Fascinating Ancient History Facts and Discoveries
Ancient history is a period that covers the beginning of written records of human history through the classical period. The timeline of ancient history is roughly 5,000 years long and covers all continents inhabited by humans from the period of 3500 BCE (before the common era) to 650CE (common era). With multiple civilizations spanning thousands of years, this era introduces to us remarkable achievements of our past and profound discoveries that shaped the course of human history. We will explore some of the most fascinating ancient history facts and discoveries that continue to intrigue us.
Mesopotamia was a fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and one of the earliest and most enduring human civilizations in history. Around 3500 BCE, the Sumerians developed the world’s first known writing system, the cuneiform. The cuneiform system used wedge marks on clay tablets to represent concepts and language. Archeologists have found multiple different languages on cuneiform tablets in this area, including Eblaite, Elamite, Hittite, Hurrian, Old Persian, Palaic, Aramaic, Urartian, Akkadian, Luwian, and Sumerian. It is a pivotal point in human communication.
In the 19th century, experts mastered deciphering cuneiform tablets to reveal the daily lives, laws, and beliefs of ancient societies. Rediscovered in 1849, the Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Mesopotamian epic poem which predates the Greek epics of Homer by at approximately 1200 years. The poem is a story about Gilgamesh, a king of the Sumerian city, Uruk, and his quest for immortality. In addition to its historical literary significance, the Epic of Gilgamesh describes the religious beliefs and societal values of ancient Mesopotamia.
When discussing ancient history facts, it is necessary to talk about the famous discoveries of ancient Egypt. The only structure of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing, the Great Pyramids of Giza continue to be a marvelous mystery to mankind. The first of these innovative structures was built around 2560 BCE as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu. The Pyramids stand as a testament to the advanced engineering and architectural feat of the ancient Egyptians and are still considered remarkable craftsmanship. The structure has stood in defiance of the passage of time and the mystery behind its construction methods continues to stump and fascinate scholars and historians.
Several other ancient Egyptian monuments such as The Great Sphinx of Giza, Karnak Temple, Abu Simbel Temple, and Luxor Temple have survived the centuries, but perhaps the most extraordinary discovery in Egypt is the Rosetta Stone. Discovered by French archaeologists in 1799, the Rosetta Stone is a stone tablet with inscriptions in three scripts: Greek, Demotic, and Egyptian hieroglyphics. It was integral to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics found on the temples, tombs, and artifacts. Like the Epic of Gilgamesh for Mesopotamia, deciphering hieroglyphics led to a deeper understanding of Egypt’s rich history and culture.
In the same vein as ancient Egypt, ancient Greece was a noteworthy civilization during this era. Ancient philosophy and mathematics thrived during this time with notable scholars. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, contributed to the fields of ethics, politics, biology, and metaphysics and laid a foundation for many intellectual endeavors. His knowledge emphasizes empirical observation and sets the standard for scientific inquiry and research that is still used today. Pythagoras, most known for the Pythagorean theorem, explored the relationships of triangles. Euclid, another important figure, was famous for his work with his knowledge of geometry. Both created foundational work for mathematicians and students for thousands of years.
The Silk Road
An ancient travel system known as the Silk Road was an extensive network of trade routes connecting Asia in the East to Rome in the West. It shaped the ancient world beginning during the 2nd century BCE as it facilitated the exchange of culture, ideas, and goods between civilizations in Asia, Europe, and Africa. It was used to spread religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, along with silk, and other scientific and technological innovations.
Also during this time, the ancient artifact of the Antikythera Mechanism was created. In 1901, a Greek diver found a shipwreck in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea near the island of Antikythera. The Antikythera Mechanism was called the world’s first computer because it was an intricate device with a complex system of gears and dials used to predict astronomical events and track the movements of celestial bodies. Its discovery raises questions about the scientific sophistication of the Greeks and what knowledge of theirs was lost to time.
The Ancient Americas
Moving to further west, the ancient Americas were flourishing with incredible civilizations. The Maya civilization was recognized for its advancements in math and astronomy. They created a complex calendar called the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, which accurately tracked time over centuries. They were able to understand celestial events such as solar and lunar eclipses with precision. The ancient city of Tikal featured huge pyramids providing insight into their architectural and artistic achievements.
Ancient History Facts
In conclusion, the chronicles of ancient history are rich with fascinating facts and discoveries that continue to captivate modern people and shed light on our ancestors’ achievements. From the birth of writing in Mesopotamia to the enduring mysteries of the Great Pyramids and the etymology of ancient Greece, these discoveries enrich our understanding of human civilization. Through them, we connect with the past, appreciate the ingenuity, and gain insight into what continues to shape our present.
Author: Maerie Morales