A handful of before and after events pulled human beings out of the food chain — the domestication of fire, the domestication of plants and animals through agriculture, written language and money. It’s impossible to discuss ancient peoples and wealth without mentioning the OGs who invented wealth — the Mesopotamians.
It wasn’t a cohesive empire — Mesopotamia included the Sumerians, Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Akkadians — but it laid the foundation for the empires that would follow and pretty much all of civilization as a whole. From dog leashes and the wheel to mathematics and the sail, the Mesopotamians gave more to the world than perhaps any other culture in history, not the least of which was money. Around 5,000 years ago, the Mesopotamian shekel emerged as the first known form of currency.
2. Roman Empire
In the time of antiquity, wealth was measured in the amount of land an empire controlled and the number of people it ruled. The Roman business model is proof of why. When Rome conquered a civilization, it confiscated its resources and commodities, including the people who lived there.
Historians estimate that Rome ruled 65 million subjects at the height of its power in the mid-second century — about 21% of the world’s 300 million people. Author Mike Duncan told Smithsonian magazine that early Rome’s unquenchable thirst for silver, gold, grain, wine and slaves fueled its boundless expansion. The early Romans invaded Carthage, Spain and Greece, enslaved the conquered and worked them to death in their own mines and on their own farms. The proceeds were shipped back to Rome on the backs of other slaves. Fortune estimates that at its height, Rome was responsible for 25% to 30% of global economic output.
3. Persian Empire
Ancient emperors were in the subjects game — more people, more profit — and few players played it better than the Persians. According to Guinness World Records, the Persian Empire, or Achaemenid Empire, ruled 49.4 million subjects at its peak in 480 B.C. It’s estimated there were only a little more than 112 million people on Earth back then, which means an incredible 44% of the world’s population were subjects of the empire founded by Cyrus the Great.
Historian Frank L. Holt argued that Persia’s riches were evident in Alexander the Great’s conquest. When the Macedonian king toppled the Achaemenid Empire, he redistributed the riches the Persians had been hoarding. There were so many slaves and so much gold, silver and grain that the moment triggered one of the greatest economic shifts in the ancient world.
4. Egyptian Empire
In 2002, the journal Nature published a game-changing report that revealed an incredible economic disparity in ancient Egypt. The vast majority of ancient Egyptians, it turns out, were dirt poor. The empire’s unimaginable wealth was almost solely concentrated at the top of the social pyramid among the pharaohs, priests and to a lesser degree, scribes, architects, engineers and other privileged tradespeople.
Egypt’s vast riches — evident in the treasures buried with the pharaohs beneath the majestic pyramids that still stand today — came from its Nile Delta agriculture, its rich gold mines and its strategic location at the center of the known world.
5. Byzantine Empire
The Roman Empire eventually got so huge that it had to be split in two. The decaying Western Roman Empire eventually collapsed into the chaos of the Dark Ages. The Eastern Roman Empire — aka the Byzantine Empire — flourished for an incredible run from late antiquity through the medieval period.
That longevity was made possible by the empire’s vast wealth and stable, diverse economy. Its currency, monetary system, taxation system and advanced credit networks were all far superior to that of the West, but the truth is, Byzantium got the long end of the divorce settlement. Because of its proximity to Persia, Egypt and Greece, Eastern Rome was always more advanced, wealthy and globally connected than the Western Roman Empire. When Rome was divided, Byzantium jettisoned the dead weight.
According to finance.yahoo.com. Source of photo: internet