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ANCIENT HISTORY: EGYPT, GREECE & ROME. Ancient History is a long period of time from writing invention (about 3500 B.C. in Mesopotamia), till the Fall of Roman Empire in 476 A.D. The most important civilizations were Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. 1.- ANCIENT EGYPT. Egypt is in the North-East of Africa, near the Mediterranean sea. River Nile runs through Egypt from North to South. Egyptian people lived in the riversides, because these lands were very fertile, and the rest of the country was a desert. The river was also the best mean of transport (sail boats).

1.1.-HISTORY: 5.000 years ago, (about 3.000 B.C.) the first Egyptian king (Pharaoh) unified all territories next to the Nile. Egypt became a very rich country, it was invaded by other foreign civilizations, but later (about 1.500 B.C.), pharaohs organized a powerful army, and conquered more territories in the East. They created a big empire, with Tebas as the capital.

1.2.- THE PHARAOH, KING OF EGYPT. Pharaoh was the name for the Egyptian king. He was considered the son of Ra (the solar divinity), and was adored like a god. He had many councilors to run the country: nobility, priests… Scribes were people who could write and count to control the country economy. Everything was pharaoh’s property (fields, animals, crops…) scribes used hieroglyphs to draw on papyrus or on stones in the temples and monuments… Ramsés II holding his enemies, and a Cartouche with his name.

1.3.- WORK IN EGYPT. Farmers were most of the population: 9 over 10 Egyptian people work in the fields (men and women). Children also worked and helped their parents. There were craftsmen: metal-workers, potters, basketmakers, weavers… They were free people. The hardest works were done by slaves (construction, mining… ) Wheat crop in Egypt


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1.4.- BELIEVES. Egyptian people were polytheistic, and they adored forces of Nature (Ra: the sun…) some animals (Horus: the falcon…), and the Pharaoh. They used to represent gods with an animal head on a human body. The most important were: Ra (the sun), Osiris (God of dead people), Isis (god of families)…

They built very big temples in honour of their gods. They believed in another life after death, so they mummified to dead people to preserve them for next life (mummies), and they buried some pharaohs inside pyramids, with secret passages to avoid robbers. The Great Pyramid

Temple of Abu Simbel

1.5.- ENTERTAINMENTS. Every Egyptian god had special festivities days. There were great processions, and dances in the honour of the god. Rich people celebrated great parties where men and women took part, they listened to music, and dancers danced while meals.

Dancers in the Ancient Egypt.


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2.- ANCIENT GREECE. Greek people lived in the Peloponnese peninsula (in the South-East of Europe) and in the near isles about 3000 years ago. 2.1.-GREEK CITIES. . The ancient Greek spoke the same language and believed in the same gods, but they belonged to different states. On the other hand, they were organized in Little independent cities with their own government, costumes and even own army. They called them polis (city-state). The most important ones were Sparta and Athens. Sparta had a very powerful army, they lived to fight at wars. Athens was richer and more brilliant. In the 5th century B.C. they built very beautiful monuments (the Parthenon in the Acropolis). They invented ‘democracy’ as their type of government, and there were a lot of artists and famous philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the sculptor Phidias…) Parthenon in the Acropolis of Athens

Different polis fought among them, but in danger moments they joint each others (forming leagues) to fight against invaders. Some polis established colonies in other places next to the Mediterranean sea (in the Italic, Iberian peninsulas…), like Ampurias and Rosas in Catalonia, for trade purpose. In these colonies they used the same type of government, Greek language, costumes, and Greek gods. They developed a Greek navy to sail and trade through the Mediterranean. Ruins in Ampurias.

2.2.- WORK. Most of Greek people were peasants, craftsmen and lots of slaves. Trade was very important. Traders sailed to colonies to trade with native people. They traded with wine, oil, pottery, perfumes… They also exchanged metals, salt, linen… They introduced coins to make easier the exchanges and trade. Athenian coins


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Greek trade ship

2.3.- BELIEVES. Greek people were polytheistic. They thought that Gods were like ordinary people, but more powerful, immortal and for ever young. They also had Heroes like Heracles, Ulysses and Achilles, who were children from a god and a mortal. They thought that some important families and cities were created by these characters. Myths were stories about these famous characters. Some Greek Gods

2.4.- ENTERTAINMENTS. Their favourites events were theater performances and sport competitions. The most important ones were the Olimpic Games, that took place every four years in Olimpia, in the honour of Zeus, where all polis took part, and even wars stopped.

Athletes in an old Greek vessel

Old Olimpic Stadium (Olimpia)



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In Some tribes lived in the middle of the Italic peninsula 2800 years ago. In 753 B.C. they founded Rome, where their kings were established.

The she-wolf feeding Romulus and Remus.

3.1.- HISTORY. About 500 years B.C., Roman expelled their last King and established the Republic, for five centuries. Then Romans took part in the government, they had discussions to make decisions in the Senate. During this period Rome conquered Italy completely and all territories surrounding the Mediterranean sea. They fought against many countries, so they had a great army formed by legions.

Roman Senate

In the 1st Century B.C., there was a civil war, and finally Julius Caesar was the head of the empire. Later, Augustus became the first emperor. During his reign JesusChrist was born. The Roman Empire was bigger and bigger, and there were long periods of peace. Emperors ruled the empire as absolute monarchs without considering the point of view of the Senate. Roman Empire fell down in 476 A.D., when it was defeated by different Barbarian armies (German armies).

3.2.- LIFE IN CITIES. Cities were the centre of the social , financial, politic and cultural roman life. People from the surroundings went to the city for trading and doing business, going to temples, or going to the shows in the circus... Roman cities were surrounded by a fortified wall and their streets were in a quadrangular shape. The forum was placed in the centre of the city. In the forum they made business and dealt out justice. There were Roman baths (public baths for everybody), theater (used for performances), amphitheater (where gladiators fought‌), Triumphal Arcs, aqueducts (to carry water to the city‌) Triumphal Arc in Tarragona

Roman Baths (Thermas)


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In the cities, there were very luxurious houses (domus) for rich people and houses with several floors for poor people (ínsulas). Romans spent a lot of time outside in the streets, and they used to buy food in tabernas.



Roman Villa

During the Empire Period, Rome became the biggest and most beautiful city in the world. About one million people lived there, and goods from all over the empire were taken there. Thousands of tradesmen and craftsmen worked there. 3.3.- LIFE IN THE COUNTRY. Although cities were the centre of the Roman life, most of people lived in the country working as farmers or cattle farmers. Agricultural exploitations were organized around Roman villas. A villa was composed of a big building (for the rich owner) and other constructions for animals (stables…), workshops (for smiths, carpenters…) and houses for slaves. Romans invented mills moved by animals, the Roman plough, oil press, watering techniques, fertilizers…


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3.4.- PROVINCES. Romans divided the empire into provinces. Each province was ruled from Rome, and it had the same laws, currency, and the same language: latin. In every province they built cities, military camps to maintain order and control revolts. Roman paved roads came from Rome to every province in the empire.

Roman paved road

3.5.- ROMAN SOCIETY. There were two kinds of people: free people and slaves. Free people: a.- Patricians controlled the government with the Senate. They had the politic, military and financial power. They had villas and domus. b.-Plebeians were free but they had to work. They were merchants, artisans, soldiers… c.- Slaves didn’t have any rights, they could Patricians soldier and slave plebeians be sold and be bought, they did every kind of works from the hardest in the mines or in the country to domestic workers. In some occasions they could buy their own liberty. 3.6.- ENTERTAINMENTS. Their favourite shows were gladiator’s fights in the amphitheatre, chariot racing in the circus. They also went to the theatre and thermas (Roman baths) to take a bath, do some exercise and chat with friends. Patricians gave luxurious parties to show their power. Roman Coliseum

3.6.- BELIEVES. .- Roman were polytheist. They changed the name of Greek gods into Roman’s, and they adored them and built temples into their honour. .- Apart of that, every family had a kind of protector god (Domestic Lares) that had a shrine in every house. .- The Emperor was also considered as a god. .- About the middle of 1st century A.D., Christian religion started to spread, but christians were persecuted because of they didn’t accept the emperor as a god. But their number was bigger and bigger and in the 4th century A.D. this new religion was Correspondence between Greek and Roman gods. accepted, and later Christianism became the empire official religion.


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4.- SPAIN IN THE ANCIENT AGE. 4.1.- PRE-ROMAN CULTURES: CELTIC AND IBERIAN. Some nomads tribes lived in the Iberian peninsula about a million years ago, they hunted and collected fruits and vegetables (paleolithic). Later, about 2000 years ago, they became sedentaries, farmers… (neolithic). 2.000 years B.C. they started to make metal tools, and they organized bigger groups of people ruled by a chief (Metals Age). During the 1st millennium, some other cultures came to the peninsula. Celtic and Iberian people were living here. Later Phoenician and Greek came through the Mediterranean sea. They trade with the inhabitants. These people had a very developed culture, they built important cities like Cadiz, Ampurias… They introduced writing, so Ancient Age started.

4.2. THE CELTS. They came from Central Europe, and they lived in the North and centre of the peninsula. They lived in roundhouses located on high places. They were made of claybricks and stones and thick thatch. In the centre of the village there were some buildings for meetings and religious purposes. They were herders and farmers. They were also expert metal-workers, they made jewellery, weapons and tools. They didn’t know writing or coin. There were different tribes like Cantabri, Astures, Gallaeci… Roundhouse

4.3.- THE IBERIANS. Lady of Elche They lived in the east and south of the peninsula. Their villages were surrounded by a fortified wall, they had a main street and a square for meetings. They were warriors, herders, farmers, craftsmen, merchants, metal-workers… They trade with other Mediterranean cultures. They used coins, plough, wine and olive oil. They created their own writing system. They cremated their corpses in cemeteries, and put the ashes into an urn. They buried it with his ‘grave goods’ (jewelry, weapons…) . Iberian falcata


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4.4.- HISPANIA, A ROMAN PROVINCE. Roman conquered the peninsula. They wanted to control the Mediterranean sea, so they fought against Carthaginians. Carghaginians lived in the north of Africa, and came to the Peninsula. They wanted gold, silver and soldiers… and they founded Cartagena e Ibiza. Roman came to the Iberian peninsula, they landed at Ampurias, and later they conquered the Meseta and at the end the north part of the peninsula. The emperor Augustus divided Hispania in three provinces. 4.5.- LA ROMANIZACIÓN. The peninsula became a part of the Roman Empire. It was called Hispania. People adopted Roman customs (coins, houses, clothes, religion…) and their language: Latin. They were ruled by Roman law, and the governor was a Roman person.

Rome used its army to conquer Hispania. Their soldiers were called legionaries and they formed the Roman Legions. They built fortified camps. Later these camps were transformed into Roman cities. Native people were mixing with Romans, so they became part of the Roman army, they worked in fields, trade, construction… and they even were emperors like Trajan and Hadrian. . Roman built lots of buildings and public works like aqueducts (Segovia), theaters (Mérida, Segóbriga…), bridges (Alcántara in Toledo…), Triumphal Arches (Bara Arch in Tarragona…). They also founded lots of cities: Lugo, León, Segóbriga… . Roman legionary

Alcántara Bridge (Toledo)

Aqueduct in Segovia

Ruins of Roman Theatre Segóbriga (Cuenca)


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ANCIENT HISTORY: GLOSARY-VOCABULARY: Riverside: orilla land: tierra, terreno mean of transport: medio de transporte sail boat: barco de vela pharaoh: faraón became: se convirtió foreign: extranjero/a empire: imperio powerful army: ejército poderoso councilor: consejero to run: gobernar priest: sacerdote Scribe: escriba crop: cultivo, cosecha hieroglyph: jeroglífico cartouche: cartucho 9 over 10: 9 de cada 10 field: campo de cultivo craftsmen: artesanos metal-worker: metalúrgico potter: alfarero basketmaker: cestero weaver: tejedor slave: esclavo wheat: trigo polytheistic: politeísta falcon: halcón dead people: muertos god: dios they used to represent: Solían representar temple: templo mummify: momificar life after death: vida después de la muerte to bury: enterrar passage: pasillo, pasadizo avoid robbers: evitar a los ladrones entertainment: diversiones, entretenimiento meal: comida (hora de la comida) state: estado, país costume: costumbre to be organized: estar organizado city-state: ciudad-estado philosopher: filósofo danger moments: momentos de peligro to join each other: unirse unas a otras invader: invasor colony: colonia to develop: desarrollar to trade: comerciar peasant: pequeño agricultor to exchange: intercambiar salt: sal linen: lino to make easier: hacer más fácil believes: creencias for ever: para siempre ordinary people: gente normal hero: héroe character: personaje theatre performance: representación teatral myth: mito every four years: cada 4 años to take part: tomar parte, participar vessel: vasija to expel: expulsar she-wolf feedin…: loba alimentando… to establish: establecer Senate: senado to have discussions: debatir, hacer debates civil war: guerra civil the head of the empire: la cabeza del imperio, (el jefe) to rule: gobernar, dirigir fall down: caer to defeat: derrotar surround: alrededor shape: forma dealt out justice: administrar justicia performance: representación amphitheater: anfiteatro to carry water: para llevar agua luxurious house: casa lujosa rich owner: propietario rico workshop: taller Smith: herrero mill: molino oil press: prensa de aceite watering techniques: técnicas de riego fertilizer: fertilizante, abono currency: moneda de un país military camp: campamento militar paved road: calzada merchant: mercaderes artisan: artesano every kind of works: toda clase de trabajos domestic workers: empleados domésticos shrine: urna, santuario to spread: extenderse developed culture: cultura desarrollada chief: jefe herder: pastor plough: arado to cremate: cremar, quemar corps: cadáver grave goods: ajuar funerario to put the ashes into an urn: poner las cenizas en una urna to found: fundar to land: desembarcar building: edificios public Works: obras públicas


Notes about Egypt, Greece, Rome and Spain in Ancient History.