A journey back in time, to the most ancient historical places on the Earth

A journey back in time- 16 most ancient historic places on the Earth

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Many people think that geography and history are separate subjects, only because we study them in this way at school. But they are much more related than one can imagine. If you are a traveler and explorer, no matter how much you love geography, you simply can’t skip history. So, let’ make another journey, aimed at the most ancient historical places on our planet. It would be not just traveling in geography, but also travel in time.

Let’s define human history

First, before we start our journey, we have to define what we are looking for. We all know that history is full of questions. Even the recent history is often changed and twisted by biased people, and it has been no different in ancient times. But the artifacts remain and they are obvious.

History and Pre-History

However, there is a big mystery that exists now. Have you heard the terms „history” and „pre-history”? We all have studied in school slightly different things, depending on which country we have grown, but in general, all historical versions agree that the most ancient civilizations are those in the Middle East and East Asia, like Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and ancient China.

But there are older remnants, discovered in various places on the Earth, dated back many thousands of years ago, much earlier than the known civilizations mentioned above. There are no names, no written history, nothing to tell us who were these people. The scientists calculate numbers of 7000, 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 200 000, and more years ago, at the same time following Darwin’s theory of human origin.

Hieroglyphs from Egypt
Hieroglyphs from Egypt

Darwin’s theary of human origin

According to this theory, the humans have come from apes some 2 000 000 years ago, about 1 996 000 years lived almost like animals. And only the last 4000 years (ok, let’s say 5000-6000 years- but it again makes no more than 0,3% of the whole human timeline), they suddenly became modern humans and built the civilizations that we know today, with surprisingly more known details, compared to the time before. This mysterious fact makes the boundary between the history and pre-history. This boundary is somewhere between 2500 and 4000 BC (yes, even the exact time of this boundary is a subject of debate).

The Bible

What do we have? We have archeological artifacts, we have the Bible, and we have some folklore stories, which by the way in many cases have something derived from the Bible. Also, we have some other scientific discoveries, hypothesis, and logical calculations, based on all of the above.

The Bible doesn’t say when the Earth was created, it only talks about a new era started on the Earth (and it started for 7 days) somewhere around 4000 BC, then about a Great Flood, happened 1656 years later (which means somewhere around 2350 BC) and the next era of the human timeline, which proceeds until today, includes all the known ancient civilizations and is called „history”, separated from the „pre-history”. And again, according to the Bible, the era between the 7-days creation and the Great Flood, then the unknown times (only slightly hinted in the books of Genesis, Job, and the Psalms) before this 7-days creation belong to the „pre-history”. In other words- what the scientists consider „history”, „pre-history”, and the boundary between them, coincides with the timeline revealed in the Bible.

The first human civilizations on the Earth

What we are looking for in this journey are the first human historical civilizations on our planet. Probably you have studied in your school years about the first known kingdoms. If you see them on the map, you will notice that they are located mostly between the 30th and the 40th northern latitude, in the subtropical geographical zone, at least in the Old Continent. They form something like a belt, from the Mediterranean Sea, through the Middle East, to East Asia: Egypt, the Balkans, Minor Asia, Israel, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Indus Valley, East China, then in the Americas- Mexico and Peru. And we are going to dive into their ancient reality by visiting their most representative places- their main cities.

Silence from the most ancient places on the Earth
Silence from the past

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The most ancient historical places on the Earth

So, now when we make our journey to the 16 most ancient places on the Earth, we will focus only on history, not on pre-history. You may think: „but pre-history is more mysterious and more challenging”. Yes, that’s right, but first, there are too many unproven facts about it. Second, almost all the pre-historical artifacts are now in museums, not in the places they have been found (and the places are so changed from what they have been thousands of years ago that you really can’t expect to see anything special today). And third, you will be surprised to see that the most ancient historical places are much more than the touristy popular Pyramids of Giza.

We will also skip some places with unknown origin, most probably pre-historical, whose inhabitants remain unknown until today, such as Stonehenge or other sites like this. It is because we are looking for something that represents known ancient civilizations- their capitals or main cities. Most of these representative remains are not so magnificent, attractive and touristy, but contain high valued information from the past, and can bring you to a real journey in time.

So, let’s go!

1. Eridu, Iraq

The Sumerians are the earliest known civilization in the world, and the first „historic” proven nation, in contrast to the unknown pre-historic people. Although they left a lot of artifacts, they are still veiled in mystery. They were not Semites, but a unique nation with unique language (language isolate). Besides, this is the nations with most references to the Great Flood (another mystery, which is written in the Bible, written and spoken in almost all the nations’ stories, and although the modern science still can’t recognize any evidence of it, it would be unreasonable to be ignored with so many testimonies around the world).

These people have lived in today’s Iraq, in the plain of Mesopotamia. Many stories and other written documents remained from them, of which the best known is the Epic of Gilgamesh- a story about the Great Flood and its survivors. The Sumerians didn’t build an empire, but only city-states with local kings. One of these cities was Eridu- a place today long forgotten in silence amid the Mesopotamian wilderness. This is the best place where you can visit this ancient mysterious civilization and it is today considered the most ancient city ruins in the world.

Sumerian scrypt
Sumerian scrypt

How to reach Eridu

Eridu is located in the far southeastern parts of Iraq, in Dhi Qar Governorate. First, you have to enter Iraq, a country currently unstable and dangerous. You can fly to Bagdad, then by bus or domestic plane go to Nasiriyah, the capital of the governorate. Then, the site of Eridu is only around 12 km from Nasiriyah. There are no buses or other public transport, so you can go only by private transport or (more adventurous)- on foot. When you arrive there, don’t expect any spectacular palace ruins, fortress towers, or Roman-style amphitheaters. There are only silent dead stones with little traces of civilization. But it is enough to bring you far from modern time, into the ancient world.

2. Babylon, Iraq

Babylon is a much better-known place. It is famous as a capital of several ancient empires, for its hanging gardens, and many other things which today remained ruins. But one of the most mysterious things related to this place is the languages of humans. The Bible says that Babylon is one of the first established cities, long before the raising of the Babylonian empires. It started with the famous Tower of Babel, where God confused and mixed the language of the ancient people, creating the language families, which later divided into more languages and dialects.

After this event (happened around 2100 BC or earlier) most of its inhabitants left the city, but those who remained created the Old Babylonian Kingdom several centuries later. Then Babylon was capital or just an important city of more kingdoms and empires- Cassites, Neo-Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, Parthians, Sasanids, until finally it was conquered by the Arabs. Since then it declined and its inhabitants left it until it turned into the ruins that we see today.

Lion of Babylon
Lion of Babylon

How to reach Babylon

Babylon is a little easier to reach than Eridu. First, it is because it is more famous. And second, it is closed to several big cities, including the capital Bagdad. Once you arrive in Bagdad, you have to go south to Hillah, then by local transport to the ruins of Babylon, located north of Hillah. It is only 5 km from the city, so you can even go on foot. Today a large part of the site is renovated, including the famous „Ishtar Gate”. But it is still done quite successfully, providing the atmosphere of this ancient place.

3. Nineveh, Iraq

We are still in Iraq- the country with the longest history in the world. Let’s turn to the north of the country, where is the city of Mosul, one of the largest cities in the country. This city is established on the banks of Tigris River, on a place with more than 4000 years of history. This history is related to Nineveh, an ancient settlement, established by the most famous king of the first empire in the world- Sargon I (considered by the scientists as the Biblical Nemrud) of Akkad.

Most of Nineveh’s history is related to Assyria, one of the major ancient powers in the Middle East. Although it hasn’t been the capital of the empire, it had a significant cultural and religious influence. Nineveh flourished during the Neo-Assyrian era, but it was heavily destroyed with the fall of the empire. Since then, Nineveh has never restored and lost its status forever. When the Arabs conquered the region, the new city of Mosul was built in this place, and Nineveh remained just like a bunch of ruins until today.

Assyrians, Nineveh

How to reach Nineveh

Again, it is in Iraq, a country currently still full of problems. But if you prepare yourself for these problems, as far as possible, you have to travel to Mosul. The safest way to reach Mosul is from Bagdad by plane, but it is possible to do it by on land transportation- again from Bagdad, from Turkey or Iran. Once you reach Mosul, you just have to walk to the ruins of Nineveh, located inside the city. They are partly restored and you can still get an impression about the far ancient times in this part of the world.

There are many other ancient historic places in Iraq, but those three are the most ancient and the most representative. And to reach them, you have to travel to this country, which is quite complicated. So you may need much more information about Iraq, and I strongly advise to get familiar with the situation from here.

Now, let’s leave Iraq and move to the other famous ancient civilization- Egypt. Everybody knows the Pyramids of Giza and the temples of Luxor. And yes, they are representative, they are magnificent, and they bring a lot of the ancient atmosphere, but they are not the most ancient places in this country. We have to look for something further, something that has existed before these popular sites. And there are three „candidates” for exploring- Abydos, Thinis, and Memphis.

Why these three sites? Because Thinis is known as the first capital of ancient Egypt. But there is a problem- although this city is mentioned many times in the chronicles, it remains undiscovered. Memphis is the second capital in the timeline, but the first discovered capital. Abydos was not a capital (at least not confirmed as such), but it was one of the oldest important cities of this civilization. So, we choose these two: Memphis and Abydos.

4. Abydos, Egypt

This place takes us back in time, more than 4000 years ago, in the southern part of Egypt, in the region called Upper Egypt. Before the beginning of the first united kingdom of Egypt, the country was divided into Upper and Lower Egypt. Somewhere at that time, the people in Upper Egypt established Abydos, which became an important political, cultural, and religious center. Then the two „Egypts” were united by Menes, the first Pharaoh, who set his capital in Thinis. But Abydos remained an important city through the whole timeline of the Egyptian civilization.

Today only a part of the ancient Abydos has survived (the rest is buried under modern buildings). It contains several temples, of which the temple of Seti I is the most notable. It is not as magnificent as the Pyramids, but there is still a lot to see in the site, and you can feel the mood of the far ancient time, even older than the other famous tourist attractions in Egypt.

Egyptians, Abydos
Ancient Egyptians

How to reach Abydos

Abydos is not far from Luxor, and as most of the Egyptian sites, it is located on the fertile valley of Nile. So, you have to reach Luxor from Cairo- you can do it by train, bus or plane. Then there are local transport options, reaching Al Balyana and the town of Madfuna, where Abydos is located. A better (but more expensive) way is to travel from Luxor to Abydos directly by taxi for around 2 hours 30 mins and 15 to 20 USD.

5. Memphis, Egypt

This is the second, and the most famous capital of ancient Egypt. It is located in Lower Egypt and became a capital during the Old Kingdom period. But again, it was established before that, during the time of the first Pharaoh Menes. Today one of the most significant artifacts there is the Colossus of Ramesses II.

Memphis flourished during the whole Egyptian civilization era. Its decline starts with the Roman conquest of Egypt, and when the Arabs arrived, the city was already completely abandoned. But now it is partially restored and opened for tourism.

Colossus of Ramesses II in Memphis
Colossus of Ramesses II in Memphis

How to reach Memphis

Memphis is a well-developed tourist destination, although not such famous as the Pyramids. It is not far from Cairo and you can reach it by taxi. Or you can take the train from Cairo to El-Badrasheen, then Memphis is only 3 km west of it. And if you have more time, you can proceed another 3 km westward to the beginning of the desert, where you can visit another historical site- Saqqara.

Now, let’s leave Egypt and go the lands between Africa and Mesopotamia- Syria, Levant, and the Land of Israel- again revealing some of the most ancient places in the world.

6. Halab (Aleppo), Syria

This time we visit one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world- Aleppo. Since ancient times it is known as Halab. The whole area of today’s Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel has been first inhabited by Semitic and Canaanite peoples, and the largest of them were the Amorites. They have established many small city-states, as well as some larger empire-type kingdoms, although for some reason they never reached the popularity of Mesopotamia and Egypt.

One of these city-states was Halab. There were other cities- Ebla, Alalakh, Qatna, but only Halab survived until today. First, it has been the capital of the Armi Kingdom, more than 4000 years ago. Later it passed through many hands- Yamhad, Arameans, Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, and modern Syrians.

In the old city of Aleppo
In the old city of Aleppo

How to reach Halab (Aleppo)

Due to the current situation in Syria (which is still worse than in Iraq), it is not easy to travel to Aleppo. From 2019 you can’t travel in this country freely, but only by organized tour. For more information check HERE. Today Aleppo is one of the largest cities in Syria, so in the „Syrian standards,” it is easy to reach. Then, the Ancient City of Aleppo is near the center, and the most notable site of it is the Citadel of Aleppo. Yes, many of the constructions there are built only several centuries ago, but there are still remnants dating several millennia. Unfortunately, some of the constructions today are damaged by the current civil war and awaiting restoration.

7. Tyre, Lebanon

Now, let’s travel to the era of the ancient Phoenicians. Their main cities were Tyre and Sidon, today both located in Lebanon. The Phoenicians (Canaanites) were their first inhabitants, and probably they built these two cities, again sometime before 2000 BC. Later they passed through a lot of flourishment and destructions, but they remained living cities until today.

Both Tyre and Sidon are worth visiting and it is difficult to say which of the city you can choose to be a part of the „most ancient places” in the world. But I would anyway prefer Tyre. First, both of these cities today consist of modern buildings, and even their ancient sites that remain are not from their most ancient era (in fact, the most ancient remnants are only some insignificant stones). So, only their natural environment can give you a better impression of their far ancient past. And in this, Tyre has an advantage- it is established on a small peninsula. Besides, the beaches around it are much cleaner and more beautiful than in Sidon.


Fortress in Sidon
Fortress in Sidon

How to reach Tyre

The most common way to travel to Tyre is by private bus from Beirut. Lebanon is a small country, and to reach Tyre doesn’t take too much time. Once you arrive there, you can just walk on foot around its oldest parts and enjoy beautiful views at the seacoast. Tyre is a small city today, so in general, you don’t need transport to explore it.

8. Jerusalem, Israel

Now, let’s get to the Holy Land, the Land of Israel. Its first historical inhabitants have been the Canaanite tribes. They established many cities. As in many other places around the Middle East, their cities were city-states- a country (kingdom) consisting of only one main village surrounded by walls (called a city), and several other normal villages around it without walls. And the leader of the city was called „king”.

And one of these cities was of special significance. It was called Jebus (or Salem), and it was built among several hills. At the birth time of the city (more than 4000 years ago), a mysterious king called Melchizedek reigned there, who has also been a Priest of God. The Bible says that around 3800 ago God guides Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on one of these hills, called Moriah. Later the Abraham descendants- the Jews, came from Egypt and built the House of God on the same hill. Thus Jebus (Salem), at that time already called Jerusalem became the holiest city in the world, and Mount Moriah- the holiest geographical spot on our planet, a subject for millennia of wars for control until today.

The remains of ancient Jerusalem
The remains of ancient Jerusalem

How to reach Jerusalem

Jerusalem is today the capital of Israel. It can be easily reached from the main international airport in the country Ben Gurion (in Tel Aviv). Once you arrive there, you have to go to the Old City, and if you walk to the area of Mount Moriah and the Western Wall, you can dive into the past through many historical layers, leading you to the beginning of human history.

Now, let’s go to Minor Asia, which is a cradle of other most ancient civilizations in the world, and identify the most significant place that presents them. This is Hattusa, the capital of the first Minor Asian empire- the Hittite Empire.

9. Hattusa, Turkey

The Hittites were ancient people who established one of the strong Middle Eastern empires during the Bronze Age, between 1800 and 1150 BC. But the original Hittite tribe, called Hattians have existed long before the birth of this empire. They lived in the area east of today’s Ankara, and there they built their main city, called Hattusa.

In the beginning, Hatussa has been a small settlement, but after 1800 BC when the Hittite kingdom was established and became an empire, the city became its magnificent imperial capital. But around 1200 BC the empire fell and the city was destroyed. 400 years later the Phrygians built a new settlement on the ruins of Hattusa, which existed for several centuries, but eventually, it was abandoned later too. Now only its silent ruins stay there, reminding of its ancient atmosphere.

Ruins from the deep past in Turkey
Ruins from the deep past in Turkey

How to reach Hattusa

The easiest way to reach Hattusas is from Ankara. Take the bus to Sungurlu, then you need local transport (bus or taxi) to Bogazkale. Once you arrived there, the ruins of Hattusas are not far, you can reach them by walk. There is not too much left from the ancient capital of the Hittites, but you can still feel the distant past in the silence of the remnants there.

Let’s get to Europe. The known human history there is not as ancient as in the Middle East, but there are still some interesting spots worth visiting. I have chosen two of them only. There are more, but I skipped them mainly because their inhabitants are unknown, and the first known people living there have come much later. So, let’s go.

10. Knossos, Greece

Ancient Greece is a well-known historic region, famous for its classical Greek civilization, one of the cradles of our modern Western culture (along with the Roman civilization). But it is much younger than the oldest civilizations in the Middle East. However, it is not the first one existing in this region. There were several predecessors, of which the oldest one has been established in Crete Island. This is the Minoan civilization, presented in several sites in Crete Island, of which the most significant is Knossos.

The Minoans are the most ancient known people in Europe. Probably there were other people before them in the same place, belonging to pre-historic times, but the Minoans who have come later built the first advanced civilization in the region, in the same era as the Old Egypt Kingdom, Akkad and the other ancient kingdoms in the Middle East. And Knossos is their capital (or at least one of their capitals). Their civilization existed until 1200 BC, then disappeared in unclear circumstances, probably wars or natural disasters.

The ancient city of Knossos
The ancient city of Knossos

How to reach Knossos

Knossos is easy to reach. First, you have to travel to Heraklion, the main city of Crete Island. You can normally do it from Athens by plane or by ferry. Once you arrive in Heraklion, Knossos is near the southern suburbs of the city, there are buses and taxis to the site. Knossos itself has an entrance fee of 16 EUR, and its main attraction is the Palace of Knossos.

11. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Let’s move further north of Greece, in the central-eastern parts of the Balkans. There have been other people inhabiting this area since at least 3500-4000 years ago. These people were the Thracians, who have created a less known (compared with the Greeks) civilization, but in the timeline, they were as old as the Minoans. Their origin is unclear, probably there were more ancient people before them in the lands of Bulgaria, but one thing is sure: they are related to the oldest living city in Europe- Plovdiv.

Plovdiv is confirmed to exist from pre-historic times. It is not clear who has established this city, but it is known that it has become one of the main settlements of the Thracians. They haven’t created a powerful empire, but like the Greeks and Minoans- only city-states and small kingdoms. And Plovdiv has been a part of one of their kingdoms.

Thracian remains in Plovdiv
Thracian remains in Plovdiv

How to reach Plovdiv

Plovdiv is very easy to reach. Today it is the second-largest city in Bulgaria and is well connected by bus and train to Sofia. Once you arrive there, you can see a lot of ancient artifacts, mainly in the center of the city and especially on its triple hill Trimontium, where is the Old City of Plovdiv. There are many layers of history in the city, but if you want to see the most ancient layer, you have to go to the top of Trimontium, called Nebet Tepe, where you can not only touch the ancient history but also enjoy magnificent views to the city and the surrounding mountains.

Now, let’s go to the east, further beyond Mesopotamia. There were more ancient human civilizations, not younger than Egypt and Akkad. So, let’s stop first in Iran.

12. Susa, Iran

In the southwest part of Iran, along the Iranian coast of the Gulf of Persia, we can find another ancient civilization, called Elam. It has two main cities- Anshan and Susa. While today Anshan is difficult to find and explore (there are discovered remains, but if you are not an archeologist, it would be difficult for you to get an impression of Elam), Susa is much better preserved. One of the reasons is that this city has continued to be an important settlement during the time of the next civilizations and empires.

Susa is known to appear in the world from pre-historic times. There are remnants from unknown people who have lived there before the Elamites. And when the Elamites came, they made the city one of their capitals. Later Susa remained an important center in the Achaemenid Persia, Seleucid Syria, Parthia, Sassanid Persia, and the Islamic Persia. It lost its significance when it was destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century. Later its remaining population gradually left the city and settled in the nearby modern Iranian city of Shush.

Remains from the ancient part in Iran
Remains from the ancient part in Iran

How to reach Susa

To reach Susa, you have to travel to Shush. It is not difficult, as there are planes, trains, and buses from Tehran to Shush. Once you arrive there, you can explore Susa on foot, as the ruins of the city are located within the suburbs of Shush. In Shush, you can not only see the site of the ancient ruins of Susa, but also the Palace of Darius, and the Susa Museum.

Let’s proceed further east- to the lands of modern India and Pakistan. There is the Indus Valley civilization

13. Harappa-Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan

Here is another ancient civilization in the world. It is again of the same age as Egypt and Mesopotamia. It has been spread from modern Afghanistan to the western parts of India, including large parts of Pakistan. The Indus Valley civilization has at least 5 main cities, of which Harappa and Mohenjo Daro are the most important ones.

Again, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro were born in pre-historic times. In the 3rd millennium BC, they become important centers of the Indus Valley civilization. To this day, it is unclear who were the people of the Indus Valley- were they Indo-Europeans, Dravidians, Elamites-related, or a different and isolated group of people. It is also unclear whether they have built a unified empire or just a cluster of many city-states. What is known is that in the middle of the 2nd millennium their civilization was gradually destroyed by the Aryans- invaders from Central Asia, whose descendants later established new Indian kingdoms and empires.

Remain from Harappa civilization
Remain from Harappa civilization

How to reach Harappa and Mohenjo Daro

Both Harappa and Mohenjo Daro are located in Pakistan. Harappa can be reached by buses and trains from Lahore or Multan, and the site itself is not far from the nearby modern town of Harappa. Mohenjo Daro is a better-preserved and much larger site, closer to Karachi. From Karachi, you can reach it by local buses or just by rental car. There are also domestic flights to the nearby city of Sukkur, from where you can quickly reach Mohenjo Daro by local bus or taxi.

Now, let’s go to East Asia, to the most ancient civilization in this region, located in modern China.

14. Yangcheng, China (Henan)

The Chinese civilization is again as old as the ancient civilizations in the Middle East. There are chronicles, talking about the first Chinese rulers in the 3rd millennium BC, one of whom established the first Chinese kingdom of Xia. But no archeological discoveries are containing clear proof about Xia, the first archeologically proven dynasty is the next one- Shang (from around 1700 to 1050 BC). However, there are discovered remains that are older than Shang, most probably belonging to Xia and the people before Xia, although still unproven due to the lack of written evidence on them.

One of these sites is Yangcheng, the capital of Xia Kingdom, as it is written in the Chinese chronicles. Today, the archeologist have discovered a site of ancient remains, called Wangchenggang. It is located exactly in the same place as it is described in the ancient chronicles, and the artifacts that are found there fit very well in what the scientists know about this mysterious ancient kingdom. According to the stories, Yangcheng has been established by the first king of the Xia Dynasty- Yu the Great, somewhere at the end of the 3rd millennium BC. It has been the capital of the kingdom, and probably the early capital of the next Shang Dynasty before it moved to Yin.

Ancient Yangcheng
Ancient Yangcheng

How to reach Yangcheng

To reach Yangcheng, you have to travel to Dengfeng, a city in Henan Province of China (there are trains to Dengfeng from Beijing). Then you have to take a local bus or taxi to the nearby Gaocheng Town, and in a short walk, you can reach Wangchenggang. But don’t expect anything spectacular. You will see just a field between several villages, and only a small site with a stone marking the location of the site. If you don’t know what’s that place, you wouldn’t find anything interesting, but if you know that you touch the most ancient city in China, it gives a different impression.

Now, let’s leave Eurasia and Africa, and go to the New World. Our first stop will be in Central America. But we will not look for the Aztecs and their civilization- they are too recent. We will not even look for the Mayans- they are not enough ancient too. But there has been another civilization, much older than the above two- the Olmecs, who has lived in the southern part of Mexico almost at the same time as ancient Egypt.

15. San Lorenzo-Tenochtitlan, Mexico

The Olmecs are an ancient people inhabiting the southern part of modern Mexico. They are descendants of some even earlier unknown people who have lived in the same area in pre-historic times. Not too much is known about the Olmecs, but their artifacts have been found in many locations at the southern side of the Gulf of Mexico.

It is unknown whether they have established a centralized empire or just many city-states, but the site discovered at San Lorenzo (in fact- three sites) is their earliest and the most significant remain. The scientists estimate the beginning of their civilization somewhere around 1600 BC, which is not so ancient in comparison with Egypt and Akkad, but still takes us back in the mysterious past of America. More than a millennium later, the Olmecs influenced many other new civilizations, including the Mayan civilization.

Olmec head in San Lorenzo-Tenochtitlan
Olmec head in San Lorenzo-Tenochtitlan

How to reach San Lorenzo-Tenochtitlan

The cheapest way to reach San Lorenzo-Tenochtitlan is by bus from Mexico City. It takes more than 9 hours to reach Jaltiplan de Morelos, and from there you have to take another local bus or taxi to San Lorenzo Town. When you arrive, you will not see any magnificent city ruins, but only three small archeological sites, and a well-arranged museum. And from the artifacts that you can see, the most notable are the Colossal Heads, now exposed in this museum.

Let’s look at South America. The Incas are well-known for their empire and the famous Machu Picchu. But again, they are too modern. Many other civilizations have existed before them, and now we will touch the most ancient one, today considered as the oldest civilization in the whole New World.

16. Caral (Norte Chico), Peru

Here is the civilization of Norte Chico- a mysterious people who lived in the area somewhere in the 3rd, or even 4th millennium BC. Their language and ethnicity are unknown, but the artifacts and the large ruins that are found present a lot of „proto”-versions of the same remains in the later civilizations.

Again, it is not known whether these people have created an empire, but from the ruins, the archeologists can’t discover any evidence of war, violence, or defense against an enemy. No fortifications, no found weapons, nothings like this. At the same time, their ruins are huge, including two large pyramids. This civilization existed at least until the end of the 2nd millennium when it was replaced by the Chavin civilization.

Caral-Supe in Peru
Caral-Supe in Peru

How to reach Caral

To reach Caral, you have to take a bus from Lima to Huacho, or better- to Barranca. Then, you have to look for local buses to Supe, or a taxi for the next 41 km to the archeological area. When you arrive there, you will not see exactly an ancient city, but a whole large complex of constructions like pyramids, circles, and terraces, as well as other stone remains in various shapes.


Many years, centuries, even millennia have passed since these ancient civilizations and their cities have been established in the far distant past. Newer civilizations, kingdoms, and empires emerged after them, who built better known and more popular sites because they were closer to us in time until finally, history led to our modern times. Many of the earliest cities were destroyed or just abandoned, but some of them remained until today. Most of their remains are not so magnificent, but tell a lot of stories from the beginning of the human history, bringing hints about the bridge to the pre-history. And if you are an explorer of the Earth’s geography and its history, you will find a lot of hidden gems of knowledge from this distant past.

Take a look at some books about the most ancient civilizations in the world!

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Let's make a journey back in time, to the most ancient historical places on the Earth, and visit the cradles of the world's oldest known civilizations! Let's make a journey back in time, to the most ancient historical places on the Earth, and visit the cradles of the world's oldest known civilizations! Let's make a journey back in time, to the most ancient historical places on the Earth, and visit the cradles of the world's oldest known civilizations!

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