Subsequent Ancient Civilizations

Figure 1.--

The technologies developed by the great early civiizations enabled other peoples to develop high levels of civilization outside the great river valleys. Expanding technology and the development of tools like the iron or iron-tipped plow meant that high yields could be achieved even without irrigation. And these yields could support a high level of civilization. These civilizations drawing on the achievements of the early centers of civilization, gradually eclipsed the great river valley civilizations. These subsequent civilizations, especially in the West, were the formerly barbarian more war-like people on the fringe of the river valley civilizations which became civilized. Other were the nomadic raiders from central Asia that never developed settled agriculture and a sophiticated civilization, but did develop a major military caoability. Of some importance is the fact that the more war-like people on the fringe of civilization tended to have more egaltarian traditions than the great river valley civilizations which developed systems based on the often despotic rule of divine-rght kingship. The Western tradition evolved from the more mrshall and eqaltarian traditions of Greece and Rome anf through Christimity that of the Hebrews. Each of these traditions included a recognition, no mtter hw imperfectly persued, of the innate value of individuals, a spirit often lacking in the eastern tradition flowing from the great river valley civilizations.

Assyria (1276-606 BC)

The Assyrians were a semietic people who first appeared to history (14th century BC). They became a great military power, building one of the great empires of westen Asia controlling the Fertile Cressent and Egypt. It was at first a small city state city state on the upper Tigris north northeast of Babylonia. Assyria was bounded in the north and east by the Taurus and Zagros mountains--the Mountains of Ashur. Two areas were the central Assyrian breadbasket: the Arbel plain and the Nineveh plain. Here crops as agriculture became more sophisticated could be grown without irrigation, unlike in Babylonia further down river. The rich agriculture provided the wealth that supported a massive army as well as as an educated class and gifted craftsmen. The first great Assyrian king was Shalmaneser I (1276-57 BC). Assyria achieved some importance under Tiglath-pileser I (12th century BC). Assyria became a major power with the great war leader Ashurnasirpal II (9th century BC). He set up the beginnings of an imperial administration with his conquests. His successors (Shalmanser III, Tiglath-pileser III, and Sargon) carved out a great Middle Eastern Empire. Sargon's son Sennacherib consolidated these gains. Esar Haddon (681-668 BC) conquered the Chaldaeans and sacked Babylon (669 BC). He also gained control of Egypt. Assur-bani-pal (669-633 BC) is seen as reigning during the height of the Empire with important artisticic achievements. After Egypt broke away, however, the Assyrian Empire rapidly declined. Nineveh was sacked (612 BC). Assyria was absorbed by first a revived Babylonian Empire and then the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great.

Byzantium (4th century AD-1452)

Byzantium is somewhat difficult to place. It is of course the Eastern Roman Empire which broke off from the Western Empire in a gradual procress beginning in the 4th century AD. But as it survived the Barbarian invasions, its history cintinues into the Medieval era until ovewealmed by the Turks in the 15th century. Thus it is both an Ancient and Medieval civilization with stronger Asian influences that the Western Empire. The Emperor Theodosum I divided the Roman empire when he entrusted his son Arcadius with the Eastern provinces and his other son Honorius with the Western priovinces (395 AD), although a temporary split occurred even earlier. The Western Empire headed by Honorius was soon to be overwealmed by Germanic Barbarians and Huns. The Eastern Empire while sorely pressed first by the Germans and Huns and later by Islam was to endure and often prosper over an amazing span of 1,000 years until it was finally overwealmed by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II in 1453. Much of the Byzantine history is not well studied by Western historians. Byzantium played, however, a crucial role in Western European history. For centuries Byzantium stopped the spread of Islam into Eastern Europe ar a time when the Western Christian kingdoms might have had difficult containing it. The Byzantines werea also largely responsible for the adoption of Christinaity by the Russians. The Eastern Empire is now known as Byzantium or the Byzantine Empire after its capital Byzantium. The name of the city was, however, soon changed to Constantinople in honor of its founder, the Emperor Constantine. The Byzantines, however, never used that term themselves. They saw themselves as the Roman Empire and referred to themselves as the Nation of Rome. Even in its deaththroes, however, the Byzantine Empire played an important role in sparking the Renaissance which so transformed Western Europe.

Carthage (814-146 BC)

The Carthiginians were a Phoenicians people. The Phoenicians wereca seafaring trading people centered in what is now Lebanon. The Phoenicians established trading colonies throughout the Mediterrean. The two major Phoenicians cities became Tyre and Carthage. Tyre was conquered byb Neburcanezer. Carthage was one of the key trading cities of the Mediterrean world. The city was located near modern Tunis on the Bay of Tunis. It was a Phoenician city, by tradition founded by Dido, a priestess expelled from Tyre. (9th century BC). Its strategic location and poweful fleet helped it to dominate Mediterrean trade. Carthiginian traders were legendary, Some Cartheginian vessels ranged as far as the Gulf of Guina to the south and Ireland to the north. The city's wealth grew from the fact that the major Mediterrean cities were in the east and imprtant resoures such as metals were located in the west (especially Spain). Carthage by its location and powerful fleet dominated the barrow passage between North Africa and Sicily that controlled trade between east and west. The city was governed by a powerfull oligarchy. The religion included child sacrifice which became an accepted part of Cartheginian culture. It also may have been a factor in limiting the population, a critical factor in the ensuing Punic Wars with Rome.

Celts (10th century BC- 1st century AD)

The Greeks called the Celts living to the north of them the Keltoi, but the origin of the term is unknown. It does appear to be origin of the modern term Celt. The geographical and ethnic origins of the Celtic people of Europe are largely unknown. They are believed to have appeared in Europe during the 2nd millenium BC. Most historians believe that they were one of the more war-like Caucasian tribes. The original Celts appeared to a have conquuered and merged with existing non-Indon European tribes. The Celts became the dominate force in north-cental Europe. Celtic language , customs, religion, and traditions were gradually adopted by sujecated peoples. There are thought to have been about 150 distinct Celtic tribes, among which the Britons and Gauls are today the best known. Toward the end of the 2nd millenium, the Gauls became increasingly dominante in north-central Europe. The Gauls from the 5th-2nd century BC expanded their area of influence, moving south of the Alps into Italy, even sacking Rome (390 BC). Theu also moved into Spain, Greece, and Turkey. At the end of the 2nd century BC, these wide spread deployments had weakened their power in central Europe. The Gauls wee less able to resist presure from German tribes east of the Rhine. The Roman Gaius Marius defeated the Gauls south of the Alps. Ceaser defeated the Gauls, especially the Belgae north of the Alps (58-50 BC). Within the Empire, slowly Latin replaced the Celtic language. The Celts unlike Roman men wore trousers and the word breaches, the first form of trousers worn by European men.

Elam (30th century - 6th century BC)

Elam was an ancient civilization associated with the rise of civilization and urbanization in Mespotamiam during the Chalcolithic (Copper) Age. Proto-Elam states appear (about 4000 BC). These and other Elamite states states were located primarily east of the Tigris Euprhates in what is now southwestern Iran along the Prsian Gulf (Khuzestan and Ilam) and touching on southern Iraq. Elamite states were important political entities in the ancient world and were known by the Biblical Hebrew, Sumerians, Assyrians, Hittites, and Persians. Unfortunately there is no clear history of Elam. What we know is the result of fragmentary references in the historical record of neigboring states. Elam in contemprary references was commonly referred to as Susiana, from its capitl at Susa. Writing first developed in Mesopotamia and shortly after writing is found in Elam (about 3000 BC). This underlies the close assiciation with Mesopotamia. The Elam language is considered a language isolate, suggesting different ethnic origins from the Summerians. Historians divide Elam history into destinct period. The Old Elamite period (Middle Bronze Age) finds small Elam kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, primarily around Anshan. There was a grdual centrlization and a capital developed in Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands (around 1500 BC). Elam influenced the Gutian Empire (2100 BC). The Elamites finally conquered by the Persian Achaemenid dynasty (6th century BC). The Elamites were annihalated (639 BC). Elam was ravaged by the Asyrians and much pf the population exiled. The fall of Elam played an important role in the subsequent rise of the Persian Empire.

Etruscans (10th-4th century BC)

The most important Iron Age people on the Italian peninsula were the Villanovan culture out of which the Etruscans developed. The most notable pre-Roman culture in Italy itself was the Etruscans which dominated central Italy. The Etrusans are not a very well known people, but Rome itself was essentially built on an Etrusan base. Historians disagree as to the origins of the Etruscans. The origins of the Etruscans have been a subject of discussion since the most ancient times. The Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century BC, upheld the theory that they came by sea from Lydia, a region in Asia Minor. According to other historians of the classical age, the Etruscans were believed to be a population of Italic origin, who had lived in the peninsula since remote times. However, the theory that has emerged in modern historiography is that of groups from the eastern Mediterranean, who brought with them a technically and culturally advanced society and who mixed with the resident Italic population around the 10th century BC, giving rise to a new civilization.

Germanic Tribes (1st century BC-5th century AD)

The origins of the Germans are obscure. Both the ethnic and geographic origins of the people speaking Teutonic languages are not known to history with any precission. The origins of these Grermanic people is still srouded in pre-history. The Germans certainly entered Europe well before the Roman era, but the ancient Germans left no written language and because they were semi-nomadic, the archeological remains are sparse. The Germanic people were probably formed from a mixture of races in the coastal region of northern Europe, perhaps especially around the Baltic Sea. They appear to have settled in the north-central plains of Europe sometime around the end of the 6th century B.C. All that is known with any prescision is that the Germanic tribes first appear in southern Scandinavia and along the North Sea and Baltic coasts south into modern Poland. These Germanic tribes then moved southward and east. The German tribes pushing south encountered the Romans at a period in their history that they were expanding north of the alps, setting in motion one of the titanic confrontations in history and one which was not completely resolved until World War II. The German Tribes moved into the central and southern area of modern Germany (100 BC). This brought them into contact with the Roman Empire moving north and east. At the time the Germans came in contact with the Romans they were still tribal, divided into three major groups. The western Germanic tribes are the ones who first contacted the Romans and their territory in the west and south became a province of the Roman Empire. The western Germans had settled an area from the North Sea east to the Elbe, Rhine, and Main rivers. The Rhine became an boundary between the Germanic tibes and Roman territory when Julius Caesar defeated the Suevian tribe (about 70 BC) and took possession of Gaul for Rome. Rome under Augustus continued its expansionary policy moving east and had begun to esrablish a substantial presence east of the Rhine. Then a force of almost three entire Legions under the provincial governor Varus was destroyed by Germany's first great national leader, Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest (9 AD). This staggering defeat of epic proportions stoped the Roman drive east. It also helped make the Rhine River a landmark of almost mystic proportions to the Germans. The Romans used Germans in their army. Armenius had grown up in Rome and served in the Roman army. He was very familiar with Roman tactics and capabilities. As result of the battle, the Romans were driven west of the Rhine. The Romans built a 300-mile defensive line roughly along the Rhine during the 1st century AD.

Greeks (5th century-2nd century BC)

HBC has little information on ancient Greece. Historians report the ancient Greeks considered children to be miniature adults. There is no indication that the Greeks regarded children as anything different from small-sized adults. By the time a child was about 13 years old, he or she was considered an adult citizen in every respect. Alexander was, for example, involved in military engagements at age 12. There were differences from city to city, especially with Sparta. There were, however, many similarities. Boys and girls were reared very differently. Plato discusses the education of children in The Republic. Boys were educated separately for their future responsibilities as citizens of the state. Women had a different role and have been described as little above slaves. Girls were informally educated in the home by their mothers. Children of both sexes often wore no clothing at all when they were very young. There does not appear to have been any specialized garments for children before they began wearing adult garments. Boys spent a lot of time naked in athletic training.


Archaeological evidence shows that many mostly small kingdoms rose and fell over time in the area between the two great centers of civilization, Mesopotamia and Egypt. While these peoples are mostly of only minor importance in the great sweep of history. One of these people, however, the Hebrews have come to play a major role in the development of Wetern civilization. The origin of the very name is shrouded in the mist of pre-history. Scholars associate it with the word "Hiberu". It first appears in writing sent to Egypt from one of the small client states which the Egyptians left after withdrawing from Canaan in the 1300s BC. These client states faced wves of nomadic tribes. The Egupian word "Hiberu" meant "outsider" and originally was probably used to describe migrants in general and not one specific people. The early Hebrews apparently were semi-nomadic heardsmen who gradually began some limited farming They did not have metal tools or a written language. Like other nomads, the ancient Hebrews lived in tents and were organized in extended families combined into kinship groups. [Smitha] Biblical scholarship has developed extensive information on the Hebrew people who for a time were captives in both Egypt and Babylonia.

Hittites (17th century-717 BC)

The Hittites were one of the major civilization of the ancient world and presented a major challenge to the Egyptian New Kingdom. These rose in Anatolia on the perifery of Mesopotamia from mysterious origins. Despite their historical importance, they are one of the least studied ancient civilizations. With a Anatolian hearland the Hittite kingdom stretched from Mesopotamia into Syria and Palestine which it contested with Egypt. It was with Egypt that the Hittites fought the first well-recorded battle of history--Qadesh (1274 BC). Ancient Troy seems to have been influenced by Hittite culture. They spoke an Indo-European language. They conquered Mesopotamia, but were strongly influenced by Mesopotamian culture. The Hittites adopted the laws, religion, and the literature of Babylonian thus represented a continuation of Sumerian culture. The Hittites civilization was at its peak (1600-1200 BC). They lost control of Mesopotamia to Assyria, but continued on for many centuries. Their Anatolian capital finally fell (717 BC). It is believed the Hittite Empire was weakened by internal divisions. The Hebrews say little about the Hittites, but the Canaanites are believed to have been a surviving Hittitite people. The Hittites were a trading empire. There importance lies primarily in transmitting Sumerian culture through its far-flung empire and even wider trading contacts to the Aegean/ Mediterranean world--the cradel of Western civilization.

Huns (3rd century BC-5th century AD)

Very little is known about the origins of the Huns until they come in contact with Rome in the late 4th century. The Huns were the first mounted Asian warriors to move east and threaten Europe. They appeared on war horses out of the trackless Asian steppes. Their first European victim were the Alans (a people living between the Volga and the Don) and then moved further West. The Huns were a major force in driving the Germanic tribes west into the saftey of the Roman Empire, butv in the process destroying the Western Empire. The Huns moved east north of the Black Sea and conquered the Ostrogoths. Then they also drove the Visigoths across the Danube into the Roman Empire. This led defeat of the Roman army under the Emperor Valens at Adrianople (378 AD). The Huns settled along the Danube, particularly in the Hungarian Plain. For nearly 50 years they both served the Romans as allies as well as wared with them. The Eastern Emperor, beginning in the 420s, paid an annual tribute to them. When the more ambitious Attila succeded as as King of the Huns he adopted a more aggressive policy.


The origins of the Albanian people is not know with any certainty. Most historians believe that the bulk of linguistic, archaeological, and anthropological evidence suggest that Albanians are the descendants of the ancient Illyrians. This is notable because many Balkan peoples are the descdents of peoples who migrated into the Balkans after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Perhaps the rugged mountain teraine helped the Illyrians and their descendents to survive. The Albanian language hasevolved from the Illyrian language, a strong iindicator that the ancient Illyrians are the origins of the modern Albanian people. Linguists believe that the modern Albanian language developed at the end of the Roman era (4th-6th centuries AD). Illyrian culture is believed to have evolved from the original Neolithic peoples of the Balkans and Illyrian archeological finds finds in Albania date from the early Bronze Age (2000 BC). The Illyrians were a tribal people with no central organization. They dominated the western Balkans from Epirus (central Greece) as far north to what is now Slovenia. The Illyrians in Albania because of the ruggesd terraine seem tohave been somewhat isolated from the other Illyrian tribes. Gradually an Illyrian kingdom developed which controoled the western Balkans (much of Albania, Dalmatia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and much of Serbia). The capital was Shkodra (Scutari) in northern Albania. The earliest recorded king of Illyria was Hyllus (The Star) (???-1225 BC). Classical authors generally kind to the Illyrians, in sharp contrat to other defeated peopkes like the Catheginians. They are described as sociable and hospitable and brave in war. Illyrian women had high status compated to most other ancient peoples. They seem to have had almost equal staus with men, including rising to tribal chiefdoms. The Illyrians believed in an afterlife and buried their dead along with arms and other personal belonings. The lIllyria had important natural resources and craftsmen became skilled in mining and working with metals. They also became skilled boat builders and sailors. They built fast galleys called liburnae. They were so well designed that the Romans adopted them, calling them Liburnian. The Illyrian kingdom reached its peak of power under Bardhylus (White Star) ((4th century BC). He was among the most important Illyrian kings. Under his rule Epirus and large parts of Macedonia were part of the kingdom. It was during Bardhylus' rule that King Philip of Macedon began expanding his territory, taking parts of Illyria. This began a long period of decline. One of the last important Illyrian ruler was Queen Teuta. At this time Illyrian ships were seizing merchants ships of the rising Roman Republic. The Roman Senate declared war (232 BC). Rome dispacted a huge army and naval force to subdue the Illyrians. It was commanded by Santumalus and Alvinus who launched an attack into what is now central Albania. After 2 years of fighting, Queen Teuta sued for peace (227 BC). Illyria's last king was was Gentius. Roman armies invaded and conquered Illyria. Gentius was brought back to Rome as a captive with war booty (165 BC).



The Minoan civiization is sometimes described as a generalized Aegean civilization. It is named after King Minos of Greek legend. The assocaited Mycenae culture is that of mainland Greece at the same time. Tt is one of the earliest important civilizations not founded on a river valley. The Minonan civilization endured 1,500 years, from 3000/2600-1100 BC, and reached the height of its grandeur in the 18th-16th centuries BC. The civilization was centered on Crete but influenced the neighboring Greek islands of the Aegean Sea as well. It was the founding culture for the Achaean Greeks more familiar to the modern reader. The Minoans who virtually unknown to modern scholars until archeologists at the begnning of the 20th century found the palace at Knossos. Previously Greek legends about King Minos were not known to have had actual historical basis. The Minonan civilization is notable as the foundation stone for Greek culture upon which so much of Western thought and culture is based. Of special importance to HBC is that it provides some of the earliest non-religious depictions of people, including children.


Parthia was an ancient country southeast of the Caspian Sea more or less in the area of what is now Khurasan. The Parhians are believed to be of Scythian origins. We do not yet know much about them. The Parthians served as mounted archers in the armies of first the Assyrians and then the Persians. The Parthians were a largely fedual society based on horsemen. They tended to avoid head on confrontation in military engagements. The Parthians were famed archers, able to fire their arows over their backs. This was known as the Parthian shot which is the origin of the term "parting shot". Led by Arsaces, they freed themselves from Seleucid rule and established their own empire (250 BC). The Parthians gradually extended their empire east to India. Rome for its part had wared with all the important powers they confronted, Carthage, Macedonia, and Gaul. The Parthians were after Ceasar's victory in Gaul the next logical outlet to expand Rome's Empire. The peak of the Parthian empire was reached with the defeat of Crassus at Carrhae (53 BC) which affected the struggle for power in Rome. The Parthians were later defeated by the Romans, but not destroyed (39-38 BC). After this their power was severely curbed and they gradually declined. Ardashir I overthrew the Parthians and founded the Sassanian Empire (226 BC).


Persia is not one of the early cradles of civilization and Persian civilization did not develop in river valley. Persian civilization developed east of the Fertile Crescent on the Iranian plateau of central Asia. The Iranian plateau was not settled until about 1500 BC by Aryan tribes, especially the Medes. The name Persian comes from the Parsua, another Aryan tribe. The first great war chief was Hakhamanish or Achaemenes who founded the Achaemenid dynasty about 700 BC. The Achaemenids built a great capital city at Persepolis. They conquered a vast empire from Egypt to India. Conquered were allowed to keep their own religion, customs, and laws and were governed by natove princes. The Persians encouraged cultural diversity. They saw the world as a cosmic struggle between good and evil, concepts that profoundly influenced Jewish and Christian theology. Darius the Great after crushing a Ionian Greek revolt in Anatolia was defeated by the Greeks in the epic battle of Marathon in 490 BC, one of the decisive battles of history. Cyrus the Great was one of the great Persian kings. Alexander defeated Darius III in battles 334-331 BC, destroying the Persian Empire. Alexander hoped to unite the Greeks and Persians into one great empire. His early death undid these ambitious plans. Following a civilm war among his generals, Seleucus, gained control over the Persian part of his empire. At the same time Potolomy gained control of Egypt. Unlike Alexander's plans, Seleucus ruled Persia as a conquered land through Greek troops and satraps. The Parthians overthrew the Greeks, who were unable to generate Persian support, about 250 B.C. The Parthians came from the deserts of central Asia. Unlike the Greeks, they were impressed with Persian civilization and ruled Persian through native kings. The Parthian empire lasted more than four centuries and during that period there was no important Persian revolt. The Parthians were one of the few people who successfully resisted the Roman Empire, desimating a Roman army led by Anthony. This played a major role in the defeat of Anthony and Cldeopatra by Octavian. Gradually Christianity spread to Persia and the power of the Parthians wained. Artaxerxes, a descendant of Sassan, in 226 A.D., declared Persia independent of Parthia and began a military campaign aginst neignoring countries and the Parthians. The revived Persian Empire like the Parthians were able to challenge Rome at the height of its power.


The first well studied people who inhabited modern Lebanon were the Canaanites, a people mentined extensively in the Bible. The Canaanites are better known as the Phoenicians, the Greek term for the people. The Greek word phoinos meant ‘red’ referring to the unique purple dye that the Phoenicians produced from murex seashells. The early Phoenicians were of semetic origins and an early seafaring people who settled islands and coastal areas in the eastern Mediterrean. The Phoenicians dominated Crete which was an early center known as the Minoan civilization (2000-1200 BC). The relationshipb between the Minoans and Phoenicians is not well understood. As the Mycenaean Greeks civilization expanded in the Aegean, the center of Phoenician civilization shifted to the mainland of the eastern Mediterrean, especially in the area of what is now Lebanon. Archaeologists have found abundant evidence for related coastal cities and heavily forested mountain strong points (around 4000 BC). These people generally referred to themselves on the basis of the local city where they lived, but referred to their nation as Canaan. They dominated the narrow East-Mediterranean coast and the parallel strip mountains of Lebanon. The Canaanites traded cedar timber, olive oil and wine from Byblos for metals and ivory from Egypt (2800 BC). The Coastal cities were conquered by the Amorites (about 2000 BC). The Egyptians conquered the area (about 1800 BC). The Canaanites managed to achieve independece (about 1200 BC). The Phoenicians were the first great naval power. They mastered the art of navigation and ship building and as a result dominated the Mediterranean and the maritime trade there for more than 500 years. They demonstrated considerable skill in textiles, carving ivory, as well as metal and glass working. The most imporant Phoenician city was Tyre. Other cities included Sidon, Byblos, Berytus (Beirut). The Phoenicians established trading colonies throughout the Mediterrean, including Tripoli, Arvad Island-City, Baalbek and Caesarea as well as Cyprus, Rhodes, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Marseilles, Cadiz, and Carthage Around 1000 BC). The most important colony proved to be Carthage which develped into a Meditewrranean superpower. The Phoeniciansy developed trade routes that extended into Europe, Western Asia, and Africa. Phoenician ships were the first to circumnavigate Africa, a thousand years before those of the Portuguese. Perhaps their greatest accomplishment was inventing the alphabet which influenced scripsts throughout the Mediterranean and Niddle East. The Greeks adopted the 22-letter alphabet from the Phoenicians which led to the Latin letters now used in the West. The Phoenicians managed to adjusted to successive land powers who conquered the Levant or parts of it. They thus managed to continue their maritim trade and a fegree of political independence. They fought a number of small groups such as the Amorites and Hebrews for control of the inland vallies and trade routes. The Assyrians invaded Phoenicia from the west (875 BC) Major Phoenician cities (Byblos, Tyre and Sidon) over time rebelled and as a esult werecdestroyed by the Assyrians. brought total destruction to the cities in response. The Babylonians were the next western land power to conquer tThe Phoenicians (585 BC). Phoenician cities rebelled and Tyre was again destroyed. The Persians occupied the Levant region including Phoenicia (338 BC). The Phoenician navy became an important addition to Persia which was primarily a land power. The Phoenician were thus an important ally during the Greco-Persian wars (490-449 BC). The Phoenicians subsequentlt revolted against the heavy tribute imposed by the Persians.


Scotland in antiquity was known by the Romans as Caledoinia. Little is known of the early inhabitants of Scotland. Human habitation of cotland appears to date from about 8500 BC. The appear to have been a mixed group of aborigines and unidentified European tribes of the Indo-Euroipean lingistic stock. Some archeologists believe that Scotland was settled by Iberians. The one group which is know is the Picts, a war-like people who were able to resist the Roman invasion. The term Pict is Roman in origin. The Romans called the pre-Celtic people in northern Britain "Pictii", meaning painted people. This appears to have referred the Pict pratice oif tatooing their bodies. Roman General Gnaeus Julius Agricola invaded Caledonia in the late 1st century AD and reached the Firth of Forth. The Picts and rebelious Britons pushed noryth by the Romans appeared to have successfully resisted the Romans in the area between the Firth of Fourth and the Clyde. Resistance was so successful that the Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of a defensive wall from Solvay Firth to the mouth of the River Tyne which is today known as Hadrian's Wall (122 AD). Another wall was subsequently constructed further north which became known as the Wall of Pius (140s). This wall extended from the Firth of Fourth to the Firth of Clyde. The area between the two walls became the Roman first line of defense against the ancient Caledonians. The area south of the Wall of Pius became partially Romanized and this endured into Medieval and modern times as the Wall of Pius is roughly the dividing line between the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. Litte information is available on the clothing worn by the ancient Picts.


Roman civilization had an incalcualble impact on Western civilixzation. As such this is a topic we plan to develop in some detail, although we have not yet seriously addressed it. The Roman legacy in art and sculpture, architecture, literature, philosophy, political organization and law, and religious is extensive. Rome was the conduit through which many aspects of Greek culture were passed on to our modern age. Today the power of media has obscured the great legacy of Rome to that of gladitorial spectacle. Many scholars are convinced that perhaps with the exception of Jesus, the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero is the most important single voice in Western civiliztion. It was Cicero that was a key influence in British political thought and the American and French Revolutions and thus all modern democracies. It was an idealized Roman Republic that inspired the founding fathers. The history of ancient Rome spanned a millenium and included three eras (kingdom. republic, and empire. The wars fought during these eras include some of the epic struggles in human history. Of all the great inheritances of Roman civilization, none were more important to Western Civilization that the heritage of Roman law. Of all the great inheritances of Roman civilization, none were more important to Western Civilization that the heritage of Roman law. And today the imprint of law is one of the primary forces that mark the Western world. A vibrant united Europe is a development that has come about in our post-World War II. Many remember the Cold War which divided Europe after World War II. In fact, there have been many political and cultural fissures that have divide Europe for millenia. Perhaps the most significant is the cultural divide between the Latin West and the Germanic East. That division came about as a result of a battle little-known outside Germany, but arguably is one of the most significant in all of European history.


The Scynthians were nomadic, war-like horsemen occupying a large area of the southern steppe of Eastern Europe. They spoke an Indo-European language providing a clue as to their origins. The extent of the Scynthian territory varied over time with the fluctuating power of the Scynthians and surrounding peoples. The core of the Scynthian lands was the northern shore of the Black Sea and the lower Don and lower Dnipper. There is evidence of the Synthians in this area as early as the 9th century BC. They were contemporanous with the Greeks and traded extensively with them. They were also recrited as mersenaries by the Greeks. They attacked and conquered much of the Assyrian Empire, but never reached as far as Palestine (7th century BC). Persian Kung Darius I led a major expedition against them (6th century BC ). Alexander after his victories against the Persians also attacked the Scynthians. They were eventually dispalced by a related people--the Sarmatians. Some historians believe that pants or trousers may have been conceived about 6,000 years ago by the nomadic horsemen of the Ukranian Steppes. Notably this was also the approximate time that horses were domesticated. [James and Thorpe] We know that Scynthian horsemen wore pants. There are metal-work and vase depictions of this as well as Greek commentary. Pants seem especially useful in temperate climates that experience cold weather. They also seem suited for horsemen. The Greeks were not at all impressed with trousers, considering them a barbaric form of dress. Hippocrates in particular was critical of Scynthian pants.

Sea People (12th century BC)

One of the greatest mysteries of ancient history is the sea people. As suggest by the fact the name was not ethnic, but descriptive of how they attacked--from tghe sea. All we know for sure is that they were not a single people under central control, although alliances or even a kind of confederation are posible. Several different people who attacked the rich, well establish socities of the eastern and southeastern Mediterranean. Egyptian records name many of the Sea People, but the names do not tell us today just who they were. We know that they were a pre-literate civilization becaue all the availanle records come from the more advanced people they attacked. They seem to have come from the northern coast of the Meditrranean and the islands like Sadinia, Sicily, and Cyprus, although this seems to have been ports of embarcation rather than ancesteral homelands. It is unclear just why thee unrelated people attacked at about the same time. A range of possibilities exist including famine, plague, drough are other disasters. The attack west of the Steppe people are another possibility. The Minonan and related Mycenaean civilization disappeared at about the same time the Sea People burst forward (12th century BC). The collapse of Mycenaea may have opened the way to the east and south as well as provided seafaring technology. All that is known for sure is that archeologists have found conclusive evidence that advanced civililzations like the Hittites and Egyptians experienvd a sudden, violent collapse--apparently under the assault of the Sea People. This occurred amid wide-scale destruction during the the Late-Bronze age. Troy disappears. The mightly Hitttites disappeared suddently and for ever. The Egyptians are smashed, although they eventually recover. This all happened within a very short period, perhaos a decde or two. From Troy in the northwest to Ugarit along the coast of Syria southwest to the Nile Delta, unknown attackers swept down upon, looted and burned the major trading centers and port cities. The razed cities were abandined or rebuilt on a small scale. Sophisticated civilizations with large urban centers disappered leaving only herdsmen and shepherds. This has been called the most dramatic event in the early history of the Mediterranean. And yet we know next to nothing about it. Some authors now believe that the Homeric epics were part of this catheclysmic event. The Achaeans Greeks wee apparently one of the Sea People. It is unclear why the Sea People appeared so suddently and why they were able to defeat the rich, powerful socities of the easterm Mediterranean. Their motives appear to be like the Vikings of later history plunder. Scholars do not even know if the rise of the Sea People was a cause or an effect of the political collapse of eastern Meditrraneam civilizations. The debate as to who the sea peoplw were and whether they were conquerors, pirates, deserters, or refugees continues in academic circles. Many believe they mave been proto-Greeks. And just as suddenly as the Sea People appeared, they disappeared or seem to have disappeared. And no one knows how or why.


Major Eastern European language and ethnic group speaking one of the Indo-European family languages. The Slavs are normally divided into the West Slavs (Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks), East Slavs (Great Russians, Ukranians, and Bylorusians/White Russians), and South Slavs (Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrans, Serbs, and Slovenes). The origins of the Slavs are not well understood. Like the Germans, Slavs have developed politically based national theories which have complicated actual scholarship and confused existing literature. Russia's Tsars used pan-Slavism to further its imperial expansion southward into the Ukraine and Balkans. Culturally the Slavs are divided into those national groups associated with the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Germans and different Slavic nations employed both theories about origins as tools of political propaganda, resulting in general confusion. Some authors note references in Roman sourrces which appear to refer to the Slavs (1st century BC). Other sources maintain the first references appear later (1st century AD). Some scientists (such as Kazimierz Godlowski or Zdenek Vana) dismiss the work of other authors ans maintAin that the Slavs appeared and differentiated themselves from other tribes at some time in the 1st century AD. One auuthor describes two waves of Slavs who he describes as Proto-Slavs (called Venedes or Wenets) and Slavs proper. This author claims that the two waves merged to form the modern Slavs. There appears to be no definitive archeological study as to the Slavs oigins and early history. Considerable archeolgical work has been done, but the findings at ths time seem rather confused. No one knows definitively where the Slavs originated from before the population exploded to become Europe's large ethnic group. The earliest evidence places the Slavs in the Pripyat Marshes area (Polesie). There are many Slavic words suggesting Indo-Aryan links and not mere borrowing. There are also theories of an autochthonous origins dating from pre-glacial times. Scholars are conducting genetic research to address the question of origins and ethnic differences. Anthropologists still debate the theories of multi-regional as opposed to the "out of Africa" concept of human evolution. Some historians speculate that the Slavic homeland was what Tacitus decribed as Germania. The origins of the Slavs are further complicated by the assimilation of non-Slavic peoples. Modern Bulgarians, for example, seem a combination of Central-Asian Bulgars who later mixed with Slavs moving into the Balkans to form the modern Bulgarian population. One of the ongoing conflict in European history has been the conflict between Slavs and Germans, a confict which as a result of NAZI racial theories reached murderous proportions in World War II

Xiongnu or Hsiung-nu (4th-1st century BC)

The Xiongnu or Hsiung-nu ( 匈奴 ) ancient nomadic-based people dominating the eastern Steppe. Threy formed a powerful confederation located north of China. Very little is known about these people, but they played an imporytnt role in ancient Chinese history. They were a pre-literate people. Virtually all of the information on the Xiongnu is from Chinese sources. Their language is lost, all we have is the Chinese transliterations of their language. Even the ethnic identity of the Xiongnu is unknown. The loss of the language means that lingustic clues as to ethnicity are not available. Scholars have theorized a wide range of ethnicity, including: Mongolic, Persian, Tocharian, Turkic, Uralic, or Yeniseian. They are believed to have practiced Tengriism. Some believe that the name Xiongnu may be a cognate of the Huns, but this is controversial. Chinese sources report the Xiongnu as creating a powerful empire under Modu Chanyu (209 BC). The Xiongnu Empire stretched beyond the borders of modern-day Mongolia both to the east and west. The Xiongnu defeating the Yuezhi who had dominated the eastern Steppe (2nd century BC). The Xiongnu became the dominant power on the steppes of central and eastern Asia. The controlled or strongly influenced what is now southern Siberia, Mongolia, Southern Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang. Relations between ancient China and the Xiongnu were complex. All of what we know comes from the Chinese records. A complete history has not been written, but there is enough in the Chinese records to show along history of military conflict, tribute, trade, and marriage treaties punctuate with intrigue and inteligence operations. They were finally supressed by massive and very costly Hn moklitary operations woch broke their control of valuable trade routes (129-111 BC). It may well be that the Han military defeat of the Xiongnu and subbsequent Xiongnu civil war set in motion a movement west that woulkd eventully drive the Germans intothe Roman Empire and subsequent Hun invasions. One military historian tells us, "The relationship between the steppe peoples and China has spawned a great deal of interesting literature. In Perilous Frontier, Thomas Barfield argues that the steppe peoples were most powerful when China was. The whole issue is very interesting. Genghis Khan actually fought to the west (against Khwarazmia) before he turned to China." [Roth]


James, Peter and Nick Thorpe. Ancient Inventions (New York: Ballantine Books, 1994).

Roth, Jonathan P. San Jose State University. E-Mail message (May 30, 2014).

Smitha, Frank. "The Hebrews between Assyria and Egypt, The Ancient World.


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Created: 9:33 AM 11/29/2007
Last updated: 1:45 AM 10/4/2016