicians.
The Ancient Civilizations Of The Americas
The Aztec civilization is a colorful civilization of Mexico. The Aztecs were Mesoamerican people who called themselves Mexicas, who lived during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries in central Mexico.
Mandatory education and a complex yet rich mythology are the chief texture of the Aztec civilization. Practice of human sacrifice was in vogue.
The Chronicles Of The Olmec
The Olmec people are the ancient pre-Columbian people of south central Mexico, which roughly corresponds to modern days Veracruz, and Tabasco. The span is roughly from 1200 B.C to 400B.C and the Olmec people are thought to be the predecessor of every principal Mesoamerican Civilization.
The Inca Civilization
Inca empire was the biggest pre-Columbian empire of America and one the chief empires in the world. It rose to prominence in highlands of Peru during 1200 BC. Cuzco was the political, administrative and military center.
The official language was Quechua, though seven hundred local languages were spoken.
The Inca leadership promoted worship of Pachamama or Mother Earth. The Incas believed Inti or Sun God to be the chief God.
The Inca Empire was divided in a stratified society. The empire was divided in “senorios”(dominions) and the ruler was the Inca. The economy was based on the collective property of the land. The Inca was undertaken as a massive civilization project based on a mythology of harmony between human, God and Nature.
The Incas declined with the coming of Spanish Conquistadors.
Maya Civilization is Mesoamerican civilization, which reached the zenith of art, architecture, mathematics and astronomy. The Maya people developed a fully written system of language. The famed period of 250 to 900 BCE of Maya Civilization is known as Classic period in Mesoamerican chronology. The spread of civilization was from the northern Central America to the southern parts of Mexico. It was a vibrant and lively civilization.
Here ends the chronicle of the famous ancient civilizations of the world.