100 Ancient History Trivia Questions (Ranked from Easiest to Hardest)

Updated Date:
April 19, 2024
Which companies play trivia with their co-workers every week?
lyft logo
amazon logoimpossible logo

Ancient history is a fascinating and diverse field that covers the period of human history before the Middle Ages. From the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome to the rise and fall of empires, there is a wealth of trivia questions that can be asked about ancient history. Whether you're a history buff or just looking to test your knowledge, these ancient history trivia questions are sure to be both informative and entertaining.

Here are some examples of ancient history trivia questions you might come across: Who built the Great Pyramid of Giza? Who wrote the epic poem "The Iliad"? What was the capital of the Roman Empire? What was the first empire in history? These questions cover a wide range of ancient civilizations, including ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Mesopotamia.

In addition to the technical aspects of ancient history, there are also many fun and interesting facts to learn about. For example, did you know that the Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest man-made structure for over 3,800 years? Or that the ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife and built elaborate tombs for the pharaohs to ensure they reached the afterlife? These trivia questions will not only test your knowledge, but also give you a glimpse into the many fascinating aspects of ancient history and the civilizations that shaped our world.

100 Ancient History Trivia Questions Ranked From Easiest to Hardest (Updated for 2024)

  1. Depending on who you ask, “B.C.” can mean “Before the Common Era,” “Before the Current Era,” or before which Biblical figure?

    Answer: Christ

  2. Also the name of a 2014 movie which depicts the eruption, which city in present-day Italy that was buried in a blanket of ash and pumice when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD?

    Answer: Pompeii

  3. Created in the 15th century BC, the oldest object in New York City's Central Park is an obelisk also known as the "needle" of what Ptolemaic Egyptian queen?

    Answer: Cleopatra

  4. His name lives on in the form of an oath of ethics taken by medical practitioners. Which ancient Greek physician is known as the "Father of Medicine"?

    Answer: Hippocrates

  5. Which Southeastern European country with ancient history is technically named the Hellenic Republic?

    Answer: Greece

  6. Which Freudian psychological complex was named after a Greek legend who killed a man who he didn’t know was really his father and married a woman he didn’t know was really his mother?

    Answer: Oedipus or oedipal complex

  7. Because they thought it was an antidote to drunkenness, the Ancient Greeks and Romans used what purple gemstone to make drinking goblets that were meant to keep a drinker sober?

    Answer: Amythyst

  8. Philip II of Macedon was a pretty decent king, but his is mostly remembered nowadays for being the father of which "very good" leader, who ruled 336–323 BC?

    Answer: Alexander the Great (Alexander III of Macedonia)

  9. A name that will be recognized by fans of Star Trek, which legendary founder of Rome is said to have killed his brother Remus over an insult about a wall?

    Answer: Romulus

  10. Around 3000 BC was the first known use of what paper-like material by the Egyptians?

    Answer: Papyrus

  11. Providing its name (and its image for the logo) to a modern piece of modern language learning software, what ancient stone slab discovered in Egypt in 1799 provided the key to deciphering hieroglyphics, and is now the most visited item on display in the British Museum?

    Answer: The Rosetta Stone

  12. The 600-mile-long plain between the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys was home to the city-state of Sumer, which was the first in a succession of what "M" civilizations?

    Answer: Mesopotamia

  13. Said to have been the brainchild of Odysseus, what construction from ancient Greek mythology gives its name to software that misleads users of its true intent by disguising itself as a standard program?

    Answer: Trojan Horse

  14. With a story made famous in a 1960 film, what Thracian gladiator famously led the Third Servile War, a revolt of more than 100,000 slaves against the Roman Empire using guerrilla warfare?

    Answer: Spartacus

  15. Wielded by ancient Roman foot soldiers (as well as Maximus in the movie Gladiator), what type of weapon is a gladius?

    Answer: Sword

  16. Although there is little evidence that it genuinely happened, which Roman emperor is said to have played the fiddle while Rome burned during the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64?

    Answer: Nero

  17. Which former capital of Ancient Egypt is located 12 miles (20 km) south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile? The city in question shares its name with a city in Tennessee.

    Answer: Memphis

  18. In 1580, one of the earliest editions of the printed Bible in Slavic—the Ostrong Bible—was published in what was then called the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, but today is known as which Eastern European country (the second largest after Russia)?

    Answer: Ukraine

  19. The name of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, is the site of which modern-day city?

    Answer: Istanbul

  20. El Pilar, located in what is now Belize, and Tikal, in what is now Guatemala, are among the great cities of what ancient Mesoamerican civilization?

    Answer: Maya

  21. About 2,000 years before the Egyptians started using it, the Chinchorro people of Chile came up with which process for preserving their dead?

    Answer: Mummification

  22. One of the key events in the lead up to the Peloponnesian war, what type of natural disaster caused chaos when it struck Sparta in the year 464BC?

    Answer: Earthquake

  23. Sharing a name with the character named in 2003 as the American Film Institute's top villain of the previous 100 years, which Carthaginian general is best remembered today for leading an invasion of Italy having crossed the alps with war elephants?

    Answer: Hannibal

  24. In ancient Greece, which term referred to an Athenian democratic procedure in which a citizen could be expelled from Athens for ten years? In modern usage, this term means exclusion by general consent from common privileges or social acceptance.

    Answer: Ostracism

  25. Known for their terracotta sculptures, the Nok culture was a civilization that lived in West Africa from c. 1500 BC to c. 500 AD. They were centered in the Kaduna State of which modern day country, the most populous in modern Africa?

    Answer: Nigeria

  26. What was the two-letter name of the Falcon-headed God of the Sun in ancient Egyptian mythology?

    Answer: Ra

  27. What historically important region of western Asia has a name that comes from the Greek for "between rivers," since the region lies between the Tigris and the Euphrates?

    Answer: Mesopotamia

  28. Also known as the "Old Stone Age," what "P" period, from roughly 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 B.C., was characterized by hunter-gatherer humans living in caves or simple dwellings?

    Answer: Paleolithic

  29. Which three-word, alliterative Latin phrase is popularly attributed to Julius Caesar, supposedly being used by him in a letter to the Roman Senate following victory at the Battle of Zelda?

    Answer: Veni, vidi, vici

  30. The persecution of Christians during the final years of Nero's reign in the Roman Empire provides the backdrop for what classic 1951 film whose title means "Where are you going?"

    Answer: Quo Vadis

  31. What is the "L" name of the network of caves in Dordogne in southwest France, famous for their paleolithic drawings of bulls and other local animal life?

    Answer: Lascaux

  32. In Ancient Greece, competitive athletes competed in races with what “C” carts, pulled by horses? A 1981 British film promised these carts “Of Fire.”

    Answer: Chariots

  33. Named for one of the public open spaces of ancient Greece, what 2009 film starring Rachel Weisz dramatized the story of 4th-century astronomer and philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria?

    Answer: Agora

  34. What word follows “Gordian” in the name of a legend of Ancient Greece, associated with Alexander the Great, often used as a metaphor for an intricate problem?

    Answer: Knot

  35. The first capital of Egypt shares its name with which southern U.S. city that may not have any pyramids, but once was home to the King?

    Answer: Memphis

  36. During the Song Dynasty (around the 11th century CE), paper money—called “flying cash”—was invented in which country?

    Answer: China

  37. Vespasian was the last Roman Emperor in the year 69 AD, known as the year of how many emperors?

    Answer: Four

  38. What poet was banished to the Black Sea by Roman Emperor Augustus in 8 CE? Though the official justification was the poet's subversive and adulterous work Ars Amatoria, or The Art of Love, some have suggested the emperor had more personal reasons in mind.

    Answer: Ovid

  39. As King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona (1213-1276), which Iberian monarch holds the record for having the longest reign?

    Answer: James I

  40. Scientists would like to resurrect the woolly kind of which trunked mammal believed to have gone extinct around 1650 B.C.?

    Answer: Mammoth

  41. Which Ancient Greek philosopher said that all objects were made of tiny indestructible units and thus came up with the word “atom”?

    Answer: Democritus

  42. Which of King Henry VIII’s six wives was born last?

    Answer: Katherine Howard

  43. The Appian Way was one of the most impressive and important roads in Ancient Rome, linking Rome to Brindisi, which is in the southern portion of which boot-shaped country?

    Answer: Italy

  44. According to legend, the Greek messenger Philippides (or Pheidippides) ran from the battlefield all the way to Athens, a distance of around 26 miles, to announce a victory over the Persians. What was the battle?

    Answer: Marathon

  45. What ancient man wrote a work of political philosophy titled simply "Politics"? Admittedly that's a translated title. The work is divided into eight books and ranges from discussing the instability of tyrannies to pontificating on marriage and children.

    Answer: Aristotle

  46. What famous sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty became famous for his titular "code" which importantly shifted law codes from compensating victims to physical punishment of perpetrators?

    Answer: Hammurabi

  47. Played by Gerard Butler in the film "300," what is the name of the king of Sparta who famously led his force of 300 soldiers against a Persian army of approximately 1,000 times that number in the Battle of Thermopylae?

    Answer: Leonidas

  48. X marks the spot! Known for a massive invasion of Greece, what ruler succeeded his father Darius I as king of Persia in the fifth century BC?

    Answer: Xerxes

  49. Also the name of 2005 a Keanu Reeves movie, which Roman Emperor (known as "The Great") built a new imperial residence in what is now Istanbul, which is seen as a pivotal moment in the transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages?

    Answer: Constantine (Constantine I)

  50. In what religion is a book of the dead called the "Bardo Thodol" read to the dying to help them prepare for a favorable rebirth?

    Answer: Buddhism

  51. The oldest temple in the world, Gobekli Tepe, dates back over 11,000 years. Which country (that bridges Asia and Europe) is it located in?

    Answer: Turkey

  52. Known as “The Great,” who was the son of Augustus Constantius and Helena, Roman ruler from 324 to 337, and regarded as the model for all emperors of the Byzantine empire to come?

    Answer: Constantine I

  53. Not to be confused with the Ancient Greek medical man, which tyrant of Gela ruled from 498 BC to 491 BC?

    Answer: Hippocrates

  54. Ninkasi was the goddess of beer to the citizens of Sumer, the ancient Mesopotamian civilization located in what modern day country?

    Answer: Iraq

  55. In his 1531 book “The Discourses on Livy,” Niccolò Machiavelli described Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius as the “Five Good” what?

    Answer: Emperors

  56. Which Ancient Greek mathematician and scientist is credited with a lot of discoveries and inventions, including his “screw”—an engineering principle that’s a key feature of hydraulics?

    Answer: Archimedes

  57. With its capitals in what is now northern Sudan, what ancient Nubian kingdom shares its name with a variety of Cannabis indica?

    Answer: Kush

  58. In ancient Egypt, which Queen, whose name translates as “a beautiful woman has come”, was the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten and was once considered a candidate for Tutankhamun’s mother?

    Answer: Nefertiti

  59. Which of Henry VIII’s six wives was the oldest when she died, living to the age of 51?

    Answer: Catherine of Aragon

  60. Pella—a name that probably came from the Greek for “stone”—was the capital of what ancient kingdom that would become the center of Hellenistic Greece?

    Answer: Macedonia

  61. Archimedes, the famous Ancient Greek mathematician and scientist was from which city, which also shares its name with a locality in New York State?

    Answer: Syracuse

  62. Referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, which four-letter abbreviation was used for the phrase “Senatus Populusque Romanus” meaning "The Roman Senate and People?"

    Answer: SPQR

  63. The Magna Carta, a document which is instrumental to legal systems around the world, was signed in 1215 by which English monarch?

    Answer: King John

  64. The Greek poet Sappho, born in the 630 BC was born on which island? The word “sapphic” derives from her name, while a different word with a similar meaning derives from the island where she was born.

    Answer: Lesbos

  65. What legendary Greek philosopher, who authored the "Nicomachean Ethics," was also the tutor of Macedonian king Alexander the Great when the latter was a teenager?

    Answer: Aristotle

  66. Hannibal was noted for crossing the Alps with war elephants to invade Italy during the Second Punic War. What city-state's forces did Hannibal command?

    Answer: Carthage

  67. When Richard III was killed in battle in 1485, who succeeded him has as King of England?

    Answer: Henry VII

  68. Meaning "having the shape of a wedge," what 9-letter C-word is used to describe the ancient writing systems of Mesopotamia and Persia?

    Answer: Cuneiform

  69. The Ancient Egyptian deity Anubis, the god of mummification and the afterlife, was typically depicted as having the head of which wild canid?

    Answer: Jackal

  70. One trigger for the Peloponnesian War was the foundation of the Delian League in 478BC. Under Pericles' lead, which large city state was able to build an empire through their control of the Delian League and challenge Sparta as the most powerful Greek city state?

    Answer: Athens

  71. What word used in English today comes a punishment in Roman times where every tenth member of an offending group of soldiers was put to death?

    Answer: Decimate

  72. Although it was predated by other dynasties, what Chinese dynasty, which ruled from 1600 BC to 1046 BC, is the first to be established in recorded history?

    Answer: Shang

  73. Khufu, the Pharaoh who famously built the Great Pyramid at Giza, was also known by what Greek "C" name?

    Answer: Cheops

  74. Throughout his reign in the 9th century, Charles II (grandson of Charlamagne and son of Louis the Pious) was ironically known by which nickname because he might actually have been a very hairy person?

    Answer: The Bald

  75. Sobek, an Egyptian commonly referred to in Egyptian texts, is commonly depicted having the head of what animal? This god is associated with fertility and military prowess.

    Answer: Crocodile

  76. Iliom is an alternative name for which ancient city located in modern-day Turkey? This city is perhaps best known for an eponymous war of Greek myth.

    Answer: Troy

  77. A sweet fact: Alexander the Great’s corpse was reportedly mellified. Mellification refers to the practice of embalming a corpse with which substance?

    Answer: Honey

  78. Which rock formation age is considered “prehistory, since it occurred before people started writing stuff down) and includes the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic eras?

    Answer: Stone

  79. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a group of ancient religious texts discovered from 1946 or 1947 to 1956 in caves near the Dead Sea, in modern-day Israel. What was the location where the scrolls were found?

    Answer: Qumran Caves

  80. "The Epic of Gilgamesh" and "The Code of Hammurabi" are perhaps the most famous works written in what ancient language that is generally regarded as the oldest written language in history?

    Answer: Sumerian

  81. According to a legend spread by historians like Cassius Dio, the Roman Emperor Caligula planned to appoint his beloved Incitatus to the position of consul. What was unusual about Incitatus, whose potential appointment confirmed Caligula's insanity?

    Answer: He was Caligula's horse

  82. Which city in present-day Peru was the capital of the Inca Empire until its downfall in 1533?

    Answer: Cuzco

  83. Being the only one his position ever to suffer this fate, who was found guilty of treason and executed on January 30, 1649?

    Answer: King Charles I of England

  84. Although it is disputed, Lady Jane Grey claimed to be the Queen of England for how many days in 1553? One either way will be accepted.

    Answer: Nine

  85. Reigning as emperor of Rome from 98 to 117 CE, Marcus Ulpius Traianus, who helped expand the Roman Empire and was known for public works projects, is best known today by what one-word name?

    Answer: Trajan

  86. Roman empress from 27 BC to AD 14, Livia Drusilla was the influential wife of which Roman emperor?

    Answer: Augustus

  87. Taking place in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, the Punic Wars were a series of wars fought between the Roman Republic and which city-state in modern Tunisia?

    Answer: Carthage

  88. Sharing his name with a Star Trek character originally played by William Shatner, who succeeded Augustus as Roman Emperor in AD 14?

    Answer: Tiberius

  89. Earthquakes and fires have depleted their numbers over the years...how many of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World can still be viewed today?

    Answer: One (The Great Pyramid of Giza)

  90. While Latin was the first official language of the metropolis, Greek was another important one for which ancient empire (just ask the great philosophers)?

    Answer: Roman

  91. Which figure in Roman mythology supposedly got his name because he used a woodpecker for divination and later, when he refused to leave his wife for Circe, the sorceress turned him into one?

    Answer: Picus

  92. Which is the earliest known civilization in Mesoamerica? The name of this civilization derives from the words “olli” and “mecatl”, meaning “natural rubber” and “people”, respectively.

    Answer: Olmecs

  93. The largest public space in Ancient Rome was a venue designed for horse and chariot racing which seated around 150,000 people. Because of its size, it was also used for festivals and animal shows. What was it?

    Answer: Circus Maximus

  94. What other name was Caesar Augustus—the first Roman emperor who ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD—known by? (Hint: It came from the plebian family name he descended from)

    Answer: Octavian

  95. The year of Five emperors, where five different men claimed to be Emperor of Rome, was in which year?

    Answer: 193 CE

  96. In 1294, which pope resigned after just five months to return to his life as a hermit (which he was not permitted to do and was, in fact, captured and imprisoned instead)?

    Answer: Celestine V

  97. The ancient Romans named the region surrounding the Rhine delta "Batavia". What modern-day country occupies a similar area as Batavia?

    Answer: The Netherlands

  98. Which royal house was on the throne in England from 1216, when Henry III came to the throne, until 1399 when Richard II passed away?

    Answer: Plantagenet

  99. Julius Caesar invaded Britain but did not establish a Roman province there. Rome invaded and did establish a province under the rule of what emperor?

    Answer: Claudius

  100. Dating back to 3600 BCE in Persia, water-filled "bladder" mattresses were made from an oft-discarded organ of a particular domesticated animal. What is this animal?

    Answer: Goat

Play Ancient History Trivia with Water Cooler Trivia

Water Cooler Trivia is well-equipped to provide you with exciting and engaging trivia quizzes.

So, how does it work?

Each week, our team will deliver original trivia quizzes straight to your inbox.

All you have to do is pick the categories.

You can leave the rest of the heavy lifting to us.

Take Water Cooler Trivia for a test run with our four-week free trial.

Is there an error in one of our questions?

We do everything we can to ensure that Water Cooler Trivia's questions are appropriate, relevant, and accurate. Our database has tens of thousands of questions, so we don't always get it right. If you see a question that needs editing, we would love if you let us know here or email [email protected].

Celebrating brains
1,200 companies play Water Cooler Trivia every week
Learn MoreWeekly Trivia For Your Office →