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1) What was the first capital of ancient Egypt?

The first capital of ancient Egypt was Memphis, a city whose name can be roughly translated into English as "White Walls." Located in Lower Egypt, just below the Nile Delta, Memphis was founded by Menes, the first king of Egypt, around 3,000 B.C. following his unification of the country. During the First Dynasty, Egypt's center of government was located in Memphis because the city united Upper and Lower Egypt. Memphis is famous for the cemetery at Saqqara. According to legend, it is also the site Osiris descended to the Underworld and became the Judge of the Dead.

2) What Roman Emperor was once captured by pirates and held for a 12,000 gold-piece ransom?

On his way home from the siege of Miletus, Julius Caesar was captured by pirates and held hostage for about forty days. Caesar insisted that his captors double their ransom demand (he was, after all, an aristocrat) and promised to return and punish them. True to his word, Caesar returned after his release, hunted the pirates down, and had them crucified.

3) On what island did ancient Greek civilization originate?

Ancient Greek civilization is believed to have originated on the island of Crete. It is unclear when the island was first settled, but there are archaeological remains dating as far back as 5000 B.C.. The general consensus is that the first wave of settlers came from Anatolia and Africa, followed by another wave of settlers from Asia around 2600 B.C.. This second wave brought with it highly developed artistic skills. These new settlers interbred with the previous inhabitants, and as a result Minoan culture, a precursor of Greek civilization, was born.

4) What fortification was built by the Romans around 122 A.D. across the width of Great Britain to separate Romans from the barbarians to the north?

Hadrian's Wall was built by the Romans across the width of Great Britain, from Solway Firth in the West to the River Tyne in the East, to separate Romans from the "barbarians" to the north. By this period, the Roman Empire had ceased to expand, and Emperor Hadrian who had come into power in 117 A.D., was more concered with protecting his borders. The wall was built upon his orders when he visited Britain in 122 A.D. Hadrian's Wall was meant to define the frontier physically and encourage economic stability by providing a buffer between the "civilized" south and the unruly northern tribes. The wall served as the northern border of the Empire in Britain for most of the Roman Empire's reign. The gates through the wall also served as customs posts, allowing trade to be taxed. Originally 15 feet high with 6 foot battlements, large portions of the wall still exist and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern England. Today, it is often referred to as the Roman Wall.

5) Who is considered the founder of the Xia Dynasty in ancient China?

Yu the Great is generally considered the founder of the Xia Dynasty in China. This dynasty -- which lasted from the 21st century B.C. to the 17th century B.C. -- included seventeen kings and over fourteen generations of rulers. Sometimes identified as one of the Three August Ones and the Five Emperors, Yu is best known for creating flood control techniques to control China's massive rivers and lakes. In fact, he was so successful at this task that the previous ruler, Shun, passed the throne to him instead of his own son.

6) How many of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still exist?

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Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one remains: the Great Pyramid of Giza. The lost wonders include the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

7) When did the first documented Olympic Games take place?

The first documented Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C.. Many historians, however, believe that the Games had already been established for many years at that point. According to legend, the Olympic Games were founded by Heracles, the son of Zeus. There was only one event at the 776 B.C. Olympic Games -- the stade, a race of approximately 192 meters. The winner was Coroebus, a cook from Elis, making him the first documented Olympic champion in history.

8) Who is credited with making the first map of the known world?

Anaximander, a philosopher from Miletus who lived during the first half of the 6th century B.C., is credited with making the first map of the known world around 540 B.C.. He also invented a type of sun dial.

9) What historic event took place in Rome in 64 A.D.?

In the summer of 64 A.D., a terrible fire broke out and Rome burned for six days and seven nights, destroying almost three quarters of the city. Many people believed that the Emperor, Nero, had started the fire for his own amusement. In order to deflect these accusations, Nero quickly blamed the fire on the Christians and had several Christian leaders rounded up and interrogated. Under torture, these leaders implicated others and a mass execution of Christians then commenced for the entertainment of the citizens of Rome who wanted someone to be punished for the fire that had destroyed their city. Although the cruelty of these executions aroused some sympathy for the Christians, most Romans believed that the executions were justified.

10) How many years did the Peloponnesian War last?

The Peloponnesian War began in 431 B.C. and lasted 27 years. It pitted the Athenians against the combined might of the Spartans and Corinthians. Most of the extant comedies of Aristophanes were written during this war and satirize many of the generals and political figures of the time. The Peloponnesian War ended in 404 B.C. when Athens finally surrendered.