In the 21st century, deadly conflicts in the middle-east have shocked us all. But most people forget that, even so, historic civilizations were way more dangerous than the ones we see today. One just have to look at the most powerful civilizations in history to ponder the fact. Back then, even the most civilized societies weren’t safe from the widespread brutality – take the civilized Athens as an example. Here we share the top 10 cruelest ancient civilizations.
Mayan civilization was arguably one of the most advanced civilizations in South America. The natives from the Yucatan Peninsula manage to fully develop writing systems on their nativist languages from nothing; Mayan form of writing is commonly thought to be one of the biggest lost treasures of history caused by Colonization. They were also really good at art, architecture, mathematics, and creating their own calendar and astronomical system. However, human sacrifices were very common in their community, making them brutal in order to please the Gods.
According to studies, priests would kill 14 people every minute as offerings to the Gods. According to that estimate, Mayan religion killed more than 80,000 people of their own community while the days of the Empire. They usually killed women, children, and people of the lower class.
Roman Empire existed for more than 2000 years. Nowadays it is considered by many as the foundation of western civilization for its rich culture influence. The Romans conquered vast amounts of territory in Europe and Africa, and manage to defeat important ancient city states in battle like Carthage or Mesopotamia. Rome’s military had a triple duty of securing its frontiers, exploiting borderline areas imposing tribute on the conquered, and maintaining order inside the city state.
While on campaigns, the Roman army would murder, burn villages, and rape the women of the places they had invaded. When Romans came, no one’s life was spared, neither children nor old men. That’s how Roman coliseums grow to be a strong symbol of ancient times; and how Roman gladiators trained is agreed to being one of the most severe and brutal demonstrations of physical strength and ferocity in men over the course of history.
Romans were indeed passionate about battlefield culture: gladiators would fight to the death in fighting pits to entertain the roman public, and after battles, the people would reach to the warriors’ deceased bodies to drink their blood, eat their severed parts raw, and rub their dead skin cells on their faces in order to gain their strength, use it as medicine. They also believed dead skin cells to serve as an aphrodisiac. Can’t argue now that it’s truly one of the cruelest ancient civilizations.
These nomadic tribes, who conquered most of Central Asia under the leadership of Genghis Khan, were incredibly disciplined, but wild and cruel. Mongol horses would often arrive to villages, burning them one after another just to scare the enemies. And it worked. Their opponents usually surrendered.
According to some estimates, Mongol’s Empire killed almost 40 million people.
Sparta was a city state that rose to become the dominant military force of ancient Greece. Spartan means “fearlessness” and “invulnerability.” The life of the Spartan was inextricably linked to war. Every boy was a soldier since childhood. And from an early age, children would be taken away from their mothers and sent to face the most severe trainings on the military camps. Only the strongest survived.
Spartan civilization was cruel: no emotion, pity, or sympathy. Only courage and victory was allowed on this civilization that survived for more than 1000 years, gaining their place as one of the most powerful and cruelest ancient civilizations in history.
If we talk about atrocities in Middle Age Europe, Vikings immediately come to mind. These are real conquerors, who knew no mercy either against their enemies or their fellow tribesmen. Living in the harsh northern lands, these territories were unsuitable for farming, so they regularly invaded Southern lands like Britannia, Mercia, and Paris.
These natives from New Zealand were cannibals, and they would often be in conflict with their neighboring tribes. Maori culture have aroused to display into the worldwide perspective of New Zealand culture because of its exotic motives and the large diaspora of the Maori people across island in Polynesia.
Even though their primary weapons were made out of woods and bones, they usually won in battle because of their brutality. After triumphs, they would eat their enemies. Canibals – one of the cruelest ancient civilizations.
Being ones of the most emblematic ancient civilizations in North America, according to some reports, their descendants taught the US Special Forces hand-to-hand combat skills. Apache warriors are known to have being the most skillful full-body fighters on the American continent.
They also designed and perfected all their weapons, especially knives and tomahawks.
Despite the brutality of the Apaches knew no bounds, it was always aimed at their enemies, acting in self-defense and solely for the purpose of protecting its people. Apache warriors have fought enough to fill a large history of homeland longing and strive, under the leadership of historic figures like Geronimo and Victorio, who fought bravely to recover their homelands and remain free.
The mysterious Celts: a collection of tribes who lived in central Europe around the 1200 BC. Known for being barbaric bandits who used to attack enemies when they were most vulnerable. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of questions remaining without a concrete answer about this clans like “Who they really were,“ “Why they invaded Britain,” and “how they looked like.”
But, what has truly been proved through time, is their shameless brutality; how they became known in all Europe. They’re one of the cruelest ancient civilizations you’d wish you don’t meet while you’re still alive. While their enemies were still breathing, they would slowly behead them, and then tie the severed parts of the bodies to their horses’ necks.
Mayans and the Aztecs. Believed to be the two most advanced ancient civilizations in South America. Both native from the region that today forms most of the Central America countries, Aztecs existed from 1300 to 1521. Their civilization flourished because of the fertile lands and their many scientific advances. Who would thought they don’t deserve to be in this list of cruelest ancient civilizations?
Like the Mayans, they were also known for sacrificing defenseless women and children to please their gods, like Huitzilopochtli, the god of Sun and war. Most of the time they would be burned, drowned, dismembered, and thrown from high heights. According to some estimates, the Aztecs Empire sacrificed around 100,000 people.
These people lived in the region of Northern Mesopotamia, in today’s Northern Iraq. Assyrians history goes as far as 2500 BC, being ones of the oldest civilizations in the world.
Even though they were an ethnic minority, with very few people, they managed to conquer through fear and intimidation. Assyrian armies were terrifying. And often wars were won, even before they began.
They tore-off the skin of living people, tying them to poles just to intimidate other communities. Cruel tortures like cutting off different parts of the body one by one was daily rule for the Assyrians. Indeed one of the cruelest ancient civilizations in history.
So heavy was their political relevance, that some people even talk of an “Assyrian’s Empire”, and, many times, they’re named and evocated in books like the Bible and the Torah as one of the most ancient and powerful civilizations of the Eastern world.
Most of the time, the rule imposed by the cruelest ancient civilizations and their dominance has been attributed to their relentless use of violence and blood to maintain internal and external control. Although, as a matter of fact, some of this civilizations don’t exist anymore.
Most of them – for a reason or another – have entirely vanished through the sands of time. And this could surely be the expected conclusion for all other civil associations maintaining themselves today. As it might be the fate of all societies that pass through the stream of time, we needn’t be the first to go through extinction.
Nevertheless, we think we have evolved to rely on our consciousness into building awareness of this state of the universe. And maybe, the answer would be to think about innovative methods to delay the effect of entropy over the human condition.
If you want to see more about what happened to the first civilizations of the universe and how we relate to them.