The 10 Oldest Ancient Civilizations That Existed (2023)

As human evolution progressed, living in groups of mutual understanding and interdependence became a very useful and practical way of life, and small isolated groups grew into larger communities.

Then came the societies that became civilizations over time.

How human mentality and psychology led to this development is still a popular topic among historians and anthropologists and an important discussion for another day.

First, let's talk about some of the oldest civilizations that have ever existed in the world.

We are talking about civilizations that we know actually existed as opposed to those shrouded in myth such as Atlantis, Lemuria and Rama to name a few.

In order to correctly list the oldest civilizations in chronological order, one must go back to the cradle of the civilization.

Here is a list of the 10 oldest civilizations that have ever existed, starting with the most recent:

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10. The Inca Civilization

Civilization name:Inca Civilization
Period:1438 n. Chr.–1532 n. Chr
original location:current Turkey
Current location:Ecuador, Peru and Chile
Key Highlights:Largest empire in South America in the pre-Columbian period

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The Inca Empire was the largest empire in South America in the pre-Columbian period. This civilization flourished in what is now Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, and had its administrative, military, and political center in Cusco, in modern-day Peru.

The Inca civilization was a well established and thriving society. The Incas were staunch followers of the sun god Inti, and their king was known as "Sapa Inca," meaning son of the sun.

The first Inca Emperor, Pachacuti, transformed the capital from a humble village into a large city in the shape of a puma. He continued to expand the tradition of ancestor worship.

When the king died, his son would have all power, but his fortune would be divided among his other relatives, who in return would preserve his mummy and retain his political influence.

This led to a significant increase in power for the Incas, who became great master builders, building fortresses and sites like Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco that survive to this day.

9. The Aztec Civilization

Civilization name:Aztec civilization
Period:1345 n. Chr.–1521 n. Chr
original location:South-central region of pre-Columbian Mexico
Current location:Mexico
Key Highlights:Nahuatl became the main language

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The Aztecs came on the scene around the same time that the Incas emerged as powerful competitors in South America. By the 1200s and early 1300s, the people of modern-day Mexico lived in three major rival cities—Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan.

By 1325 these rivals formed an alliance and the new state came to dominate the Valley of Mexico. Back then, people preferred the name Mexica to Aztec.

The rise of the Aztecs came a century after the fall of another influential civilization in Mexico and Central America - the Maya.

The city of Tenochtitlan was the base of military power and became the spearhead for the conquest of new territories, but the Aztec emperor did not rule all cities or regions directly. Local governments persisted and were forced to pay varying tributes to the Triple Alliance.

In the early 1500s, Aztec civilization was indeed at the height of its power. But then the Spaniards came. This led to a major battle in 1521 between the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors and the native allies they rallied, led by the famous (or rather infamous) Hernan Cortes.

A defeat in this crucial battle eventually led to the downfall of the once famous Aztec empire.

8. The Roman Civilization

Civilization name:roman civilization
Period:550 aC–465 dC
original location:Latin Village
Current location:Roma
Key Highlights:Most powerful ancient civilization

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Roman civilization emerged around the 6th century BC. Also the story behind the founding ofAncient Rome is the stuff of legends and myths. At the height of its power, the Roman Empire ruled a vast tract of land, and all of the modern Mediterranean countries were part of ancient Rome.

Early Rome was ruled by kings, but after only seven of them ruled, the people took control of their own city and governed themselves. They instituted a council known as the Senate to govern them. From that point on, Rome was referred to as the Roman Republic.

Rome also witnessed the rise and fall of some of thegreatest emperorin human history, such as Julius Caesar, Trajan and Augustus. But eventually the empire grew so large that it just wasn't possible to bring it under a single government.

In the end, the Roman Empire was invaded by millions of barbarians from Northern and Eastern Europe.

Also see:

  • Top 10 Religious Practices in Ancient Rome
  • The 10 most famous figures of ancient Rome
  • The 10 Most Important Events in the History of Ancient Rome (BC)
  • Top 10 Ancient Roman Inventions

7. The Persian Civilization

Civilization name:Persian Civilization
Period:550 v. Chr. - 331 v. Chr
original location:Egypt in the west to Turkey in the north and through Mesopotamia to the Indus in the east
Current location:modern iran
Key Highlights:royal road

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There was a time when the ancient Persian civilization was actually the most powerful empire in the world.

Although the Persians ruled for a little over 200 years, they conquered lands covering more than two million square miles. From southern parts of Egypt to parts of Greece and east to parts of Indiapersian kingdomIt was known for its military prowess and wise rulers.

Before they came, in the span of just 200 years, 550 B.C. By the time they built such a vast empire, Persia (or Persis as it was then known) was divided into factions under various leaders. But then King Cyrus II, later known as Cyrus the Great, took power and unified the entire Persian kingdom before conquering ancient Babylon.

In fact, his conquest was so rapid that by the end of 533 B.C. had penetrated India far to the east. Even after Cyrus' death, his descendants continued this relentless expansion, even fighting in the now legendary battle with the brave Spartans.

At its peak, ancient Persia ruled all of Central Asia and Egypt. But that all changed when a legendary Macedonian soldier,Alexander the Great, brought the entire Persian Empire to its knees and ended civilization in 330 BC.

6. Ancient Greek Civilization

Civilization name:greek civilization
Period:2700 v. Chr. - 479 v. Chr
original location:Italy, Sicily, North Africa and even western France
Current location:Greece
Key Highlights:Concepts of Democracy and Senate, Olympia

The ancient Greeks may not have been the oldest civilization, but they are undoubtedly one of the most influential.

Although the rise of Ancient Greece started from the Cycladic and Minoan civilizations (2700 BC - 1500 BC), there is evidence of burials in the Franchthi Cave in Argolis, Greece, dating to around 7250 BC. date.

The history of this civilization spans such a long period that historians have divided it into different periods, the most popular of which are the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. During these periods, a number of ancient Greeks came to the fore, many of whom changed the world forever and are still spoken today.

Among other things, the Greeks invented the ancient Olympic Games and coined the concept of democracy and the Senate. They laid the foundations for modern geometry, biology and physics.Pythagoras,Archimedes,Socrates, Euclid,Plato,Aristotle, Alexander the Great... the history books are replete with those names whose inventions, theories, beliefs, and exploits have had a significant impact on subsequent civilizations.

Also see:

  • The 10 Most Important People in Ancient Greece
  • The 10 Most Famous Ancient Greek Garments
  • Top 10 Ancient Greek Inventions and Discoveries
  • Top 10 Ancient Greek Goddesses
  • Top 10 Ancient Greek Gods

5. Chinese Civilization

Civilization name:chinese civilization
Period:1600 v. Chr. - 1046 v. Chr
original location:Yellow River and Yangtze River Region
Current location:Land China
Key Highlights:Invention of paper and silk

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Ancient China - also known as Han China - ranks fifth and arguably has one of the most diverse histories. Indeed, if you consider all the dynasties from the first to the last that have ever ruled in China, a considerably large period has to be covered.

The Yellow River Civilization is considered to be the beginning of the entire Chinese civilization as it is where the first dynasties were based. Around 2700 BC The legendary Yellow Emperor began his reign that would later lead to the birth of many dynasties that would rule mainland China.

In the year 2070 BC The Xia dynasty was the first to rule all of China as described in ancient historical chronicles. From then on, there were a series of dynasties that maintained control over different periods until the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912 AD with the Xinhai Revolution.

This marked the end of more than four millennia of Chinese civilization. By this time, however, the Chinese had gifted the world some of their most useful inventions and products, including gunpowder, paper, printing, compasses, alcohol, cannons, and more.

Also see:

  • Top 18 Ancient Chinese Inventions and Discoveries
  • 10 Amazing Stories From Ancient Chinese Mythology
  • Top 10 Wonderful Pieces of Ancient Chinese Art

4. The Maya Civilization

Civilization name:Maya-Zivilisation
Period:2600 aC–900 dC
original location:Around today's Yucatan
Current location:Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco and Chiapas in Mexico and south through Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras
Key Highlights:Complex understanding of astronomy

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The ancient Maya civilization flourished around 2600 BC. in Central America and was much discussed because of the introduced calendar.

Once established, the Maya civilization thrived and became highly developed, with a growing population of around 19 million at its peak. Already around 700 BC. The Maya had developed their own writing system with which they created solar calendars carved in stone.

According to them, the world was created on August 11, 3114 B.C. created, the date when their calendar begins. The expected end date was December 21, 2012.

The ancient Maya were culturally rich compared to many of their contemporary civilizations, and both the Maya and the Aztecs built pyramids, many larger than those in Egypt.

But the sudden decline and abrupt end of the Maya was one of the most intriguing mysteries of ancient history: Why did the Maya, a remarkably sophisticated civilization of more than 19 million people, suddenly collapse sometime in the 8th or 9th centuries? theMaya peopleit has not completely disappeared; Their descendants still live in parts of Central America.

Also see:
The top 10 inventions of the Mayan civilization

3. Ancient Egyptian Civilization

Civilization name:Egyptian Civilization
Period:3150 v. Chr. - 30 v. Chr
original location:bank of the Nile
Current location:Egypt
Key Highlights:construction of pyramids

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Ancient Egypt is one of the oldest and most culturally rich civilizations on this list. The ancient Egyptian civilisation, a majestic civilization on the banks of the Nile, is known for its amazing culture, its pharaohs, the immortal pyramids and the sphinx.

Civilization merged around 3150 BC. (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh. But that would not have been possible had it not been for the beginning of 3500 B.C. BC settlers would have existed around the Nile Valley.

The history of ancient Egypt can be divided into a series of stable kingdoms separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Early Bronze Age Kingdom, the Middle Middle Bronze Age Kingdom, and the New Bronze Age Kingdom.

Ancient Egypt gave us the pyramids, the mummies that the ancient pharaohs preserve to this day, hieroglyphs and much more. Ancient Egypt reached its peak during the New Kingdom whenpharaohshow Ramses the Great ruled with such authority that another contemporary civilization, the Nubians, also fell under Egyptian rule.

Also see:

  • Top 10 Ancient Egyptian Gods
  • Top 10 Ancient Egyptian Paintings

2. The Indus Valley Civilization

Civilization name:The Indus Valley Civilization
Period:3300 v. Chr. - 1900 v. Chr
original location:Around the catchment area of ​​the Indus
Current location:Northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and Northwest India
Key Highlights:One of the most widespread civilizations, covering an area of ​​1.25 million km

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The Indus Valley Civilization is one of the oldest civilizations on this list and is at the center of subsequent civilizations that arose in the Indus Valley region.

This civilization flourished in areas stretching from what is now northeastern Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwestern India. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of the first three civilizations of antiquity, and of the three it was the most widespread, covering 1.25 million km.

Whole populations have been settled in the Indus river basin, one of the largest rivers in Asia, and another river called the Ghaggar-Hakra, which used to flow through northeastern India and eastern Pakistan.

Also known as the Harappan Civilization and the Mohenjo Daro Civilization, named after the archaeological sites where the remains of the civilization were found, the heyday of this civilization is said to be from 2600 B.C. to about 1900 B.C. have lasted. The Indus Valley Civilization exhibits a sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture, making its capital the region's premier urban center.

The people of the Indus Valley Civilization achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass, and time, and based on artifacts found during excavations, it is evident that the culture was also rich in arts and crafts.

1. The Civilization of Mesopotamia

Civilization name:Mesopotamian Civilization
Period:3500 v. Chr.–500 v. Chr
original location:Northeast of the Zagros Mountains, southeast of the Arabian Plateau
Current location:Iraq, Syria and Turkey
Meaning:Land Between Rivers (Ancient Greek)
Key Highlights:The world's first civilization

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And here it is, the first civilization to emerge. The origin of Mesopotamia is so ancient that there is no known evidence of any other civilized society before them.

The timeline ofancient Mesopotamiait is generally believed to have existed between 3300 B.C. and 750 B.C. lies. Mesopotamia is generally credited with being the first place where a civilized society really began to form.

Around 8000 BC Around 3000 BC, humans developed the idea of ​​agriculture and slowly began to domesticate animals for both food and to support agriculture.

People have already created somethingArt long before the Mesopotamians, but that was part of human culture, not human civilization. It was the Mesopotamian civilization that refined this, added and formalized all these systems and combined them to create the first civilization.

They thrived in the regions of present-day Iraq known then as Babylonia, Sumer, and the Assyrian Highlands.

Also see:

  • Top 11 Mesopotamian Inventions and Discoveries
  • The Legend of Gilgamesh


Modern culture and civilization owes much to the first civilizations that arose after millions of years of human evolution.

Human civilization has come a long way from a time when there were no defined means of communication and hunting was the primary source of sustenance. Gradually, agriculture replaced food gathering, animals were domesticated, societies were created and developed, eventually leading to the societies we live in today.

Each and every civilization listed here has contributed in various ways: new inventions, new ideas, new cultures, philosophies, lifestyles, etc. From the cradle of civilization to the modern day, what we have become is the result of all civilizations that came before there were.

Bonus: How Ancient Civilizations Began (Video)

Related posts:

  1. Top 18 Ancient Chinese Inventions and Discoveries
  2. The 14 most important ancient battles in history
  3. Top 10 Outstanding Ancient Egyptian Paintings
  4. 10 Amazing Facts About Ancient Egypt
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