The oldest civilizations in the world (2023)

The oldest civilizations in the world (1)
  • From the ancient Egyptians to the lesser-known Jiahu people, the following article briefly explores six of the world's oldest civilizations.
  • Historians remain puzzled as to how the advanced Maya civilization could suddenly collapse in AD 900.
  • Stretching from present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan to northwestern India, the Indus Valley Civilization covered 1.25 million kilometers, making it the most widespread civilization in the ancient world.
  • The oldest human remains of the indigenous peoples of Australia date to approximately 50,000 years ago.

When it comes to ancient civilizations, most people think of the Greeks and the Romans. It is understandable, of course. Both have shaped modern society in some way, be it through their enduring social, cultural, or political influences. However, there are dozens of civilizations that existed long before the Greeks and Romans left their mark on human history. From the ancient Egyptians to the lesser-known Jiahu people, the following article briefly explores six of the world's oldest civilizations.

6. The Mayan civilization (around 2600 BC - 900 AD)

The oldest civilizations in the world (2)

The Mayan Civilization was largely made up of the indigenous peoples of Central America and Mexico. Their hunter-gatherer lifestyle dates back to 7000 BC. C., but the first permanent towns were built around 2600 BC. It was at this time that the first developments in agriculture occurred. At its peak, its population exceeded 19 million people. They built extravagant structures, temples and pyramids, some grander than those in Egypt. Their religion is not fully understood, but the Maya believed in a heaven and an underworld known as Xibalba. They often actedhuman sacrificesas offerings to their gods, but since they believed that the spirits simply moved to the other world, there was nothing malicious in the ritual act.

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They were also expert recorders and astrologers who could record the lunar and solar cycles and the movements of the planets. Today, they are perhaps best known for their calendar that marked December 21, 2012, as the end of time. His own death came long before that; however, historians remain confused as to how such an advanced civilization could suddenly collapse. Regardless, descendants of the Maya still live in parts of Central America.

5. The ancient Egyptians (circa 3150 BC - 30 BC)

The oldest civilizations in the world (3)

The ancient Egyptian civilization was established when King Menes, the first pharaoh, unified Upper and Lower Egypt in 3150 BC. Most of his people gathered on the banks of the Nile River. They are responsible for some of the largest structures ever built, including theThe great Pyramid of Giza, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The ancient Egyptians can be defined as a civilization of "firsts". They made great advances in mathematics and pioneered medical science. They were the first to use waterways as trade routes and to make bronze tools. They are also credited with developing the first phonetic alphabet which was widely used due to the invention of papyrus paper which in turn led to the development of the first postal system. Believe it or not, they were also the first to use toothpaste and wigs. Due to countless wars and invasions, their ancient culture has slowly been replaced over time.

4. The Indus Valley Civilization (circa 3300 BC - 1900 BC)

The oldest civilizations in the world (4)

Stretching from present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan to northwestern India, the Indus Valley Civilization covered 1.25 million kilometers, making it the most widespread civilization in the ancient world. The first people gathered around the Indus River basin and established agricultural settlements. 3300 BC is when historians usually record the first signs ofurbanization. For the year 2500 a. C., the Indus Valley civilization was thriving and its people lived in dozens of spacious and highly developed urban centers. There is even evidence that the houses had individual toilets that led to a sophisticated underground sewage system.

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The local population had a writing system. They were also great mathematicians. But the most surprising thing is that archaeologists have not found any trace of war or mass violence. It is estimated that they lived without armor or weapons for more than 700 years. Rather, they were a peaceful people who traded amicably with neighboring civilizations. Perhaps it is this disinterest in war that led to his downfall to the Central Asian invaders. Other historians, however, claim that its end was due to a great flood.

3. Mesopotamia (circa 3500 a. C. - 500 a. C.)

The oldest civilizations in the world (5)

For a long time, scholars believed that Mesopotamia was the first civilization. Located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, its name means "between (meso) rivers (potamos).” Today, the region encompasses Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, and Syria. For thousands of years, primitive peoples lived in small settlements that finally developed into scattered farming communities around 8000 BC. Built on fertile soil, the idea of ​​agriculture soon developed along with the domestication of animals. These communities expanded into what we think of as cities, with Uruk being the first around 3500 BC. At its peak, it was home to approximately 50,000 people.

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In addition to agriculture, Mesopotamia is known for its lucrative trade and the establishment of various industries, such as masonry, metallurgy, and leather goods. Historians even hold his people responsible for inventing the wheel. However, the region was taken over by the Persians around 539 BC. For the momentAlexander the greatconquered the Persian Empire some two hundred years later, most of the Mesopotamian cities and cultures were supplanted.

2. Jiahu (cerca de 7000 aC - 5700 aC)

The oldest civilizations in the world (6)

The Jiahu settlement is located in the central plain of ancient China, an area now known asHenan Province. The people of this settlement belonged to the oldest recognized civilization in the country. The area is rich in artifacts, making it an archaeologist's dream. In addition to the usual ancient finds like pottery and tools, people discovered records of the earliest examples of Chinese writing and evidence that they were producers of the world's oldest wine. One of the most notable discoveries was the bone flute, which is considered the oldest working musical instrument. Typically carved from the bone of a heron's wing, these flutes were probably used in special ceremonies.

The end of the settlement occurred around 5700 BC. C., when the nearby rivers overflowed and flooded the area. It is assumed that the Jiahu people left their home to settle elsewhere, although there is no indication as to where this might have happened.

1. The indigenous peoples of Australia (circa 50,000 BC)

The oldest civilizations in the world (7)

The Indigenous Peoples of Australia were the inhabitants of mainland Australia and its islands before the arrival ofEuropean settlers. It is generally believed that they originally came from Southeast Asia during a time when sea levels were low and land bridges were more extensive. Research indicates that they are the oldest civilization on Earth. The oldest human remains date back approximately 50,000 years; however, inconclusive data suggests that they may have existed 80,000 years ago.

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The indigenous peoples of Australia were hunter-gatherers, and although they were nomadic, they had strong ties to specific areas of land that they could call home. Once the Europeans arrived, they occupied the entire continent and spoke more than 200 different languages. Since then, they have suffered immense persecution and experienced the erasure of much of their culture and traditions.


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What are the oldest civilization in the world? ›

1. Mesopotamia, 4000-3500 B.C. Meaning “between two rivers” in Greek, Mesopotamia (located in modern-day Iraq, Kuwait and Syria) is considered the birthplace of civilization.

Which is the oldest civilization answer? ›

The oldest recorded civilization in the world is the Mesopotamia civilization. Overall, the 4 oldest civilizations of the world are Mesopotamia Civilization, Egyptian Civilization, Indus Valley Civilization, and Chinese Civilization.

What were the 4 first ancient civilizations? ›

The four oldest civilizations are Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus valley, and China as they provided the basis for continuous cultural development in the same geographic location.

How many years is the oldest civilization? ›

Though it's long been considered a fact that the earliest civilizations date back 5,000-6,000 years in places like ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, there is curious evidence suggesting that a highly intelligent, technologically advanced, and intensely social civilization existed much earlier—at least 10,000 BCE (or ...

What are the 5 oldest civilization? ›

Scholars generally acknowledge six cradles of civilization. Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Indus Valley, and Ancient China are believed to be the earliest in the Old World. Cradles of civilization in the New World are the Caral-Supe civilization of coastal Peru and the Olmec civilization of Mexico.

Where is the oldest living civilization? ›

A new genomic study has revealed that Aboriginal Australians are the oldest known civilization on Earth, with ancestries stretching back roughly 75,000 years.

Are the Sumerians the oldest civilization? ›

The Sumerians are thought to have formed the first human civilization in world history. They lived in southern Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the Middle East. Many historians think that cities and towns were first formed in Sumer around 5000 BC.

Why India is the oldest civilization in the world? ›

The Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization, marks the birth of Indian History. The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China.

How old is the Egyptian civilization? ›

Egypt was a vast kingdom of the ancient world. It was unified around 3100 B.C.E. and lasted as a leading economic and cultural influence throughout North Africa and parts of the Levant until it was conquered by the Macedonians in 332 B.C.E.

How many old civilizations are there? ›

Eight distinct civilizations emerged in the ancient world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Maya, India, China, Rome, Greece, and Persia. What common characteristics did these ancient societies share?

What is the oldest civilization in the Americas? ›

The oldest known civilization of the Americas was established in the Norte Chico region of modern Peru. Complex society emerged in the group of coastal valleys, between 3000 and 1800 BCE. The Quipu, a distinctive recording device among Andean civilizations, apparently dates from the era of Norte Chico's prominence.

What civilizations existed 7000 years ago? ›

The Mehrgarh chalcolithic civilization began around 7000 BC. The world population is believed to have been stable and slowly increasing.

What is the oldest city in the world? ›

Jericho, Palestine

A small city with a population of 20,000 people, Jericho, which is located in Palestine, is believed to be the oldest city in the world.

When was the last civilization? ›

While that laundry list of impending doom could be aimed at our era, it's actually a description of the world 3,000 years ago. It is humanity's first "global" dark age as described by archaeologist and George Washington University professor Eric H. Cline in his recent book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.

What are the 3 ancient civilizations? ›

Early civilizations in India, Egypt, China and Mesopotamia had unique governments, economic systems, social structures, religions, technologies and agriculture.

What civilization was around 10000 years ago? ›

Living in Mesopotamia in 10,000 B.C.

People living in Mesopotamia around 10,000 B.C. were probably hunter-gatherers. They hunted wild animals, gathered berries, nuts and mushrooms, and caught fishes. They used axes whose heads were made of flint. They moved their campsite regularly, following the trail of food.

Is Ethiopia older than Egypt? ›

Ethiopia is old, even older than Egypt, but its antiquity is somewhat different.

Where is the oldest human in the world? ›

Sister André became the oldest living person last year when the previous oldest person, Kane Tanaka of Japan, died at 119 years old in April 2022. According to the Gerontology Research Group, the oldest living person is now Maria Branyas Morera of Spain at 115 years and 320 days, as of Wednesday.

What are the 7 oldest countries in the world? ›

7 oldest countries in the world
  • Japan – 660 BCE. Although often disputed, 660 BCE is said to be the year when Japan came into existence. ...
  • China – 221 BCE. ...
  • San Marino – 301 CE. ...
  • France – 843 CE. ...
  • Hungary – 1000 CE. ...
  • Egypt – 3500 BC. ...
  • Greece – 3000 BC.

What is the oldest part of the world? ›

Earth's oldest known piece of continental crust dates to the era of the moon's formation. Australia holds the oldest continental crust on Earth, researchers have confirmed, hills some 4.4 billion years old.

Who existed before the Sumerians? ›

TL;DR: there was no "civilization" before Sumer. Sumer became a civilization in approximately 3,100 B.C.E. Egypt evolved independently as a civilization around the same time.

Is Chinese older than Sumerian? ›

As far as written languages go, Sumerian and Egyptian seem to have the earliest writing systems and are among the earliest recorded languages, dating back to around 3200BC. But the oldest written language that is still in actual use would probably be Chinese, which first appeared around 1500BC

Who is older Sumerian or Babylonian? ›

Pre-Babylonian Sumero-Akkadian period

Mesopotamia had already enjoyed a long history prior to the emergence of Babylon, with Sumerian civilization emerging in the region c. 3500 BC, and the Akkadian-speaking people appearing by the 30th century BC.

Which is older Egypt or India? ›

Scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have uncovered evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization is at least 8,000 years old, and not 5,500 years old, taking root well before the Egyptian (7000BC to 3000BC) and Mesopotamian (6500BC to 3100BC) civilizations.

Is Africa the oldest civilization? ›

Africa provides a comprehensive and contigious time line of human development going back at least 7 million years. Africa, which developed the world's oldest human civilization, gave humanity the use of fire a million and half to two million years ago.

Is China history older than India? ›

There are many other countries out there that are older than Indian, even though it is one of the oldest countries out there in the world. What are the 10 oldest countries? Egypt, Iran, Armenia, China, Japan, Ethiopia, Greece, Portugal, San Marino, and France are the top 10 oldest countries in the world.

What race were ancient Egyptians? ›

Publishing its findings in Nature Communications, the study concluded that preserved remains found in Abusir-el Meleq, Middle Egypt, were closest genetic relatives of Neolithic and Bronze Age populations from the Near East, Anatolia and Eastern Mediterranean Europeans.

Which is older Babylon or Egypt? ›

The Babylonian Empire did not predate the birth of civilization in Egypt. Most historians and archeologists put Egyptian civilization beginning sometime around 3100 BCE, some 12 centuries before the rise of the Babylonian Empire.

What was before Egypt? ›

The era before ancient Egypt became a centralized state spanning the Mediterranean to the First Cataract in Nubia is called the Predynastic Period; it was the setting for many of the developments that made ancient Egyptian society so great and enduring. Here, we will explore the achievements of Predynastic Egyptians.

What are the 8 civilizations? ›

CIVILIZATION IDENTITY will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measure by the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization.

What are the 21 civilizations? ›

The 19 (or 21) major civilizations, as Toynbee sees them, are: Egyptian, Andean, Sumerian, Babylonic, Hittite, Minoan, Indic, Hindu, Syriac, Hellenic, Western, Orthodox Christian (having two branches: the main or Byzantine body and the Russian branch), Far Eastern (having two branches: the main or Chinese-Korean body ...

Who are called Sumerians? ›

The Sumerians were the people of southern Mesopotamia whose civilization flourished between c. 4100-1750 BCE. Their name comes from the region which is frequently – and incorrectly – referred to as a “country”. Sumer was never a cohesive political entity, however, but a region of city-states each with its own king.

What civilization was around 1000 years ago? ›

Close to 90% of world population at the end of the first millennium BC lived in the Iron Age civilizations of the Old World (Roman Empire, Parthian Empire, Graeco-Indo-Scythian and Hindu kingdoms, Han China).

How old is Mesopotamia civilization? ›

We believe Sumerian civilization first took form in southern Mesopotamia around 4000 BCE—or 6000 years ago—which would make it the first urban civilization in the region. Mesopotamians are noted for developing one of the first written scripts around 3000 BCE: wedge-shaped marks pressed into clay tablets.

How old is Sumerian civilization? ›

The ancient Sumerians created one of humanity's first great civilizations. Their homeland in Mesopotamia, called Sumer, emerged roughly 6,000 years ago along the floodplains between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq and Syria.

What is the oldest European civilization? ›

DNA analysis unearths origins of Minoans, the first major European civilization.

How old is the Mayan civilization? ›

The Maya are probably the best-known of the classical civilizations of Mesoamerica. Originating in the Yucatán around 2600 B.C., they rose to prominence around A.D. 250 in present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, northern Belize and western Honduras.

What is the oldest civilization in Mexico? ›

The Olmec were the first major civilization in Mexico. They lived in the tropical lowlands on the Gulf of Mexico in the present-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco. The name Olmec is a Nahuatl—the Aztec language—word; it means the rubber people.

When was the first human born? ›

Overview. Homo sapiens, the first modern humans, evolved from their early hominid predecessors between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago. They developed a capacity for language about 50,000 years ago.

How old is human race? ›

Modern humans originated in Africa within the past 200,000 years and evolved from their most likely recent common ancestor, Homo erectus, which means 'upright man' in Latin. Homo erectus is an extinct species of human that lived between 1.9 million and 135,000 years ago.

How old is the human kind? ›

Species Description: The modern form of Homo sapiens first appeared about 100,000 years ago.

What are the oldest cities in the world? ›

So let's take a look at oldest cities in the world that are still thriving today.
  • Damascus, Syria – 11,000 years old.
  • Aleppo, Syria – 8,000 years old.
  • Byblos, Lebanon – 7,000 years old.
  • Athens, Greece – 7,000 years old.
  • Susa, Iran – 6,300 years old.
  • Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan – 6,000 years old.
  • Sidon, Lebanon – 6,000 years old.

Where is the oldest cities in the world? ›

The Egyptians called it Shedet (it was the Greeks who, wise to the city's USP, gave it its snappy name), and it was possibly the most ancient city in ancient Egypt. It is now part of the modern city of Faiyum – which makes Faiyum possibly the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.

What is America's oldest city? ›

Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African-American origin in the United States. Forty-two years before the English colonized Jamestown and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish established at St.

What is the largest lost civilization? ›

The Indus civilization, also known as the Harappan civilization, was one of the largest in ancient history, extending over parts of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and containing as many as five million people.

Is there a lost civilization? ›

Tulum, Mexico. The Maya are perhaps the classic example of a civilization that was completely lost. Its great monuments, cities and roads were swallowed up by the Central American jungles, and its peoples scattered to small villages.

What happened in year 1177? ›

In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the “Sea Peoples” invaded Egypt. The pharaoh's army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations.

What are the 5 pristine civilizations? ›

Generally, the six pristine civilizations recognized by archaeologists and historians are in the following areas: Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Mesoamerica (which includes parts of Mexico and Central America), the Andean region and the Indus Valley.

What are the 3 major ancient civilizations? ›

Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. All the major ancient civilizations—in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus valley, and China—emerged in the 4th millennium bc. Historians still debate over which one emerged first. It may well have been in the Middle East, in an area called the Fertile Crescent.

What is the name of Ethiopia in the Bible? ›

Ethiopia is mentioned variously in every major division of the Hebrew Bible and used interchangeably with Cush,13 and it was later identified with Nubia and Aksum.

Who did the Ethiopian Jews descend from? ›

The origin of the Ethiopian Jews is unclear though most believe that they are the descendants of King Solomon and Queen Sheba. There are many theories though, some believing they are the lost tribe of Dan, while others believe they are the descendants of Christians who converted to Judaism.

What was Ethiopia original name? ›

Ethiopia, formerly Abyssinia, is a landlocked country in the East of Africa. It shares one of its borders with Somalia, to the East. Sudan to the West, South Sudan to the South West.

Where was the first human on Earth? ›

Humans first evolved in Africa, and much of human evolution occurred on that continent. The fossils of early humans who lived between 6 and 2 million years ago come entirely from Africa. Most scientists currently recognize some 15 to 20 different species of early humans.

When did humans first appear on Earth? ›

The first humans emerged in Africa around two million years ago, long before the modern humans known as Homo sapiens appeared on the same continent. There's a lot anthropologists still don't know about how different groups of humans interacted and mated with each other over this long stretch of prehistory.


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