Top 10 Oldest Civilizations of all time

Though the earliest species similar to humans appeared about 2 million years ago, the homo sapiens existed only 20000 years ago. 

However, the early foundations of human civilization began only after thousands of years of the first appearance of homo sapiens. 

People began with living together in small groups leading to a mass population. They discovered agriculture, irrigation, and numerous other needful innovations. 

Along with the foundation of people came many civilizations such as Mesopotamia Civilization, Indus Valley Civilization, Chinese Civilization, and Incan Civilization. 

They made various discoveries and inventions that were necessary for regular lives. Many societies, communities were formed, and so were the cultures and traditions.

Here, this article is the list of the top 10 oldest civilizations of all time with their significant inventions, personalities, and other details.

10.  The Incan Civilization

Incan Civilization
Incan Civilization
Starting date1438 AD
Lasting period94 years
Collapse date1532 AD
Major CitiesCuzco and Machu Picchu

The Incan Civilization which started in 1438 AD and ended in 1532 AD was originally located in Present-day Peru. It is currently located in Ecuador, Chile, and Peru.

A well flourished and established civilization which expanded from present-day Ecuador, Chile, and Peru, is one of the largest empires in the pre-Columbian era

It managed to build a large empire in the Andes Mountains located in South America. The famous leaders of this civilization were Pachacuti – the first emperor, Tupac Inca Yupanqui, and Huayna Capac.

However, Pachacuti was the most significant one as he turned a small village into an epic civilization with his gratefulness and wise decisions.

It was also known for its invention such as roads, suspension bridges, quipu – a communication system, system of string, and knots to record information.

What were the agricultural products of Incan Civilization?

The land of the Incan Civilization was favorable for agricultural activities, and they were rich in these products. The major crops cultivated include coca, grains, potatoes, maize, peanuts, cashews, avocado, tomatoes, lucuma, quinoa, gourd, and squash.

What were the inventions and achievements of the Incans?

Incas were interested in music, so they invented musical instruments such as flute, drum, and panpipe. Apart from the instruments, they also invented terrace farming, aqueducts, unique art, woven colourful textiles, and jewels.

What was the deadliest disease spread in the Incan Civilization?

Smallpox proved to be the deadliest disease during the Incan era as it took the lives of million people including the Inca emperor Huayna Capac. It also led to the enormous demographic disaster that surrounded Ancient Peru.

9. The Aztec Civilization

Aztec Civilization
Aztec Civilization
Starting date1345 AD
Lasting period176 years
Collapse date1521 AD
Major CitiesTexcoco, Tenochtitlan, and Tlacopan.

The Aztec civilization which began in 1345 AD and lasted till 1521 AD was originally located in the south central region of pre-Columbian Mexico. However, it is currently located in Mexico.

This civilization was the most famous Mesoamerican culture around the 16th Century BC. Before its establishment, the whole population of modern-day Mexico was parted into three huge cities Texcoco, Tenochtitlan, and Tlacopan, who were against each other.

Despite the formation of the new state around 1325, the people preferred to call it as Mexica instead of Aztec.

The most interesting facts about this civilization is they had over 200 deities within their Pantheon. Some of them are Huitzilopochtli, Tlaloc , Tezcatlipoca, and Quetzalcoatl.

Besides being famous for its number of deities, it was also known for the inventions like Mandatory Education. Medicine, Gum, and the chocolate

Major personalities of this civilization are Itzcoatl – the King of Aztec of Tenochtitlan, Acamapichtli – the greatest emperor of Aztecs, and Montezuma II – ninth emperor of Aztec.

What was the language spoken by the Aztecs?

Nahuatl language which is also known as Spanish Nahuatl or Nawatl, was the American Indian language belonging to the Uto-Aztecan family. It was spoken by the Aztecs and also in central and western Mexico.

What were the significant inventions of Aztec Civilization?

The Mandatory Education system, Gum, Calendar, Chocolate, and Medicine were the major inventions of the Aztec Civilization.

What is the most interesting fact about the Aztec Civilization?

The Aztecs were taken as psychopathic as they were renowned for their acts of barbarity and colossal bloodshed. They were the bloodthirsty warriors and sacrificed mass humans, almost 20,000 people per year. The cruelest act was ripping out the human heart while they were still alive.

8. The Persian Civilization

Persian Civilization
Starting date550 BC
Lasting period219 years
Collapse date331 BC
Major CitiesAhar, Asaak, Astara, .and Ardabil

The Persian Civilization began in 550 BC and ended in 331 BC. However, before 550 BC, it was known as Persis and was under many leaders divided into many parts, each ruled by different leaders.

It turned into one whole Kingdom when one of the most significant leaders, Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus II, unified the divided parts into one Kingdom and named it Persian Kingdom.

Though it started off with just the Persian land but kept on conquering new lands of ancient Babylon, Central Asia, and Egypt. Finally it managed to occupy the total land which spread from southern parts of Egypt to Greece and to the eastern part of India.

It was one of the most powerful empires of its time as its major strength was its military strength along with its wise leaders.

The leaders played a huge role in making this civilization the powerful one and some of them include Darius the Great, Cyrus the Great, Xerxes I, and Artaxerxes I. The most renowned leader was Cyrus the Great for his role in unification.

Besides the leaders, it is also known for its inventions which include alphabets, Animation, Taxation system and The concept of Human Rights.

What are the major Persian Empires?

Parthian Empire, Achaemenid Empire, and Sasanian Empire are the three major empires of the Percina Civilization. However, there are other empires such as Pahlavi dynasty, Zand dynasty, Safavid dynasty, and Qajar dynasty.

What is Persia known in the present day?

The historic region of southwestern Asia, Persia, has become the modern Iran in the present day. The people started calling Persia as the land of the Aryans and their country as Iran since 1935.

What was the Persian Civilization known for?

The establishment of the regular routes for communication amongst the three continents Asia, Africa, and Europe managed the Persian Empire to be known by everyone. Apart from this, they also invented the world’s first postal service and built numerous new roads.

7. The Roman Civilization

Roman Civilization
Starting date550 BC
Lasting period85 years
Collapse date476 BC
Major CitiesAlexandria, Ravenna, Constantinople, and Athens

The famous civilization of all time emerged during the sixth century BC with it emerged numerous myths and legends. It started in 550 BC and lasted till 465 BC, and was able to occupy about 4.4 million square km.

Growing from a small town on the central part of Italy’s Tiber River and flourishing itself into one of the biggest empires of all time.

It encompassed the largest areas of Britain, Europe, Northern Africa, Mediterranenan islands, and a major portion of western Asia.

Being one of the most influential civilizations due to its wonderful inventions like halloween, Corvus, Colosseum stadium, Roman Numerals, Julian Calendar, Toga – an earliest dress, and The papyrus – a Codex.

Besides leaders, and inventions, Roman civilization is also famous for its influential philosophers because of whom huge numbers of people are benefited directly or indirectly. Some of the major ones include Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Lucretius, and Hypatia. 

What is the legend behind the discovery of Roman Civilization?

The legend is that the two brothers, and demigods – Remus and Romulus in an argument over the ruling of the city founded Ancient Rome on the 21st of April, 753 BCE. The argument led to the victory by Romulus over Remus, so the city was named after Romulus.

What was the major cause for the rise of Roman Empire?

The Romans had a trade relation with many countries of Asia and excelled at trading. They also managed to expand their military aspect leading it to economic development. Apart from this, they even enslaved and looted the people to Rome, making them their citizens.

What led to the collapse of the Roman Empire?

The invasion of the Barbarians led to the collapse of the Roman Empire. Romulus, the last Roman emperors of the west, was defeated by the German leader Odoacer. He then became the first Barbarian who ruled ancient Rome.

6. The Chinese Civilization

Chinese Civilization
Starting date1600 BC
Lasting period554 years
Collapse date1046 BC
Major CitiesXian, Nanjing, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Anyang

The Chinese Civilization began around 1600 BC and lasted till 1046 BC. It started along the Yellow River during the Shang era which managed to spread all through the bronze age culture before reaching its peak.

The civilization began from this particular river, as it was the base for the earliest dynasties. People of this era knew civilization by the name Han China.

Chinese civilization is famous for its rich culture, printing system, gunpowder, silk, tea production, deep drilling, the compass, and paper. The paper was first invented about 1900 years ago.

Apart from this, it was also renowned for its influential leaders and rulers  who helped this civilization to flourish from 1600 BC to 1046 BC. Some of the major leaders to be remembered are Sun Yat-sen, Kublai Khan, Deng Xiaoping, and Mao Zedong.

How did the Chinese culture begin?

The legend is that the Chinese culture began over 5000 years ago along with the Yellow Emperor. The renowned Yellow Emperor was blessed with great wisdom and power and has cultivated the Tao meaning the Way.

What are the significant developments of Chinese Civilization?

The Chinese have had numerous notable innovations. However, the compass, printing system, gunpowder, and papermaking stand out as the four great inventions of all time. The paper was invented before 1900 years by Cai Lun.

What is the writing style of ancient Chinese Civilization known as?

The writing characters developed by the Chinese are known as Hanzi. They are the logograms developed by the Chinese for the writing. Hanzi was invented by a bureaucrat, Cangjie, as he was inspired by his study of the earth, stars, and animals.

5. The Mayan Civilization

Last ruins of Mayan Civilization
Last ruins of Mayan Civilization
Starting date2600 BC
Lasting period1700 years
Collapse date900 BC
Major CitiesTikal, Copan, Calakmul, and Palenque

The Mayan Civilization, located in Present-day Mexico and Central America, began around 2600 BC and ended in 900 AD. It included parts of Mesoamerican culture and their indigenous tribes and is the most dominant society of Mesoamerica.

People of this civilization inhabited the lands of Campeche, El Salvador, Yucantan, and Honduras. Though it began with a very few people, it kept on expanding and had a huge increase in population.

Like other civilizations, this civilization also invented numerous noteworthy inventions, which includes, Astronomy, Chocolate, Hallucinogenic drugs, and Maya Art.

The art and traditional acts were mostly done for the royal court and art was made using precious perishable and non-perishable material.

However, this civilization was famous for its logosyllabic script, which is said to be the most sophisticated and highly crafted writing system in history.

Apart from the art and script, it also is known for its influential rulers which include  Jasaw Chan K’awiil, a prominent ruler, Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil, and Tecun Uman.

What were the major reasons behind the collapse of Ancient Mayan Civilization

The great Mayan Civilization did not collapse due to one particular reason rather it had four main causes for its downfall. The rapid increase in population, drastic warfare, shifts in trade routes, extreme drought, and environmental degradation caused the downfall.

What was the language spoken by the Mayans?

The most commonly spoken language in ancient Mayan civilization was Yucatec Maya. It is still spoken mostly around the Yucatan Peninsula and all over by about 800000 people.

What is Ancient Mayan Civilization known for?

The artifacts, astronomical system, mathematics, and calendar were the significant inventions of Ancient Mayans. However, they were best known for their most sophisticated writing system – logosyllabic script. It was noted as the writing system which was highly developed during the pre-Columbian Americans.

4. The Ancient Greek Civilization

Ancient Greek Civilization
Starting date2700 BC
Lasting period2221 years
Collapse date479 BC
Major CitiesSparta, Thebes, Corinth, and Delphi

The Ancient Greek Civilization started in 2700 BC and ended in 479 BC. The whole civilization was divided into different periods, some of them are Neolithic, Early Bronze Age, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic.

However, the three periods : Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic managed to stand out as the greatest periods for the Greek Art.

 This civilization is also known as the house of plethora of inventions and discoveries for its significant discoveries.

Some of the major discoveries and inventions are the Olympics, the first coin, the maps, and Geometry. They managed to leave a positive impact on people of Ancient Greek era and some of them are still in use to this day.

Apart from its inventions, Greek Civilization is also renowned for its deities which include Apollo, Hermes, Hestia, Hebe, Zeus, Ares, and Leto.

Also, this civilization has given birth numerous great personalities, some of them include Socrates, Plato, Alexander the Great, Pythagoras, and Aristotle. 

These men have had direct or indirect on every human life through their intelligence and their creations.

Where did the Olympic Games come from?

The Olympic Games originated  about 3000 years ago in ancient Greece. It was revived again during the late 19th Century and has been one of the world’s preeminent sports competitions.

What is the oldest Greek civilization?

Mycenaean Greece which is one of the civilizations of the Late Helladic Bronze Age of Ancient Greece is the oldest Greek Civilization. It is also the historic setting of most of the Greek mythologies and epics of Homer.

What were the major inventions of Ancient Greek Civilization?

The significant inventions like the Odometer, Cartography, Alarm Clock. Olympics, Water Mill, and Modern Philosophy were invented in the lands of ancient Greek. They proved themselves as the pioneers of the Science field with these inventions and discoveries.

3. The Ancient Egyptian Civilization 

Ancient Egyptian Civilization
Starting date3150 BC
Lasting period2818 years
Collapse date332 BC
Major CitiesThinis, Memphis, Avaris, and Tanis

The Ancient Egyptians began around 3105 BC and ruled until 332 BC. It is the civilization of ancient North Africa which was concentrated along the Nile River and now is situated in a place currently known as  Egypt.

It was the preeminent civilization in the mediterranean world and was divided into three main periods: The old kingdom 2700 – 2200 BCE, middle kingdom 2050 – 1800 BCE, and the new kingdom 1550 – 1100 BCE.

There were many inventions of this civilization out of which, the wheel was the one that was least expected, since everyone here travelled in water.

Other inventions include the famous Pyramids, Writing system, Ox- drawn plough, irrigation, clocks, toothpaste, and shadoof –  a long balancing pole.

Apart from being known for its inventions, this civilization also was blessed with famous people like Moses – a religious leader, Maimonides – Jewish philosopher, Cleopatra, and Ibn Khaldun – a historiographer and a historian.

What are the major features of Egyptian Civilization?

Major features of Ancient Egyptian Civilization include Arts. Architecture, Organized government, Job specialization, Public works, and Social classes.      

What was Egypt called during the Biblical times?

Egypt was known as the Mizraim during the Biblical times. Mizraim is a theological term which is mostly used by scholars and historians.

Who was the greatest leader of Ancient Egyptian Civilization?

King Tutankhamun is the greatest leader of Ancient Egyptian Civilization, who started ruling as the youngest ancient Egyptian Pharaoh since the 18th Dynasty.

2.  The Indus Valley Civilization 

Indus Valley Civilization
Starting date3150 BC
Lasting period2818 years
Collapse date332 BC
Major CitiesThinis, Memphis, Avaris, and Tanis

The Indus Valley Civilization which began around 3300 BC and ruled until 1900 BC is taken as a mysterious civilization.

It is mysterious as its start and its end does not have any exact proof and is all based on some myths or legends.

This civilization had a very large population of around 5 million people and everyone lived in the Indus River basin.

The  whole civilization was divided into three major phases namely Early Harappan, Mature Harappan, and Late Harappan. Which is dated as from 3300 to 2800, from 2600 to 1900, and from 1900 to 1300, respectively.

With the division of the civilization into three Harappan phases. It was also known as the Harappan Civilization

Like other civilizations, Indus has also invented numerous interesting and impactful things like The Great Bath, ornamental buttons, stepwell, ruler, well-engineered structures, drainage system, and artifacts.

Apart from the inventions, there were numerous interesting facts associated with this civilization. One of the most famous ones is the invention of the oldest script known as the Indus Script which is still not deciphered. 

What is the timeline of Indus Valley Civilization?

The early settlement began from around 7000 BC. However, the Early Harappan Phase began from 3300 BC, Mature Harappan Phase from 2600 BC, and Late Harappan Phase from 1900 BC. The Indus Valley Civilization had its downfall since 1900 BC.     

What happened to the ancient people of the Indus Valley civilization?

The actual information about the ancient people of Indus Valley is a huge mystery. However, some believe the people were destroyed in a war and some say they were conquered by the northern invaders.

What was Indus Valley Civilization known for?

The Indus Valley Civilization was known for its impactful urban planning, political process, and technical progress. In addition to this, they are also famous for inventing baked brick houses, drainage systems, and uniform water supply. 

1. The Mesopotamia Civilization 

Mesopotamia Civilization
Starting date3300 BC
Lasting period1400 years
Collapse date1900 BC
Major CitiesMohenjo-daro, Lothal, and Rupar

The Mesopotamia Civilization whose current location is Syria, Iraq, and Turkey was originally located in Modern-day Iraq. It started around 3500 BC and ruled until 500 BC.

The civilization started with small groups of people coming and living together. The small groups started extending with the expansion of their family. Agricultural activities and irrigation were also invented along with the increase in the overall population.

Some of the other major inventions besides these which proved to be impactful then and until today include, the Cuneiform, Mathematics, Currency, Chariot, laws-orders, and Wheel.

Apart from these notable inventions, the rulers and leaders of ancient Mesopotamia also made some impacts. One of the most significant rulers is the King Gilgamesh.

When talking about Mesopotamia, its three major city-states cannot be ignored. The oldest city-state is the Sumerian city-state and other two are Babylonian and Akkad.

What were the main civilizations of the Mesopotamia Civilization?

Sumerian civilization, Akkadian civilization, Babylonian civilization, and Assyrian civilization

What is Mesopotamia called today?

Mesopotamia is famously known as the Modern – day Iraq.

When did Mesopotamia civilization begin and end?

The Mesopotamia civilization began during the c.3500 BC and came to an end in 500 BC with the fall of Babylon.

Who was the most famous leader of the Mesopotamia civilization?

King Sargon of Akkad was the most famous leader of Mesopotamia civilization. He established the world’s first empire around 4000 years ago.

Conclusion:

People and their living styles changed from civilization to civilization. Their faiths in deities also went on changing from only male gods to male – female gods.

The creations and innovations also prospered and led to various innovations which are still in use in the present day. 

Also, the leaders and some influential personalities impacted their writings, craftworks, and some great wisdom.

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