98% of people can't answer these questions about the ancient world? Can you?


By: Isadora Teich

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

The ancient world is one of our favorite subjects here at How Stuff Works, if only for the fact that it's... well... cool. No, we don't believe that aliens helped the Egyptians and the Mayans create advanced civilizations, and if you do think that, then you might want to navigate your way to a different quiz, because this one is actually about ancient history. If you're with us, and you think history is cool, then proceed. Let's find out if you really know as much as you think you do about the ancient world.

Ancient human history is so full of rich tradition and storied adventures that it's almost mythological. After all, who doesn't think that ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece were pretty interesting? And, with the discovery and uncovering of the city of Pompeii, buried in 79 AD by the ash of Mt. Vesuvius, historians have been able to study human life as it was, frozen in time, thousands of years ago. Now, who doesn't think that's really cool?

If you are a history buff, and you think that the ancient world is as cool as we do, take this quiz to find out if you can hang with the How Stuff Works history gang.

The ancient Egyptians built ______.

Ancient Egyptians are the most famous pyramid builders of the ancient world. Most pyramids were built as tombs for Pharoahs and their royal families and more than 100 have been found in Egpyt.


Which ancient ruler was famously assassinated?

Caesar emerged as dictator of Rome for life in 45 B.C. in the midst of massive turmoil. He was murdered by a group of his enemies less than a year later.


Where was Ancient Egypt?

Ancient Egypt flourished along the Nile River. Today, the area surrounding what was once there is known as the country of Egypt.


Many ancient civilizations sprung up around _______.

Rivers provided places to hunt and fish, as well as fertile farmland to grow crops. Many early civilizations sprung up around river valley systems. These include both the Mesopotamian Civilization, which existed in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, and the Egyptian Civilization in the Nile Valley.


Zeus was an important God in which ancient civilization?

Ancient Greece was a highly sophisticated society, making numerous advancements art and technology. This period lasted from about 800 B.C. to 500 B.C.


What is the name for multigenerational family of rulers?

A powerful family that rules for multiple generations is called a dynasty. Both ancient China and Egypt were ruled by dynasties for thousands of years.


Which of these was not a popular religion or philosophy in ancient China?

Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism were all popular in ancient China. They all had different impacts on the structure and values of ancient Chinese society.


Which country has the longest continuous written history of any country on Earth?

China has the longest continuous written history of any country on Earth. It has 3,500 years worth of written history.


What were the rulers of Ancient Egypt called?

Pharaohs ruled Egypt for thousands of years, from roughly 3100 B.C. until it was taken under Roman rule in 30 B.C. There were over 30 dynasties and 100 Pharaohs.


What language was spoken by subjects of the Roman empire?

Latin was spoken throughout Rome's vast empire. It led to the development of the Romance languages, such as Spanish, Romanian and Italian.


What was one of the oldest civilizations in the Americas?

Evidence suggests that one of the earliest civilizations in the Americas was that of the Olmecs. From 1500 to 200 B.C. the Olmecs built cities along the Gulf of Mexico.


Areas called "The Cradle of Civilization" are places civilization is thought to have_____.

Mesopotamia, which existed in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East, is often referred to as "The Cradle of Civilization" or "The Fertile Crescent." There are numerous areas like this around the world, where various civilizations took root.


Who were the first ancient people to drink tea?

The Chinese were the first people to drink tea. In its early days, tea was only drunk medicinally.


What famous find cracked the code and allowed people to read Egyptian hieroglyphics for the first time?

The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799 by a French soldier during Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign. It has the same passage written on it in Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. It was the key to reading Egyptian hieroglyphics, knowledge which had been lost for about 2,000 years.


In ancient China civilization began around _______.

Organized Chinese civilization began in the Yellow River valley. Archaeological evidence suggests it began around 2000 B.C.


Which ancient place is known as the birthplace of democracy?

Ancient Greece is known as the birthplace of democracy. While many other places relied on kings and monarchy, governing was done differently in ancient Greek city-states.


Osiris was the god of the underworld in which ancient mythology?

Husband of the goddess Isis, Osiris was the god of death and regeneration to ancient Egyptians. He was often portrayed as a man dressed as a pharaoh with green skin.


Popular emperors in ancient Rome were often considered to be ________.

Popular Roman emperors were deified. This tradition began with Emperor Augustus, whose rule ended a century of turmoil and started a famous period of Roman peace and prosperity, called the Pax Romana.


Who did the Chinese hope to keep out by building The Great Wall?

The Chinese built a wall thousands of miles long in the hopes of keeping out the Mongols. It didn't work. The Mongols conquered China for a period and established the Yuan Dynasty.


Where does the goddess Isis originally come from?

Isis was first worshiped in Ancient Egypt. In different forms, she has been worshiped throughout the Roman Empire and is still worshiped by many pagans around the world today.


Who were the first people to create a city-based civilization?

Around 3300 B.C. in Mesopotamia, the Sumerians took the first steps toward city life. They established ancient cities like Ur and Lagash.


Many people believe that the Maya civilization ended due to:

While many people believe that Maya civilization ended due to Spanish conquest, this is false. When the Spanish came to Mesoamerica they found the great Maya cities abandoned.


Was human sacrifice common in the ancient world?

While it varies from civilization to civilization, ritual human sacrifice is thought to have occurred across the ancient world for different reasons. For example, the Maya practiced it religiously and in China slaves and concubines were commonly killed and buried with their masters in order to keep them company in death.


What was the world's first empire?

Some consider the Akkadian Empire, which encompassed a large portion of the Middle East, to be the world's first empire. It lasted for about two centuries, from 2300 BC to 2100 BC.


Ancient Egyptian civilization is divided into three eras: the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the ________.

The New Kingdom was the final period during which Egypt was a major power. Lasting from roughly 1565 BC to 1085 BC, this period included the rule of Egypt's first female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut.


The writing of which ancient civilization has yet to be deciphered?

Despite being one of the largest ancient civilizations, little is known about the Harappan civilization that thrived in the Indus Valley, which is in Pakistan and Western India. This is because their system of writing still cannot be understood.


What event do many scholars use as the cutoff point for ancient history?

The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 A.D. While the eastern half of it continued on, many scholars use this point as the end of ancient history.


What was the longest lasting empire of all time?

The Qin dynasty united China in 221 B.C. After that, emperors ruled China for over 2,000 years.


Who was the last Pharaoh?

After the death of Cleopatra VII Philopator of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, in 30 B.C, Egypt became a province of Rome. While she is one of the most famous Pharaohs, she was one of the least powerful, as the title meant less than it had before her rule.


What was the only way to avoid the Maya version of hell Xibalba?

The Maya underworld Xibalba means "Place of Fright." As a part of the Mayan circle of life on a soul's journey to paradise, the only way to avoid the demons there is through death in battle, dying in childbirth, as a human sacrifice or suicide by hanging.


Which early civilization do historians think was the largest?

The mysterious Harappan Civilization in northern India appears to be the largest. Evidence has been found of planned cities that historians think could have supported 80,000 people.


Ancient Indian civilization was unique because it didn't have:

Despite being the largest ancient civilization and having large planned cities, it looks like the Harappans did not build any monuments. While ancient Egyptian pyramids and Chinese temples have stood the test of time, no evidence of monuments or ornate ceremonial structures have been found in the Indus River Valley.


What group laid the foundations for a number of ancient Mesoamerican societies?

No one knows where the Olmecs came from or what happened to them, but their influence can be seen in all the ancient Mesoamerican societies that followed. These include the Zapotec and Maya.


The most important surviving Maya religious book is the _______.

Popul Vuh can be translated as "Book of the People." It contains a number of mesoamerican myths including things like cosmology and creation.


Which ancient civilization had a surprisingly intricate court system?

This mysterious West African civilization appeared around 900 B.C. only to suddenly disappear around 200 A.D. Its complex legal system predates Western law.


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