Early Civilizations in India

Early Civilizations in India
2500 BC – 256 BC
Ch3 Sect 1
Geography of Indian Subcontinent
• Subcontinentlarge landmass
that juts out from
a continent
• 3 of world’s 10
most populous
countries- India,
Pakistan, and
Northern Plain
• Fertile region due to Indus, Ganges, and
Brahmaputra Rivers
• Carry melting snow from mountains to the
plains making agriculture possible
• Rivers are sacred to Indian people
Mountains caused
Indian people and
culture to remain
• Triangular plateau- raised
level of land
• Most of area is arid,
unproductive, and
sparsely populated
Coastal Plains
• Small rivers and seasonal rains provide area
with water for farming
• Eastern and Western Ghats
• Monsoon- seasonal wind
• October, winter monsoons
blow from NE and bring
hot, dry air that wither
• June, wet summer
monsoons blow from SW
-pick up moisture from
Indian Ocean and drench
land with daily downpours
• If rains are late, famine
may occur but if rains are
early deadly floods occur
Indus Valley Civilization
• Emerged in Indus River valley about 2500 BC.
Flourished about 1000 years and vanished
• Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro (moh HEHN joh Dah
roh) twin capitals possibly
• Along Indus River, 3 miles in circumference, huge
warehouses for grain, and a fortress
• Laid out in grid pattern, houses built of oven-fired
clay brick, modern plumbing, baths, drains, water
chutes, sewers beneath streets.
• Uniform weights and measures
• Well organized, powerful leaders, possibly priestkings, made sure all had steady supply of food
• Buildings suggest government planners
• Had to have mathematical skills to put together
Farming and Trade
• Most Indus Valley people were farmers
• First to cultivate cotton and weave into cloth
• Area close to Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf so
easily reach Sumer. Contact caused system of
writing to be born
• Cuneiform shows no relationship to Sumer
• Traded cotton, grain, copper, pearls, and ivory
• Polytheistic
• Mother goddess, source of creation
• Sacred bulls that later influenced veneration,
or special regard for, cattle
• Indus Valley cities were
declining. Standards not as
good, pottery turned crude
• Too many trees cut down,
volcanic eruption blocked
Indus which flooded city,
earthquake?!?!?! 1500 BC
• Aryans migrated here and
overran the Indus region as
Kingdoms of the Ganges
Aryan Civilization
• Somewhat nomadic
• Only know what Vadas tells us, collection of
prayers and hymns. 1500BC-500BC Vedic Age
• Warriors who fought in chariots, loved eating,
drinking, and music
Expansion and Change
• Aryan tribes led by rajahs- chief, most skilled
warrior, elected by people
• Eventually tribes settled down and learned farming
and spread out around Ganges River, 800 BC
• 500 BC new Indian civilization emerged consisting
of many rival kingdoms due to acculturationblending of two or more cultures
Aryan Groups
• Divided people by occupation
• Brahmins- priests
Kshatriyas (kuh shat ree yuhz)- warriors
Vaisyas (vis yuhz)- herders, farmers, artisans,
Sudras- Dravidians (people they conquered) and
non-Aryans) farm workers, servants; lowest level of
• (dalits- considered outside the caste system)
• Eventually gave rise to caste system, social group
born in to and can’t change
Aryan Religion
• Polytheistic- gods embodied natural forces
• Brahmins could call on gods for health, wealth, and
victory in war
• Move towards worshiping brahman- single spiritual
power beyond the gods
• Also move towards mystics- people who devote life
to seeking spiritual truth
• Sanskrit- written language
that priests used to write
down sacred texts
• Mahabharata- India’s
greatest epic, 100,000
verses. Aryan tribes
fighting for Ganges. 5
royal brothers, Pandavas,
lose area to cousins but
take back after huge
battle. Discusses Indian
religious beliefs,
immortality of the soul,
and importance of duty
• Ramayana- Rama’s bride
Sita is kidnapped by
demon-king Ravana and
story it all about Rama
getting his bride back
• Stories evolved over time
and different morals come
from them like role models
and loyalty