Zest For Life

Ancient Human Civilization Timeline

Modern day cultures and civilizations evolve from the first known civilization that originated about millions of years ago.

Through the ages, where no defined means of communication were known to us now, what we know about ancient humans, their lives and how they spent their leisure hours, were through artefacts conscientiously discovered, collected, analyzed and compiled by past and present day archaeologists, to form a guesstimate of human civilization timeline.

Hunting was their main preoccupation and primary source of food. Somehow, they discovered agriculture along the way, which gave rise to main staples for food. Animals were domesticated. Societies were then created and then eventually evolve into societies of today.

The human civilization has come a long way. Each individual ancient civilization listed out here contributed in many ways – new inventions, new ideas, new cultures, philosophies and lifestyles. From the very cradle of civilization to this very day – what we are right now has been the evolving effort and output of each successive ancient human generation and modern men.


From early 3500 BC The ancient Egypt is one of the oldest and culturally richest civilizations in this list. The ancient Egyptians are known for their prodigious culture, the ever standing pyramids and the sphinx, the Pharaohs and the once a majestic civilization that resided by the banks of the river Nile. The ancient Egypt gave us the ever standing pyramids, the mummies that preserve the ancient Pharaohs to this day, the first of the solar calendars, Hieroglyphics and many more.

From around 3300 BC Mesopotamia is generally credited with being the first place where civilized societies truly began to take shape. It was somewhere around 8000 BC that people find the concept of agriculture, and slowly started to domesticate animals for both the purpose of food as well as to assist in agriculture. They prospered in the regions of modern day Iraq – then known as Babylonia, Sumer and Assyria highlands.

From around 2700 BC The ancient Greeks may not have been one of the oldest civilizations, but they are undoubtedly one of the most influential civilizations to have ever existed in the world. The Greeks created the ancient Olympics, the concept of democracy and a senate. They created the base for modern geometry, biology and physics. Pythagoras, Archimedes, Socrates, Euclid, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the great… the history books are full of such names whose inventions, theories, beliefs and heroics have had a significant influence in the subsequent civilizations that came later.
From around 2700 BC Ancient China – also known as Han China came into being and has a very long & diverse history.  It could be covered in several civilization periods. Most notably The Yellow river civilization period,  where the earliest dynasties were based. It was around the 2700 BC that the legendary Yellow Emperor began his rule, a point in time that later led to the birth of many dynasties that went on to rule the mainland China. In 2070 BC, the Xia dynasty became the first to rule the entire China as described in ancient historical chronicles. Then after, there came a number of dynasties that held control over China in different periods of time until the end of Qing dynasty in 1912 AD, with the Xinhai revolution. They gave the world some of the most useful inventions and products such as gunpowder, paper, printing, compass, alcohol, cannons and many more.
From 2600 BC The Indus valley civilization lies at the very cradle of subsequent civilization that arose in the region of the Indus valley (modern day Northeast India and eastern Pakistan). A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture is evident in the Indus Valley Civilization making them the first urban centers in the region. The people of the Indus Civilization achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass, and time. And based on the artifacts found in excavations, it is evident the culture was rather richer in arts and crafts.
From about 2600 BC The ancient Mayan civilization flourished in Central America and had been much talked about in recent times because of the timeline in the calendar they had created. The Mayans had already devised their own way of writing which they used to create their own solar calendars carved in the stones. The Mayans and Aztecs both built pyramids, many of which are larger than those in Egypt.
From around 750 BC There was a time when ancient Persian civilization was in fact the most powerful empires in the world.  Though only in power for a little over 200 years, the Persians conquered lands that covered over 2 million square miles. At its prime, ancient Persia ruled all over central Asia, much of Europe and Egypt. From the southern portions of Egypt to parts of Greece and then east to parts of India, the Persian Empire was known for its military strength and wise rulers.
From around the 6th century BC  The Romans ruled over the biggest chunk of land in that era – all the present day counties surrounding the modern day Mediterranean sea were a part of ancient Rome. Rome also saw the rise and fall of some of the greatest emperors in human civilization, like Julius Caesar, Trajan and Augustus.
From around 1200 AD The Aztecs came in the scenario pretty much around the time when the Incas were appearing as the powerful contenders in South America. The rise of the Aztecs was within a century of the fall of another influential civilization in Mexico and Central America – the Mayans. In the early 1500s, the Aztec civilization was indeed at the height of its power.

The Incas was the largest Empire in North America in the Pre-Columbian era. This civilization flourished in the areas of present day Ecuador, Peru and Chile and had its administrative, military and political center located at Cusco which lies in modern day Peru. The Incas had their societies pretty well established, and the empire was in a rapid bloom since it’s beginning.  The Incas were devout followers of the Sun God Inti. They had a king who was referred to as “Sapa Inca” meaning the child of the Sun. The first Inca emperor Pachacuti transformed it from a modest village to a great city laid out in the shape of a puma. The Incas went on to become great builders and went on to build fortresses and sites like Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco that still stand to this day.


What can we learn from human history of The Rises and Falls of Past Civilizations, in the march with time?

We have very little recollections of their past glories, except maybe fond memories of most of them.

If we were them but have the current knowledge, skills and technologies, could we change the tides of ancient humans’ fortunes to more lasting and prosperous ones?

I wonder…


Reuben Ong




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