If we do not take into account a variety of hypotheses about the origin of mankind, as well as the linking of the most ancient civilizations to a specific territory, then even for specialists the task of accurately determining the oldest peoples will become almost impossible.
But, despite all the difficulties, experts still managed to compile the top 10 most ancient peoples of the world, whose history surpasses most modern nations.
- 10. Slavs
- 9. Armenians
- 8. Jews
- 7. Kushites
- 6. Assyrians
- 5. Chinese
- 4. Basques
- 3. Ethiopians
- 2. Hans
- 1. Khoisan peoples
Table of Contents
Slavs are an ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Eastern Europe. The core of the Slavic peoples was located north of the Carpathians until the 6th century. The Slavs are an old group of the central branch of the Indo-European family that inhabited Northern and Eastern Europe.
In the first century, Pliny the Elder and Tacitus called them “Veneti” (or Veneto). They lived in the territories of the ancient Scythians and Sarmatians. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the withdrawal of several Germanic tribes from the areas they occupied to advance south, the various communities that make up this ethnic group moved across the European continent. Peoples with a predominance of Slavic ethnicity: Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Poles, Bulgarians, etc.
Since the seventh century, the Slavic tribes have formed several kingdoms, among which the oldest is Great Moravia, founded on the Morava River in the modern Czech Republic. Later, the “countries of the Czech Crown” or Poland became one of the most powerful kingdoms in this region. After the adoption of Christianity, the state of Kievan Rus became one of the largest and most powerful countries on the European continent, right up to the period of civil strife and the Mongol yoke.
The Armenian people arose along the siege of Kaukasu and the Armenian plateau. A large concentration of Armenians remained in Rexon, especially in modern Armenia. The Armenians had a significant presence in countries such as Russia, Georgia and Iran due to their geographic proximity. After the Armenian genocide, the territory traditionally historically inhabited by Armenians began to be populated by other peoples. The surviving Armenians dispersed in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, France, the USA, Argentina, Brazil and other countries, due to which they gave birth to a large Armenian diaspora.
In 301, Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as the official religion of the state.
Jewish history includes a set of historical facts pertaining to people or nations that originate from the Jewish patriarchs, especially Jacob, who is called “Israel” in the Bible. Jewish history is not only the history of Judaism. In fact, the term encompasses a broader meaning, the history of the Jewish Israelites and the Judeo-Israelites, as well as their culture in general. Jews are understood not only as a group of people who obey or profess the Jewish religion, but also as representatives of a nation, whether they are religious or secular, agnostics or even atheists.
The Kushite peoples (or Kushites) are a group of people who mainly reside in northeastern Africa (Nile Valley and Horn of Africa) and speak or have historical conversations in the Kushite or Ethosemite languages of the Afro-Asian family. Cushite languages are spoken today mainly in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia), as well as in the Nile Valley (Sudan and Egypt) and parts of the Great Lakes region of Africa (Tanzania and Kenya), while Ethosemitic languages are spoken in the Horn of Africa and rarely in the Nile Valley. Some examples of these peoples include the Afar, Beja, Oromo-Borana, Somali, Amhara, Tigray (Tigray-Tigrinya), Gurages and Sidama peoples, among others.
The Assyrians (also known as Syrian Christians) are the natives of Mesopotamia, an area that stretches between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, also known as the Fertile Crescent or Beth Nahrain. Today its population is spread over several states, and they have become an ethnic minority, primarily due to the Islamization of the Middle East. The last population of this area was concentrated in Iraq, northeast of Syria, northwest of Iran and southeast of Anatolia (present-day Turkey). Many Assyrians emigrated to the Caucasus region, North America, Australia and Europe during the twentieth century.
From an ethical point of view, the Assyrians are a single compact group, although they are distributed across different churches, exerting a strong influence on their own identity and how they call themselves.
The history of China , one of the oldest civilizations in the world with continuity to this day, has its origins in the Yellow River Basin, where the first dynasties of Xia, Shang and Zhou arose. The existence of written documents some 3,500 years ago allowed the development of a very accurate historiographic tradition in China that offers a continuous narrative from the early dynasties to the modern era. Chinese culture, according to myth, was created by three emperors: Fuxi, Shannong and, finally, the Yellow Emperor Huang (the latter is considered the true creator of the culture).
There is no historical data that would confirm the real existence of these personalities, who, according to oral transmission from generation to generation, lived about 5000-6000 years ago. The huge geographic expansion of the present state of the People’s Republic of China inevitably means that the history of this entire territory covers, in a broad sense, a large number of peoples and civilizations.
The guiding thread of the traditional narrative of Chinese history focuses, in a more limited sense, on the ethnic group of the Chinese and is closely related to the development of the Chinese language and its writing system based on ideograms. This cultural and linguistic continuity is what makes it possible to establish an exhibition line of the history of Chinese civilization, which dates back to the oldest texts of the first millennium BC.
Archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century, especially in recent decades, have contributed to a much more detailed study of the origins of Chinese civilization.
Unfortunately, the Basque state is not on the globe, but this is what the people are called, whose representatives still live on the territory of two European countries at once – Spain and France. “Euskal Herria” is an autonomous region located in the northern part of Spain. The French half of the Basques are in the western part of the Atlantic Pyrenees.
The exact number of Basques is not known for certain. According to a number of experts, in France there are 90-150 thousand, in Spain – 600 thousand – 1.8 million. Basque communities are scattered all over the planet: they can be found in South America, the United States, Asia, Oceania and Africa.
The human remains found during archaeological excavations in Ethiopia are older than almost any other part of the globe, and it is possible that the emergence of modern homo sapiens occurred in Ethiopian territory. Three skulls of Homo sapiens idaltu, dating back 158 thousand years ago, were discovered at Herto Bouri in 1997 by a team of paleoanthropologists led by Tim White.
There is some confusion over the use of the term Ethiopia. The ancient Greeks used the word Aithiopia (Αἰθιοπία), meaning “land of burnt faces” (from αἴθω aithô “burn” and ὤψôps, “face”), to denote a very large area that covered Nubia, Sudan, present-day Ethiopia and part of the Libyan desert. In a broad sense, this can refer to any place in Africa located in the south of Egypt. This term is used in numerous texts, including the Iliad (I, 423).
The first information about today’s Ethiopia comes from Egyptian merchants who have visited it since 3000 BC. They called it “the land of the gods”, because even then it was possible to buy perfume, incense and myrrh there, as well as ebony, ivory and slaves.
Han is an ethnic group of the Sino-Tibetan language family. They are considered the largest ethnic group in China (92%), as well as Macau and Singapore. The word Han comes from the Chinese Han Dynasty, which succeeded the Qin Dynasty. It was she who managed to unite all of China. The name of the dynasty comes from the name of the Han River, near which the founders of the Han Dynasty lived.
During the reign of the Qin and Han dynasties, individual tribes living on the territory of modern China began to feel like part of a single people. In addition, the time of the reign of the Han Dynasty is considered the peak of the greatness of the ancient Chinese state in Chinese culture.
1. Khoisan peoples
Khoisan peoples is a term that defines an important African population group in a cultural, ethnic, linguistic and racial sense. It comes from the amalgamation of Koi (Khoikhoi) and San – the main groups that speak languages that are characterized by the inclusion of click sounds.
The Khoisan peoples developed in Central Africa over 130,000 years ago. They expanded to cover a vast area (all of southern Africa) and reached the southern tip of the continent 100,000 years ago, being the first population of Homo Sapiens to fill South Africa. There on the coast, they ate seafood and slept on woven grass mats. The Apollo XI Cave in Namibia has rock paintings that are 25,000 years old and there are 10,000 paintings. About 2,600 years ago, the population of the Koyans began to decline.
Over the course of 2000 years and until around the 16th century, the Khoisans were gradually supplanted mainly by the Bantu peoples arriving from the northwest and eventually dwindled to areas of southwest Africa – mainly where the Kalahari Desert is located. These newcomers reached the Neolithic, so they had an agricultural tradition and they knew about metals.