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Over the years, I’ve been attempting to read all seven volumes of Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  At first this started merely as an exercise, a way of proving something to myself.  I thought it would be edifying.  And it’s actually turned out to be more than that – from time to time it’s downright entertaining.  It’s a slog, but my goodness what an interesting slog it can be.

As I read accounts of the many civilizations whose histories overlap with Roman history, I find myself wanting to know much more about the languages of the people involved.  A language is such an important part of a people’s story, and I spend time digging around learning about the Scythian and the Parthian languages, or realizing I had never before considered just what tongue Attila was speaking when he ransacked Europe.  (The answer, rather simply, is “Hunnic.”)

How much do you know about the languages spoken by ancient civilizations?  Take today’s quiz to find out!

QUESTIONS: What is the name of the language spoken in the place or by the people listed below?

  1. the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires
  2. Rome
  3. the pre-Roman civilization located in what is now Tuscany, and parts of western Umbria
  4. the civilization whose capital was the city of Susa, located in parts of modern-day Iran and Iraq
  5. the cities of Thebes, Pergamum, and Ephesus
  6. the cities of Thebes, Memphis, and Amarna
  7. the civilization known for their seafaring merchants, whose capital was the city of Byblos (later Tyre)
  8. Hattusa, an ancient city on the Anatolian peninsula of Turkey, and its surrounding empire
  9. the late Iron Age confederation of tribes in eastern and northern Scotland
  10. the ancient Mesopotamian civilization recognized as the first to invent writing

BONUS: Which of the languages in these answers was written in cuneiform?


  1. Akkadian
  2. Latin
  3. Etruscan
  4. Elamite
  5. Greek
  6. Egyptian
  7. Phoenician
  8. Hittite
  9. Pictish
  10. Sumerian

BONUS: Akkadian, Elamite, Hittite, and Sumerian


If you love ancient languages, be sure to check out some of my other posts on the topic!


Copyright Allison Taylor-Adams.  See About for details.