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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 EastDorling Kindersley / Getty Images
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.
AssyriaWalls and gates of the ancient city of Nineveh, now Mosul (Al Mawsil), the third capitol of Assyria. Jane Sweeney / Getty Images
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.
BabyloniaSiqui Sanchez / Getty Images
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.
CarthageTunisia, archeological site of Carthage listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. DOELAN Yann / Getty Images
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.
ChinaAncient village in Longsheng rice terraces. Todd Brown / Getty Images
A look at ancient Chinese dynasties, writing, religions, economy, and geography.
EgyptMichele Falzone / Getty Images
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.
GreeceParthenon in Acropolis of Athens, Greece. George Papapostolou photographer / Getty Images
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.
ItalySunrise at the Roman Forum. joe daniel price / Getty Images
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.
MesopotamiaEuphrates River and fortress ruins at Dura Europos. Getty Images/Joel Carillet
Mesopotamia is the ancient land between the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. It roughly corresponds with modern Iraq.
PhoeniciaArt of a Phoenician commercial ship at the Louvre. Leemage / Getty Images
Phoenicia is now called Lebanon and includes part of Syria and Israel.
RomeGreek-Roman theater of Taormina, Italy. De Agostini / S. Montanari / Getty Images
Rome was originally a settlement amid the hills that spread throughout Italy and then around the Mediterranean.
The four periods of Roman history are the period of kings, the Republic, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. These eras of Roman history are based on the type or place of central authority or government.
Steppe TribesMongolian sword and leather shield of nomads. Getty Images/serikbaib
The people of the Steppe were mainly nomadic in the ancient period, so the locations changed. These are some of the main tribes that are featured in ancient history mostly because they came in contact with the people of Greece, Rome, and China.
SumerSumerian cylinder-seal impression depicting a governor being introduced to the king. Print Collector/Getty Images / Getty Images
For a long time, it was thought the earliest civilizations began in Sumer in Mesopotamia (roughly modern Iraq).
SyriaThe Great Mosque in Aleppo was founded in the 8th century. Julian Love / Getty Images
To the fourth millennium Egyptians and third millennium Sumerians, the Syrian coastland was the source of the softwoods, cedar, pine, and cypress. The Sumerians also went to Cilicia, in the northwest area of Greater Syria, in pursuit of gold and silver, and probably traded with the port city of Byblos, which was supplying Egypt with resin for mummification.
India and PakistanAncient abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, India. Getty Images/RuslanKaln
Learn more about the script developed in the area, the Aryan invasion, caste system, Harappa, and more.