Ancient History & Civilisation

Cities That Shaped the Ancient World

Cities That Shaped the Ancient World

Great cities marked the earliest development of civilization. From the worlds first true cities, in Mesopotamia, to the spectacular urban centres of the Maya in Central America, the places described here represent almost three millennia of human history, society and culture. Arranged geographically into five sections, each with an introduction by John Julius Norwich, Cities That Shaped the Ancient World takes a global view, beginning in the Near East with the earliest cities such as Ur and Babylon, Troy and Jerusalem. Africa gave rise to the conurbations of ancient Egypt such as Thebes and Amarna, and also the Ethiopian capital of Aksum. Glorious European metropolises, including Athens and Rome, ringed the Mediterranean, but also stretched to Trier on the turbulent frontier of the Roman empire. Asia had bustling commercial centres such as Mohenjo-daro and Xianyang, while in the Americas the Mesoamerican and Peruvian cultures stamped their presence on the landscape, creating impressive monuments, as at Caral and Teotihuacan.


The Birth of Urban Life

Part One - The Near East

The World’s First City - URUK

Mesopotamian Centre of Power and Wealth - UR

Stronghold of the Hittite Empire - HATTUSA

Myth and Reality - TROY

Nebuchadnezzar and the Hanging Gardens - BABYLON

Palaces and Temples of the Assyrian Kings - NINEVEH

Heart of the Persian Empire - PERSEPOLIS

Hellenistic City of Culture - PERGAMUM

City Founded on Faith - JERUSALEM

Architectural Wonder Built on Trade - PETRA

Sanctuary and Temple of Artemis - EPHESUS

Between Rome and Persia - PALMYRA

Part Two - Africa

The Balance of the Two Lands - MEMPHIS

Heart of Egypt’s Golden Age - THEBES

Short-Lived City of the Sun God - AMARNA

Phoenician and Roman Cities - CARTHAGE

Greek Capital of Egypt - ALEXANDRIA

Royal City of Nubia - MEROË

Splendour and Beauty in North Africa - LEPTIS MAGNA

Ethiopian Royal Trading City - AKSUM

Part Three - Europe

Palatial Centre of Minoan Crete - KNOSSOS

Palaces and Tombs of Warrior Kings - MYCENAE

Birthplace of Democracy - ATHENS

City of Luxury and Excess - AKRAGAS

A Tale of Two Colonies - PAESTUM

Augustus’ City of Stone - ROME

A Bustling Provincial City of the Roman Empire - POMPEII

Masterpieces of Architecture and Technology - NÎMES AND THE PONT DU GARD

From Provinicial City to Imperial Residence - TRIER

Part Four - Asia

Mysteries of the Indus Civilization - MOHENJO-DARO

Cities of Warring States China - LINZI

China’s First Imperial Capital - XIANYANG

Centre of the Mauryan Empire - PATALIPUTRA

Island Capital and Pilgrimage Site - ANURADHAPURA

Part Five - The Americas

Early Monumental Centre in Peru - CARAL

Regal and Ritual City of the Olmec - LA VENTA

At the Summit of the Sacred Mountain - MONTE ALBÁN

Where Time and Water Flow - TEOTIHUACAN

Crucible of Maya Civilization - TIKAL

Royal Metropolis of the Maya Golden Age - PALENQUE


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