Key Terms – The Gupta Empire
Chandragupta II
Caste System
The Beginning of the Gupta Empire
• 320 A.D.  new ruler would
take over the northeastern
region of India.
• Chandragupta  ruler who
managed to consolidate the
previously divided northern
territories of Magadha.
• Chandragupta, through his
efficient rule would be able
to start a new dynasty
known as the Gupta
Dynasty which lasted from
320 -467 A.D.
• Considering that the other
parts of India were still
divided into small parts, the
second Gupta emperor
would take up the task of
reuniting them.
• Samudragupta  (330-375)
would reconquer many of
the independent kingdoms,
would absorb the
northwestern region of
India extending as far down
as the Deccan.
Chandragupta II
• Chandragupta II  would
acquire control of the Silk
Road trade route entering
• By defeating the Shakas (a
group from the borders of
China), he would be able to
gain access to the Silk Road
trade route which had
previously been blocked.
• Through his actions, he was
able to enter into trade with
the Middle East which
improved the economy of the
Cultural Changes
• Through their acquisitions, the Guptas were
able to enjoy a period of great intellectual and
cultural achievement.
• Colleges, universities and libraries thrived and
also maintained Sanskrit writings of the past.
• Many masterpieces were created at this time
which stood up against the writings of the
• Kalidasa  wrote plays
in verse, mostly
revolving around love,
adventure, moral
lessons, and beauty in
• The Mahabhrata and
the Ramayana were
completed during the
period of 400-450.
Changes in Science and Math
• Invented the decimal
system and the concept
of zero (later considered
arabic numerals).
• Pi was calculated, which
represents the
relationship between the
circumference of a circle
and its diameter.
• Ascertained that the
earth was a sphere and
the causes of lunar
Government Structure
• Princes controlled the outer territories
– Collected taxes and tribute from other territories
– Usually had ties to the emperor through marriage
– Outlying areas were easily indirectly controlled
through Hinduism  religious leaders exercised
powers over their societies.
The Caste System
• In the 1500’s B.C., around the same time as the
Indus Valley cities sprang about, the Aryan tribes
entered into India.
• The Aryans introduced the caste system to India;
broke the society into four major castes.
• There were to be no interrelations between the
castes since it was strictly forbidden.
• Hindu missionaries would spread the faith, the
ideas behind the castes, and the Sanskrit
language to other areas in Southeast Asia.
Women in India
• Wealthier families usually educated their
daughters, giving them the ability to create
works in literature, though many would not
ever become famous.
• Women usually became midwives  women
trained to deliver babies.
• Women were usually arranged to be married
at a young age  women could not remarry
or inherit their husband’s wealth.
• Sati  the act of a widow
throwing oneself into their
husband’s funeral pyre.
• This practice usually ensured that
the husband and wife would
spend 35 million years of
happiness together.
• Women would be shunned and
destroy their family names if they
were to refuse.
• This practice would be inhibited
by the British upon their
colonization of the territory in the
17th and 18th Centuries.
• It is still practiced in some areas
The End of the Gupta Empire
• Skandragupta  Gupta emperor who
managed to fight off the invading Huns.
• Even though the Guptas were able to repel
the Huns, they were unable to maintain their
now weakened society.
• Trade began to decline and the empire would
fall in the mid 500’s.