The Ancient Age or Antiquity is a traditional period, widely used in the periodization of human history, defined by the emergence and development of the first civilizations that had writing, called therefore "ancient civilizations." Traditionally it has been the initial period of history proper, beginning with the invention of writing, preceded by prehistory. Some periodic schemes consider that there is a stage called "protohistory", between prehistory and the Ancient Age, defined by the emergence of the first civilizations without writing.
During the Ancient Ages, hundreds of civilizations of great importance emerged and developed on all continents, many of which generated products, institutions, knowledge and values that are still present today, since Sumeria (4th millennium BC). and Ancient Egypt, passing through the ancient Vedic civilizations in India, Ancient China, ancient Greece and Rome, the Achaemenid Empire in Persia, Ancient South America, among many others.
In the course of the Ancient Age, cities and the urbanization process, the State, the law and the law arose, as well as great religions such as Buddhism and Christianity.
Characteristics of the Ancient Age
Whatever the criteria used, coinciding in time and place, both processes crystallized at the beginning of urban life (cities much larger in size, and different in function, to the Neolithic villages); in the appearance of political power (palaces, kings) and organized religions (temples, priests); in a complex social stratification; in great collective efforts that demand the provision of compulsory labor; in the establishment of taxes and long-distance trade (everything that has come to be called the "urban revolution").  This level of social development, which was first reached in Sumeria in the 4th millennium BC. C. (a propitious space for the constitution of the first competitive city-states from the Neolithic substrate), had already been developing in the Fertile Crescent for four millennia.  From them, and from successive contacts (both peaceful and violent ) of neighboring peoples (sedentary-agricultural or nomadic-livestock cultures that are traditionally named with terms of questionable validity, more typical of linguistic families than of human races: Semites, Camitas, Indo-Europeans, etc.), the first states of great territorial extension, until reaching the size of multinational empires.
Similar processes took place at various times depending on the geographical area (successively Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley, the Indian subcontinent, China, the Mediterranean basin, pre-Columbian America and the rest of Europe, Asia and Africa); In some particularly isolated areas, some present-day hunter-gatherer peoples have not yet abandoned prehistory, while others entered the modern or contemporary age by force of colonizations from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The peoples chronologically contemporary to the written History of the Eastern Mediterranean can be the object of protohistory, since the sources written by Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, Hebrews or Egyptians, in addition to archaeological sources, allow this to be done.
Classical antiquity is located at the height of the Greco-Roman civilization (5th century BC to the 2nd century AD) or, in a broad sense, throughout its duration (8th century BC to the 5th century AD). . C.). It was characterized by the definition of innovative socio-political concepts - those of citizenship and personal freedom, not for all, but for a minority sustained by slave labor -, unlike the river empires of ancient Egypt, Babylon, India or China, for those who defined the imprecision