Tag Archives: Ancient History

A Brief History of Japan


Japan is an island nation in East Asia. It is well-known throughout the world for its rich culture and traditions. This modern, economically and technologically advanced country has a rich and long history that dates back to 300 BC.

Ancient History

Japan has a major role to play through both its ancient and modern history. The history of the country from its earliest period to where it is now is divided into several sections. The ancient history comprises the Jomon period from before 300BC to the Edo Period from 1603-1868.

Japan is a country that remained blocked off from any foreign countries in the millennia after prehistoric land bridges connecting it to mainland Asia disappeared. Before it lost the connection through the land bridges, primarily to the Korean peninsula, Japan saw the development of agricultural practices, trade, and religion. The early centuries of Japan saw the development of Shinto take root. It is a religion indigenous to Japan.

Over the centuries, the rise of the samurai class would shape most of Japan’s ancient history during the second millennium. While the country’s capital was Kyoto with an emperor at its head, the idea does not truly reflect ancient Japan. Powerful warlords called Shoguns dominated regions throughout the country.

The rise of these warlords gradually deteriorated the central control of the Imperial court to the samurai clans. Japan descended into a period of civil war with various clans vying for power. Throughout the 16th century AD, Japan reunified under the leadership of the Tokugawa shogunate.

The 16th century also saw Japan open up to trade with foreign countries. Portugal became the first European country to reach Japan through the southern archipelago. The Netherlands was the first to establish trade with the country at the start of the 17th century. The American Perry expedition in the mid-17th century ended Japan’s seclusion from the rest of the world and ushered in a new era in the country’s history.

Modern History

Opening up the country and properly establishing several trade relationships with other countries contributed to the fall of the shogunate and the return of the power for the Emperor. The new national leadership of the country after the Meiji period led to the transition of the country from being a feudal island country into a single empire.

Over time, the country began to adopt more western ideals, and it led to the country adopting democracy during the Taisho period from 1912 to 1926. During the 1920s and 1930s, Japan’s military reigned supreme in the country and overruled the civilian leadership of the country.

Japan participated in several wars due to the decisions taken by its military, including a prolonged war with China in the 1930s. It was Japan’s participation in the Second World War with its attack on Pearl Harbor that led to the overextension of its military. The country held out despite several attacks from the Allied countries. It eventually announced an unconditional surrender after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The occupation from Allied forces in the country ended in 1952.

Unraveling the Mystery of Ancient Egypt

Pyramids and Spinx

The magnificent Ancient Egyptian Empire flourished around 3100 BCE and after almost 3000 years fell with the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BCE. The Egyptian Empire blessed the world with the awe-inspiring Pyramids as well as remnants of refined customs and traditions, some of which are still followed in modern-day Egypt. A preeminent civilization, Egypt has long mesmerized historians, perpetuating a unique field of its own: Egyptology.


One of the major remnants of Ancient Egypt’s culture is its architecture. This is no surprise, the Pyramids of Giza are one of the Seven Wonders of the World, not to mention the Great Sphinx or the temples of Thebes. Pyramids were conical structures to house the bodies of Royalty along with everything they needed in the afterlife. This concept strongly reiterates the Egyptian belief system in life after death.

Loyalty to Land

Contrary to popular belief, Ancient Egyptian culture was life affirming. Egyptians strongly believed that their land was tied to their ultimate salvation. There was a deep fear of dying beyond borders among them. This loyalty to land stemmed from their conviction that River Nile was consecrated by God for the reincarnation of the soul after death. If they were to die elsewhere, their existence would perish permanently after death.


Another significant facet of Ancient Egyptian culture was the preservation of bodies as ‘mummies’. Ancient Egyptians believed the conservation of the body or Khaat was necessary to achieve immortality of the soul in the afterlife. Since then, mummies have become subject to excavation by historians and archaeologists-both literally and metaphorically!

Eye of Horus

The Eye of Horus is a known emblem of Ancient Egyptian customs. They believed this sign offered protection, renewal, and good health. In ancient times, this symbol was commonly used as an amulet by the living and the dead. This custom continues to penetrate the modern Egyptian society.

With such distinctive customs and culture, it is no surprise why Ancient Egypt is a widely studied subject to this date.

Ancient Rome – History and Culture of One of the Greatest Civilizations

Roman Acquiduct

A civilization that can be dated back to the eighth century BC, Ancient Rome started from a small town along the Tiber River. It became an empire that spanned much of Europe, Britain, Asia, northern Africa, and the Mediterranean islands.

Considered to be one of the most influential parts of mankind’s history, the Ancient Roman Empire left many legacies. This includes the use of the modern alphabet, calendar, Christianity (as a major world religion), and laying the groundwork for modern drainage systems and roads. Let’s take a brief look at some of the rich cultural aspects and ways of life in Ancient Rome.

Aqueducts, Water Supply and Sewerage

Renowned for remarkable feats of engineering, the water aqueducts carried water for several miles to provide safe and relatively sanitary water supply to a large number of people.

The latrines in Ancient Rome also relied on aqueducts for water supply, as they used to serve 12 to 60 people at the same time. The primary sewer of the capital Rome was the Cloaca Maxima, which flowed into the Tiber River.


Ancient Roman customs saw gladiators fight each other (often to their deaths) to entertain large crowds of spectators. Gladiators were trained for years to put up a display of the most exceptional warrior skills in circuses or the Colosseum.

The Colosseum

One of the most iconic amphitheaters throughout history, the Roman Colosseum was a marvel of engineering ingenuity, commissioned by Roman Emperor Flavian.

The Colosseum was built as an improvement of the Circus Maximus to serve as an arena for gladiator combats, wild beast fights. It was also said to be filled with water to exhibit mock naval battles.

Roman Gods and Goddesses

While Ancient Rome eventually led to the spread of Christianity as a major world religion, Romans worshipped gods and goddesses much like their Greek neighbors. Ancient Rome offered no native creation myth, nor did it have a lot of mythography that could explain the nature of their deities.

Roman theology acknowledged gods and goddesses that shared more than enough attributes to be considered roughly the same as Greek deities but with different names.


About the Author:

Upon retiring from her Information Technology career of 35 years, Amita Vadlamudi now spends her time reading and researching. History, ancient cultures, and modern societies are of particular interest to Amita Vadlamudi.

Mongolian Empire

Mongolian Empire

The Mongol Empire, founded by Genghis Khan in 1206, covered the vast territories of Southeast Asia, expanding as far as central Europe. The Great Mongol Nation was the largest land empire in history, enveloping about 9 million square miles (23 million km square) at its peak, with a population of over 100 million people. The extensive empire unified the Turkic tribes and the nomadic Mongols of historical Mongolia, under the rule of Genghis Khan – a powerful ruler of all Mongols.

In Europe’s Middle Ages, the Mongol Empire began to slowly emerge in the Central Asian steppes, lasting throughout the 13th and 14th centuries. At its highest peak, the empire encompassed today’s modern countries – China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Iraq, Romania, Russia, Persia, Ukraine, Belarus, Cilicia, Georgia, Anatolia, parts of Burma, and Central Asia.

After gaining his supremacy over the Kereit and then the Naiman Turks, Genghis Khan began invading various parts of the world, gradually widening his empire. Needless to say, innumerable people were massacred during the course of Genghis Khan’s conquests. However, Genghis Khan proved to be the hero of religious freedom, allowing his subjects – Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and Taoists – the right to practice their own religion. Moreover, the leader was strictly against torture and brutality and highly encouraged trade by creating the first international postal system.

The Mongol leaders were patrons of different forms of arts, encouraging artists and artisans of all types. Under Genghis Khan’s leadership, textile workers, stone carvers, jewelers, and architects got the opportunity to produce exquisite artwork, appreciated by the Mongol Khans and sub-khans. The Mongols had a distinct taste for music, originating a unique form of singing – khoomi.

Genghis Khan died in August 1227. However, the exact cause of Genghis Khan’s death remains a mystery but alleged causes include illness, falling off the horse during a battle, being killed in a war against the Western Xia.

Gupta Dynasty of Ancient India


The Gupta Empire spanned across the northern, central and southern regions of the Indian subcontinent between 320 CE and 550 CE (Common Era). The period is known for its accomplishment in arts and architecture, science and religion, as well as philosophy.

The earliest signs of the Gupta Dynasty can be traced back to Srigupta, who was a regional monarch at the time, established the dynasty in circa 240 CE. 

Chandragupta (320-335 CE) was mostly responsible for the expansion of this empire. He rose to prominence as the first sovereign ruler of the empire. His reign marked the end of more than half a millennia of provincial powers.

The ascendancy of the Gupta Empire marked a period of progress that flowed into the next two hundred and fifty years. This period became known as the Golden Age in India’s rich and prosperous history.

However, 550 CE marked the end of the Gupta Empire, after it was invaded by the Huna clans.  This invasion led to disintegration, and soon after, the Empire fell into many regional kingdoms.

The most famous Gupta rulers were Chandragupta I and Samudragupta.

The son of Ghatotkacha, Chandragupta was known for utilizing his army effectively. He was gifted abundant mines of iron ores, courtesy of his union with Licchhavi Princess Kumaradevi. Using this means at his disposal, Chandragupta and his kingdom were able to thrive.

Metallurgy was showing promising signs of growth and forged iron was able to meet not just internal demands, but also became a priceless commodity in trade. Combining his cavalry with his resources, Chandragupta and his forces proved too strong for other ruling factions in the region. They subjugated one after the other as the Gupta Empire began in earnest and expanded all the way to Allahabad.

In circa 335 to 375 CE, Chandragupta the first was succeeded by his son Samudragupta. He was known by his subordinates as a master tactician and military genius. Upon ascending to the throne of the Gupta Empire, Samudragupta began an aggressive expansion of the kingdom.

He conquered the remaining regions of North India and then turned his attention to the south. By the time his reign ended, Samudragupta was able to capture parts of southern India as well. During his time the empire spanned from the Himalayas in the north to the south of Krishna and Godavari rivers in the south and from Afghanistan in the west to the Brahmaputra river in the east.


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The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Empire

Formed from the alliance between Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan city-states, the Aztec Empire refers to a near 100 year-rule between the years 1428 and 1521 over the land lying in the Mexican valley. The Empire was inhabited by indigenous Mesoamerican Nahua people, who belonged to different ethnic groups. Among these groups, the most common trait was the Nahuatl language.

The Empire’s origins go back to the alliance between the then newly-formed city of the Mexica people, Tenochtitlan and the city of Azcapotzalco, inhabited by the Tepanec people. The Mexica people paid tribute to Tezozomoc, the ruler of Azcapotzalco and aided him in conquests so that their city could gain legitimacy. These included the conquest of Texcoco, which was given to Tenochtitlan as a tributary province.

Later, Tezozomoc’s death triggered a civil war over who will succeed. This war, known as the Tepanec War, brought together Tenochtitlan, Texcoco as well as the dissident Tepanec city Tlacopan against the usurper Maxtla. At the end of this war, the three city-states formed a treaty known as the Triple Alliance in 1430. Lands and tribute were distributed among the three and promises were made to aid one another in future conquests.

For the next 100 years, this Empire grew from the Mexican valley and spread towards Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Tenochtitlan, the city-state of the warrior Mexica people, later became dominant in the Empire with the other city-states taking a secondary role. The Empire spread from conquests, which strengthened it and ensured its survival. The Aztecs practiced indirect rule over their conquests, only wanting tribute and inclusion of their god Huitzilopochtli among the deities worshipped by the locals. Local rulers were usually reinstated after conquests and local affairs were not interfered with under the Aztec hegemony.

Aztec culture today is known widely for its rich cultural contributions in the form glyphs, poetry, ceramics, wall paintings, sculpture and the distinct art of featherwork i.e. forming mosaics from bird plumage. A polytheistic people, the Aztces believed in the sun-controlling and war-favoring Huitzilopochtli, rain-controlling Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl, a deity that controls the winds, the skies and the stars and Tezcatlipoca, a deity of magic and fate.

A notable characteristic of the Aztec culture was the close relationship between religion and warfare. The Aztec ruler was believed to be divine and maintainer of natural order. The concept of sacrifice was central to their beliefs – the mythological gods had sacrificed themselves for life to perpetuate and the people had to emulate that sacrifice for life to continue. It was the rationale behind the ritualistic Flower Wars in which Aztecs attacked their enemies, the Tlaxcala in order to get live sacrifices for the gods.

The Aztec Empire came to an end when Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés and aided by the local Tlaxcala people, brought down the city of Tenochtitlan in August 1521. The city-states, previously under the hegemonic rule of the Aztecs, swore fidelity to the Spanish crown and their rulers converted to Christianity. This began the Spanish colonial rule in Mexico.


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