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5 Ancient Civilizations You Don’t Know

Updated on May 16, 2013

When we talk about ancient civilizations, we normally think about the Vedic civilization, Egyptian Civilization or the Mayan civilization. But there are certain unknown ancient civilizations very few people may have heard about. Here are 5 such civilizations which you may have seldom heard of.

1) Olmec Civilization

You may know the Mayan civilization as probably the oldest civilization in Mesoamerica. However, very few know that the Olmec civilization predated the Mayan civilization. The civilization was at its peak during 1200 – 400 BC. The key centres of this civilization were Mexican cities of Veracruz and Tabasco, the Yucatan peninsula and the east of Oaxaca. Olmec is a civilization that is shrouded in mystery to this day. The Olmecs have known to have built giant pyramids.

But the main reason for the mysterious nature of this civilization is the enormous stone heads made of white and black stones which seem to be representing white and black people with some kind of helmets. Naturally, the first question that would come to anyone’s mind is how African people were represented by the Olmecs thousands of years ago even before African slaves were brought to America.

2) Hittite Empire

The Hittite empire was established by the ancient Anatolian people around 18th century BC and reached its zenith during the mid-14th century BC. It encompassed most of Asia Minor, and parts of northern Levant as well as upper Mesopotamia. The Hittites had a very able army which made efficient us of chariots for their era. Though they belonged to the Bronze Age, they can be considered as the forerunners of the Iron Age. They manufactured iron artefacts and goods during 14th century BC. This empire came to an end around 1180 BC during the collapse of the Bronze Age amidst general turmoil and the sudden appearance of the Sea Peoples. The empire split into various Neo-Hittite city-states.

3) Çatalhöyük

This is another unknown ancient civilization and is considered to be the world’s oldest city (which keeps changing due to newer discoveries). It is considered to have belonged to a large unknown ancient agricultural civilization thriving in what is today south-central Turkey. The civilization’s existence has been dated back to 9,000 – 7,000 years. The structures at this city appear quite interesting. According to excavations, no roads were built. The houses were built next to each other, and they were entered through holes in the rough by the help of ladders or sidewalks that traversed their roofs. The people were known to have cultivated everything, from wheat to almonds. The civilization was pre-literate and pre-Iron age, but shows signs of a sophisticated society. What happened to the civilization? No one knows.

4) Moche Civilization

The Moche civilization, also called Mochica was a pre-Columbian culture that flourished in the Northern part of Peru. The culture flourished from 100 – 800 AD, though some scholars give it a wider time span. The cultural sphere is found to be centred around several valleys on Peru’s northern coast. There is contention among scholars that the culture wasn’t politically organized under one monolithic empire, but existed as autonomous polities that shared a common culture. The culture was specifically noted for their painted ceramics, irrigation systems, gold work and monumental constructions. The real time and reason for the demise of the culture is unknown. But it said that some of the Moche poilities survived in Moche valleys and Jequetepeque valley beyond 650 AD. The possible cause of demise is found to be climatic changes and fights within factions to gain control over scarce resources.

5) Osirian Civilization

We have read that before Egypt was ruled by pharaohs, it was ruled by gods. No one knows for sure who these “gods” were, though the most common guess would be that they were Osiris, Isis, Horus, Seth and the lot. Whether there were gods or not, there did exist a pre-dynastic civilization in Egypt and the Mediterranean. This was called the Osirian civilization. It is believed that the floods that destroyed Atlantis slowly flooded the Mediterranean basin, destroying some of Osirian’s greatest cities. The theory is known to have explained the existence of some strange megalithic remains in the Mediterranean. Whatever the truth be, archaeological studies have shown that there are more than 200 sunken cities in the Mediterranean region. According to this theory, the Egyptian civilization along with Minoan and Mycenean cultures were remnants of this great civilization.

These are just a fraction of many unknown ancient civilizations that have been discovered. Older cultures keep surfacing with newer archaeological discoveries.


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    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Thief12 and Cfin: Thanks a lot for commenting guys. There are a lot of mysteries yet to be decoded :)

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Cool thread. I hadn't heard of #3 and #4.

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 4 years ago from The World we live in

      I would still like to know who built Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth some 5,000 years ago. This is a great hub and creates thought. Thanks.

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      PlatinumOwl4: Thanks again for the comment :)

    • platinumOwl4 profile image

      platinumOwl4 4 years ago

      Number three is the only one I had yet to encounter. Thanks for posting It now I continue my research into lost civilization and the knowledge contained therein.

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      ponder: Thanks a lot for the comment. Glad you liked the article :)

    • ponder profile image

      Irma Cowthern 4 years ago from Los Angeles,CA

      This is an amazing article...

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Rachael: That was one of my reasons as well :D One of my interest is Ancient history.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 4 years ago from Illinois

      This stuff is exactly why I want to get a Master's in Archaeology after graduation. :)

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      tristan 4 years ago

      i only knew of Olmec civilizations

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      kristyleann: Absolutely. In fact, the Indian civilization was dated just around 3000 BC. But with the discovery of the mythological city of Dwaraka (apparently known to have sunken by floods) , India's past has been pushed to at least 7000 BC now. Who knows, one day they may prove that Atlantis did exist before 10000 BC :)

      FitnezzJim: There are quite a lot around the world, we haven't either heard of or just being discovered (they may have just been mythological cities). Of course, the major known ones are still the Indian, Sumerian, Egyptian and Meso-American. About Indonesia, Malaysia and the sort, most of them either belonged to the Indian (or Vedic) culture or were heavily influenced by it (the fact that you still get to hear Indian names pretty much tell that they may have been part of India or neighbors, even up to Cambodia). In fact, Cambodia was known as Kamboja in Hindu texts and the Caspian Sea came from the word Kashyapa samudra (samudra meaning sea in Sanskrit). So, it does seem that most of Asia was influenced by the Indian civilization in ancient times.

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      rrasta1: Thanks a lot for your comment :)

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      This is interesting, the Hittites, Olmec, and Osirian were familiar to me, but the others. Who knew? Are they recent additions to what we know of History, or just not so well-known?

      I noted those mentioned are from the America's and Mediterranean area. What about Sumer and other Euro-Asian civilizations? What about Africa, Australia, and Indonesian areas?

    • kristyleann profile image

      Kristy LeAnn 4 years ago from Princeton, WV

      I had heard of the Hittite Empire but the rest of these were completely new to me. It makes me wonder how many other sophisticated civilizations there were that we still don't even know about.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      The information about these lost civilizations is great.

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Thanks a lot MysticMoonlight and Lady Guinevere :)

      Malin: thanks a lot for the appreciative comment :)

    • Malin profile image

      Malin 4 years ago from California

      Interesting hub. I have an A.A. in Anthropology, and even I didn't know about the Çatalhöyük! Great job. Voted up.

    • profile image

      MysticMoonlight 4 years ago

      Interesting Hub. This is good information and it brings attention to the lesser known civilizations that are out there and will for the ones that are still yet to be discovered as well.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 4 years ago from West By God

      Thanks for this information. Great hub, voted up interesting and useful. I will be sharing this too.