Category Lost Civilizations

What do we know about the history of the Inca Civilization?

               The Incas established a mighty empire that stretched along the Pacific coast of South America. The early rulers defeated the other tribes of Cuzco. The early kings were called Sinchi. It was only from the rule of the sixth ruler, Inca Roca that they called themselves Inca. The eighth Inca. Huiracoch conquered most of Urubamba Valley, in the fifteenth century. During an attack on the enemy Chanka his son Pachacutec Yupanqui seized power. Pachacutec was called ‘he who remakes the world’. He recorded the history of his people.

               His son Tupac Yupanqui was a patron of art and science. He led the empire to its golden age, and extended his rule as far as Chile and Ecuador. His son Huayana Capac conquered parts of Colombia.


How was the early African kingdom of Kush related to Egypt?

               The pharaohs of Egypt conquered Kush around 2000 BC. Kush, also known as Nubia, is present day Sudan. Kush freed itself from the clutches of the pharaohs during the period of the Hyskos from 1650 to 1540 BC. However, Kush again came under Egyptian rule from 1540 BC. An Egyptian viceroy governed Kush from Aniba. Nubians were skilled fighters and were highly valued as soldiers in the Egyptian army. The Kushites cashed in on the weakening of Egyptian authority, and set up their own kingdom in Napata. The Kushite rulers turned the tables on Egypt. From the reign of King Piye, in the eighth century, Egypt came under their rule. They were known as ‘Black Pharaohs’.

               During the reign of Tahrqa, they were driven out of Egypt by the Assyrians, and they withdrew into Napata. King Ergamenes I founded a new dynasty between 270 and 260 BC. Meroe was the capital of the new kingdom. The kingdom of Meroe experienced its golden age under King Natakamani. The Romans razed Napata to the ground in AD 279. However, the kings and queens of Napata bounced back from defeat, and beat back the Romans. A Nubian nomadic people called Blemmyes took over the rule of Meroe in 250 AD. Meroe was destroyed around AD 350. 

What makes the Ethiopian culture a significant one?

                    The wise King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba had a son called Menelik I, according to Ethiopian legend. King Menelik I was the first king of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of the world’s oldest states. Axum was the capital. Ethiopia’s power rose again under the Zagwe dynasty. Roha was made the new capital. The emperors bore the title of ‘Negus Negest’ meaning ‘king of kings’. Yekuno Amlak reestablished the rule of the Solomonic dynasty.

                    After 1493, the Portuguese were allowed into the country. The Portuguese helped the Emperor Claudius to stop the expanding kingdom of Adal. However, the Portuguese were thrown out of Ethiopia by Emperor Fasilidas in the seventeenth century. 

Why do we study the ancient civilizations of West Africa?


               Ghana was the first West African kingdom. It was formed around 750 BC. Mali, then known as Audaghost and Mauritania known as Kumbi Saleh were both part of the Ghana kingdom. Later, the Berber dynasty from the coast of Senegal conquered Audaghost and Kumbi Saleh in the eleventh century. Ghana fell.

               The Mandinka tribes of Mali made themselves independent. They set up their own kingdom with Niani as its capital. Sundiata Keita, the founder of the kingdom took the title of ‘Mansa’ or king of kings. The Kingdom of Songhai replaced Mali around 1375 AD. The conqueror Sunni Ali occupied Djenne and Timbuktu. In 1591, the kingdom was conquered by the Sultan of Morocco. The Hausa and Banza states rose in the area of present day Nigeria, Niger and Chad. 

Which was the centre of cultural development in Southern Africa?

               Have you heard of Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe means ‘great stone house’. The centre of the early culture in Southern Africa is located in the present day countries of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. From the second century, this area became home to farmers called Shona.

              The fifteenth century saw the birth of a new empire in Zimbabwe. The empire was called Munhumutapa after its first ruler’s name. Shortly after 1480, the Munhumutapa Empire fell apart. Changa, a governor of the Munhumutapa Empire founded the empire of Changamire. It remained a political power until 1834.


Who were the Aborigines?

               The Aborigines are the original inhabitants of Australia. They lived as hunters and gatherers in clans of 20 to 30 individuals. The men used boomerangs which came back to hand when thrown, and long spears. The women used clubs for hunting small animals. They also gathered berries, tubers, roots, as well as insects.

               Aborigines wore little clothing, and built simple huts. Their clans are based on ‘skin group’. All the father’s brothers are called fathers, and all the mother’s sisters are also called mothers. Their children are regarded as brothers and sisters. All of them belonged to one skin group. Every tribe had four to eight skin groups. Marriage within a skin group was not permitted. 

What are the highlights of the Oceania culture?

            Oceania is a world of islands. Over 7500 island and island groups make up Oceania. Oceania is subdivided into three groups – Polynesia which includes New Zealand, Hawaii, and Samoa, Melanesia which includes New Guinea and Micronesia, which includes Nauru. The islands of Oceania share many common features when it comes to language, religion, and the structure of society. Originally, Oceania was a society of farmers called manahune. However they were lorded over by the aristocrats or ariki.

            Expert boat builders enjoyed a special status in Oceania. Canoes of different kinds were made. The canoes were often decorated with richly carved wooden structures. Navigating between sharp rocks without a compass or a map called for great skill.

            Knowledge of sailing was passed down generations by word of mouth. They also built ocean going war vessels. These ships could carry up to 200 people. 

What is the importance of Easter Island?

               An astonishing sight met the eyes of the Europeans who first explored Easter  Island – hundreds of gigantic stone figures with oversized heads. They remain a mystery. They may represent respected ancestors, or important nobles. These figures are called moai. Originally, more than 1000 moai stood on Easter Island. Only 638 remain today. Easter Island is a Southeast Pacific island. The Rapa Nui culture made the moai. However, by the time the Europeans first set foot on Easter Island, the Rapa Nui culture had died out mysteriously.

               The tribes of Rapa Nui had a language in pictures called Rongorongo.

               Carved on the steep slope of the volcano Rano Kau is the birdman. The bird man has characters of both man and the frigate bird. The birdman cult became important only in the later years of the island history. Make-Make was the creator god of the birdman cult. The younger men of the birdman cult took part in a competition every year. They plunged from the cliffs, and swam to the rocky island of Motu Nui to fetch the egg of a sooty tern. The one who returned first with an unbroken egg became birdman for a year. 

What is the indigenous religion of Japan?

               The sun goddess Amaterasu is the most important of Japan’s deities. The Japanese believe that, Amaterasu sent her grandson Nnigi no Mikoto down to the Earth. His great grandson is believed to be the Emperor Jimmu Tenno, the first emperor of Japan. The emperors of Japan are known as tenno. They are direct descendants of Jimmu. Japanese emperors are god-emperors. To this day, the Japanese emperor performs many ritual duties and rites.

               Shinto or the way of the Gods is the Japanese natural religion. The most important Shinto shrine is the shrine to the sun goddess at Ise. Kojiki and Nihongi are the 7th century books that throw light on Japanese gods. 

What are the specialities of the Asuka and Nara periods?



               The period between 552 and 710 AD is known as the Asuka period. In the sixth century, Empress Suiko appointed her son in law Prince Shotoku, as the regent to the empire. He was an energetic man who made Buddhism the state religion. He also wrote the ‘seventeen articles’, the first political constitution of Japan.

               In 710 AD, Empress Gemmei made Nara the imperial capital. In the Nara period, peasants were forced to supply labour. Ambitious Buddhists monks interfered in politics. This period extended to 794 AD.