We humans instinctively know that we are just tiny flashes of life in a much bigger arc of existence. Our careers, families and our own bodies appear and disappear in just a few decades — just a blink of an eye compared to the history of our species. For thousands of years, humans have roamed most of planet Earth, building agricultural resources, domesticating animals, building basic tools and, of course, gathering in both small villages and massive metropolitan areas. In this quiz, what do you really think you know about ancient history?
From the birthplace of humanity to the first towns and cities, our civilizations are nothing new. Cities have been built, destroyed, and rebuilt, often dozens or hundreds of times since human beings populated areas suited for farming and livestock production. What do you know about the earliest successful settlements?
Primitive humans relied on caves and basic structures for shelter. Some mastered things like the wheel — others somehow managed to build amazing buildings without ever realizing the wheel’s potential. From the Stone Age to the Iron Age, what do you know about humankind’s advances in history?
The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians wielded immense power in their lands. Kings and queens dominated cultural affairs, dictated the lives of their subjects, and sometimes enslaved or even sacrificed their own people.
Grab your Indiana Jones whip and get ready for a true quiz adventure! Take our ancient history quiz now!
The famous pyramids of Egypt are some of the most impressive ancient structures on Earth. Construction of the pyramids, which were meant as tombs for royalty, began around 2600 BC.
In AD 79, a powerful volcanic eruption quickly buried Pompeii under tons of ash. The city was wiped out ... but preserved to a stunning degree of detail, which thrilled researchers who found it in the 1700s.
The Roman Empire was, for many centuries, one of the most impressive civilizations ever. But the Empire eventually fell, in part due to (cough) overspending on military conquests.
The Aztecs populated the area of modern-day Mexico with some truly stunning feats of architecture. Their huge capital city, Tenochtitlan, dominated the region in the 15th century.
Stonehenge features huge standing stones which were put into place around 2400 BC. The monument is located near large burial grounds, but archaeologists can only guess as to the purpose of the amazing structure.
Rome grew to great power on the Italian peninsula beginning in 753 BC. It became the seat of power in the Roman Empire, which dominated the world and included tens of millions of inhabitants.
Around 210 BC, about 8,000 terracotta soldiers were created to protect the Chinese emperor after his death. The huge "army" even includes chariots and horses.
The Greeks placed enormous value on knowledge, hungry to understand the world around them. Their philosophies and curious inquiries shaped much of modern Western society.
As dictator of the Roman Empire, Caesar made a lot of enemies — too many, in fact. He was assassinated by Roman senators who tried, and later failed, to restore the great Roman republic.
Around the sixth century, the Mayans were a sophisticated society in the area that’s now Guatemala. For centuries, they thrived, and then one day their population began to plummet and researchers still aren’t sure why.
For 30 centuries, Egypt was the center of the ancient world. Then Alexander the Great came along and crashed the party, demolishing the empire with his mighty army.
The Aztecs had elaborate ceremonies in which they sacrificed. The gruesome displays were meant to please the gods.
False. Roman historians produced heaps of documentation ... but the majority of those records were lost or destroyed over time. So researchers have to make educated guesses about the missing information regarding Roman society.
The Mayans were curious and intelligent people who developed a sophisticated writing system. They’re also renowned for their intricate structures and architecture.
White limestone adorned most of the exterior of the pyramids. Even from a distance, the reflected light from the limestone would have been dazzling to behold.
Herodotus was a thinker. He created a paradigm shift in the way humans approached the idea of history, and to this day we’re still affected by his insights.
The Colosseum is the massive ancient ampitheatre in Rome, capable of seating perhaps 80,000 spectators who came to witness gladiator combat and other dramatic performances.
In the early 1500s, Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez began his explorations of the New World. Using political cleverness and just a few hundred soldiers, he helped bring down the Aztec Empire.
Some of the stones in Stonehenge are about 13 feet tall and weigh 40 tons. It’s incredible that ancient people were able to move such massive stones without modern construction equipment.
They don’t call it "great" for nothin’. The Great Wall is about 13,000 miles long. Some areas are very primitive and run down. Others are constantly maintained, more to impress tourists than to repel invaders.
Mesopotamia, in the area of modern-day Iraq, was a birthplace of writing in about the 4th millennium. Writing, of course, caused drastic shifts in the ways human beings communicated with one another.
Cleopatra was the last ruler of the Ptolemic Kingdom of Egypt. Her empire fell to the Romans and she committed suicide rather than bear the weight of the defeat.
Humans began to understand metalworking thousands of years ago, around 3300 BC. Bronze was fabulously useful for all aspects of daily living, a big step up from rocks and stones.
In the Southwest of America, the Puebloans constructed fantastic cliff dwellings, many of which still stand today. The dwellings, high above valleys, were excellent places to defend family units from intruders.
After decades of research, some scientists believe the pyramid builders used some basic tricks (like wetting sand to reduce friction) to move huge stones used to make the Great Pyramid. That kind of cleverness meant the job was done in just 23 years.
The Fertile Crescent is an area of the Middle East where agriculture flourished in ancient times due to the proximity of major rivers. It is one of several "cradles of civilization" where societies first formed.
At around 1200 BC, violence and disarray and abandonment affected many societies that had flourished during the Bronze Age. The collapse of the Bronze Age marked a dark turn in human history.
English archaeologist Howard Carter spent years of his life exploring the ruins of ancient Egypt. In 1922, he found the mostly intact tomb of King Tutankhamen, or King Tut. It was one of the greatest finds of the 20th century.
Their tree bark paper was primitive but effective. Scientists have discovered numerous written documents from the days of the Mayans and hope that eventually they’ll better understand this ancient society.
After the collapse of the Bronze Age, humans continued tinkering with metallurgy, eventually mastering iron. Iron became a vital component for weapons and tools.