10 Most Incredible Ancient Civilizations Discovered!

Friday, September 24, 2021

1: Hegra

Hegra is an ancient city in Saudi Arabia that looks an awful lot like Petra in nearby Jordan. It is an impressive ruin carved into the side of a massive rock in the middle of a barren desert. The ruin was left behind by a civilization known as the Nabataean. If you haven't heard of these guys before, you're not alone. Even though they were an intriguing civilization that thrived throughout Arabia, there isn't much known about them. They lived in the desert and practiced a nomadic lifestyle before they turned into merchants that controlled the spice trade going through Arabia to places like Egypt and Mesopotamia. These were the people who led camel caravans filled with peppercorn, sugar, and cotton through the desert to be traded to kingdoms in the Mediterranean. The Nabataeans were also the suppliers of things like frankincense and myrrh, which were crucial for religious ceremonies farther west. These people prospered in the desert from around 400 BC until 100 AD. Everything was going just fine until the Roman Empire annexed much of their land and absorbed the Nabataeans. By the time the Roman Empire fell, Nabataean was a distant memory. Which of these ancient people surprised you the most?

2: The Nok

The Nok culture lived in what is today Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the most populous nations in Africa today and one of the strongest, and this history of strength and perseverance goes back thousands of years. The Nok culture was one of the first in Africa to master ironworking. They left behind amazing relics of artistic value and some pretty impressive terracotta sculptures. However, not much is known about these people or their belief systems. According to National Geographic, the Nok culture existed from 500 BC to 200AD. They farmed crops, they figured out how to use iron tools, and they mastered the art of sculpting. Up until 1943, this culture had been completely unknown even to the locals. Near the modern town of Nok, archaeologist Bernard found the sculptures of human heads, animals, and humanoid figurines with massive, triangular-shaped eyes that almost look like aliens. These weird sculptures have been found throughout an area of about 30,000 square miles. Archaeologists have even analyzed the clay used to build the sculptures, determining that all the clay came from a single source that was probably controlled by a central authority. As for ruins – well, not much has been found. The origin of the Nok people is still a mystery, as basically nothing except their bizarre sculptures have been found.

3: India’s Illuminati

There was once a secret order of people in India that many people today have never heard of. This secret cult preceded any evidence of the Illuminati. The group was founded by the great emperor Ashoka around the year 270 BC. Ashoka ruled the Maurya Dynasty in India and is considered one of the greatest Indian rulers in history. As far as the legend goes, Ashoka formed the secret society of The Nine Unknown. Nine unknown men were chosen to preserve secret knowledge and prevent it from getting into the hands of the public. Each person was given a powerful book of knowledge to memorize and safeguard. Some claims say that the books contained knowledge of things like time travel, aliens, and other revelations that could spark panic if unleashed on the people. But just whatever happened to these nine unknown men? It's believed that they kept their books of knowledge until such a time when they needed successors. Then, each member found another worthy individual and passed on the responsibility, and that has been happening for over 2000 years. There's absolutely zero evidence of this except hearsay and vague historical records, but that's how the legend goes.

4: Dilmun Empire

The Dilmun civilization was located on the Arabian Peninsula and is significantly less famous than the other big civilizations that sprang up around the same time, such as Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. Today, the ruins of the Dilmun civilization can be found in Bahrain. But what’s really interesting about Dilmun is that it was kind of a mythological place in ancient times. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, arguably the first great work of literature ever written, the hero must seek out Ut-napishtim to gain immortality, and Ut-napishtim hails from Dilmun. Dilmun is mentioned in the myth of Enki and Ninhursag as well, with the nation being depicted as an earthly paradise. But Dilmun was by no means mythical. It was a very real civilization that has even been found in records from Sumer and Babylon. The Dilmun people also traded with the Indus Valley people. But tracking down the actual archaeological evidence has been a bit trickier. Dilmun was definitely part of Bahrain but may have also stretched into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Excavations in the 1950s revealed an ancient harbor that may have been the capital of Dilmunnear the current village of Saar, removing any doubt once and for all that Dilmun was indeed one of the first major civilizations.

5: Achaemenid Empire

At around the time the Assyrians were building their new empires, a group of tribes was settling what is today Iran. These people were breaking away from their old nomadic lifestyles to start cities. The tribes came together and formed what we know of today as the Achaemenid Empire or the First Persian Empire. It was founded by Cyrus the Great and reached its peak under the rule of Xerxes I – you know, the bad guy from the movie 300Xerxes conquered almost all of ancient Greece, even taking the city of Athens in 480 BC!! At that point, the Achaemenid Empire stretched all across the Balkans and as far as the Indus valley, where the Indus civilization once flourished that I just told you about. One of the reasons the Achaemenid Empire was so impressive is that the world had never seen an empire of such magnitude!!! It covered an area of about 2.1 million square miles – and amazingly, it came about simply because of the Iranian tribes who settled what became known as Persia in the 7th century BCE. Within just 300 years, the tribes had transformed into the greatest empire on Earth. But other than just conquering pretty much everyone, what was the Achaemenid Empire known for? Well, they began to create roads across the world, they started the first postal system, and they were one of the first people to use an official language across all their territories. They also developed civil services, maintained the largest standing army on the planet, and they would become an inspiration to Alexander a Great many years later when he conquered the Achaemenid Empire in 330 BC. 

6: The Indus Utopía

The Indus civilization thrived for roughly700 years without having a single war. Archaeologists have referred to this civilization as the first paradise on Earth. They had no inequality, no royalty, no weapons, and apparently no way to defend themselves since it looks like they didn’t need to. They also had 54 cities that were governed by educated officials and a prince who was elected to serve for life. These people saw no glory in fighting and may have been the first practitioners of Hinduism. The Indus people lived from between 2600 to 1900 BC, occupying roughly 1000 settlements in what is today Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. The remains of the civilization were only recently discovered in the 1920s, with all signs pointing to an extremely advanced society and one of the greatest in history. They had a trade network that stretched to the Arabian Sea, and archaeologists have even found artifacts from the Indus civilization in Mesopotamian cities like Akkad and Ur. The biggest Indus cities were Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, and even though they were built thousands of years ago they were extremely advanced even by today’s standards. They had streets that were properly planned, sewage systems that actually worked, and a huge brick water tank called the Great Bath, which should be considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Indus Valley civilization even figured out the written word, creating their very own mysterious script that has left archaeologists stumped because they can't decipher it. But sadly, society fell off the map about 4000 years ago and nobody knows why. It could be that other civilizations saw their peaceful ways as weakness and destroyed them but for now, the reasons remain unclear.

7: The Nuragic Civilization

The Nuragic Civilization lived on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean. But even though we know of their existence, we don't know much about what they did, who they were, or even where they went. Archaeologists have found structures, graves, pieces of art, and figurines, and yet there is a huge gap in the knowledge of the Nuragic. We know that they lived during the Bronze Age and Iron Age and that their best-known structures left behind were the Nuraghi towers. There are about 7000 of these towers scattered across Sardinia, though at the time the civilization was thriving, there may have been up to 30,000 on the island. That’s a lot for a limited space!! The towers were all circular, each with its own flat rooftop and the earliest one found dates back to the 18th century BC. What the towers were used for is still up for debate, with some saying they were used as rooftops and others saying they were used as terraces. They may have even been dwellings or just silos for storing liquids and dry foods. It’s hard to say since some of them were up to 90 feet tall. Besides the towers, the Nuragic left behind giant megalithic graves, with each one stuffed with about a dozen bodies and several hundred graves in a single cemetery. Some of these burial chambers go 60 feet underground. Scholars believe the Nuragic thought that their dead would be transformed into gods when buried so deep underground. But as for what the civilization believed in, nobody really knows. They lived on the island for about 5000 years and then vanished mysteriously for unknown reasons, just before the Carthaginian conquests of the 6th century BC.

8: The Gladiatrix

do most people know, there was a group of ancient people called the gladiatrix. They weren't a race of people or the byproduct of a mysterious society. Instead, they were the female equivalent of male Roman gladiators. The gladiatrix or female gladiators would battle against each other or wild animals during arena games and celebrations. But don't get too excited just yet, as these ladies of the ring weren't treated quite as well as the female fighters of today. There wasn't even a word in Latin for a gladiatrix, it’s a modern term that was made up. The gladiatrix began as more of a derogatory or joking event to entertain the spectators which were mostly men. In reality, they were considered quite rare. The Roman poet Decimus Junius Juvenalis said that gladiatrix trained using the same methods and weapons as their male counterparts, though no records have been found in any of the gladiator training schools that talk about women. But here's where things get really odd with the gladiatrix. Unlike gladiators who were mostly slaves, gladiatrix could be women of any class, both high and low. It seems any woman who wanted to fight could be trained and let loose in the arena. This went on until about 200 AD when Emperor Septimius Severus banned women from the arena, claiming that too many jokes were being made about upper-class women, so no more women were allowed to participate in the games.

9: Unknown Kingdom Archaeologists

working in Turkey has just discovered previously unknown people who may have played a major role in the ancient world. They ruled a massive part of what is today Turkey and if the archaeological evidence is to be believed, they even defeated the notorious King Midas. Remember him? He was said to have the “golden touch” where everything turned to gold! Professor James Osborne from the Oriental Institute went on record saying, “We had no idea about this kingdom.”It was completely unknown!! But everything changed when a farmer found a strange large stone on his property. He was digging in a nearby canal when he found the stone and noticed it had mysterious writing on it. At the time of his discovery, there were researchers nearby exploring a prehistoric mound site. So, he told them about it and they came over to take a look. What they found shocked them to the core! The stone was sticking out of the water and they had to wade into the canal up to their waists to inspect it. The archaeologists recognized the writing on the stone immediately as Luwian, an ancient language used in both the Bronze Age and Iron Age in Turkey. It turned out that the inscription was written by an unknown king named Hartapu, and he was boasting how he had defeated King Midas and the Kingdom of Phrygia. Considering Phrygia and King Midas was quite powerful back in their time, whoever these ancient people were, led by the mysterious King Hartapu, must have been quite fierce. So what happened to these powerful lost people? Why have we never heard of them before?? And that my friends, remains a mystery!

10: The Vinca

The Vinca civilization proves that women have been dressing to impress for at least 7500 years. That is, according to the Neolithic figurines found at the Plocnik Archaeological site in Serbia. Recent excavations at this site, which was once part of Europe’s biggest prehistoric civilization called the Vinca, point to an ancient metropolis with a large degree of sophistication and an unusual lust for fashion. The Neolithic settlement is situated in a valley, deep in the wilderness of what is today modern Serbia. The figurines discovered here display young women beautifully dressed in miniskirts and short tops and even wearing bracelets around their arms. The tribe that made these figurines is unknown, but they definitely lived sometime between 5400 and 4700 BC. They practiced art and metallurgy, and they even built a thermal well near their settlement that could be the oldest spa in Europe. According to local archaeologist Julka Kuzmanovic-Cvetkovic, they also produced about 60 different forms of pottery and figures, to represent their deities and probably just because they liked art. But how could the tribe be unknown when they were part of the Vinca civilization? It's because we know the culture flourished in what is today Bosnia, Romania, Serbia, and Macedonia from 5500 to 4000 BC. The culture was named Vinca after the small village near Belgrade where archaeologists found eight Neolithic villages. These were all part of the mysterious Vinca culture, one of the oldest civilizations in Europe, but scientists don't actually know the names of the individual tribes, who their leaders were, or even what gods they worshipped. We just know they really liked fashion!!

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