Ancient India

The Indus River in India

The Indus River was the major river valley in Early India. The river flooded twice a year, which was imperative to the civilizations agricultural achievements that were necessary to their survival. The flooding enriched the soil and allowed for the Harappan people to grow large crops such as wheat, rice and barely throughout the year. It was imperative to their agricultural achievements

The Indus Valley civilization existed during the 2800 to 1700 B.C.E. It was also known as the Harappan Civilization since it runs through one of the largest cities in the area, Harappa. The civilization as a whole spread across half a million square feet, making it the largest known civilization to be unearthed to date. Most of the Harappan people were assumed to be a peaceful people since there were very few weapons found when archaeologists excavated their remains of the the largest cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. The civilization was also known to be rather advanced since they also had a plumbing system beneath the cities.

One of the most significant things that the Indus Valley people traded were soapstone or clay seals that were carved with designs that depicted humans, animals and sacrificial rites. Some scholars believe the pictures on these seals to be some form of written language which we still have yet to decipher. The Harappan people also trades things such as cotton cloth and further evidence that these people traded was bronze that was not indigenous to the region.

We don't know exactly know what was the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization but scholars have three theories so far: 1. Conquest. Due to the lack of weapons, it is believe that they could have been overrun buy neighboring enemies. 2. Natural Disaster. The belief is that the Indus people could have destroyed their own environment and in turn, destroying their livelihood. 3. Earthquake. The third theory is that an earthquake occurred and changed the course of the rivers, causing the tributaries to dry up and forcing the civilization to move in order to survive.

According to scholars, the Indo-European pastoral nomads known as the Aryans moved into the Indus Valley and ultimately spread over most of northern India. Despite the struggles with the people who lived along the Indus River, the Aryans remained in the valley for the next 1,000 years from 1500 B.C.E to about 500 B.C.E.

The reason we know about the migration of the Aryans is because they left behind a text known as the Vedas. The Vedas were originally remembered by Aryan priests and used for religious rituals but once a writing system emerged around 800 B.C.E, the Vedas were finally written down. Eventually, the Vedas became the first known text and basis for the religion of Hinduism.

The caste system was based into the functions fulfilled by the members of each caste and was connected to religion notions of purity and pollution. The ranks are mostly assigned based on birth or hereditary rank. Brahmins, or priests, were at the top of the caste system and the Kshatriya, the warriors who protected society, were beneath them. Below the warriors, were the Vaishya, commoners who were merchants and traders, and the last tier were the Shudra, who were the servants in society.

Untouchables, or Dalites, are the poor people in this civilization. The term "untouchables" was given to those who had contact with dead bodies or cleaning animal and human waste. They were considered impure because of the dharma, or rank. Dharma, karma and samsara all contributed to the lowest castes complying because it had a religious attachment. It gave the lowest castes hope that through reincarnation, they would go up in caste after they die so long as the fulfill their dharma to the fullest extent.

Buddha, meaning enlightened one, was not always Buddha. He was actually a man named Siddhartha Gautama and according to his story, Buddha was a prince who had left his palace after seeing the suffering of the world. He gave up everything and learned that suffering is through desire. Once he obtained nirvana, he began teaching others what he had learned. Buddhism differs from Hinduism, the most adopted religion in India, because it was more attractive to the lower castes and because with Buddhism, they do not believe in Vedic Gods as those who practice Hinduism.

Ashoka was one of the rulers during the Mauryan Dynasty in 270 B.C.E to about 232 B.C.E. Ashoka's reign began in violence but ended in peace when he became a Buddhist. He became more concerned with the needs and welfare of his people and spreading his teachings of tolerance and respect throughout the kindgom, causing his time as ruler to be the most memorable.

Created By
Megan Stewart
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