Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Multimedia: The Rise and Downloading of Civilization Volume 56 Number 2, March/April 2003
by Eric A. Powell


(Courtesy Firaxis Games) [LARGER IMAGE]

The PC game franchise Civilization, which allows players to rule over any one of a dozen cultures from the Bronze Age to the twenty-first century, has issued an expansion pack to its latest installment, Civilization III (Firaxis Games, $35). The biggest new features are fresh civilizations (Carthage, Korea) and multiplayer options that allow (slow) play over the Internet.

Like earlier incarnations of the game, as your civilization advances corruption becomes a problem, cities revolt, tax revenues drop, and famine descends. Managing an empire is tricky business, and you begin to long for the days of the Bronze Age, when you had just a few cities and your only enemies were roving barbarians. Still, if you build wonders (pyramids, hanging gardens), advance technologically, and avoid losing territory to other civilizations, you can come out on top.

As with most popular games, Civilization has a vast Internet presence. One good website is, where aficionados can trade tips and horror stories (200 hours spent on one losing game!) and post scenarios that you can download and play yourself--the Bronze Age Mediterranean, Punic Wars, and the Byzantine Empire are particularly well represented. The scenarios are great fun--just keep close tabs on how many hours you play.

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© 2003 by the Archaeological Institute of America