Sumerians: The Ones Who Started it All
One of the first people to live in Mesopotamia were the Sumerians. The Sumerians began to form city-states there around 3000 BCE. They spoke a language unrelated to any other human language we know of. The Sumerians developed one of the world's first systems of Monarchy. The states of Sumer were ruled by a priest-king called "a"

Hittites: The Traders
The Hittites are perhaps one of the most important peoples in Mesopotamian history. Because their empire was so large and because their main activity was trading, the Hittites were the people responsible for moving Mesopotamian thought, law, political structure, economic structure, and ideas around the Mediterranean, from Egypt to Greece.

Assyrians: War Makers and Conquerors
The Assyrians loved to conquer. The army was the largest standing army ever seen int he Middle East or Mediterranean. The needs of war created technological innovation which made the Assyrians almost unbeatable: iron, swards, lances, metal armor, and battering rams.

Persians: The Inventors of Good and Evil
The Persians were the largest and most powerful empire ever known in human history up until that point. They invented a new religion called Zarathustra (Zoroaster in Greek), Zoroastrianism is a dualistic religion; in Zarathustra's cosmos, the universe was under the control of two contrary gods, Ahura-Mazda, the creating god who is full of light and good, and Ahriman, the god of dark and evil.

The Babylonians: An Eye for an Eye
The Babylonians are another river valley civilization of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. One of their most famous rulers was Hammurabi, who developed the very strict "Code of Hammurabi"

Indus Valley Civilization: Early Indian Civilization
The Indus Valley civilization grew around 2,500 BCE in the western part of South Asia, in what today is Pakistan and western India. It was not discovered until the 1920s. Most of its ruins, including major cities, remain to be excavated. We know that they had writing, but we cannot yet read it.

Incas: The Engeneers
The Inca Empire consisted of over one million individuals, spanning land from Ecuador to northern Chile. The Inca built large forts with stone slabs so perfectly cut that they didn't need glue -- and they're still standing today in near-perfect condition. They built road through the mountains from Ecuador to Chile with tunnels and bridges. Of all ancient peoples, they were the most advanced in medicine and surgery.

The Aztecs: An Early Mexican Civilization
The Aztecs had not one, but two calendars, a complicated religion, and a system of slavery that was not racial or permanent. Human sacrifice was a large part of their religious practices.

Mayans: A Rainforest Civilization
The Mayans lived very spread out from one another, but they still built advanced urban centers, science and mathematics among the best in the world, and the most developed system of writing in the Americas. Much of Maya culture is still a vital aspect of Native American life in Guatemala and Honduras.

Bantu Speakers: The Spreaders of Language and Crops
Bantu speaking people moved out of north-central Africa in the last century BC. Whenever they went, they left their language. Not only did the Bantu spread iron making techniques across Africa, they also were responsible for sharing agriculture, particularly good harvest crops such as yams, bananas, and plantains.

The Shang Dynasty: The Yellow River Civilization
The Shang Dynasty existed from 1766-1050 BCE. They left us a large number of written record. Most of these records are "oracle bones," which were used to divine the future. These bones, however, contain the names of the kings of the dynasties and prove that the Chinese accounts of Shang history are incredibly precise.

Egyptian Civilization: A Rich and Complex History
Around 5000 BCE people began to live in villages up and down the Nile Valley. Around 3800 BCE Nile culture began to flourish. Egyptians began to interact and trade with other cultures as far away as Mesopotamia.