The Phoenicians lived along the Mediterranean coast in what is now Lebanon. They inhabited a number of different city-states, the most famous of which were Tyre, Byblos, and Sidon. These Phoenician places were often in conflict with each other for domination of the region. Because of this lack of cooperation, the Phoenicians were conquered and forced to pay tribute to the virtually every empire in the region, including the Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks.
The Hebrew's early contribution to humankind was not wealthy empires or groundbreaking technology. Rather, it was the revolutionary idea that there was only one god, a belief known as monotheism. This one Hebrew god was called Yahweh. To the Hebrews, Yahweh was all powerful and all knowing, yet beyond human understanding. The religion based around this god influenced the founding of Christianity and Islam.
A man meditating alone in a cave near Mecca received a religious vision. This vision laid the foundations for a new religion. The year was 610 and the man's name was Muhammad.
Democracy. Philosophy. Sculpture. Dramatic tragedies. The Olympic Games. Many of the fundamental elements of Western culture first arose more than 2000 years ago in ancient Greece.
Greece's mountainous terrain led to the development of the polis (city-state), beginning about 750 B.C.E. The high mountains made it very difficult for people to travel or communicate. Therefore, each polis developed independently and, often, very differently from one another. Eventually, the polis became the structure by which people organized themselves. Athens and Sparta are two good examples of city-states that contrasted greatly with each other.
In Athenian democracy, every citizen was required to participate or suffer punishment. This practice stands in stark contrast to modern democratic governments in which citizens can choose whether or not they wish to participate. In Athenian democracy, all citizens pulled their weight.
The ancients Greeks were polytheistic that is, they worshipped many gods. Their major gods and goddesses lived at the top of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, and myths described their lives and actions. In myths, gods often actively intervened in the day-to-day lives of humans. Myths were used to help explain the unknown and sometimes teach a lesson.
The arts reflect the society that creates them. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of the ancient Greeks. Through their temples, sculpture, and pottery, the Greeks incorporated a fundamental principle of their culture: arete. To the Greeks, arete meant excellence and reaching one's full potential.
The ancient Greeks loved competition of all sorts. Each year, the various city-states of Greece sent athletes to festivals of games, which were held to honor the gods. The most important and prestigious were the games held at Olympia to honor Zeus, the king of the gods. These Olympic games took place in the summer only once every four years.
The Roman Empire's tentacles stretched from England to Egypt, from Spain to Iraq, and from southern Russia to Morocco. More significantly, ancient Roman civilization thrived for nearly one thousand years. The influence of the Romans over all of those peoples over that span of time defies measure.
The Romans established a form of government a republic that was copied by countries for centuries In fact, the government of the United States is based partly on Rome's model.
Julius Caesar was a man of many talents. Born into the patrician class, Caesar was intelligent, educated, and cultivated. An excellent speaker, he possessed a sharp sense of humor, charm, and personality. All of these traits combined helped make him a skilled politician.
The term "Pax Romana," which literally means "Roman peace," refers to the time period from 27 B.C.E. to 180 C.E. in the Roman Empire. This 200-year period saw unprecedented peace and economic prosperity throughout the Empire, which spanned from England in the north to Morocco in the south and Iraq in the east. During the Pax Romana, the Roman Empire reached its peak in terms of land area, and its population swelled to an estimated 70 million people.
During the Pax Romana, the wealthy built huge, lavishly decorated houses and usually had servants or slaves to tend to their every need. The average citizen worked hard and lived reasonably comfortably in modest housing. Despite the riches of the Roman Empire, the largest class lived in what can only be described as poverty.
In Rome, the gladiatorial contests were held in the Coliseum, a huge stadium that first opened in 80 C.E. Located in the middle of the city, the Coliseum was circular in shape with three levels of arches around the outside. In height, the Coliseum was as tall as a modern 12-story building; it held 50,000 spectators.
One of the many factors that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire was the rise of a new religion, Christianity. The Christian religion, which was monotheistic ran counter to the traditional Roman religion, which was polytheistic (many gods). At different times, the Romans persecuted the Christians because of their beliefs, which were popular among the poor.
Between the 9th and 11th centuries C.E., the kingdom of Ghana was so rich that its dogs wore golden collars, and its horses, which were adorned with silken rope halters, slept on plush carpets. Based on animal luxuries alone, it is no wonder that foreigners touted Ghana's kings as the richest men in the world.
What would life be like if a magician ruled the land? The history of ancient Mali gives us some hints. The founder of this West African kingdom was well known among his people as a man of magic with more than a few tricks up his sleeve.
Like many great civilizations, Benin's rise to power was filled with excitement and wonder, but its eventual social crises and political instability displayed the effects of greed, inhumanity, and love of power.
Discoveries of Chinese porcelain, engraved glass from the Middle East, and metal ornaments from West Africa provide evidence that Great Zimbabwe participated in a comprehensive trade network during the 13th and 14th centuries. Gold was probably its chief export and East African cities especially those along the coast that had overseas connections were most likely its primary trading partners.