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Countries in Ancient History

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These city-states, countries, empires, and geographic regions feature prominently in ancient history. Some continue to be major players on the political scene, but others are no longer significant.

Ancient Near East

Assyrian Empire Under Sargon II 720 B.C.
Public Domain. Courtesy of Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
The Ancient Near East is not a country, but a general area that often extends from what we now call the Middle East to Egypt. Here you'll find an introduction, links, and a picture to go with ancient countries and peoples around the Fertile Crescent.

Assyria

Detail from a relief from the palace of Tiglath-Pileser III at Kalhu, Nimrud.
CC Flickr User thisisbossi
A Semitic people, the Assyrians lived in the northern area of Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers at the city-state of Ashur. Under the leadership of Shamshi-Adad the Assyrians tried to create their own empire, but they were squashed by the Babylonian king, Hammurabi.

Babylonia

Cylinder seal showing moon god of Ur.
PD Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, by Donald A. Mackenzie
Babylonians believed the king held power because of the gods; moreover, they thought their king was a god. To maximize his power and control, a bureaucracy and centralized government were established along with the inevitable adjuncts, taxation and involuntary military service.

Carthage

Column at the excavation site of the Antoninus Pius Therms in Carthage
Public Domain; Courtesy of BishkekRocks/Wikipedia
Phoenicians from Tyre (Lebanon) founded Carthage, an ancient city-state in the area that is modern Tunisia. Carthage became a major economic and political power in the Mediterranean fighting over territory in Sicily with the Greeks and Romans.

China

Physical geography with the boundaries of ancient China with 250 B.C. area marked
www.flickr.com/photos/normanbleventhalmapcenter/2678419608/in/set-72157606239098473
A look at ancient Chinese dynasties, writing, religions, economy, and geography.

Egypt

Ra
CC Flickr User Ralph Buckley
The land of the Nile, sphinxes, hieroglyphs, pyramids, and famously cursed archaeologists exhuming mummies from painted and gilded sarcophagi, Egypt has lasted for thousands of years.

Greece

The Beginnings of Historic Greece 700 BC-600 BC
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd
What we call Greece is known to its inhabitants as Hellas.
  • Archaic Greece
    With the return of literacy at the beginning of the 8th century B.C. came what is called the Archaic Age.
  • Classical Greece
    The Classical Age of Greece begins with the Persian War (490-479 B.C.) and ends with the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.). Besides war and conquest, in this period the Greeks produced great literature, poetry, philosophy, drama, and art.
  • Hellenistic Greece
    Archaic and Classical Greece produced a culture that the third era, the Hellenistic Age, spread throughout the known world. Because of Alexander the Great, the realm of Greek influence spread from India to Africa.

Italy

Regions of Italy Map
Clipart.com
The name Italy comes from a Latin word, Italia, which referred to a territory owned by Rome, Italia was later applied to the Italic peninsula.

Mesopotamia

The Euphrates River
CC Flickr User nukeit1
Mesopotamia is the ancient land between the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. It roughly corresponds with modern Iraq.

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