In the course of human evolution, at a certain point in time, the idea of living in a group with mutual understanding and dependency became a very useful and practical lifestyle. From such small isolated groups, communities were formed. Then came the societies which in due time became a civilization. How the human mentality and psychology led to this huge change is still a popular topic among historians and anthropologists, and a major discussion for another day. For now, let’s talk about some of the oldest civilizations to have ever existed in the world. We are talking about the civilizations that we know, as fact, existed for real, unlike the ones that are shrouded by myths and beliefs (Atlantis, Lemuria, and Rama civilizations to name a few). To correctly map the ancient civilizations in chronological order, it becomes necessary to go to the very cradle of civilization. Having said that, here is a list of the top 10 oldest civilizations to ever exist in the world, starting with the most recent one first.
It was somewhere around 8000 BC that people find the concept of agriculture and slowly started to domesticate animals for both the purpose of food as well as to assist in agriculture. People had already been creating art much before all that. But all this was a part of human culture, not a human civilization. Mesopotamia is generally credited with being the first place where civilized societies truly began to take shape.
And then the Mesopotamians rose, refining, adding and formalizing all these systems, combining them to form the first civilization.
By 700 BC, the Mayans had already devised their own way of writing which they used to create their own solar calendars carved in the stones. The ancient Mayan civilization started in Central America from about 2600 BC. The most sophisticated civilization with a booming population of about 19 million at its peak. According to them, the world was created on August 11, 3114 BC, which is the date their calendar counts from. And the supposed end was on December 21, 2012.
The ancient Mayans were culturally richer when compared to many of the contemporary civilizations. The Mayans and Aztecs both built pyramids, many of which are larger than in Egypt.
The Yellow river civilization is said to be the cradle of entire Chinese civilization as this is where the earliest dynasties were based. It was around the 2700 BC that the legendary Yellow Emperor began his rule, a point in time that later led to the birth of many dynasties that went on to rule the mainland China.
Xia dynasty became on 2070 BC, first to rule the entire China as described in ancient historical chronicles. Then on, there came a number of dynasties that held control over China in different periods of time until the end of Qing dynasty in 1912 AD with the Xinhai revolution. They gave the world some of the most useful inventions and products such as gunpowder, paper, printing, compass, alcohol, cannons and many more.
The ancient Greeks architecture may not have been one of the oldest civilizations, but they have ever existed in the world. Even though the rise of ancient Greece came from the Cycladic and Minoan civilization (2700 BC – 1500 BC), there is evidence of burials found in the Franchthi Cave in the Argolid, Greece that dates back around 7250 BC. These periods also saw a number of ancient Greeks come into the climate. The Greeks created the ancient Olympics, the concept of democracy, and a senate. They created the base for modern geometry, biology, physics, and what not. Also Pythagoras, Archimedes, Socrates, Euclid, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great.
One of the earliest and most advanced Mesoamerican cultures at the time, they are often considered the mother culture of many other Mesoamerican cultures. The first signs of the Olmec are around 1400 BC in the city of San Lorenzo. The Olmec inhabited the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico and One of the first Mesoamerican societies, the main Olmec settlement which was supported by two other centres, Tenochtitlan and Potrero Nuevo. The Olmec have the major sites containing ceremonial courts, house mounds, large conical pyramids and stone monuments including the colossal head. The Olmec civilization relied heavily on trade, both between different Olmec regions and with other Mesoamerican societies
There was a time when ancient Persian civilization was in fact the most powerful empires in the world. That they covered over 2 million square miles. From the southern portions of Egypt to parts of Greece and then east to parts of India, the Persian Empire was known for its military strength and wise rulers.
But then came King Cyrus II, who later on came to be known as Cyrus the great, came into power and unified the entire Persian Kingdom. But it all changed when the legendary soldier of Macedon, Alexander the great, brought the whole Persian Empire down to its knees and effectively ended the civilization in 530 BC.
The Roman Civilization came into the picture around the 6th century BC. Even the story behind the foundation of ancient Rome is something of a legend, it’s full of myths. But at the height of its power, the Romans ruled over the biggest chunk of land in that era Early Rome was governed by kings, but after only seven of them had ruled, the Romans took power over their own city and ruled themselves. But eventually, the empire of Rome became so vast that it simply was not possible to bring it within a single rule. The Roman Empire in the end was overrun by millions of barbarians from the north and east of Europe.
Indus valley civilization
One of the oldest civilizations in this list, the Indus valley civilization lies at the very cradle of subsequent civilization that arose in the region of the Indus valley. Entire populations of people were settled around the basins of the Indus River, one of the major rivers in Asia. A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture is evident in the Indus Valley Civilization making them the first urban centres in the region. The people of the Indus Civilization achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass, and time.
The Aksumite Empire began in the first century AD in what is now Ethiopia and is believed to be the home of the Queen of Sheba. Aksum was a major trade centre with exports of ivory, agricultural resources and gold being traded throughout the Red Sea trade network and onward to the Roman Empire and east towards India. Because of this, Aksum was a very wealthy society and was the first African culture to issue its own coinage, which in ancient times was a sign of great importance.
The most recognizable monuments of Aksum are the steal, giant carved obelisks that acted as the grave markers of kings and nobles. Early Aksumites worshipped several gods but their main god was called Astar. In 324 AD, King Ezana II was converted to Christianity and from then on Aksum was a zealously Christian culture, and is even allegedly the home of the Ark of the Covenant.