Ancient India History & Geography

Ancient India
History & Geography
Lesson 1
Windows to the World:
Ancient River Civilizations
Geography of India
•India is located in southern Asia.
•The northern border is formed by
the Himalaya Mountains, the
highest mountain range in the
•Most of the country is surrounded
by water:
The Arabian Sea to the west
The Bay of Bengal to the east
The Indian Ocean to the south
What positive and negative effects do you think the
mountains and the oceans have had on India?
Almost every climate exists in
Glaciers are in the Himalaya
In the western states of Gujarat
and Rajasthan is the Thar
Desert, one of the driest places
on earth.
To the east in Meghalaya are the
world’s two wettest cities,
Cherrapunji and Mawsynram –
457 inches of rain each year.
The Ganges Plain, in the east is
one of the world’s most fertile
The southern part of India is the
Deccan Plateau that is bordered
on both sides by mountains
known as the Western and
Eastern Ghats.
The Himalayas
Indian Climate
Most of the year, the weather is very dry and sunny.
India has three seasons: hot – February to May
wet – June to November
cool – December - February
There is usually only one big weather event every year – the monsoon.
Monsoon is the Arabic word for season. It is the rains that arrive between June
and October.
During the monsoon, it usually rains every day.
By the end of September, the dry, brown-baked land has turned green and lush.
The Indus River Valley
•The Indus Valley Civilization is one of the oldest civilizations.
•In the 1920s, archaeologist found evidence of early human civilizations in
the Indus River Valley dating back to 3,000 BC. These first people settled
near the Indus River.
•This civilization is known as the Harappan Civilization, named after the
first city archaeologists discovered – Harappa.
•The great cities of this civilization were Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, which
were located in present day Pakistan. There were at least 80 other villages
and towns in this area.
What would it have been like to live in the United States in 3,000 BC?
Harappan Civilization &
c. 2000 B.C.E.
What might be some positive and negative effects of the location
of the Harappan Civilization?
Indus River Valley History
• Harappa grew on the
floodplains of the
Indus River. Because
of flooding, it was
rebuilt five times.
• Mohenjo-Daro was
rebuilt six times
because of flooding.
Harappa & Mohenjo-Daro
• Archaeologists discovered planned
cities that were laid out in grids, with
straight streets in Mohejo-Daro and
• They were the first people to plan the
building of cities. The cities were built
on a common plan:
• About one square mile in size in a
rectangular layout
• Two sections for each city:
1. A Walled Citadel containing
administrative buildings, religious centers,
bathhouses,and granaries
2. A Lower Town – where the people lived
• Streets were laid out in grids that formed
blocks with homes.
• Most homes had only one room, but some
had multiple rooms and stories.
• Some contained inner courtyards and brick
staircases that led to upper floors or roofs.
• Most buildings were made from baked bricks.
Indus Valley Plumbing
The Indus Valley Civilization was advanced in many ways:
Plumbing – many homes were equipped with bathrooms
including toilets and baths
Houses received water from wells in their home’s courtyard or
from a public well.
A drainage system, located underneath the streets, removed
water from homes.
• The Harappans were an
agricultural people.
• Each city had large
storage areas for food
called granaries. The
food was shared by all.
• The people grew many
different crops including
wheat, barley, peas,
sesame seeds, melons,
dates, and cotton.
Harappan Economy
•Their economy seems to have been
based on trade.
•Most city dwellers were traders or
•Materials obtained from trading were used
in the cities for making seals, beads,
jewelry and other objects.
•Harappan people traded with cultures to
the west. Harappan seals have been found
in excavations in Mesopotamia.
•Some of these seals were made from clay
and used as stamps on traded goods.
Observe these seals discovered by archeologists in the Indus Valley.
What do they tell us about the Harappan?
•Many archaeologists think that
Harappan people used figurines
when they prayed.
•Many of their figurines were of
women, so archaeologist believe
the Harrapan people worshipped a
female goddess.
Harappan Culture
• Musical instruments, toys and
games were made by the
• Apparently the Harappan
people loved to play games. A
chess board was also
discovered by archeologists.
•These gaming pieces
discovered by archeologists
are believed to be 5,000
years old.
Harappan Art
• Various
sculptures, seals,
pottery, gold
jewelry and
detailed figurines
in terracotta,
bronze and
steatite have been
found at the
excavation sites.
The Dancing Girl of Mojenho-Daro
Terracotta Sculpture
Indus Valley Jewelry
•The Indus Valley is
rich in many metals
and stones such as
Carnelian, gold,
copper, and
• The Harappan
people made
beautiful jewelry and
sold it at their
• The Harappans were
literate – able to read and
• Many of the artifacts that
have been found contain
writing – pictographic
• No one has been able to
figure out what the writing
• The writing was done on
bricks or seals not on
paper or clay tablets.
What happened to
the Harappans?
• Sometime between 1800 and 1700 BC, the Harappans
• No ones knows exactly what happened to them.
• Some historians believe they were invaded or had a natural
• Some believe that the frequent flooding of the Indus caused the
civilization to disappear.
• What do you think happened to them?
The Aryans Arrive c. 1500 BC
•The Aryrans were nomadic people, traveling from
one place to another in search of food and shelter.
•They were originally from Black Sea and Caspian
Sea areas.
•For several hundred years the Aryans spread from
Central Asia to the Indus River Valley.
The Aryans
• They called themselves
“noble ones” or “superior
• The Aryans were tall, with
light colored hair and had
blue or green eyes.
• The were a warring people,
and often fought among
• Aryans learned to farm the
fertile soils of the Indus
River Valley.
• The Aryan’s raised cattle, sheep,
goats, and other animals. They
also farmed crops, and probably
traded with other tribes.
• The most important indicator of
wealth among the Aryans was the
number of cattle that an individual
owned. The more cattle a family,
or tribe possessed the more
wealthy they were.
• Eventually cattle became so
important in Aryan society that
they made it illegal to kill or eat
Jobs & Occupations
In each tribe, people began to belong to one of
four groups according to their jobs or Castes:
Brahmana – priests
Kshatriya – warriors or soldiers
Vaishya – traders & farmers
Shudra – perple in service to others
Your occupation was the occupation of your
father. If your father was a farmer, you had to be a
Aryan Government
• The Aryans were not unified under a single government.
They shared the same language and traditions, but were
organized into small tribes or clans. Each tribe was ruled
by a chief known as a rajah or king. This was an
inherited job, so if your father was the rajah, someday,
you would be chief.
• The Aryan world was ruled by the men. Woman were
subject to their husbands, and were considered their
property. Both boys and girls were allowed to attend
schools, and receive an education.
• For hundreds of years the Aryans did not have a written
language so they passed their history down from one
generation to another though stories, poems, and epics.
These oral histories were memorized, word for word,
and told over and over.
• The Aryans eventually developed a written language.
Around 600 BC the Vedas were written down.
Aryan Houses
• People in the
Vedic period lived
in straw and
wooden huts.
• Later on, they
built homes of
• The Aryans believed in many
gods. They worshiped Indra, the
god of war; Agni , the god of fire;
and Usha, the goddess of the
morning, as well as many other
minor gods and goddesses.
• The religion grew to become
Hinduism, which is one of the
primary religions still practiced in
India today.
Indian Invasion
• The Persian kings,
Cyrus and Darius,
invaded India in
500 BC.
• Alexander the
Great of Greece
invaded India in
326 BC changing
the Indian culture
Mauryan Empire 321 BC- 188 BC
• In 321 B.C. a military leader by the name of Chandragupta
Maurya overthrew the ruling king and began the Mauryan
• Maurya developed infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and a
post offices, that would help the empire grow and prosper for
almost 150 years.
• Chandragupta taxed his people and punished them harshly.
To ensure that he was obeyed , he created a network of spies
throughout his kingdom who reported to him.
Emperor Asoka
• Maurya’s Grandson, Asoka,
became emperor after
Chandragupta died .
• His military expanded the borders
of the empire to include two thirds
of the Indian subcontinent.
• In later life, Asoka grew tired of
war, and he converted to
Buddhism. He taught his people to
be kind to others, and to have
respect for human life.
• Under his rule, Buddhist teachers
were able to spread Buddhism to
the countries of China, Thailand,
Vietnam and Japan.
End of Mauryan Empire
• After the death of Asoka,
the Mauryan Empire
rapidly fell apart.
Emperor Asoka the Great
• For 490 years following
the fall of the Mauryan
Empire, the Indian people
would remain under the
rule of small city-states.
Gupta Empire
• Around 320 AD the Gupta
Dynasty took over northern
• Chandra Gupta I was the
leader and first emperor.
• The Hindu religion was
very popular and grew.
• Indian society prospered.
Chandra Gupta II
• Ruled from AD 375 to 415 –
greatest of the Gupta kings.
• Expanded empire &
strengthened economy.
• Empire called the Golden Age
of India because of the
architecture, sculpture, &
• His reign brought about much
Ajanta Cave Paintings
• The wall-paintings
of Ajanta Cave in
the central
Deccan are the
greatest works of
Indian art.
The Gupta Empire
• Under the Guptas,
Hinduism became
the main religion.
• Rulers built Hindu
• Buddhism began to
lose influence.
End of Gupta Empire
• In 480 the Huns (a
group of people
originally from north
of China) conquered
the Guptas.
Hun king on a coin.
Post-Guptan Era
Hindu Temple built to the
Hindu god, Shiva.
• After the Guptan empire fell apart in the 500's AD, India
had a lot of smaller kings ruling a lot of small kingdoms.
• There were a lot of wars among these small kingdoms,
but there was also a lot of great architecture and art
during this time.
Arab Invaders
• By about 1100 AD, however, the Abbasid
or Arab invaders conquered northern
• Over the years many Hindu and Buddhist
Indians in northern India converted to
Islam (another religion).
• Southern India was never conquered by
the Arabs. They remained Hindu.
Modern History
• Other groups of people conquered and ruled India until
1757, when a British company called the East India
Trading Company changed from being traders with India
to their rulers.
• The Indian people were frustrated under British rule.
• In 1919, 400 unarmed Indian people were killed by
British soldiers.
Indian Independence
• Mahatma Gandhi became
India’s leader for freedom. He
believed in peaceful,
nonviolent protests instead of
fighting. He used hunger
strikes and prayer to achieve
his goals.
• In 1947, Great Britain granted
India independence.
s Valley Civilization
Ancient India
Lesson 2
Religion in Ancient India
• Ancient India's religion can be traced right from the
Harappan Civilization that grew up in two cities of
Harrappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
• Hinduism developed first by the Indo-Aryan people who
moved south through India and displaced the Indus
Valley Civilization.
• Later, Gautam Buddha a royal prince founded a new
religion out of Hinduism. He based his religion and his
new social system on four noble truths.
Religion is an important part of life
in Ancient India and India today.
India is the birthplace of two of the
world’s major religions:
• Hinduism
• Buddhism
What is Hinduism?
• No leader or formal
• Believe in one superior
being or god called
Brahman. There are
many gods and
goddesses that are a part
of Brahman.
• No single holy book like
the bible
• Have many sacred
writings. Most important
are the Rig Veda
Some of the Hindu gods are…
• Brahma- major god of Hindu religion-believed
he created the universe- takes the form of a five
headed being
• Vishnu- protects the universe that Brahma
• Shiva- the god of destruction. Has the power to
see what others cannot see.
• Agni- god of fire
An important Hindu ritual is traveling to the
holy city, Varanasi, to bathe in the Ganges
(Read Sacred River by Ted Lewin)
Hindus also believe that cows
are sacred and worship them as
a source of life and fertility. No
beef is ever eaten by a Hindu.
Hinduism is considered to be more
of a way of life. It teaches…
• Righteous living or moral duty
• A person’s actions have a
• Continuous process of rebirth
Hindus use a social system that
put people in social classes.
They believe that one must live a
good life and be reincarnated to
move to a higher caste. This is
called the Caste System.
5 social groups of the
Caste System
Brahmans - the highest group: Priests, Scholars,
Kshatriyas - Warriors, Rulers
Vaisyas - farmers, merchants, craftsmen
4. Sundras - peasants, servants, laborers, unskilled
5. Untouchables - the very bottom
Understanding Hindu beliefs in the
The Ramayana is one of India's classic epic poems and was
composed by a legendary holy man named Valmiki. The Ramayana
is the story of the Hindu God Vishnu, who comes to earth as the
human prince Rama. Vishnu is sent to earth to kill an evil demon
named Ravana. Scholars believe that the Ramayana was probably
written in the third century B.C.E., but that the poem has been
changed and added to many times since. The poem consists of
seven books and contains about 24,000 rhymed couplets.
The Ramayana is frequently dramatized throughout India and has
had a profound influence on Indian literature. The Ramayana has
historically been an engaging way for Hindus - particularly Hindu
children - to learn about the fundamental beliefs of their religion.
Reader’s Theater
Adaptation of the Ramayana (Scene 1-5)
Create and illustrate a poem
that summarizes the Hindu
beliefs portrayed in the
What is Buddhism?
• Today Buddhism is a
major world religion.
• There are over 330
million Buddhist in the
• One man, Prince
Gautama, started it
Prince Gautama (Buddha)
Prince Gautama was born about 553 BCE.
He had parents who loved him, many
servants to wait on him, the finest clothes,
and a different palace for each season of
the year. Yet, he found his world full of
suffering. It upset him that painful old age,
sickness, and death were all part of life in
this world.
He decided to give up everything
he owned and seek an answer
to why life was so hard.
For the next six years he
traveled throughout India.
But the answers he found
were not enough. One
day, while sitting under a
fig tree, an understanding
came to him. This
understanding was a way
to end suffering. That was
the day Prince Siddhartha
Gautama began to earn a
new title, the Buddha,
which means "Awakened
One” or “Enlighten One”
Prince Gautama realized that
there is always suffering in the
world; that the suffering comes
from wanting things, and that
when a person stops wanting,
the suffering stops.
Soon Siddhartha had many
followers, who called him
Buddha, which means
“enlightened one”.
Four Noble Truths
His journey to find the meaning of life had
concluded. Buddha realized that life is ruled by
Four Noble Truths:
1. Life is filled with suffering
2. Suffering is caused by people's wants.
3. Suffering can be ended if people stop wanting
things, like more pleasure or more power.
4. To stop wanting things, people must follow 8 basic
laws, called the Eightfold Path.
Eightfold Path
In brief, these are the laws of the Eightfold Path:
1. To know the truth
2. To intend to resist evil
3. To not say anything to hurt others
4. To respect life, property, and morality
5. To work at a job that does not injure others
6. To try to free one's mind from evil
7. To be in control of one's feelings and thoughts
8. To practice appropriate forms of concentration
Using a double bubble map
compare/contrast Eight Fold Path
to Hammurabi’s Code
The teachings of Buddhism are
based in reincarnation.
• These teachings say that everyone is
caught in a cycle of birth and death, birth
and death.
• This cycle repeats over and over, until
people learn how to behave correctly.
• The gods can’t help you. It’s up to you.
You will dwell forever in peace,
happiness, and goodwill.
• If you behave badly, Buddhists believe you will be
reincarnated into a life that is even worse than your
current one.
• If you are good, when you are reincarnated, your life will
be better- you will have moved up a step.
• If you keep working at it, one day you will finally escape
this repeating cycle of birth- death, birth-death, and move
forever to the highest plain of existence (Nirvana).
Buddha spent the rest of his life traveling around
India and sharing his message with everyone. He
had many followers, who lived according to his
Four Noble Truths. Some of his followers became
Buddhist monks. They gave up all they owned and
depended on other followers and kind hearted
people to give them food.
Their message was one of love.
After the Buddha's death in 483
BCE, Buddhism spread rapidly
Southern and Eastern Asia.
Buddha’s teachings have been
followed by people ever since.
Ancient India
Lesson 3
Arabian Muslims raided India and by 1206,
Delhi was ruled by Muslim sultans, or kings.
Muslim leaders worked their way east and
south, converting lower cast Hindus to Islam.
The Islamic Moguls ruled in India from 1526 to
1707. The Moguls replaced the weaker sultans
to create a long and prosperous Mogul Empire.
Under the Moguls, Hindu and Muslim traditions
combined to make important contributions in
poetry, music, and architecture. Islam is the
second largest religious group in modern India.
Compare the
Great Mogul Emperors
Dates Ruled
Leadership Style
Contribution to
Indian Culture
Shah Jahan
Writing Activity:
If you could be a Mogul Emperor which leader
would you choose to be? Write a persuasive
essay describing the leader of your choice.
Give at least three supporting arguments.
Make sure your composition is organized with
and opening statement, your supporting
arguments, and a strong closing statement.
European Exploration
Europeans began arriving in India during the
15th and 16th century. These explorers had
heard unbelievable stories about the wealth of
the East, and they came in search of trade.
They sought to deal directly with India, cutting
out the Arabian middle man who controlled
trading and profits. Portuguese, Dutch, and
English trades established companies to trade
for various goods, including spices, fabrics, and
Gaining Independence
Toward the end of the
19th century, a new
nationalist reform
movement began to
take hold in India. This
movement eventually
led to the independence
in India in 1947.
Research the following
key figures, events, and
organizations to learn
their roles for India’s
struggle for
Mohandas Gandhi
Lord Mountbatten
Jawaharlal Nehru
Aga Khan
Mohammed Ali Jinnah
Indian National Congress
Muslim League
Rowlatt Acts of 1918
Massacre of 1919 at a
Hindu festival
10. The Partition of India
After researching the road to
independence, work with two partners to
write personal diary accounts describing the
feelings of the people in India during this
tumultuous time. Each member of the group
will write from a different viewpoint: a British
Officer, a Hindu, a Muslim. Describe the
different people from this time period from
your perspective.
Can you think of anything we
have in the U.S.
that came from India?
Meditation exercises
Hindi phrase meaning loose trousers
Game of skill played on a checkerboard with moveable pieces
Sweaters made from goat hair
This digit means nothing, but the value of a number changes when it
is added to the end.
A brand of clothing; also a game played while riding horses.
United Streaming Video
What the Ancients Knew: India
Indian Myths and Tales
Literature was possibly one of the greatest
contributions. Indians wrote many myths
and legends to explain the world around
them. Read “Descent of the River
Ganges”, which explains how the sacred
Ganges River came to be on earth.
(Descent of the River Ganges attached)
Write your own Indian Tale
Write a myth that describes a natural
phenomenon. Try to use as many
references to Indian culture as possible.
Use the plot outline to plan your myth.
(plot outline attached)
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