BEFORE 1500 (the first observations of Mars)
In the earliest days of Mars observation, all that was known about it was that it appeared to be a fiery red and followed a strange loop in the sky, unlike any other.
The Babylonians studied astronomy as early as 400 BC, and developed advanced methods for predicting astronomical events such as eclipses. They made careful observations for their calendars and religious reasons, but never attempted to explain the phenomena they witnessed. The Babylonians called Mars Nergal - the great hero, the king of conflicts.
The Egyptians were the first to notice that the stars seem "fixed" and that the sun moves relative to the stars. They also noticed five bright objects in the sky (Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn) that seemed to move in a similar manner. They called Mars Har Decher - the Red One.
THE GREEKS AND ROMANS
Greeks called the planet Ares after their god of war, while the Romans called it Mars. Its sign is thought to be the shield and sword of Mars.