Ancient Civilizations (00:48)
Medicine, bridges, roadways, government, laws, and taxation began in the ancient world. Early civilizations rose in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Maya, India, China, Rome, Greece, and Persia. This program will examine each civilization for its similarities and differences.
The Sumerian civilization formed on the banks of Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The culture created irrigation systems, exported crops to trade for livestock, built the Ziggurat, and wrote in Cuneiform. The Persians conquered the Sumerians in 539 BC.
Ancient Egypt (02:38)
The Egyptian civilization formed on the banks of the Nile River and lasted over 3,000 years. They built pyramids, the Sphinx, canals, dikes, and invented mummies, hieroglyphics, a calendar, medicine, bone setting, and mummification. The Romans conquered the Egyptians in 30 AD.
Ancient Maya (02:25)
The Mayan civilization prospered in Central America, but little is known about its rise and decline. The Mayans practiced slash and burn agriculture, created a solar calendar, invented the concept of zero, studied astronomy, and built pyramids. Theories as to how the civilization collapsed in 938 AD include: peasant revolt, disease, pestilence, and occupation.
Ancient India (02:31)
Ancient India's civilization formed on the banks of the Indus River, located in modern day Pakistan. Indians invented urban planning; erected sanitation buildings; invented measurements for length, mass, and time; built docks and wheeled vehicles for easy transport; and wrote the "Sushruta Samhita." The society's decline in 537 AD was likely a result of environmental factors.
Ancient China (02:54)
Ancient China is the longest continuous civilization, having developed along the Yangtze and Huang He rivers. Modern innovations created by the Chinese include gunpowder, papermaking, printing, canons, and compasses. The Ancient Civilization ended when the Han dynasty was deposed in 220 AD.
Ancient Rome (02:28)
The Roman Empire at its acme spread from Northern England to Southern Egypt— Rome boasted over one million inhabitants and possessed aqueducts, sewers, drains, and public toilets. Concepts that developed in the Roman Empire include justice, citizen rights, punishment, politics, and law. The civilization crumbled when barbarians from Northern and Eastern Europe pillaged cities in 476 AD.
Ancient Greece (02:26)
The Greek Empire established colonies along the coast and islands to export crops and goods to Athens. Ancient Grecians invented geometry, established a democracy, started writing down histories, and created the Olympic Games. The Roman Empire conquered Athens in 130 BC.
Ancient Persia (03:01)
The Ancient Persian Empire formed in a northwest corner of Iran. Cyrus the Great conquered many indigenous people but allowed them to retain their language and culture; he ruled with mercy instead of might. Darius the First divided the empire into 20 provinces and appointed a Satrap to govern.
Credits: The Ancient World: Civilizations and Ideas (00:08)
Credits: The Ancient World: Civilizations and Ideas
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