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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A look at ancient Chinese dynasties, writing, religions, economy, and geography.
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.
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.
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 is the ancient land between the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. It roughly corresponds with modern Iraq.