Category Great Civilizations

Ancient Civilizations


Why were pyramids built?

                    Pyramid building developed only slowly in ancient Egypt. The first pyramids were simple structures called mastabas, which were platforms built over the tombs of important people. Over the years further levels were added, until a structure called a step pyramid was produced.

                        In later pyramids, the steps were filled in to produce the smooth conical shape of the famous Pyramids at Giza that we can see today. Pyramid building became an important part of the Egyptian civilization. Egyptians believed that the pyramids offered a pathway to heaven for their rulers, the pharaohs, who were buried with items they might need for the afterlife.



What were the Indus civilizations?

                         Several large civilizations developed in the Indus Valley, in what is now Pakistan and India. These civilizations built houses made from baked mud bricks. They also built toilets, wells and even bath houses. High protective walls surrounded the cities. Outside the cities, the people of the Indus civilizations cultivated cereal crops and dates and also made weapons and other items in bronze. Stone seals from the Indus civilizations have been found along the Persian Gulf and in the ruins of the city of Ur. The seals show how these ancient peoples developed extensive trade links. These civilizations collapsed in about 3500BC, because of invading tribes.






Who developed the earliest writing?

                        No one knows how the first writing system developed, because no records remain. The earliest known writing was recorded in the form of picture symbols on clay tablets by the ancient Sumerians, in around 3500BC. Hieroglyphics were a similar form of picture writing, and the oldest examples date from around 3000BC. Picture symbols were also used in the ancient Chinese writing that appeared in 1500BC. It is likely that all writing started this way, before shapes and letters were used to indicate sounds.

Pictures Credit: Google

Ancient Civilizations


When did metal working first develop?

                 Metal working seems to have been developed independently in several places in about 3500Bc.

                It appeared in China, India, Egypt and Mesopotamia at around this time. Bronze was the first metal to be worked.




Why did the Egyptian civilization develop?

                   The Egyptian civilization grew up as a result of the annual flooding of the River Nile. This provided a green and fertile strip of land that could be cultivated, even in an area that is mostly desert. Every year, when the Nile flooded, it deposited rich, fertile silt along its banks. The ancient Egyptians grew crops of barley, wheat and flax in the fertile soils. They used the flax to make linen for their clothes.

                   The river also provided the Egyptians with papyrus reed. They harvested the reed and used it to make a form of paper known as papyrus. It was easy to keep detailed written records on papyrus.

Pictures Credit: Google



Ancient Civilizations




Where were the first cities?

                     The first known cities grew up in the Middle East, as much as 10,000 years ago. These ancient cities were built from stone and mud bricks. One city was destroyed to provide building materials for the next city on the same site, making it confusing to try to reconstruct them. Other ancient cities were built in present-day Turkey and China.






Who were the Sumerians?

                  The Sumerians developed the first known civilization, in 3500BC.They lived in Mesopotamia, a region between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in what is now modern Iraq. The Sumerians built large and elaborate cities, developed tax systems and government, and produced irrigation systems to water their crops.

                  Excavations of one major city, called Ur, showed signs of a great flood, which is thought to have been the Flood described in the Bible. The Sumerian civilization lasted for about 1,000 years.

Pictures Credit: Google


Where did Montezuma die?

          Montezuma was an emperor of the 16th Century ruling over the Aztec empire from one of the greatest capitals in the world at that time- Tenochtitlan in what is now Mexico.

          “It was like an enchantment… on account of the great towers and temples rising from the water… things never heard of, nor seen, nor even dreamed.” So wrote the Spanish chronicler Bernal Diaz of the city of some 200, 000 people. Montezuma’s capital was on an island in Lake Texococo which had been enlarged by a system of drain-age canals, and was joined to the shore by causeways.

          Across these causeways Hernan Cortes in 1519 led a force of 400 Spaniards, to be greeted by Montezuma as a god. The Spaniards were shown over the shrine-topped pyramids where human sacrifices were made to the Aztecs’ stern war god, Huitzilopochtli.

        “The figure… had a very broad face and monstrous and terrible eyes, and the whole of his body was covered with precious stones, and gold and pearls. There were some braziers and in them were burning the hearts of three Indians they had sacrificed that day. Diaz wrote, describing the scene he witnessed with Cortes. The Aztecs held the Spaniards in awe, but suspicion took over and they realized that Cortes was no god. In this atmosphere, Cortes took Montezuma as a hostage. Hostilities flared, and Montezuma was injured and died.

        In the NocheTriste or Night of Sadness which followed, the Spaniards were all but annihilated by the Aztecs. Cortes and some of his men escaped. A year later they captured Tenochtitlan and razed it to the ground. The Spaniards built a town upon the ruins. It is still the capital of a nation-Mexico City.

Picture credit: google

Who were the Aztecs?

An Aztec was an Indian who lived on the plains of Mexico from the 11th century to the beginning of the 16th. The Aztec civilization was one of the most magnificent in the whole of Central American history, although it was not created by the Aztecs themselves. They simply took over and organized what others had already created. They spoke a language called Nahua, which is still used by over a million Mexicans today, although Spanish is their official tongue.

      In 1324 the Aztecs settled in an Island village called Tenochtitlan, which later grew up into a large town. Mexico City is built on the same spot.

     The Aztecs constructed many beautiful palaces and pyramid shaped temple for the worship of their numerous gods, to whom they offered human sacrifice. They also developed a surprising knowledge of mathematics and astronomy.

     The days of their greatest glory were also their last. In 1519 Hernando Cortez, a Spanish explorer landed in Mexico, marched to Tenochtitlan and took the Aztec king Montezuma prisoner two years later he finally defeated the Aztecs and destroyed their city.

      Fortunately, not everything belonging to the Aztec civilization has disappeared. It is possible to find many example of their culture in Mexico today. Apart from ornaments and trinkets, there are many well preserved architectural remains- sacrificial platforms, temples, and a remarkable calendar stone

How were the beings in the Zapotec religion and legends alike?

The Zapotec religion was polytheistic, that is, they believed in multiple gods and goddesses differentiated only by their costumes.

Gods were depicted wearing clothes with or without capes, while goddesses were depicted wearing skirts. Many of the gods were associated with fertility and agriculture.

Some popular deities were Cocijo, Coquihani, and Pitao etc. They associated life to inanimate objects too.

There are several legends about the origin of the Zapotec. One of them is that they were descended from big cats like pumas, jaguars, and ocelots. They believed themselves to be the original people of the valley of Oaxaca. They assumed themselves to be born from rocks.

The Zapotec believed that they were the descendants of super-natural beings, living among the clouds and believed that they would return to the clouds after their death. It is due to this very belief, the Zapotecs are also known as the cloud people. 

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