Can You Match the Historical Fact to the Ancient Civilization?


By: Bambi Turner

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

The current cultures and country boundaries of our planet are a relatively new phenomenon. Over thousands of years, groups of people built great civilizations, many of which live on today only in history books. Take our quiz to see if you can identify these past civilizations from just a single fact.

The people of this ancient civilization are best remembered for their mummies and mighty pyramids.

The ancient Egyptian civilization dominated northern Africa from around 3000 BC to 30 BC, when it was finally conquered by the Romans. The people of this civilization left behind plenty of information about themselves, from pyramids housing mighty pharaohs to perfectly preserved mummies and countless hieroglyphs that tell their story.


Around 20 percent of all people on the planet belonged to this civilization at its peak in the first century AD.

The Roman Empire began with the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC, and ended with the collapse of classical antiquity around the 5th century AD. At its peak in the first century AD, between 50 and 90 million people -- 20 percent of the Earth's population -- were part of the Roman Empire.


These ancient people drew enormous figures in the ground that can still be seen from the air today.

The Nazca civilization consisted of around 25,000 people who lived in southern Peru between 200 BC and 600 AD. While they created rich pottery and textiles, they are best known for the Nazca lines -- geoglyphs in the ground, some of which are miles long.


Which civilization developed the mysterious Linear A language?

The Minoans lived on the island of Crete between 2600 and 1100 BC. They left behind the rich archaeological site at Knossos, as well as a language known as Linear A, which scientists are still working to decipher.


Which of these is considered to be the first civilization ever established?

Ancient Mesopotamia is often considered the very first civilization mankind ever built. It was established around 3500 BC in the countries now known as Iran, Syria and Turkey.


This Mesopotamian civilization endured all the way through the 7th century AD, while Mesopotamia itself collapsed around 500 BC.

The Assyrian civilization was centered around the capital city of Assur. While the city itself was established around 2600 BC, the Assyrian civilization dates between the 7th century BC and the 7th century AD. It was located on parts of what is now Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran.


These ancient people lived in the country now called Nigeria.

The Nok civilization endured in what is now Nigeria from around 1000 BC to 500 AD. In 1928, archaeologists found the first hidden cache of artifacts left behind by the Nok, which included not only iron and stone tools, but also magnificent terracotta statues.


What ancient civilization called northern Peru home?

The Moche lived in northern Peru between 100 and 700 AD. They left behind evidence that they used molds to mass-produce pottery. They also left mummies, including those of a surprising number of female rulers.


We don't know what this jaguar-worshiping people called themselves, but today they are called this -- after the large archaeological site they left behind.

The people now called the Chavin -- they didn't leave a record of what they called themselves -- lived in northern Peru between 900 and 200 BC. Their civilization pre-dates the Moche culture in the area, and there is evidence that they worshiped the jaguar.


This civilization was located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

The Zapotec lived in the Mexican state of Oaxaca between 400 BC and 1500 AD. Perhaps the most memorable evidence they left behind of their culture was a logosyllabic writing style, in which a picture or glyph represented a syllable, rather than an entire word or concept.


This civilization endured for more than 2,500 years, and is now known as Iran.

Originally known as Achaemenids when it was established back in the 6th century BC, Persia endured through the 20th century. Since the 1930s, Persia has been known as Iran.


This was the largest pre-Columbian empire in the Americans.

The Inca civilization endured from 1438 to 1532 AD. It was located in what is now Peru, Ecuador and Chile. This civilization was at its peak just as Columbus was sailing the ocean blue in the 1490s.


These ancient people built both the Parthenon and The Temple of Athena.

The ancient Greeks endured from around the 12th century BC to 600 AD. During the 5th century BC, they built such magnificent structures as the Parthenon and The Temple of Athena, both of which endure to this day.


This civilization established a capital city at Tenochtitlan in what is now Mexico.

The Aztecs were at the peak of their power between 1345 and 1521 in what is now Mexico. They spoke a language known as Nahuatl and established a capital city at Tenochtitlan. The empire was destroyed with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.


This ancient civilization invented paper, silk and gunpowder.

The ancient Chinese, known as Han China, lived along the Yellow and Yangtze rivers around 1600 to 1046 BC. They invented not only paper and silk, but also gunpowder and many other innovative items.


Which civilization predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012?

The ancient Mayan empire endured from 2600 BC to 900 AD on the Yucatan Peninsula. More than 20 million people belonged to this civilization, which was so skilled at creating solar calendars that many people believed their end-of-the-world prediction back in 2012.


This civilization was also known as Harappan.

The Indus Valley civilization was located in what is now northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The people, who were also known as the Harappan, lived in this area between 2600 and 1900 BC.


This civilization is famous for building colossal stone heads.

The Olmecs lived in south-central Mexico between 1500 BC and 400 BC. They were the oldest known civilization in the western hemisphere to have a system of writing, and left behind many large stone heads.


This civilization developed a language known as Linear B.

The Mycenaean were heavily influenced by the Minoans, an earlier civilization that also lived on the island of Crete. The Mycenaean lived on the island from around 1600 to 1100 BC, and established a language known as Linear B. Unlike Linear A, Linear B has largely been deciphered.


Which civilization lived in what is now Sudan?

The Kush civilization endured in what is now Sudan from 2000 BC to 350 AD. They shared many cultural similarities to the Egyptians, and in fact once conquered Egypt themselves before they were later defeated by the Assyrians.


Which of these civilizations is known for their enormous stone obelisks?

The Axum or Aksum civilization was centered in what is now Ethiopia. It endured from 100 to 940 AD, and is known as an important trading city in the ancient world, as well as for the impressive stone obelisks its people constructed.


This civilization spread across western and central Europe between 1300 BC and the 1st century BC.

The Celts were famous for detailed metalwork made from bronze and gold. Their civilization spread from Portugal to Turkey until much of the area was conquered by the Romans.


This ancient civilization was also known as the Kingdom of Van.

The Urartu, who actually called themselves the Kingdom of Van, worshiped a god named Haldi and built extensive irrigation systems in the countries now known as Armenia and Turkey between 860 and 590 BC.


What civilization developed a 22-letter alphabet written in cuneiform?

The Phoenicians lived on the coast of Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Turkey between 1500 and 300 BC. They were successful merchants and traders, and relied on a 22-letter alphabet to conduct trade and record transactions.


Which of these civilizations fought against the Greeks in the Greek-Punic wars?

The civilization of Carthage dominated northern Africa and the Iberian coast from the 7th through the 3rd centuries BC. Carthage fought the Greeks in the Punic Wars, and was eventually destroyed and conquered in the 3rd Punic War.


This civilization lives in what is now Tuscany in Italy.

The Etruscans lived in what is now Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio from 768 to 264 BC. They are known for their rich trade routes, and for their language, which still hasn't been fully deciphered. They were absorbed into the Roman Empire in 264 BC.


Which of these civilizations stretched across the western Balkans?

The Illyrians live in the western Balkans, in what is now Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia from around the 4th century BC to the 2nd century BC, when the region was conquered by the Romans.


Which of these civilizations lived in Polynesia?

The Lapita civilization lived in Polynesia and Micronesia between 1600 and 500 BC. They left behind pottery with a distinct geometric design, and were known as excellent seamen.


The capital city of this civilization was the largest city on Earth in both 1700 BC and 600 BC.

Part of Mesopotamia, Babylonia was centered around the city of Babylon, which was the largest city in the world in 1700 BC and then again around 600 BC. Built on the Euphrates River, Babylon was home to 200,000 people at its peak.


The people of this civilization were also known as the Hispani.

Also known as the Hispani, the Iberian civilization endured from the 7th to the 1st century BC. The people were a mix of Celt, Greek and Phoenician heritage, and were known for crafting fine metalwork and breeding miniature horses.


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