Once you start studying ancient history, you may be surprised to see how many traditions and things that are a part of modern society are thousands of years old. Government, laws, farming, engineering, and language are just a few examples of things that began in ancient societies. Studying the past can be really interesting, especially when you see the roots of many of the things we do today. You can also learn about the fall of these ancient civilizations, understanding mistakes the people made that led to their ruin.
The Ancient Greeks
The people living in ancient Greece more than 2,500 years ago were leaders in many areas, including science, philosophy, math, art, and sports. A lot of things about our culture today come from ancient Greece. The area of land that made up ancient Greece was divided into separate city-states, each with separate rulers, customs, and laws. As a way to explain the world, the ancient Greeks made up stories about creatures such as minotaurs, sirens, and centaurs. Greek gods included Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo.
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Of all of the empires in the ancient world, ancient Rome was the biggest. In the beginning, Rome was a republic, which means that the people elected their leaders. Eventually, emperors took over control of the Roman Republic, and it became the Roman Empire. Many countries in Europe were originally a part of the ancient Roman Empire, including Britain, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany. The ancient Romans were known for their advanced laws and ways of governing, and they also had a strong military. As the people developed cities, they built complex roads and structures. The Roman Empire became so big that it was divided into two separate empires, the Western and Eastern Roman empires.
The people of ancient Egypt built their homes along the Nile River. This land was very fertile even though the area was a desert region. Ancient Egyptians farmed to grow food for their families and livestock. The Egyptians called the fertile farmland the “black lands.” The “red lands” were the desert areas that surrounded the black lands, serving as a buffer between Egypt and other countries. Thebes was the capital of ancient Egypt during its peak. In ancient Egypt, the pharaohs were considered living gods, and these rulers had temples built to honor themselves. The Sphinx is located in Giza, and this huge structure shows the face of a pharaoh. To build temples and pyramids, the Egyptians had to be very good at math and science. They also created irrigation systems so that water from the Nile could be used to water crops located farther away from the river.
The Viking Age lasted between 700 and 1125 A.D., and Vikings were from the lands that would become Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Known for their long ships, the Vikings sailed to other places to trade and conquer other lands. When they weren’t sailing, Vikings were busy farming. Viking ships often had dragons carved into their fronts, placed there to scare people. Vikings worshiped gods and goddesses, and they believed that if they were brave warriors, they would go to Valhalla, a great hall in the afterlife. During the 10th century, the Vikings settled along the western coast of Greenland.
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More Ancient History
Many of the things we use and do today came from in ancient history. For example, the alphabet began with symbols people carved into rocks or walls. Egyptians created hieroglyphs, which were symbols that stood for different words. Eventually, people got the idea of using symbols for different sounds, which was the beginning of the alphabet. The Olympic Games is another example of a modern-day thing that originated thousands of years ago. The first Olympic Games happened in Greece in 776 B.C. Originally, the Greeks held these games as a way to honor Zeus, ruler of their gods. The first Olympic Games were quite simple, but they gradually became longer and more involved.