World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (2023)

While the earliest hominids, or human-like species, first appeared about 2 million years ago, the first Homo sapiens, or modern humans, are relatively young: they first appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

Millennia after Homo sapiens first appeared, early humans laid the foundation for what would become human civilization through the development of agriculture, weapons, art, social structures, and politics.

Although the Mesopotamians are normally considered the world's first urban civilization, several earlier peoples developed complex societies and cultures that can also be classified as civilizations and were included on this list.

10. Akkadian Empire

Eras:California. 2334 v. Cr. – 2154 v. Cr.
Location:Mesopotamia, Levant, and Anatolia (present-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey)
Notable achievements:One of the first empires in the world.
Still there:NO

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (1)photo source:Commons-logo.svg Wikimedia Commons

Oakkadian empireit is often called the world's first empire. The empire united the Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under a single government, and their civilization spanned Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Anatolia (present-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey).

Because the Empire united two distinct but similar civilizations, its inhabitants were bilingual, speaking Sumerian and Akkadian and writing in the Akkadian version of cuneiform.

The Akkadians traded regularly with the neighboring Indus Valley civilization. The Sumerians and Akkadians had a surplus of agricultural products, which they exchanged for metallic ores, wood, and building stones.

The people of the Akkadian Empire were skilled craftsmen and made a number of beautifully carved seals and cast metal statues.

Did you know?

The fall of the Akkadian Empire gave rise to two famous empires, Assyria in the north and Babylonia in the south.

9. Ancient Egyptians (c. 3150 BC - 332 BC)

Eras:California. 3150 v. Cr. – 332 v. Cr.
Location:Egypt Nile Valley
Notable achievements:the great pyramids
Still there:NO

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (2)Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ancient Egyptian civilizationit is traditionally said to be around 3150 BC. It began when King Menes united Upper and Lower Egypt and established a capital at White Walls (later called Memphis). The Egyptians are perhaps the best known of the ancient civilizations.

While making various social, cultural, and political advancements, they are best known for creating the Great Pyramids, which have stood the test of time and remain one of the great wonders of the world.

The ancient Egyptians developed construction techniques that allowed them to erect massive monuments such as pyramids, temples, and obelisks.

Some of his other achievements include the creation of a mathematical system, a practical and effective medical system, irrigation systems, the first known plank boats, glass technology, and new forms of literature.

Egyptian culture left a lasting legacy on the world and many of the things we use today were first developed by the ancient Egyptians, such as bullets, paper, locks, alarm clocks, concrete, and much more.

Did you know?

Although the beautiful hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians are widely associated with civilization, it was not actually the usual writing system. Hieroglyphs were only used in special circumstances and scribes used Hieratic and then Demotic (both were simplified versions of hieroglyphics).

8. Indus Valley Civilization

Eras:California. 3300 v. Cr. – 1300 v. Chr
Location:South Asia (present-day Pakistan and northwestern India)
Notable achievements:One of the first urban and uniform weights and measures systems
Still there:NO

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (3)photo source:Wikimedia Commons has media related to the following topics:

Othe indus valley civilizationo The Harappan civilization was the first urban civilization in South Asia (present-day Pakistan and northwestern India). The Harapans built numerous sprawling cities, characterized by urban planning, water supply systems, elaborate drainage systems, and large concentrations of non-residential buildings.

The people of the Indus Valley also developed a variety of technologies, including one of the world's first systems of uniform weights and measures. They also created new metallurgical techniques and produced copper, bronze, lead, and tin.

In addition to mathematics and engineering, the Indus Valley Civilization enjoyed a variety of arts and crafts. Various games and toys were also found in the cities of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Did you know?

For such a large and prosperous civilization, there is no evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization was ruled by a king or any other single ruler. Rather, the Indus Valley Civilization was probably ruled by a central government, which would explain the extensive urban planning.

7. Little North

Eras:California. 4000 v. Chr. – 1800 v.Chr
Notable achievements:Monumental architecture with sunken circular plazas and earthen walls
Still there:NO

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (4)Photo: Wikimedia Commons

ONorthern Chico civilization(also called the Caral or Caral-supe Civilization) is considered the oldest known civilization to have existed in the Americas. The foundation of the first city of civilization took place around 3500 BC. and from that time to a period of decline around 1800 B.C. the people of the Norte Chico flourished.

The Norte Chico civilization is a pre-ceramic culture, as archaeologists have found no traces of ceramics and almost no art. However, Norte Chico is known for its monumental architecture, including large mounds and circular sunken plazas (like the one pictured above).

Did you know?

A total of six pyramids were discovered in Caral, a city renowned for the Chico del Norte Civilization; they are the oldest pyramids outside of Egypt and, in fact, contemporary with the earliest Egyptian pyramids.

6. Mesopotamia (ca. 6500 BC – 539 BC)

Eras:California. 6500 v. Cr. – 539 v.Cr.
Location:Antigua Mesopotamia (actual Irak)
Notable achievements:invention of the wheel
Still there:NO

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (5)Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Around the year 10,000 B.C. C., some of the first fully developed Neolithic cultures began to settle in the Fertile Crescent, which includes Mesopotamia. Around the year 8000 a. C. Around the year 1000 a. C., the people of northern Mesopotamia began to grow barley and wheat, which they used to make beer, porridge, soup, and eventually bread.

During the period known as the Ubaid period (c. 6500 - 3800 BCE), the first signs of civilization began as agriculture and animal husbandry spread into sedentary communities. This resulted insumerian, which are credited asthe world's first urban civilization.

The Sumerians were the first to develop trade and establish industries such as weaving, leather, metallurgy, masonry, and ceramics. One of the greatest achievements of ancient Mesopotamia was the invention of the wheel around 3500 BC.

Did you know?

The Sumerians developed around 3200 B.C. The world's first writing system, cuneiform. Cuneiform also influenced many other ancient writing systems.

5. Jiahu (ca. 7.000 v. Chr. – 5.700 v. Chr.)

Eras:California. 7000 v. Cr. – 5700 v. Chr
Location:Henan, China
Notable achievements:Jiahu symbolizes one of the earliest examples of writing and some of the oldest playable instruments.
Still there:NO

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (6)Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Jiahuit was a settlement in the central plains of ancient China and the people who lived there developed some of the earliest aspects of Chinese culture. The Jiahu culture is often referred to with the Peigang culture, as archaeologists cannot agree on whether or not the Jiahu people were part of the larger Peigang group.

However, there is evidence that they were two separate cultures that developed at roughly the same time. For example, the Jiahu people grew rice while the Peigang did not, and the Jiahu settlement existed for several hundred years before the first Peigang settlements appeared.

The Jiahu are also known for makingthe oldest wine in the world, some of the oldest playable music (many flutes have been found in Jiahu) and perhaps the oldest example of Chinese writing.

Jiahu symbols are 16 distinct markings found on prehistoric artifacts and are believed to indicate the use of characters rather than systematic script.

Did you know?

Archaeological evidence suggests that Jiahu lived around 5700 BCE. BC was abandoned due to a huge flood. As few artifacts were discovered in the Jiahu residences, it is believed that the residents of the settlement were able to evacuate with most of their belongings.

4. ‘Ain Ghazal (ca. 7.200 v. Chr. – 5.000 v. Chr.)

Eras:California. 7200 v. Cr. – 5000 contra Chr
Location:Ayn Ghazal (actual Amman, Jordan)
Notable achievements:The statue of 'Ain Ghazal
Still there:NO

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (7)Photo: Wikimedia Commons

'Ain Ghazalit was an early farming community and its residents are known for creating some of the first statues in the human form. The figures are made of plaster and consist of entire statues and busts representing men, women and children. A total of 15 statues and 15 busts were found in two separate caches some 200 years apart.

In addition to creating the statues, the people of 'Ain Ghazal were farmers who domesticated wheat, barley, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. They also hunted wild animals such as gazelles, deer, pigs, foxes, and hares. At that time, the people of 'Ain Ghazal ate a wide variety of foods.

Did you know?

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of social class differences in 'Ain Ghazal, such as only a few people being buried, every 15 to 20 years, while almost all the rest were disposed of in the rubbish.

3. Çatalhöyük (ca. 7500 v. Chr. - 5700 v. Chr.)

Eras:California. 7500 v. Cr. – 5700 v. Chr
Location:Southern Anatolia (present-day Turkey)
Notable achievements:One of the first urban settlements.
Still there:NO

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (8)Photo: Wikimedia Commons

the settlement ofÇatalhöyükIt is one of the oldest urban settlements and one of the best preserved Neolithic settlements. Excavations at the site have revealed evidence of prehistoric cultural practices and social organizations.

The people of Çatalhöyük were among the first to settle and engage in agriculture. The average population of Çatalhöyük is estimated to have been between 5,000 and 7,000.

The settlement has no roads or trails, instead houses with access roofs have been crowded together. There is also evidence that the Çatalhöyük people kept their dwellings clean and disposed of their sewage and food in an area outside the settlement ruins.

The people of Çatalhöyük also buried their dead, painted murals, sculpted figures, and even plastered and painted skulls to recreate faces.

Did you know?

No identifiable temples have been discovered at Çatalhöyük, but researchers believe that the residents of the settlement had a symbol-rich religion, as large concentrations of certain symbols have been found in some rooms that may have been shrines or meeting places.

2. Aboriginal people of Australia

Eras:approx. 50,000 years ago - present
Notable achievements:The oldest known cremation ritual, some of the oldest known cave paintings and the oldest erected structures (fish traps)
Still there:mi

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (9)Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Although the people who settled in Mesopotamia are often credited with being the first civilization, new research supports this.Aborigines australiansThey are one of the oldest known civilizations on Earth.

Aboriginal people can trace their ancestry back to around 75,000 years ago, but they became a distinct genetic group around 50,000 years ago.

This ancient Australian Aboriginal group is believed to have settled in Australia between 40,000 and 31,000 years ago. They are the direct ancestors of the remaining Aboriginal tribes today and their culture has remained largely the same.

The discovery of human remains from Lake Mungo in New South Wales, Australia, in 1969, provides evidence that they are one of the oldest known cremations. The remains, known as the Mungo Woman, date to between 24,700 and 19,030 years ago.

Did you know?

Aboriginal people built one of the oldest known structures in the world, theNgunnhu Fish Trap by BrewarrinaThey are at least 40,000 years old.

1. saint people

Eras:approx. 140,000 to 100,000 years ago - today
Location:South Africa in countries such as Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa
Notable achievements:Some of the oldest known rock art and the oldest known ritual ceremony
Still there:mi

World's 10 Oldest Civilizations (Updated 2021) - (10)photo source:Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ian Sewell

Osaint peopleof southern Africa trace their history directly to ancient peoples who lived about 140,000 to 100,000 years ago. In fact, the San are direct descendants of one of the original human ancestral groups (haplogroup), making the San the oldest civilization in the world.

In the past, the San were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, but today many San work as farmers, run conservation organizations, and other small jobs, as hunting and gathering alone is no longer sustainable.

Recent archaeological finds have exposed them.oldest known ritual ceremonies, attributed to St.

Archaeologists have discovered 70,000-year-old spearheads sacrificed to the python in a cave in Botswana's Tsodilo Hills. The Tsolido Hills are also noted for having the world's largest collection of rock art. This art was also made by the ancient San people.

Did you know?

The San received the world's first licensing agreement for their traditional knowledge ofHoodia gordonii, which is currently being developed into a pharmaceutical diet drug.


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