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I must say that I disagree with the oft-repeated argument that America's only contribution to world culture and history has been its military dominance, in fact I would argue that this aspect is the least important aspect of America's influence. The internet, globalization, just about every supranational institution in existence, countless mass production techniques, mass marketing, consumerism, many advances in space flight, Hollywood, the American music industry, the American legal system, popular democracy, the victory of modern free-market capitalism over autarkic central-planning, the reinforcement of English as the global lingua franca (I can guarantee you that if Britain's empire crumbled as it did after WWII and America did not rise, students in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the rest of the world would not be scrambling to learn English), the American university system and the tremendous production of scholarly work on a scale never before seen in human history in a dizzying variety of fields, Google, Facebook, Apple, Starbucks, McDonald's, YouTube, the integrated circuit, the airplane, the Bessemer process, ect.
So, I'm arriving to this quite late but I was reading from the start and I don't know why but this early post just... annoyed me!

You will see above that @perennialurker listed the internet as an American innovation. This is true. You will also note that he listed it as of cultural significance to the rest of the world. That would be false! What you are currently on, my fellow history buffs, is the World Wide Web... a seperate entity from the internet! The internet is only used for American Military uses, only 8 computers in the world are hooked up to it. The World Wide Web is what we all use and it is an ENGLISH invention =)

As such, this leads me to my list:

1) Brittish Empire - I'm sorry, but they just have had the biggest impact on the world in all fields! Military, Culturally, Technologically, Spiritually and Economically. The Brittish empire was massive, spanned hundreds of years and pretty much invented the modern world! Without Britian, I reckon we'd still be in the middle ages... admittedly the later part of it but my point still stands! =)
2) Greek Empire - If you count all the city states as one empire then boom! You have yourself a hell of an Empire right there! The things the Greeks gave us, it's ridiculous! Philosophy, art, culture, FLAMETHROWERS! Yeah, thats right... Flamethrowers were an ancient Athenian invention... how badass do they seem now? =D
3) Viking/Scandinavian "Empire" - This ones going to be a bit tricky to word but I definitely think that the Scandinavians have been massively overlooked in this debate! Apart from the obvious massive historical ramifications of the Viking raids on Medieval Europe, the vikings also gave us a massive contribution to the english language, re-introduced minted coins to the world, helped govern Britain through the dark ages (Part of the reason people use the term Anglo-Saxon to talk about the English) and, oh yeah, DISCOVERED AMERICA! What? You thought that was Christopher Columbus? He wishes! It was a viking called Leif Erikson who discovered America in the 1400's... SO TAKE THAT ITALY! =P
4) Chinese Empire - In all its glory, the Chinese empire was just totally awesome! I don't really need to go into more detail than that, because nearly everyone has put them in their lists!
5) Arab Empire - Lets get this straight... The Muslims had their heads screwed on! While the rest of us were too busy looking for witches or dying of the plague, the Arabs were being amazing at maths, inventing actual medicine that we still use to this day and just generally being badasses! One of my favourite history stories is of the battle of Jerusalem in the Crusades when Saladin (Pronounced Sala-ha-deen btw!) outsmarted the hell out of the crusaders! When Richard the Lionheart laid siege to Jerusalem, Saladin had a plan so awesome that women everywhere just became spontaneously pregnant from his sheer manliness! What he did was, he waited just out of sight of the Crusaders and watched the seige. He waited for the citizens and the garrison inside of Jerusalem to starve and completely run out of food. Then, Jerusalem surrendered! The triumphant crusaders marched in to claim there prize and thats when Saladin struck! The sneaky bastard ran up behind the crusaders and locked them in the city! Essentially strting a new siege in a town that already had sweet F-all in it! The seige lasted about a whole afternoon before the Crusaders realised that they had been well and truly defeated! So they surrendered... and like the awesome dude that he is, Saladin made peace with them and let them go back home to Europe... which was a mistake cause they came back again to kill some more, but thats a different story!

So thats my opinion! I discounted America from the running because I don't believe that they are an empire! In my opinon, an Empire is a country taking over other countries through force! No doubt America is a ridiculously super-powered, jacked up, machine-gun toting, cigar-smoking, badass motherf***er of a country... but its still just a country! =)

If I have made any huge, glaringly obvious historical, factual errors here then feel free to berate me for it because, to be fair, I have been really aggressive in this post and more than likely deserve it! But hey, what can I say? History is my passion! XD
 

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Yes, it did, and it was separate from the Roman empire, although collectively, the period of time in which the Greek empire was translated into the Roman empire, was known as Graeco-Roman.
Any entity properly called a Graeco-Roman Empire was an extension of the Roman Empire; owing to it's willingness towards adopting the culture of others they conquered, for instance, even adopting the Greek language among the cultural elites. It was a cosmopolitan empire, thus it was willingly influenced by Greek art and science, which was the Hellenic influence, but not as much by the Greek style of politics.

The Roman Empire migrated to the East because it was too large to be effectively ruled over from one capital in the west, and also because by situating it's eastern capital in the reconstructed city of (Roma Nova) Constantinople (formerly Byzantium) it could control trade and very effectively tax it. After the Western Empire fell the eastern half was still Roman, and considered itself Roman. But it became known as the "Byzantine Empire" until the last century and was considered a Greek empire because of its geographical location and the fact that historians knew little about it. But the accomplishement of empire was Roman not Greek.

The Romans brought a system of "federalism" (from the Latin foederati ) to the provinces which fell under its overarching rule, but the cities, and towns ruled themselves by their own elected oficials. And it gave them Roman law, as the first state that considered its citizens as being under the rule of law rather than the rule of man; supposedly every man was equal under the law, and entitled to a defense in court.

It was from the Roman mind that the western law was derived, including the Roman law of nations, property, contracts, and case law.
 
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Abbasid empire, aka Islamic Golden Age. They not only saved all of the texts from the Byzantine Empire (which were later brought back and spawned the Renaissance), but they improved on mathematics and science. Algebra is a Arabic word, our numerals are Arabic (brought over from India), and 2/3 of the stars in the night sky have Arabic names (they were great at Astronomy and navigation at sea). Islamic Golden Age - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mongol Empire, not just because it's the largest, but because it spanned so many otherwise disparate regions it promoted a huge exchange of goods and ideas. They reopened the silk road for business! And they created an extensive postal system with stations providing fresh horses so information could travel quickly between the western and eastern worlds. Oh, did I mention that they were carriers of the black plague? (Some historians believe that the black plague was carried by corpses they catapulted into fortified cities, an early form of germ warfare)

The British Empire. Watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics and you'll see how prevalent British culture has become throughout the world namely via colonization and industrialization.

The French Empire. I use this term broadly to signify everything from the Napoleonic Wars which through the European Monarchical system off balance to the re-establishment of democracy in Europe during the French Revolution.

The Roman/Classical Empires. They were the foundation upon which modern society was built (or rebuilt as the Renaissance saw it). Philosophy, mathematics, medicine, city planning, plumbing, standing armies, democracy, republicanism, the shift from paganism to monotheism, and of course Latin (the basis for European language, no big deal)!

I'd also like to give some shout-outs to the Chinese (Zheng He was like triple OG explorer) and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (a little known central European Empire with heavy influences on republicanism and politics between the east and the west)
 

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1. The Egyptian Empire - It was the main influence of the following European empires unto this day, and the kids still love anything Egyptian.
2. The Roman Empire - Dominates modern thought today
3. Byzantine Empire - Triggered the universal importance of writing and the alphabet to common use
4. The British Empire - Biggest empire on earth ever, that has military influence on all nations
5. Ottoman Empire - Was at the center of the world's conflicts for over 500 years, and shaped many of the states around it

I am not one for numbering history down to any given list, but I'll go with it for the purpose of this thread.
Never heard the "Egyptian empire", however if for you the you civilization, is to subdue millions of slaves, just to build monuments,like pyramids, to preserve some kilo of bones and skeletons of the pharahos and relatives and nothing for the people, as stadiums, aqueducts, amphitheatres, theaters, racetracks, thermae,(the only ruins that you can see, from Europe till North Africa and Middle east are Romans,and no Egyptians)just as they did the Romans ... then W the bone's civilization Egyptian.
 

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Why do people keep writing "Islamic" empire? There's no such thing. The empires of the Moors, Arabs, and Ottoman Turks were not the same at all, even though they shared the same religion (predominantly). While the inception of Islam as a religion was very influential, we should never conflate religion with different ethnic empires.

1st - Mongol empire

2nd - Persian Empire

3rd - Roman empire (they stole a lot of things from the Persians anyways)

4th - Sumerian Empire (brought us writing)

5th - Hellenistic Greek empire
 

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1. Roman Empire. This is pretty much obvious.
2. British Empire. Set the stage for a Anglophonic-led globalized world.
3. China. Tons of inventions, long periods of stability, dominated East-Asia for years, birthed many religions, etc.
4. Rashidun-Umayyad-Abbasid Caliphates. What people generally call the "Islamic" empire were really a set of three caliphates set apon one large political entity. Tons of inventions and philosophical/academic knowledge, creation of an "Islamic" culture based on Arab/Bedouin standards, traded EVERYWHERE and helped link every nook and cranny of the Old World together, which led to colonization and exploration.
5. I have no idea, to be honest. Some that could be put on here would be the Mongols, Americans, any other European colonial power, hell, the Third Reich was pretty damn influential if you swish it in your head a bit. Egyptians? Achaemenids? Again, no idea.
 

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Babylon (This one may surprise people, however almost every single religion in existence is influenced by this predecessor. Also, have you heard of Astrology? Yep, they invented it)
Greece
Rome
Britain
America
 

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Babylon (This one may surprise people, however almost every single religion in existence is influenced by this predecessor. Also, have you heard of Astrology? Yep, they invented it)
Fuck astrology! Let's talk about the Babylonian origins of trigonometry :wink:. Great choice in empires.
 

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This is a tough question, and one that is probably going to be different for someone on side side of the world than for someone else on another, not to mention will probably change as time goes on. Since I haven't studied modern history with as much enthusiasm, I'm just going to leave the whole Spanish, British, American, etc. "empires" alone.

Rome would definitely get my vote, for having so much influence on Western civilization, but also on that of the Near East. Genghis Khan did some extraordinary things in his life, but the empire after his death disintegrated pretty quickly under his successors, much like Alexander's, so I'm pressed between choosing between Mongol and Turkish.

"China" has had many influential kingdoms, empires, civilizations, and I'm no expert, but they should probably be somewhere on the list as well. It's the same issue with "Islam", ie Abbasids, Umayyads, Fatimids. I'm not sure if any one of them could be considered "hands down" above the others.

Ancient empires are more tricky, since they were more insular and more-or-less took and gave to one another. Israel, Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and others have all played important parts. A lot of them existed for thousands of years and side-by-side. I'm biased towards Achaemenids, and if you go too far back, you start getting into archaeology, which is another can of worms.

List, in no specific order:

Rome
"China"
"Islamic"
Achaemenids
Mongolian or Turkish
 

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It depends on what perspective you use though. But I'd say Nazi Germany should be on the list anyways. Without it, we wouldn't have EU, we wouldn't have UN, we wouldn't have the cold war, etc.
 
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