Much is known about the peoples of ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt because they left a lot behind: written records, magnificent architecture, and impressive works of art. The traces of some of the world's other great civilizations may not be as plentiful or detailed, but their impacts and achievements are no less notable. Across the globe in five different regions, there are cultures whose legacies are every bit as astounding as the more famous ones.
Before laborers were building pyramids in Egypt, skilled seafarers were mastering the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Around 50,000 B.C. humans migrated from Southeast Asia to the landmass of Australia and New Guinea and nearby islands in simple boats outfitted with sails.
Around 8000 B.C., rising seas caused by a warming climate separated Australia and New Guinea. Shortly after, indigenous Oceanians—a group that includes Aboriginal Australians, Papuans, and Austronesians—began exploring and trading along the northern coast of New Guinea. They cruised the open ocean in outrigger canoes, and in succeeding waves of discovery, they settled a host of Pacific Islands. Some archaeologists believe their descendants made it as far as South American shores.