Oxford University is older than the Aztec Empire and 4 more “ancient” things

An article written by a professor of the Smithsonian Institute a couple of years ago confirms that The University of Oxford predates several things that we believe to be ancient. This idea that you can still study at a university that’s older than some “ancient nations” and would most likely outlast a few more given the current political climate of the world, is truly mind-blowing. When we think about “ancient things”, Ancient Egypt, The Great Wall of China and Aztec pyramids, amongst other things, come to mind – but certainly not a university in England. Nevertheless, Oxford is one of the oldest universities in the world and predates quite a few things. Keep reading to find out about five things that are younger than the institution.


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The Aztecs

Oxford University.

Oxford University. Source: Flickr

The focus of the study conducted by the Smithsonian was the fact that Oxford University is older than the Aztec empire. By almost 300 years in fact – Oxford’s first ever courses were taught as early as 1095, whereas the Aztec empire originated circa 13th century BC. And Oxford is still standing, and is still one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the world.

The Inca Empire

Inca Empire.

Inca Empire. Source: Wikimedia

Yes, this list features another ancient civilization of the Western Hemisphere. The Inca Empire originated around the 12th century – at least a few years if not decades after the first classes in Oxford started. The Empire was one of the most advanced ancient civilizations, famous for its incredibly advanced transport system that was way ahead of its time and connected the north of the Empire (modern Columbia) to the south (central Chile). They were also one of the most peaceful and diplomatic nations of the ancient world.

The US

The Founding Fathers.

The Founding Fathers. Source: Wikimedia

We all know that Columbus didn’t discover the Americas until the 15th century, and the Founding Fathers didn’t establish the post-revolution United States until the 18th century. So it appears that the University of Oxford is much, much older than the United States of America, despite the claims made by many narrow-minded people that Oxford “ripped off Harvard/Yale”. Don’t worry, Ivy Leaguers – Oxford pre-dates Cambridge as well as you!

Books as we know them

Gutenberg's printing press.

Gutenberg’s printing press. Source: Wikimedia

We might all love Kindle and ebooks for their convenience and multimedia features, but fortunately, hardcovers and paperbacks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Oxford University, obviously, predates ebooks by almost a thousand of years, but some of you might not know that it also pre-dates our favourite paper books. Of course, students back then studied with the help of manuscripts, until Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1436 – over three hundred years after Oxford University started taking on students.

The Magna Carta

One of four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta.

One of four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta. Source: Wikimedia.

(Not the album, the document). Indeed, England’s first university is older than the foundation of Western constitutional law and of pretty much every single European legal system. Not by much though – the Magna Carta was signed in 1215, a mere 119 years after the launch of Oxford’s very first courses.

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