When I was in 5th grade, we had an Ancient Greece festival. It was a lot of fun, especially since I pretended to be the Oracle at Delphi and told fortunes to all my classmates. We talked about ancient Greece during several different grade levels at school. I think we also studied the Egyptians and Romans in elementary school. In high school history, we learned about ancient history in Mesopotamia, India, and China. Taking a peek at today’s standards in the state where I live, not much has changed.
Imagine, when you go beyond the range of Alexander the Great’s conquests, there’s an entire globe to study!
- The Jomon People: These were the ancient people of Japan, likely ancestors to the Ainu people. They were some of the first people to make pottery and domesticate dogs. But my favorite fact about the Jomon? They believed in sanitation. They were semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers who built pit toilets in their villages. They even trained their dogs to use the pit toilets!
- Australian Aborigines: They have the oldest continuous culture in the world. They arrived in Australia somewhere about 40,000 years ago (exact dates are still debated). For thousands of years, they passed down their stories and traditions. Their oral tradition includes stories of massive animals (megafauna) that scientists have now proven true using fossil evidence. Their story continues into the present, even as they fight for rights within modern Australian society.
- The Olmec: So much of their history is a mystery to us today. Like the Jomon, we don’t even know their name for their own society. We do know that they had a lasting influence on other meso-American cultures, including a love of chocolate. They may have invented the first writing system in the Americas, a pictograph language. No one has succeeded in translating it yet. There is only one tablet with writing, so decoding it may be impossible.
- The Scythians: They might be my favorite. They were a pants-wearing, horse-riding, archery-loving, nomadic group of people. Women fought alongside men. They absolutely terrified the Greeks. Hardly anyone could defeat them in battle. They may have inspired legends of centaurs and Amazon women. And they invented pants!*
- Ancient Somalia: The Somalians have been around quite awhile. They traded with the Romans and Greeks, and played quite a trick on them. The Somalians imported cinnamon from India, but told their trading partners that they grew it themselves. Plus, they were the first to domesticate the camel. Some people think Somalia was the location of the lost kingdom of Punt, one of ancient Egypt’s trading partners.
There’s a lot more to history than the Mediterranean! If you’re interested in learning more about any of these civilizations, click the links to our educational boxes or subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates about our upcoming ancient history book! (If you’re interested in the Somalians, you’ll have to stay tuned!).
*Quick note about the Scythians: they weren’t beyond the range of Alexander the Great’s conquests. He, in fact, engaged with the Scythians. But I never learned about them in school!