The Ancient Age is a broad historical period that begins around 4000 BC. and that ends in the year 476, with the fall of Rome. Due to the creation of writing, the Ancient Age supposes the closing of another historical stage such as Prehistory.
Thus, in the Ancient Age, society began to organize itself in urban centers, while political power was granted by kings. There will be great social differences, with certain layers of society in privileged positions and other strata without any rights (slaves), while polytheistic religions (various gods) predominate.
In this context, great civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome will emerge.
Characteristics of the Ancient Age
Among the common characteristics of the great civilizations of the Ancient Age are:
- Writing arises: Cuneiform writing appears in Mesopotamia, while the Egyptians use a system of hieroglyphics as a form of written communication. Although the Phoenicians created an alphabet of consonants to which the Greeks added vowels, different writing supports emerged. Thus, we find clay tablets, papyri and scrolls.
- Under the protection of the civilizations of the Ancient Age, the first legal systems collected in texts were developed. In this sense, it is worth highlighting the code of Hammurabi, from Babylon, which dates from 1750 BC. and it is one of the oldest legal texts.
- The monarchy holds political power. Kings enjoy absolute power that is transmitted in a hereditary way.
- In society there were certain layers with all kinds of rights and privileges such as monarchs and nobles, while slaves, subjected to their masters, lacked any type of rights. Precisely in civilizations like Greece and Rome, slaves made up the bulk of the labor force.
- Faced with political differences and conflicts, war is resorted to. Military campaigns, followed by looting and tribute to defeated peoples, were an important source of resources for the most powerful empires.
- Agriculture is the main economic activity and the guarantee of subsistence of the towns. On the other hand, trade will emerge through barter and the sale of surplus agricultural production. Likewise, the first currencies will emerge that, accepted as a means of payment, will boost trade.
- Generally, religions are polytheistic, that is, they profess faith in various gods. The first monotheistic religion to appear will be Judaism.
Great civilizations of the Ancient Age
Among the main civilizations of the Ancient Age are:
- Mesopotamia: arisen between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, it contributed writing to humanity, without forgetting the importance of the Hammurabi code, one of the first legal codes in history. The Mesopotamian civilization also owes the sexagesimal system, used to measure time.
- Egypt: Unified around 3150 B.C. it was ruled by a pharaoh with absolute power. Life revolved around the mighty and extensive River Nile and thanks to irrigation systems they were able to have a prosperous agriculture. Egypt was characterized by being a civilization of great military power capable of crushing its enemies, but with notable contributions to humanity such as hieroglyphic writing, without forgetting spectacular constructions such as the pyramids.
- Greece: In its culture are the roots of Western civilization and that it would have a great influence on another great civilization such as Rome. In it is located the origin of Philosophy, Politics and even events such as the Olympic Games. On the political level, the Greeks organized themselves into city-states, among which Athens and Sparta stand out, which maintained a strong rivalry. In fact, in the city of Athens democracy would emerge as a political system.
- Rome: It has its origin in the 8th century BC. and it went through different political stages, being a monarchy, republic and empire. Its great military power would make Rome the great power of the Mediterranean. The Roman way of life would expand through the conquered territories, bringing with it the assimilation of Latin as a language, the implantation of Roman laws and its important contributions to construction.
In short, the Ancient Age was a period in which writing emerged, legal systems developed, agriculture was the main economic activity, and it was driven by great civilizations such as Rome, Greece, and Egypt.