Legendary ancient empires

Legendary ancient empires

Numerous legendary empires were built (and destroyed) in the course of history.



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Ancient empires

From a political point of view, an empire is a state of great territorial extent that includes numerous ethnic groups and countries. Usually, empires are culturally and ethnically diverse.

Most legendary empires in history were established through conquests (that is, via the use of military force) or economic and political coercion. A common feature of these empires was that all of them were governed by a strong central power.

Babylonia (18th century BC)

  • Babylon - The capital of the Babylonian Empire. It was founded in the 19th century BC, however, it is believed that a city had existed here already in the 4th millennium BC.
  • Ur
  • Nineveh
  • Tigris
  • Euphrates
  • Persian Gulf

In the 18th century BC, Hammurabi established a short-lived empire through military conquests. With continuous expansion and clever policy, he managed to unite almost all of Mesopotamia during his reign.

The short-lived but powerful and well-organised first Babylonian empire fell apart after the death of Hammurabi, mostly due to the invasion of the Hittites and Kassites in the 16th century BC.

New Kingdom of Egypt (15th century BC)

  • Thebes - Known as Waset in ancient Egypt, it was the capital of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and also of the New Kingdom for a considerable time.
  • Memphis
  • Giza
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Red Sea
  • Nile

The period of the New Kingdom of Egypt started in the 16th century BC after the expulsion of the Hyksos. This was the time when Egypt became an empire and Thebes was made the capital again.

The previously flourishing empire fell apart in the 11th century BC due to external attacks and internal political and economic problems.

Neo-Assyrian Empire (7th century BC)

  • Babylon
  • Thebes
  • Nineveh - Originally called Ninua in Akkadian, it was the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 705 BC until 612 BC.
  • Jerusalem
  • Tyre
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Red Sea
  • Nile
  • Tigris
  • Euphrates
  • Persian Gulf

The Assyrian Empire gained dominance again in the 10th century BC. Thanks to reforms and military conquests, the Neo-Assyrian Empire became one of the most significant empires of the era and the region.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire weakened because of both internal and external factors and then finally crumbled in the 7th century BC because of the rise of the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Medes.

Achaemenid Empire (5th century BC)

  • Susa - One of the most ancient cities in history; it was the capital of Elam and then the winter capital and residence of the Persian Achaemenid rulers.
  • Ecbatana - The summer capital and residence of the Persian Achaemenid rulers.
  • Persepolis - Known as Pārsa to ancient Persians, its construction began during the reign of Darius I. It functioned as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire.
  • Pasargadae - Historical sources show that this was the town where Persian rulers were crowned. Presumably, it was the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire.
  • Babylon
  • Memphis
  • Jerusalem
  • Tyre
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Red Sea
  • Nile
  • Tigris
  • Euphrates
  • Persian Gulf
  • Black Sea
  • Caspian Sea
  • Indus

The Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire, was established in parallel with the fall of the Median Empire in the 6th century BC. This empire, ruled by the Achaemenid dynasty, had an enormous territorial extent and, as a result, consisted of various states and ethnic groups.

The empire, which had an efficient public administration system, was finally defeated by Alexander the Great in the second half of the 4th century BC.

Macedonian Empire (4th century BC)

  • Pella - It was founded by Archelaus I of Macedon in the 5th century BC, replacing Aigai as the capital of Macedon.
  • Babylon - Alexander the Great died here in 323 BC. He wanted to make Babylon the centre of his empire.
  • Alexandria - This city, which Alexander the Great named after himself, was one of his favourites.
  • Susa
  • Persepolis
  • Gordium
  • Jerusalem
  • Tyre
  • Balkh
  • Alexandria Bucephalous
  • Memphis
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Red Sea
  • Nile
  • Tigris
  • Euphrates
  • Persian Gulf
  • Black Sea
  • Caspian Sea
  • Indus
  • Hydaspes (Jhelum)

The rise of Macedonia took place in the 4th century BC, mainly because of its excellent military. Its heyday was during the reign of Philip II and his son, Alexander III (Alexander the Great). The latter established a large empire by military conquest. Alexander the Great died in 323 BC and his empire fell to pieces, forming Hellenistic successor states.

Maurya Empire (3rd century BC)

  • Pataliputra - The capital of the Maurya Empire was one of the largest cities in the world during the reign of Ashoka.
  • Pattala
  • Samapa
  • Arabian Sea
  • Bay of Bengal
  • Ganges
  • Hydaspes (Jhelum)
  • Indus

The Maurya Empire, ruled by the Maurya dynasty, was established in the 4th century BC and reached its heyday during the reign of Ashoka, who was the first to successfully unite almost the entire Indian subcontinent.

The empire was considerably weakened by the beginning of the 2nd century BC and the reign of the Maurya dynasty ended when the last member was assassinated.

Roman Empire (2nd century AD)

  • Rome - The Eternal City, as it is also called, was not only the capital of the Roman Empire but also its political, religious and economic centre.
  • Jerusalem
  • Alexandria
  • Tyre
  • Memphis
  • Athens
  • Lutetia
  • Londinium
  • Carthage
  • New Carthage
  • Kurenai
  • Byzantium
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Black Sea

Rome became a mighty empire and the ruler of the Mediterranean Basin after centuries of wars. The Roman Empire reached its greatest territorial extent at the turn of the 1st and 2nd century, during the reign of Trajan.

The empire was divided in two at the end of the 4th century, and the Barbarian Invasions finally led to the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

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