- Uruk and Eridu
These are the oldest cities of Mesopotamian civilization. Uruk dates as far back as 3500 B.C. and contains valuable remains of a temple built atop a ziggurat. Eridu is famous for its royal tombs and civilian graves, which are differentiated by the decorations and gifts each social status received.
Across all Mesopotamian sites, the findings of these clay tablets are extremely important, since they are some of the oldest examples of writing in human civilization. These pieces of writing tell us about local history as well as the types of crops and trade that were common in those areas.
- Early Egyptian tombs
While the most famous homes of the dead in Egypt are the massive pyramids, just as important are the older tombs, which were smaller and made out of wood. By the fourth millennium B.C., you begin to see the first elaborate stone and brick tombs with fancier gifts. These were the forefathers of what would later become the lavish setups at the pyramids.
- Indus Valley sites
Many sites in the Indus Valley were destroyed in the 19th century, so any find from this civilization is valuable in the study of ancient Asian history. These towns have been found to have rather developed flood control systems, as well as a semblance of indoor plumbing and a yet-to-be-deciphered writing system.
This is the oldest of the Chinese cities that have been excavated. As the Shang capital, An-yang housed thousands of oracle bones, which had questions about the future inscribed on them. Other bronze utensils used most likely for rituals have been found at the site.
- Emperor Qin’s tomb
A more recent building in Chinese history is the extravagant tomb commissioned for the emperor of the Qin dynasty sometime in the late 1st millennium B.C. This tomb spanned 500 acres and is most famous for its collection of life-sized terra cotta figures of warriors to protect the emperor in the afterlife. It also contains artifacts of every precious material available at the time, from gold to jade to silk.
- Olmec sites
Places such as San Lorenzo and La Venta in Mexico have given us insight into some of the earliest Central American civilizations. The Olmec sites are famous for the large stone heads that the civilization produced, as well as for the evidence about some of the oldest ball sports.
- Mayan city-states
Later on, the Mayans would overtake the Olmecs and extend their influence from Teotihuacan in central Mexico down to Guatemala. As a result, their pyramids are littered across Central America, and so are the examples of their obsidian trade, their astronomically-oriented centers, and their raised-field agriculture.
By the time the Greeks came onto the world stage, there was enough writing to record the necessary history, but the archaeological finds concerning Bronze Age (1600 to 1100 B.C.) sites are still of great use to corroborate those records. For example, there is Mycenae, where there was a fortified town with lavish tombs. The site dates back to this very time period. The oldest stone sculptures in Greece have been dated to the 600s B.C.
Rome, being the capital of the most recent of the great ancient civilizations, has provided us with archaeological discoveries that uncover even the minutiae of everyday life in Italy. This includes the unearthing of streets, burial grounds, and even kitchens.