Ancient History

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At its largest extent, the Byzantine Empire included North Africa, the southern Iberian Peninsula, the Italian Peninsula, the Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia, Egypt and the Levant. The Empire's center was the city of Constantinople.

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  • Who was the first person to discover America?

    Q: Who was the first person to discover America?

    A: The discovery of America is most commonly attributed to Christopher Columbus, as it was he who revealed the Americas to early-modern Europe. Scholars entertain many alternative answers to who discovered America depending on the specific parameters of what constitutes "discovery."
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  • How long did it take to get across the Atlantic in the 1700s?

    Q: How long did it take to get across the Atlantic in the 1700s?

    A: Since ships in the 1700s relied on sails to propel them, the length of the voyage greatly depended on the wind. An immigrant who made the journey in 1750 reported that it could take between eight and 12 weeks, while another who arrived in 1724 reported that the journey took six weeks and three days. The average journey was about seven weeks.
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  • What food did Sumerians eat?

    Q: What food did Sumerians eat?

    A: Barley was the main staple of the Sumerian diet, and was used to make barley cakes and barley paste. Sumerians combined barley with other local vegetables, including beans, lentils, chickpeas, mustard and lettuce. Lamb, goat, pork and fish were favorites with city-dwelling Sumerians, but rural farming communities did not eat meat often and lived on a mostly vegetarian diet.
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  • What did samurai wear?

    Q: What did samurai wear?

    A: Samurai warriors wore kimonos, obis, loincloths, kamishimos, hakamas and occasionally long-sleeved coats and hats. Their clothing varied in quality and style depending on their socioeconomic status and level of mastery. All warriors wore loincloths, which served as underwear, along with belts and swords or other protective weapons, at all times.
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  • What were ancient China's natural resources?

    Q: What were ancient China's natural resources?

    A: The prodigious land area of ancient China harbored resources like coal, drinking water, numerous minerals and plant and animal life. China is the biggest producer of salt on Earth, with 17 million tons annually. There are 760 billion tons of coal located in China's Shanxi region, and the 3 trillion cubic meters of rainfall and river water rank 6th in the world.
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  • What kind of government did Sparta have?

    Q: What kind of government did Sparta have?

    A: Sparta had what is known as a diarchical monarchy. The government's complete makeup consisted of dual kings; a council of about 30 gerontes or gerousia, which are rich elders; the ephors, a small council of five people and an assembly, called the Appella or Demos, of the common people who gathered once a month.
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  • What was the religion of the Han dynasty?

    Q: What was the religion of the Han dynasty?

    A: The main religion of the Han dynasty was Taoism. The Han dynasty also embraced the philosophical ideas of Confucianism. Buddhism was brought to China during the Han dynasty.
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  • What country colonized China?

    Q: What country colonized China?

    A: Great Britain took Hong Kong from China after winning the First Opium War and took southern Kowloon after winning the Second Opium War. Portugal claimed the Macau region and kept it until 1999. France took over the region that is now northern Vietnam from China by winning the Sino-French War.
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  • What is the cradle of civilization?

    Q: What is the cradle of civilization?

    A: Scholars traditionally regard Mesopotamia, an ancient area surrounding the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that is now parts of modern day Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Kuwait, as the cradle of civilization. The area is also know as the Fertile Crescent.
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  • Why did the Aztecs sacrifice humans?

    Q: Why did the Aztecs sacrifice humans?

    A: The Aztecs sacrificed humans because they believed that without the sustenance of human life-blood, the sun would fail and the world would end. Their gods had sacrificed themselves to bring the world into existence, so humanity must continue the sacrifices to ensure the world remained sustained.
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  • Where did the Earth come from?

    Q: Where did the Earth come from?

    A: Astrophysicists believe the Earth and the rest of the solar system is the result of the Big Bang and its explosions of massive stars. The Big Bang and the stellar explosions, called supernovas, blasted untold amounts of material into space. Eventually, the matter cooled down and began to clump together into a hot, spinning cloud that eventually became a solar nebula.
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  • Who won the Opium War between China and Great Britain?

    Q: Who won the Opium War between China and Great Britain?

    A: Great Britain won the Opium War against China. Their victory created foreign spheres of influence in China, allowed Great Britain to take possession of Hong Kong, opened China to European influence and created a drug epidemic in southeastern Asia.
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  • What was ancient Hebrew civilization like?

    Q: What was ancient Hebrew civilization like?

    A: Little is known about the oldest eras of ancient Hebrew civilization because the culture was nomadic. The most distinct and long-lasting elements of ancient Hebrew civilization lay not in its architectural, artistic or diplomatic contributions but in the focus of the people on a monotheistic God who was radically different from the gods worshipped by most ancient peoples.
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  • What do "BC" and "AD" mean in a timeline?

    Q: What do "BC" and "AD" mean in a timeline?

    A: "B.C." stands for "before Christ," while "A.D." stand for "anno domini," meaning "in the year of our Lord," according to How Stuff Works. This way of delineating the calendar was established in the 5th century.
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  • Did ancient Indus River Valley cities have military protection?

    Q: Did ancient Indus River Valley cities have military protection?

    A: Research suggests that the people of the Indus Valley civilization were peaceful. No weapons or other forms of protection from invaders or other civilizations were used. According to USHistory.org, no evidence of a military has been found in the remains of these ancient cities.
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  • Why did Ferdinand Magellan make his voyage?

    Q: Why did Ferdinand Magellan make his voyage?

    A: Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator, sailed west from Spain in the early 16th century in hopes of finding a western shipping route to Indonesia's Spice Islands. With five ships and more than 250 men, he reached Brazil, where he looked along the coast of South America for a strait leading to the Pacific Ocean. After camping in Port St. Julian for the winter, Magellan found the strait.
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  • What are some facts about the Zhou Dynasty?

    Q: What are some facts about the Zhou Dynasty?

    A: Although historians do not agree on the exact starting time, the Zhou dynasty in China lasted approximately from 1046 to 221 B.C. and is the longest dynasty in the history of the nation. It is also called the Chou dynasty. Under this dynasty, most of China operated under one government for the first time.
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  • What accomplishment is Confucius most well-known for?

    Q: What accomplishment is Confucius most well-known for?

    A: Confucius' most well-known accomplishment is creating the philosophy of Confucianism. This philosophy stresses that a stable society requires people to follow tradition and a policy of mutual respect. Confucianism provided the basis for the bureaucracy in imperial China.
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  • Who was the first person to invent music?

    Q: Who was the first person to invent music?

    A: Music predates recorded history, so it is impossible to say where and when it was first performed. However, there are archaeological records that indicate virtually all prehistoric societies developed musical instruments and had some capacity to play music.
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  • What did the Mayans invent?

    Q: What did the Mayans invent?

    A: The Mayan people invented complex and highly accurate calendars based off astronomical readings. They are also believed to have discovered the technique of vulcanization, a process that strengthens rubber by adding other materials.
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  • What is the oldest civilization known to man?

    Q: What is the oldest civilization known to man?

    A: Civilizations do not typically have discreet start dates, but tend to emerge gradually over the course of many centuries. This makes it a matter of interpretation whether Egypt, Mesopotamia or India was the first society to develop fixed residences and a complex division of labor.
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