10 of the World's Oldest Civilizations

The world's oldest civilizations include Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, and Roman Civilization.

Archeologists and historians have made it possible for us to understand the events and cultures that have shaped our society today through the discovery of fossils, artifacts, and ruined cities that are linked to our ancestors. Through their findings, the origin and growth of civilization have been established. Although some civilizations like Atlantis and Rama are shrouded by myths and legends, others actually existed in the world. It is nearly impossible to rank civilizations based on importance since each was significant in shaping the world. However, it is possible to rank them in chronological order. Below are the ten oldest civilizations in the world.

10. Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia was the first civilization to emerge in human history. The area was set between Tigris and Euphrates rivers and lies between Asian Minor and the Persian Gulf. The region is known for its fertile agricultural land. The civilization dates back to 10,000 BC when people around the area found the concept of agriculture and began domesticating animals. Mesopotamia gave birth to written literature and several other inventions such as art and culture and trade. The timeline of the ancient Mesopotamia is estimated to be around 3300 BC to 750 BC with the Babylonians, Sumerians, and Assyrians playing key roles in the civilization.

9. Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt civilization took place between 3100 BC and 2686 BC. It is the most famous and admired culture in the world. The culture was developed along the banks of River Nile. The magnificent pyramids are some of the evidence of the once-booming culture along the river bank and act as a reminder of the existence of a powerful Empire in the Egyptian desert. The Egyptian civilization resulted from the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt by the first Pharaoh. Apart from the pyramids, the civilization gave birth to embalming of dead bodies into mummies, solar calendars, and so much more. The vibrant Egyptian culture, art, and architecture that we know today is linked to the Egyptian civilization.

8. Roman Civilization

The Roman civilization dates back to the 6th Century BC. Although the foundation of ancient Rome is surrounded by myths and legends, it became so powerful that it took control over the land surrounding the present-day Mediterranean Sea. The early Romans were ruled by kings but after seven kings, they took over power and turned into a republic. Rome witnessed the rise and fall of some of the powerful emperors such as Julius Caesar and Augustus. Roman civilization gave birth to politicians, statesmen, writers, and soldiers. The thumbprint of Rome is still evident in Europe with classical sites still attracting tourists.

7. Norte Chico

Norte Chico civilization was a complex society in the Pre-Columbian era that was made up of over 30 main population regions in the modern Norte Chico in Peru. The civilization was at its peak between 4th and 2nd millennium BC. The first city was formed around 3500 BC in the Fortaleza region. However, from around 3100 BC onwards, communal construction and a wide spread human settlement became very apparent lasting to around 1800 BC. The Norte Chico civilization took place along the banks of three rivers namely Pativilca, Fortaleza, and Supe. The river valleys have large clusters of sites known for their immense architecture. The monumental architecture is considered as the major achievement of the civilization.

6. Mayan

The Mayan culture began alongside the Shang Dynasty. The Mayans lived from around 1200 BC to 250 BC in areas around Central America and Mexico, the present day Guatemala, Salvador, Mexico, Belize, and Honduras. The Ancient Mayan civilization flourished around 2600 BC. Once established, the civilization went on to become one of the most complex civilizations that were characterized by a population boom of about 19 million people at its peak. The Mayans devised their method of writing by 700 BC and used the writings to create a solar calendar on stones. They were gifted astronomers who calculated dates by studying the movement of the heavens.

5. Aztecs

Aztecs were not considered ancient civilization by European standard. However, they were among the earliest and most organized and powerful people of the Americas. They came into the scene around the time when Incas were beginning to assert their dominance in South America. They were mostly based in present-day Mexico but also stretched into Central America. Their rise almost coincided with the fall of the Mayans. Aztec civilization was at its peak in the early 1500s. They had a rich culture and are still remembered for their human sacrifice, believing that human sacrifice made God happy. Aztecs built pyramids and unique architecture that can still be seen around Mexico.

4. Indus Valley Civilzation

The Indus Valley civilization, also known as Harappan civilization, began 5,300 years ago. It flourished in areas that presently extend from Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. Indus Valley civilization is one of the three early civilizations of the Old World along the Egyptian and Mesopotamia civilizations. The people of the Indus Valley settled around the Indus River basin. The civilization lasted from 2600 BC to 1900 BC and was characterized by a technologically advanced urban culture. The people were skilled mathematicians, developing accurate means of measuring length, mass, and time. They were also gifted in weaponry and pottery work as evident in their culture which was rich in arts and crafts.

3. Jiahu

Jiahu settlement was situated in the central plain of ancient China. The inhabitants of the settlements developed some of the aspects of the Chinese culture. The people were mainly rice farmers but are mostly known for producing the world’s oldest wine. Some of the oldest musical items such as flutes have also been linked to them. The earliest forms of Chinese writings can be traced back to the Jiahu. They had distinct markings on the artifacts which indicate that they used signs rather than systematic writing.

2. Aboriginal Australians

Although Mesopotamia civilization is considered the oldest in the world’s history, some researchers believe that the Aboriginal Australian is the oldest. The Aborigines can be traced back to 75,000 years ago but became a genetically distinct group about 50,000 years ago. It is believed that they first settled in Australia approximately 40,000 years ago and are considered the direct ancestors of the present-day Australians. Some of the latest discoveries indicate that the Aborigines practiced cremation.

1. Inca

Inca Empire grew to become the largest empire in South America during the Pre-Columbian era. The civilization flourished between 1438 AD and 1532 AD around present-day Peru. Ecuador, and Chile. Its administrative capital was located in Cusco or present-day Peru. The Incas were devoted to Sun God and had a king called “Sapa Inca” (child of the Sun). The city of Cusco resembled a puma. Incas were great builders who built fortresses and sites including Machu Picchu and Cusco itself that still stands to date.

More in Society