Tell el Amarna: Egypt- It was the capital for a brief time during the reign of Amanhotel IV who is also known as Akhenaton. He moved the capitals mid way between the old capitals of Memphis and Thebes when his religious ideas of monotheism were met with opposition from the priests at Thebes. Dedicated to his new god ‘Aten’, the city was abandoned shortly after his death in 336 BC. His son Tutankhamun became the pharaoh and decided to return the capital to Thebes
Parsa: Iran- The ancient Persians actually had many administrative capital in their vast empire but Parsa also called Persepolis by the Greeks, was their ceremonial capital from 550-330 BC. It is believed that Darius the Great began the construction of the city, which was the location of a grand processional that was held during the time of the spring equinox. At this time, people from all over the Persian Empire would arrive to present gifts to the King. The city with its impressive architectural columns and artistic reliefs had an extremely remote location and appears to have been the site of Persian King’s royal treasury. It was destroyed by Alexander the Great and it was written that it took 20,000 mules and 5000 camels to remove the treasure.
Jerusalem: Israel- Became the political capital of King David in 1000 BC. The city had a water supply from natural springs in what was a desert area, and was naturally fortified. In addition, it was not part of an area that has already been claimed by one of the Twelve Tribes and had a central location. David’s son, Solomon, built the First Temple of on Mount Moriah which housed the sacred Ark of the Covenant. Shortly after the death of Solomon, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah split apart and Jerusalem remained the capital of the kingdom of Judah.
Chang’an: China- now known as Xian is one of the oldest cities in China and is the oldest of the four ancient capitals. It continues to serve as the capital of Shaanxi Province today. However centuries ago, it was also the capital of the Qin Dynasty which is considered to be the first imperial dynasty of China. It was established after the unification of China and used as a capital by many subsequent dynasties as well. The first Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, ordered his tomb be constructed nearby. The terrocotta army was discovered in this area
Pella: Greece- was the capital of King Archelaus, king of Macedonia from 413-399 BC. In an attempt to refine the culture of his people, Archelaus invited Greek artists and scholars to live in his new capital. It was also the birth place of Alexander the Great. It was an important sea port, however over time silt filled in the harbour. It was ransacked by the Romans in 168 BC. Eventually destroyed by an earth quake.
Anuradhapura: Sri Lanka- was the capital in 4th century BC for King Pandukabhaya. The city was built according to a plan that included a reservoir, shrines, cemetery, a place for executions and a separate village for slaves. Later more building projects such as moat, wall, parks, stupas, monasteries, temples and gatehouses were added. Archaeologist have found one of the most detailed irrigation systems of the ancient world there. It is believed that the city was abandoned sometime around 99AD due to invasions and was left uninhabited until found by the British 600 years later.
Nineveh: Iraq had quite a reputation as the ancient capital of Assyria. Judging by the accounts given in the Bible, one could see variety of shocking sights in the city including people being roasted alive over low fires and some being skinned alive. The assyrians did not tolerate any type of challenge to their authority. The capital was planned to be a showcase with a palace that contained 80 rooms, and was decorated with stone reliefs. This status however, was short lived. The Assyrians had few allies and their policies created much animosity and hatred among the people they ruled. After 50 years, the city was completely destroyed.
Petra: Jordan- also called as the ‘Rose City’ and was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom in the 4th century BC. The Nabaeaeans were a group of Arab nomads. They are credited with the building Al Khazneh also known as the ‘ Treasury’ which is perhaps the best known architectural achievements in Petra and building a water conduit system for the city. At the peak of its power Petra is believed to have had a population of 20,000 people. Eventually the Nabataean Kingdome became a client state of Rome and in 106 AD fell to the Romans
Babylon: Iraq- The Amorites came to power in ancient Mesopotamia in 1850 BC and established their capital at Babylon. The city became so wealthy and important that eventually the entire area around it became known as Babyloina for some time. Its power fell to the invading Kassites in 1555 BC. The Chaldeans later invaders to the area, rebuilt the city as their capital and created a showcase that include the Ishtar Gate and the Hanging Gardens.
Saro-guk: South Korea- From 57 BC-935 AD the Kingdom of Silla ruled about 67% of the Korean Peninsula. At the height of it is power its ancient capital Saro-guk boasted a population of one million and believed to have been the fourth largest city in the world. The city was a cultural center that attracted the likes of Seol Chona a notable scholar who began working out the Korean Language. General Kim Yusin known for his success in uniting the Korean Peninsula. The name of the city was changed to Gyeongju.