The Ancient Civilizations Quiz



By: Heather Cahill

6 Min Quiz

Image: mammoth / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Ancient civilizations take us on a trip all around the world from Asia to China and all across Europe. There are so many places that history has touched in the world. Each civilization had its customs and way of life that we have the opportunity to learn more and more about every day. We also have the chance to preserve their culture and heritage. Think you know a thing or two about the ancient world and the people in it?

If you could live in any ancient civilization, which one would you choose? Each culture is unique in its own way. You might think that some of their customs and values are great, but maybe you don't agree with the other things that they do. For example, body modifications might not be your cup of tea. Many civilizations thought very highly of this practice and did it quite frequently. They also had many beauty standards that members of the civilization were expected to follow for the most part.

Do you think you know a thing or two about civilizations like the ancient Mayans, Egyptians or Chinese? Then you'll have to prove that you know them well enough by taking this quiz!

Highly respected and loved, what animal had considerable importance in ancient Egypt?

Cats were extremely important to ancient Egyptians. One reason for their high importance comes from the fact that ancient Egyptians worshiped a goddess that was part cat. Known as Bastet, she was a highly respected goddess within the civilization, which made cats just as sacred.


Every civilization used a word to refer to their ruler. What was the name of a king in ancient China?

In ancient China, the king of the empire was known as an "emperor." Did you know that at one time, the Forbidden City lived up to its name so closely, that if you saw the emperor on the grounds, you would be killed? Thankfully, the rules around it are much more relaxed nowadays.


Ancient Mesopotamia was famously located by two rivers. Which of the following was one of them?

The people of ancient Mesopotamia relied on the two rivers to survive. They were used heavily for fishing and irrigation of crops. Both of these elements were very important to the survival of their civilization as a whole.


Everyone had to pass the time in some ways. What was one way that many ancient Egyptians passed time?

While there weren't any of the modern board games that we know today in ancient Egypt, the people of this civilization enjoyed their own versions of board games. One game that they played was known as "Hounds and Jackals."


Long and unique words can be difficult to understand. What is "Zoroastrianism?"

One of the oldest religions in the world is Zoroastrianism. It was practiced in ancient Persia, which was known for being quite accepting under the rule of Cyrus the Great. Despite the many religions within Persia, Cyrus the Great was a follower of this specific religion.


This ancient civilization was the first to use democracy. Which was it?

Ancient Greece was ahead of its time in creating a democratic civilization. Unfortunately, this was relatively short-lived as democracy fell just short of lasting almost 200 years. With changes in power brought changes in government.


Of the following items, which one had much importance in ancient China?

Kites weren't a toy in ancient China and instead were used for scaring enemies away from the area. One thing you may not have known about them is that the people of ancient China invented them!


The calendar of which ancient civilization is thought to have predicted the end of the world?

The ancient Mayans were extremely smart and had their own calendar system. You may remember the day of Dec. 21, 2012 as the day that the world was thought to end. This was because the Mayan calendar ended on that day, but it turned out to be untrue.


While not common today, public baths were very common in which ancient civilization?

Ancient Greece was known for many unique things, and public baths are one of them. While many of us would rather bathe in the privacy in our own homes, the baths were more than just a place to get clean. They were a common place to meet with others around the area as well.


In ancient Greece, who was not allowed to watch the Olympic games?

Once a woman was married in ancient Greece, she could not have anything to do with the Olympic Games. The punishment if they were ever caught watching them was death. Despite this, unmarried women were allowed to attend and watch the historic games.


The god Ra, a sun god, is from which civilization?

As in any ancient civilization, many gods were worshiped in Egypt. One important god is known as "Ra" who was recognized as the Sun God. With every sun god comes a moon god, which to the Ancient Egyptians was known as Khonshu.


This could really be a pain. What were the ancient Mayans very interested in?

The ancient Mayans had much different beauty standards, which included modifying their children's skulls. In fact, there is more than just one way that Mayans would change their skulls. To fit the standard, the main goal was to make the skull longer.


If this happened, it was bad news for ancient Rome. What was it?

The city of Rome had an eternal flame that had to keep burning for the city's sake. To ensure that it kept burning, it was entrusted in the care of the vestal virgins. The Vestal Virgins were brought to the temple that they lived in as children and did their mandatory 30 years of service within.


It's not easy being on top, but it's also not easy to pick out an outfit. How many times would an Inca emperor wear a piece of clothing?

Inca emperors were picky about what they wore but were especially picky about how many times they wore it. After they wore an outfit, it would be disposed of. It would be safe to assume that the clothing makers were able to stay in business!


In ancient Persia, which of the following things was considered to be one of the worst things that you could do?

Lying was looked down upon heavily by everyone in Ancient Persia and it was possible to be punished for it. If caught lying, your sentence could be as severe as execution as it was thought to be a serious offense.


We know the civilization to have built many of these, but what is the largest pyramid in ancient Egypt?

The Pyramid of Khufu is part of the three pyramids at Giza. It's the largest of the three and was built specifically to house the tomb of Khufu. There was a chamber for the king as well as the queen at different levels of the pyramid.


One of the most famous cities that belonged to the Aztec empire was known as what?

The city of Tenochtitlan was much more advanced than we might think. They were able to leverage the use of aqueducts to provide themselves clean water, and they even established a mayor within their city.


Which ancient civilization's true name was the "Mexica?"

The Aztecs were a group of intelligent people who were unfortunately called by the wrong name. The civilization called themselves the "Mexica," but the name was changed due to Alexander von Humboldt creating his own name for them. This is how their name came to be the Aztecs.


How many gods of Mount Olympus can there be at once in Greek mythology?

The highest mountain in Greece is definitely fit for the gods! But only 12 of the Greek gods and goddesses are in power at any one time. Of course, there are many more of them, which make up a total of over 3,000.


While many kids may dread this at times, it's one important part of their lives. The Aztecs made what mandatory for kids?

The Aztecs realized the importance of education and made sure to enforce it within their civilization. In fact, home schooling was very common for kids until they were about 14 years old.


The Ancient Romans celebrated which of the following holidays?

Saturnalia was similar to Christmas in many ways, but it also spanned six days rather than just one. It was mainly a treat for slaves who got to live for a short time similarly to their masters. Everyone was allowed to celebrate on this special occasion.


While it is known that the Aztecs were polygamous, which wife was the only one to receive a wedding ceremony?

Polygamy was a regular occurrence, but the Aztecs only cared about the first wife's wedding ceremony. It wasn't necessarily a money issue, but rather just the custom of marriage at the time.


Of the following, which king was a Mesopotamian king?

Sargon of Akkad was a famed ruler in Mesopotamia that created the city of Akkad. Many interesting things came out of the city under Sargon's rule. For example, you were able to get your mail thanks to an established service.


This civilization is known for creating one of the world's first laws in history. Can you name it?

Mesopotamia was a civilization of many firsts, and one of the first laws ever created was one of them. The entire tablet had over 200 laws written on it and its purpose was to eliminate all criminals within the civilization.


Used by the Greek and Romans as currency, what is this mysterious form of payment?

Salt doubles as both food and money in ancient Greece and Rome. The two countries had no trouble doing deals with their salt bags. The most common instance of it being used as currency was regarding slaves.


One of these civilizations is part of the reason that you can read this now. Which ancient civilization is considered the earliest to use a writing system?

Ancient Mesopotamia was ahead of its time in many ways, such as the forms of communication that it developed. The writing was much different than we know it to be today but overall was used for the same purpose. The Mesopotamian system can be considered a foundation of our modern day writing.


The Incas lacked in some forms of communication. Which of the following didn't they have?

The Incan civilization was known to speak Quechua. The language was spoken, rather than written, and the Incas had other methods of "writing." For example, they used knots as a substitute, which proved to be very effective.


Dentistry was very popular in the Mayan civilization. Which precious gem was often embedded in their teeth?

The Mayans were talented dentists who would complete detailed dental procedures that were both medical and cosmetic in nature. Many ancient Mayan skulls have teeth with jade embedded within them. Unfortunately, the freezing we have these days was not available.


Every civilization gets its start with someone on top. Who is credited as the founder of the Persian civilization?

What we now know as Iran was once known as Persia and was founded under Cyrus the Great. Despite fighting for territory, he was known to be a great leader who had incredible tolerance, especially when it came to religion.


Home is where the heart is, but also where the food is! Where would someone in Ancient Rome eat dinner?

While many kids today might envy an Ancient Roman for this luxury, it was normal to them. Though they ate on couches, they were located around a table as well. It's important to note that this was usually reserved for the upper class.


If you were a child in ancient China, what pet might you have owned?

Thinking back to "Mulan," you might remember that she had a pet named "Cri-kee," who was a cricket. Many kids in ancient China kept crickets as pets in real life. If you lived during this time period, you may have even participated in your share of cricket fights.


As time goes on, things go in and out of popularity. What was a common and popular practice in Persia?

What many may view as witchcraft was something that was highly practiced and celebrated by the ancient Persians. They weren't the only people to practice it, however. Many other ancient civilizations found value in the practice.


Which of the following buildings were prominent in the ancient Mayan civilization?

Saunas were a large part of the ancient Mayan civilization, but they weren't just used for relaxation as they are today. The most common reason for use was to heal from something, mostly physical ailments.


Can you name the civilization that the Oracle Bone belongs to?

The Oracle Bone is an important artifact from the ancient Chinese civilization. It shows some of the oldest Chinese writing ever discovered in the world. The writing is actually written on a real animal bone.


We have our months of the year memorized, but they were much different in the past. Which month was known as "Raymi" to the ancient Incas?

Raymi is the name of December in the Inca calendar, which is also a month full of celebration. One of the traditional holidays that was celebrated was called "Inti Raymi," which celebrated one of the civilization's gods.


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