How Many Ancient Civilization Are There?

Ancient civilizations have always fascinated us, and for good reason. These were the societies that laid the foundations of our modern world, creating some of the most impressive architectural, artistic, and philosophical wonders of their time.

But just how many ancient civilizations are there? Let’s explore.

What is an Ancient Civilization?

Before we dive into the number of ancient civilizations, it’s important to define what we mean by the term. An ancient civilization is typically defined as a complex society that has developed a high level of culture and technology. These societies usually have a system of writing, advanced agriculture, social hierarchy and division of labor.

How Many Ancient Civilizations Were There?

The answer to this question varies depending on who you ask. Some scholars argue that there were only a handful of truly ancient civilizations, while others believe that there were many more.

The “Big 4” Ancient Civilizations

Many historians agree that there were four major ancient civilizations:

  • Mesopotamia: This civilization was located in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern-day Iraq and Kuwait. It is believed to have emerged around 4000 BCE.
  • Ancient Egypt: This civilization was located along the Nile River in northeastern Africa.

    It is believed to have emerged around 3100 BCE.

  • Indus Valley Civilization: This civilization was located in modern-day Pakistan and northwest India, along the Indus River valley. It is believed to have emerged around 2600 BCE.
  • Ancient China: This civilization emerged along the Yellow River valley in China around 2100 BCE.

Other Notable Ancient Civilizations

While the “big 4” are often cited as the most important ancient civilizations, there were many others that played important roles in world history. Some of these include:

  • Ancient Greece: This civilization emerged around 800 BCE and had a profound impact on Western culture and philosophy.
  • Ancient Rome: Rome emerged around 753 BCE and went on to become one of the most powerful empires in world history.
  • Ancient Persia: This civilization emerged in modern-day Iran around 550 BCE and played a major role in shaping Middle Eastern culture and politics.
  • Ancient Maya: This civilization emerged in modern-day Mexico around 2000 BCE and developed a complex system of writing, mathematics, and astronomy.
  • Inca Empire: This civilization emerged in modern-day Peru around 1400 CE and built an impressive network of roads, architecture, and art.


In conclusion, there is no clear answer to how many ancient civilizations there were. Depending on who you ask, the number can range from just a handful to dozens.

However, what is clear is that these societies have had an immeasurable impact on human history, laying the foundation for many of our modern institutions and ideas. By studying these ancient civilizations, we can gain a deeper understanding of our past while also learning valuable lessons for the future.