What Was the Most Populated Ancient Civilization?

When we think of ancient civilizations, we often imagine grand structures, rich cultures, and bustling societies. But have you ever wondered which ancient civilization was the most populated? Let’s explore some of the contenders and find out.

Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the earliest civilizations in South Asia. It flourished from around 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE and was located in what is now Pakistan and northwest India.

The civilization had a sophisticated urban planning system, with well-organized cities and large, centralized buildings. However, estimates suggest that its population may have only reached around five million people at its peak.

Chinese Civilization

China has a long and rich history dating back to prehistoric times, but it wasn’t until the Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE) that China became a unified empire. Over time, China’s population grew to become one of the largest in the world. However, pinpointing an exact population number for ancient China is difficult due to a lack of reliable records.

Han Dynasty

During the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), China experienced significant growth in population due to advancements in agriculture and technology. Estimates suggest that at its peak, the Han dynasty may have had a population of over 50 million people.

Roman Empire

The Roman Empire spanned across Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia during its height from 27 BCE to 476 CE. Its capital city Rome was one of the largest cities in the world at the time with an estimated population of over one million people. The empire’s total population is estimated to have been around 70 million people.

Inca Empire

The Inca Empire existed in South America from around 1438 CE until it was conquered by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. The empire was known for its impressive engineering feats, such as Machu Picchu, and its complex social organization. Estimates suggest that the Inca Empire’s population was around 12 million people at its peak.


While each of these ancient civilizations had their own unique qualities and achievements, it’s difficult to determine which civilization was the most populated. However, based on estimates, it seems that the Roman Empire may have had the largest population with around 70 million people. Regardless of which civilization holds this title, it’s clear that ancient societies were capable of supporting large populations and leaving behind lasting legacies.