An enormous and far-reaching Summit is held in Athens on 23 and 24 April at the initiative of the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, as the First Ministerial Conference of the Forum of Ancient Civilizations is held at Zappeion Megaron.
Besides the host, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, also participating are the Foreign Ministers of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Yi, of Italy Angelino Alfano, of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iraqi Republic Ibrahim Abdul-Kareem Hamza Al- Eshaiker Al-Jaafari, the Arab Republic of Egypt Sameh Hassan Shoukry, the Culture Minister of Peru Salvador Alejandro del Solar, the deputy Foreign Minister of Bolivia Dr. Guadalupe Palomeque De La Cruz and at diplomatic level India and Mexico will be represented by HE. M. Manimekalai and HE. Daniel Hernandez Joseph respectively.
The participating countries and their cultural inheritance:
Greece: ‘The Hellenic World’ is a term which refers to that period of ancient Greek history between 507 BCE (the date of the first democracy in Athens) and 323 BCE (the death of Alexander the Great). This period is also referred to as the age of Classical Greece and should not be confused with The Hellenistic World which designates the period between the death of Alexander and Rome’s conquest of Greece (323 – 146 – 31 BCE).
The Hellenic World of ancient Greece consisted of the Greek mainland, Crete, the islands of the Greek archipelago, and the coast of Asia Minor primarily (though mention is made of cities within the interior of Asia Minor and, of course, the colonies in southern Italy). This is the time of the great Golden Age of Greece and, in the popular imagination, resonates as ‘ancient Greece’.
China: The Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization, although cultures originated at various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys millennia ago in the Neolithic era. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations, and is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization.
Much of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy further developed during the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC). The Zhou dynasty began to bow to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, and the kingdom eventually broke apart into smaller states, beginning in the Spring and Autumn period and reaching full expression in the Warring States period.
Between eras of multiple kingdoms and warlordism, Chinese dynasties have ruled parts or all of China; in some eras control stretched as far as Xinjiang and Tibet, as at present. In 221 BC Qin Shi Huang united the various warring kingdoms and created for himself the title of “emperor” (huangdi) of the Qin dynasty, marking the beginning of imperial China.
Iran: Persian Empire refers to any of a series of imperial dynasties centered in Persia. The first of these was the Achaemenid Empire established by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC with the conquest of Median, Lydian and Babylonian empires. It covered much of the Ancient world when it was conquered by Alexander the Great. Several later dynasties “claimed to be heirs of the Achaemenids”. Persia was then ruled by the Parthian Empire which supplanted the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, and then by the Sassanian Empire which ruled up until mid 7th century.
It is important to note that while many of these empires referred to themselves as Persian, they were often ethnically ruled by Medes, Babylonians, or Parthians. Iranian dynastic history was interrupted by the Arab conquest of Persia in 651 AD, establishing the even larger Islamic Caliphate, and later by the Mongol invasion.
The main religion of ancient Persia was the native Zoroastrianism, but after the seventh century, it was replaced by Islam. Safavid Empire was the first Persian Empire established after Arab conquest of Persia by the Shah Ismail I.
Iraq: Mesopotamia was a historical region situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq plus Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish-Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.
Widely considered to be one of the cradles of civilization by the Western world, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian empires, all native to the territory of modern-day Iraq. In the Iron Age, it was controlled by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires.
The Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.
Italy: The Roman empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from Rome, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants (roughly 20% of the world’s population) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.
In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from a monarchy to a classical republic and then to an increasingly autocratic empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it came to dominate the Mediterranean region and then Western Europe, Asia Minor, North Africa, and parts of Northern and Eastern Europe. It is often grouped into classical antiquity together with ancient Greece, and their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world.
Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern government, law, politics, engineering, art, literature, architecture, technology, warfare, religion, language and society. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France. It achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as the construction of large monuments, palaces, and public facilities.
Egypt: Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. It is one of six civilizations to arise independently. Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3150 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh Narmer (commonly referred to as Menes). The history of ancient Egypt occurred in a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.
Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, during the Ramesside period, where it rivalled the Hittite Empire, Assyrian Empire and Mitanni Empire, after which it entered a period of slow decline. Egypt was invaded or conquered by a succession of foreign powers, such as the Canaanites/Hyksos, Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, Babylonians, the Achaemenid Persians, and the Macedonians in the Third Intermediate Period and the Late Period of Egypt. In the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s death, one of his generals, Ptolemy Soter, established himself as the new ruler of Egypt. This Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom ruled Egypt until 30 BC, when, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.
Peru: The Andean civilizations made up a loose patchwork of different cultures that developed from the highlands of Colombia to the Atacama Desert. The most advanced civilizations were those of the Inca Empire and the Muisca. There were other cultures in Ancient Peru and earlier cultures in Tiwanaku and the Norte Chico civilization.
The Inca Empire was the last sovereign political entity that emerged from the Andean civilizations before the Spanish conquest. The Inca Empire was a patchwork of languages, cultures and peoples. The components of the empire were not all uniformly loyal, nor were the local cultures all fully integrated. For example, the Chimú culture used money in their commerce, while the Inca empire as a whole had an economy based on exchange and taxation of luxury goods and labor, and it is said that Inca tax collectors would take the head lice of the lame and old as a symbolic tribute.
The portions of the Chachapoya culture that had been conquered were almost openly hostile to the Inca, and the Inca nobles rejected an offer of refuge in their kingdom after their troubles with the Spanish.
Bolivia: Cultures of indigenous peoples in Bolivia developed in the high altitude settings of altiplano with low oxygen lewels, poor soils and extreme weather patterns. Aymara people arrived in the region some 2000 years ago, eventually settling in Western Bolivia, Southern Peru and Northern Chile. Present-day Aymaras associate themselves with the advanced culture of Tiwanaku, which after 600 became an important regional power.
Tiwanaku gained its power through the trade it implemented between all of the cities within its empire. After 950 a dramatic shift in climate occurred and there was a significant drop in precipitation for the Titicaca Basin. Tiwanaku disappeared around AD 1150 because food production collapses and could no longer sustain the large population. The land was not inhabited for many years after that.
Between 1438 and 1527 the Inca empire embarked on a mass expansion, acquiring much of what is now western Bolivia unther their 9th emperor, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, whose reign lasted from 1438 to 1471. Pachacuti Yupanqui was succeeded by his son, Topa Inca Yupanqui whose reign also increased the Incan territory and lasted from 1471 to 1493. During the 15th century the Incas conquered the region of Lake Titicaca and western Bolivia became a part of the Inca territory as province of Qullasuyu.
India: The Indus Valley Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1600 BCE) mainly in the northwestern regions of South Asia, extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilisations of the Old World, and of the three, the most widespread. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, and along a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan.
Aridification of this region during the 3rd millennium BCE may have been the initial spur for the urbanisation associated with the civilisation, but eventually also reduced the water supply enough to cause the civilisation’s demise, and to scatter its population eastward.
At its peak, the Indus Civilisation may have had a population of over five million. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin). The Indus cities are noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, and clusters of large non-residential buildings.
Mexico: The Aztec Empire flourished between c. 1345 and 1521 CE and, at its greatest extent, covered most of northern Mesoamerica. Aztec warriors were able to dominate their neighbouring states and permit rulers such as Motecuhzoma II to impose Aztec ideals and religion across Mexico. Highly accomplished in agriculture and trade, the last of the great Mesoamerican civilizations was also noted for its art and architecture which ranks amongst the finest ever produced on the continent.
The Aztec state is actually the most well documented Mesoamerican civilization with sources including archaeology, native books (codices) and lengthy and detailed accounts from their Spanish conquerors – both by military men and Christian clergy. These latter sources may not always be reliable but the picture we have of the Aztecs, their institutions, religious practices, warfare and daily life is a rich one and it continues to be constantly expanded with details being added through the endeavours of 21st century CE archaeologists and scholars./IBNA