I think your emphasis on present-day may be misplaced. We are talking about a game that takes place through 5,000 years of history (or something). How much of an impact does ancient Egyptian civilization have on the present-day? Not really all that much but that doesn't stop us from recognizing that they were a great power in their day. How much geopolitical power does England, Spain or France have today? Not really all that much but they are recognized due to the extent of their power in their respective heydays. True (as far as we know). However, the Polynesians almost certainly did cross the Pacific and reach the shore of South America centuries before the Spanish or even the Vikings reached the new world. They had a lot farther to go to get there and they did it in freaking canoes.