In terms of ancient history, one of often thinks of Egypt, India, Greece and Rome as well as China, Sumer, Bayblon, Persian, Byzamtium, the Mayians and many others. This will be short a short glimpse at India, Egypt, Greece and Rome, outline a handful of major dates or periods and glimpsing general movements.
In very ancient India, homo heidelbergenis, an ancestor of modern humans, has been found to have existed approximately 250,000 years ago. India is indeed very ancient and perhaps one of the birthplaces of modern humanity. Its cultural history and creation myths are vast to the point that they will be left to another time to summarize.
Creation and Origin Myths
Egypt, Greece and Rome creation myths are able to be oversimplified to the point they are quickly summarizable. Many creation myths start with water of some form of another and Egypt is no exception. In the beginning, for some Egyptians, was Atum, the original being who summoned Hecca to be the magical, animating, divine driving force required to create order out of Chaos. Through the process of creation, Ma'at (or Maat), a the embodiment of systemic harmony emerged. Throughout time, Ma'at and Hecca would interplay in the unfolding of earthly experience. Maat, symbolized by the regal ostrich feather, would be the mother to all Kings, the first of which being Osirus.
Osirus married Isis, his divine sister, to form the first earthly monarchy. Their brother, Set, became jealous of Osirus and murdered him, cutting him in countless pieces and throwing them into the Nile. Isis was able to retrieve nearly all of the pieces and bring him back to life. Together they created Horace, their son who would grow to reign over the Earth. Osiris descended into the underworld where he would reign from below. From this simple mythology a rich heritage of gods and goddesses descended, providing Egypt a spiritual framework which lasted through the millenia and would live in part through its symbology in Christianity.
Greece, likely due to its originally being an aggomeration of various groups, had several creation myths. The first one will sound quite familiar to Christians. Like Noah of the Bible or Utnapishtim of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the son of Prometheus, Deucatin, saved Greece from a great flood. Deucatin and Pyrrha created Hellen (a different Hellen than that of the "Hellen of Troy") who would start the repopulation of Greece.
In the second Greek creation myth, it was Eurynome who was responsible for creation, bringing order out of chaos by seperating air from water. Eurynome and Ophion performed a dance of creation forming the world. Finally is the Homeric myth of Zeus as the originator of Greek civilization. Zeus battled the Titans, defeating them and gave rise to the gods of Olympus, himself becoming chief.
The Romans also have several myths of the origin of their nation. In the first one, the two brothers Romulus and Rebus battle over control for the new city, a battle in which Romulus kills Rebus, winning control and naming the city after himself. In the second, Romun is simply a trading port on the Tibris and grew through superior economics and warfare. Lastly, in a more traditional myth tying the origin of Rome to the semi-divine status of ancient Troy. In this version, Roma accompanies survivors of the Battle of Troy on the journey out where they stopped on the Tibris. When the soldiers wished to move on, Roma objected and lead the other women in burning down the fleet of ships. As such the survivors of Troy were responsbile for founding Rome.
Prehistoric Egypt, Greece and India > 6000 BC
Relatively little of the three empires is known before recorded history seems to pickup around 3500. Glaciers from the last Ice Age are said to have receded around 10,000 BC. During this time, a great melt occurred and sea levels rapidly rose 300 ft (100 meters). Also around this time, a large ceremonial area named Göbekli Tepe existed in Anatolia (modern day Turkey). Some speculation exists that this area may have been a convergence point where various civilizations shared knowledge about subjects including agriculture. As it turns out, the earliest known settlers of Greece were agriculturalists and are speculated to have migrated over from Anatolia, which may somewhat support the speculation. In any event all three of the regions of Egypt, Greece and India were involved in trade and farming back into 8000 BC and beyond. The people of Egypt called their region the "Dark Land" referring to the rich dark soil found along the banks of the Nile at this time. Trade and agriculture flourished and the city of Memphis was established, becoming the center of power into the Early Dynastic Period. In India, economic activity was underway in the form of the Indus Valley Civilization noted around 6500 BCE.
About 3500 BCE
In and around 3500, India continues to engaged in the activities of the Indus Valley Civilization while in Egypt the Early Dynastic period begins and Upper and Lower Egypt are unified and ruled from Mephis. A bit later in Greece, around 3200 BCE, evidence of the Cyclidians, living along the Aegean Sea emerges. Likely the civilization had been there back from 6000 BC and before, but this is about when archeology picks up the trail. The Cyclidians built temples, fished and traded as well as their farming activities. Eventually they would be conquered by a later civilization.
In 2700 BCE, records of the Greek Minonian Civilization show a culture creating art, ceramics and engaged in war along with developing the Linear A language, which ultimately would be an ancestor language to Greek via Linear B. Linear A at this point has never been deciphered. For various reasons posited, including overuse of the land and invasion by rival groups, the Minonian Civilation began to decliine. However it was tsunamis produced by a massive earthquake on Thera which wiped out the civilization. This event is said by some to the inspiration for Plato's tale of Atlantis.
Around the same time, 2613 BC, Egypt entered the Old Kingdom period during which the Great Pyramids were built, medicine emerged as a practice, slaves were bought and sold and Djoser ruled. This was followed by an Intermediate period from 2180 - 2040 where Memphis ceased to be hub as the region split into districts and the stage was set for Thebes (Egypt, not the Greek Thebes) to become the hub of Eyptian power. In India, it was the time of Mohenjo-Daro.
1900 BC marks the beginning of the Mycenaean culture in Greece. This was the setting for Homer's accounts of Troy in the Illiad and also the time at which Linear B, the basis for the Greek language, is formed. Little actual written documentation of life during this period exists beyond the archeological. By 1100 the Mycenian cities were abandoned. The Trojan War would take place in 1300
Egypt was experiencing the Middle Kingdom, prevailed over by Thebes. This was a time of great art and culture with the temple of Karnac as an example.
India saw the emergence of the Harappan Civilization and then the arrival of the Aryans in 1570 BC and then start of the Vedic period in 1300 BC.
Just as Solomon's Temple was being built in Jerusalem, Greece was entering a Dark Ages during which no history seems to exist until the beginning of the Archaic Period in 800BC.
Rome enters the picture at this point, which the founding of Rome attributed to 753. At the same time, Greece is entering into the Archaic Period in which the city-state began to replace to the monarchy model of government. The development of new laws becomes widespread, particularly in Athens. It is a time of festivals, pottery, the advent of coinage, and sculpture, essentially paving the way for the Golden Age of Athens, as well as import periods in India, Rome and China.
It is also around this time in 657 that Byzantium, later to become the Roman Constantinople is founded by the Megera. Byzamtium, situated strategically at the Bosporous Straights in Anatolia would be a strategic point for Greeks and Romans alike for centuries to come, up through its Arab conquest in 1453 AD
The Classic Period in Greece is far too vast to even attempt to summarize here, but some of the highlights include the pre-Socratics beginning to layout a philosopy of the underlying causes of natural phenomena, seperating them from the will of the gods. Euclid and Archaemeadis conduct ground breaking work in the mathmatics. A bit later, Plato and Aristotle develop philopsophy which influence Western Civilization for millenia. The Scientific Method is developed as a method to codify empirical inquiry, ushering in a new age of discovery. Peace was widepread over the region at this time and a "peacetime dividend" enabled a Greek democracy to flourish. Also during this time a NATO-like Delian League was established to deter outside forces such as the Persians. States under protection would pay a tribute to Athens in exchange for protection. This protection however became a sore spot for some cities who viewed Athens as a bully and instead decided to join with Sparta. Sparta and Athens would war in 460 and 431 BC causing great damage to both sides.
In 338, Phillip II of Macedonia filled a power vacuum in Athens and seized control. He was assassinated in 336, which created an opportunity for his son, Alexander the Great to rise. Alexander had been tutored by Aristotle and despite being a roughian from Macedonia was poised to spread the culture and philosophy to lands to the east as began a campain of conquest. In his drive, he conquered Egypt, then Persia and onto India. He stopped at India, reportedly because his troops were weary of fighting, wanting to return to Greece. In the aftermath, Alexandria would be developed in Egypt and legistlated by the Ptolemny family until the conquest of Octavius Caesar in 31 BC. Alexandria became a major cultural and trade hub for the mediterrean, representing the conjunction of Greece of and Egypt for several centuries. Greece itself split into regions ruled over by his generals after his death in 323 BC, marking what is called the Hellenistic Age. During this time, India underwent an Indo-Greek period of significant influence from the West including statues of Budda dressed in Greek garb.
In India, 500 BC was also a period of great historic significance. It was the time during which Siddartha embarked on his spritual journey which would give rise to the spread of Buddhism throughout India and then on to China, Japan and much of the East. It also was the time of Puranas and shortly after was conquered by the Persian King Cyrus.
In 509 BC, the Roman Republic is founded as Tarquin the Proud was deposed by Lucius Julius Brutus. One hundred and fifty years earlier they had been influenced by the Etrucan culture which imparted on the Romans a deeper artistic sense along with ideas about architecture and commercial skills. As the Roman Republic was established and began to thrive, it entered into wars with Carthage, the Punic Wars, which would consolidate their power in the region. These wars spanned from 246 to 146 BC. After the death of Alexander in Greece, the Roman and Greek cultures began to intermingle and Rome would gradually encroach on Greece, first conquering Macedonia in 168 BC and then establishing Greece as a protectorate in 146 BC. The final nail in the coffin would come in 31 BC at the Battle of Actium where Rome took control of both Greece and Egypt.
The Roman Senate had become quite powerful, dividing society into the Patricians (the Senate Republicans) and the Plebians, the common people. In the 2nd century, political reform was enacted and the exertion of power by the Senate became less overt. In the aftermath, two political ideologies emerged, that of the Republican Optimates and the other of the Democratic Populares. A critical point in history occurs when a Triumvarate forms of two Optimates, Crassus and Pompey, and one Populares, Julius Caesar is formed. Crassus, the richest man in Rome at the time, and famous for burning down the houses of the rich for protection payments, died in negotiations gone badly in hostile territory in 53BC. With only Caesar and Pompey left, they went to war with each other, an Optimate against a Populares.
Pompey attempted to settle the dispute through legal means in Rome and the Senate order Caesar back to Rome without his army to address the issue. Caesar disobeyed the order and "crossed the Rubicon" with his army in 49BC. Pompey, in fear for his life, fled to Alexandria for protection and was instead assassinated by order of Ptolomy. When news of the Caesar victory spread, the made him Supreme Dictator, thinking that he had been favored by the gods. The Senate however grew to fear his growing power and staged an assassination in BC 44 by Brutus and Cassius.
History would repeat itself following Caesar's assassination as a second Triumvirate of Lepedius, Mark Antony, and Octavarius Caesar (Julius's nephew). This time around, Lepedius was neutralized, leaving Mark Antony and Octavarius to divide up the growing Republic. As Antony was involved with Cleopatria VII of Alexandria, Caesar became concerned about the balance of power and persecuted Antony. Antony fled to Alexandria where he joined forces with Cleopatria's before being overwhelmed by Caesar's. In defeat, both Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Greece and Egypt at this point fully became part of the Roman Empire and Octavius became Augustus Caesar, first emperor of the Roman Empire. He would reign until 14BC.