Which country is recognized or documented as having the first prominent civilization? After reading so many articles, I couldn't determine which country should be acknowledged as having the oldest civilization. According to Puranas of India, it seems to be the oldest country with a prominent civilization. However, while searching Google, I found that Egyptians existed at the same time as the earliest Indian civilization. Can anybody clarify this?

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    Very good question!!! ( i would say I couldn't have said it better myself but I really could not – Napoleonothecake Oct 31 '11 at 22:17
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    Define Civilization. – Lennart Regebro Nov 1 '11 at 8:44
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    I really think Lennart's question is essential in this matter. "Civilization" is hardly an academically fixed concept. – Cerberus Nov 1 '11 at 12:15
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    I'd also ask what is meant by prominent, are we talking the first, earliest civilization that can be detected with current methods and tools? – MichaelF Nov 1 '11 at 17:24
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    You also need to clarify whether you mean that there's cultural continuity, or that the ancient civilization just happens to be located in the modern-day country. Modern Egypt, for instance, has almost nothing in common with ancient Egypt, or even Egypt under the Ptolemies, Romans, or Byzantines. – jamesqf Jun 1 '15 at 17:47

The Sumerians are widely credited with being the first real civilisation on Earth, beginning in around the 5th millennium BC. Cities and agricultural communities existed before this time, but are generally not considered to have constituted a civilisation. The Sumerians, who were situated in modern-day lower Iraq and Kuwait, are widely believed to have invented the wheel, writing, government, law, systematic agriculture, and irrigation, among various other early innovations and marks of civilisation.

Although the dates of the start of these civilisations are generally not well-defined, the order of the appearance of "civilisations" is often accepted as the following:

  • Ancient Sumerians

  • Ancient Egyptians

  • Akkadians -- arguable since they largely took over everything from the Sumerians in the same region

  • Ancient Indians / Indus Valley Civilisation

  • Ancient Chinese

  • Ancient Greeks (Minoans and then Myceneans) -- arguably older than the above

  • Phoenicians/Caananites

  • Ancient Romans

  • Ancient Persians/Iranians

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  • What about the Maikop culture? – Anixx Dec 17 '12 at 20:42
  • @Anixx: Too little is known about that culture, I believe. It would be too much of a stretch to call it a genuine civilisation, in any cases, at present. Most likely what "civilised" aspects it did pick up were from the contact of Indo-European peoples with the advanced Middle-Eastern cultures at the time. – Noldorin Dec 17 '12 at 21:18
  • The title asks what country traces its roots back to the oldest civilization. You mentioned Sumeria was in the Iraq area, but what about technological, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural heritage? Would you say that going that far back means just about everyone has roots in their civilization? Or is there some country or countries with a unique claim to Sumerian descent? – Mr. Bultitude Jul 26 '14 at 0:13
  • @Mr.Bultitude: In brief summary of a very complex issue: technological heritage was immediately the Assyrians (who later conquered the region), the entire Middle East, the Mediterranean and Indian civilisations, then the whole world in time. Ethnic? Very hard to tell, although there's nothing to suggest the Sumerians were wiped out. They lost their identity over time thanks to the Assyrians & Babylonians, but I'm sure many modern Iraqis, Syrians, Jordanians, and people far wider afield have a little Sumerian ancestry if you go back far enough! – Noldorin Jul 26 '14 at 0:38
  • As for linguistic descent, there are no living descendent of Sumerian, although a number of loanwords entered Assyrian and other Semitic languages, and have been passed down into modern languages. See e.g. "cane" in England (etymonline.com/index.php?search=cane). I'm sure Syriac (which still exists as a liturgical language) has a number of Sumerian loanwords, though I can't list them off the top of my head. – Noldorin Jul 26 '14 at 0:41

The major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization imposed over modern borders

After contenders like Sumerians, Egyptians, there is another forbidden world which was ruined because of earthquake or may be foreign invasion (some estimate this). Here i am talking about Indus Valley Civilisation who trace back its root since 3300 - 1300 B.C and was the most advanced among all the ancient settlements at that time.

Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro, with the Great Bath in the front - Handicrafts - In Mettalurgy - City Planning - Great sewage and drainage systems - Baked bricked walls

The civilisation was alien to us but came to known after britishers (colonists) discovered the ruins and clusters of city buried under the earth.

The civilisation was based on the land which is modern day punjab of pakistan. The Harrappa and Mohenjadaro were the major cities of those times.

Ten Indus Signs, dubbed Dholavira Signboard Ancient Art of MohenJoDaro For More information, follow this link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_Valley_Civilization

Sources: www.wikipedia.com/ indus valley civilisation www.google.com / search engine

{Apologizes for bigger than size images}

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If you use the term civilization with the connotations of culture than the first pieces of art were found in South Africa from more than 60,000 years ago. In an even broader sense apes are now known to possess culture, by teaching technological tricks to their siblings and newcomers in their group.

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Ancient Sumerians were the first people to invent an alphabet and they did it long before the Egyptians. They kicked off the "Agricultural" revolution, which started the "Urban" revolution and the domestication of animals.

They gave the world the first "Religion" that became a template for all civilizations that followed in human history. Consider the fact that their "war between the Gods" theme was incorporated by the big three monotheistic monopolies of our planet. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Then consider the fact that a citizen of Mesopotamia, named Abraham, ( and his sons ) started it all.

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  • Sure the Tigris and Euphrates are great rivers; so are the Yangtze, the Indus, the Mekong, and others. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 1 '15 at 21:57
  • They seem to have been the first with writing of some kind. However, the first known Alphabet was the Greek one, and that didn't happen until the Ancient Sumerians were long gone. – T.E.D. Jun 4 '15 at 13:08
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    @T.E.D.: The first known alphabetic system was Phoenician; the Greek's borrowed it. There are many writing systems, which are summarized here: omniglot.com/writing/types.htm – Peter Diehr Jun 5 '16 at 15:36
  • @PeterDiehr - Well...sort of. The Semitic scripts weren't true alphabets because they didn't have proper symbols for vowels. However, that's probably because vowels are regular enough in Semitic languages that symbols for them aren't really necessary. Last I heard, it wasn't 100% conclusive which was borrowed from which. – T.E.D. Jun 5 '16 at 20:03

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