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Please help us pay for the servers and web services required to operate our non-profit organization's website. India is a country in South Asia whose name comes from the Indus River. The name Middle age india is used as a deation for the country in their constitution referencing the ancient mythological emperor, Bharata, whose story is told, in part, in the Indian epic Mahabharata.
Hominid activity in the Indian subcontinent stretches back overyears, and it is, therefore, one of the oldest inhabited regions on the planet. Archaeological excavations have discovered artifacts used by early humans, including stone tools, which suggest an extremely early date for human habitation and technology in the area.
While the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt have long been recognized for their celebrated contributions to civilizationIndia has often been overlooked, especially in the West, though its history and culture is just as rich. The Indus Valley Civilization c. It is Middle age india birthplace of four great world religions - HinduismJainismBuddhismand Sikhism - as well as the philosophical school of Charvaka which influenced the development of scientific thought and inquiry. The inventions and innovations of the people of ancient India include many aspects of modern life taken for granted today including the flush toilet, drainage and sewer systems, public pools, mathematics, veterinary scienceplastic surgery, board games, yoga and meditation, as well as many more.
Prehistory of India. The areas of present-day India, Pakistan, and Nepal have provided archaeologists and scholars with the richest sites of the most ancient pedigree. The species Homo heidelbergensis a proto-human who was an ancestor of modern Homo sapiens inhabited the subcontinent of India centuries before humans migrated into the region known as Europe.
Evidence of the existence of Homo heidelbergensis was first discovered in Germany in and, since, further discoveries have established fairly clear migration patterns of this species out of Africa. Recognition of the antiquity of their presence in India has been largely due to the fairly late archaeological interest in the area as, unlike work in Mesopotamia and Egypt, western excavations in India did not begin in earnest until the s.
Though the ancient city of Harappa was known Middle age india exist as early asMiddle age india archaeological ificance was ignored and the later excavations corresponded to an interest in locating the probable sites referred to in the great Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana both of the 5th or 4th centuries BCE while ignoring the possibility of a much more ancient past for the region.
The village of Balathal near Udaipur in Rajasthanto cite only one example, illustrates the antiquity of India's history as it dates to BCE. Balathal was not discovered until and excavations were not begun there until the s CE. Even older is the Neolithic site of Mehrgarh, dated at c.
Archaeological excavations in the past 50 years have dramatically changed the understanding of India's past and, by extension, world history.
A year-old skeleton discovered at Balathal in provides the oldest evidence of leprosy in India. Prior to this find, leprosy was considered a much younger disease thought to have been carried from Africa to India at some point and then from India to Europe by the army of Alexander the Great following his death in BCE. It is now understood that ificant human activity was underway in India by the Holocene Period 10, years ago and that many historical assumptions, based upon earlier work in Egypt and Mesopotamia, need to be reviewed Middle age india revised.
The beginnings of the Vedic tradition in India, still practiced today, can now be dated, at least in part, to the indigenous people of ancient sites such as Balathal and their interaction and blending with the culture of Aryan migrants who arrived in the region between c. The Indus Valley Civilization dates to c. The cities of this period were larger than contemporary settlements in other countries, were situated according to cardinal points, and were built of mud bricks, often kiln-fired.
Family activities seem to have centered on the front of the house, particularly the courtyard and, in this, are similar to what has been inferred from sites in RomeEgypt, Greeceand Mesopotamia. The buildings and homes of the Indus Valley peoples, however, were far more advanced technologically with many featuring flush toilets and "wind catchers" possibly first developed in ancient Persia Middle age india the rooftops which provided air conditioning.
The sewer and drainage systems of the cities excavated thus far are more advanced than those of Rome at its height. The most famous sites of this period are the great Middle age india of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa both located in present-day Pakistan Mohenjo-daro in the Sindh province and Harappa in Punjab which was part of India until the partition of the country which created the separate nation.
Harappa dates from the Middle period c. Harappa's buildings were severely damaged and the site compromised in the 19th century when British workers carried away a ificant amount of material for use as ballast in constructing the railroad.
Prior to this time, many buildings had already been dismantled by citizens of the local village of Harappa which gives the site its name for use in their own projects. It is therefore now difficult to determine the historical ificance of Harappa save that it is clear it was once a ificant Bronze Age community with a population of as many as 30, people. Mohenjo-Daro, on the other hand, is much better preserved as it lay mostly buried until Mohenjo-Daro was an elaborately constructed city with streets laid out evenly at right angles and a sophisticated drainage system.
The Great Bath, a central structure at the site, was heated and seems to have been a focal point for Middle age india community. The citizens were skilled in the use of metals such as copperbronzelead, and tin as evidenced by artworks such as the bronze statue of the Dancing Girl and by individual seals and cultivated barley, wheat, peas, sesame, and cotton. Trade was an important source of commerce and it is thought that ancient Mesopotamian texts which mention Magan and Meluhha refer to India generally or, perhaps, Mohenjo-Daro specifically. Artifacts from the Indus Valley region have been found at sites in Mesopotamia though their precise point of origin in India is not always clear.
The people of the Harappan Civilization worshipped many gods and engaged in ritual worship. Statues of various deities such as Indrathe god of storm and war have been found Middle age india many sites and, chief among them, terracotta pieces depicting the Shakti the Mother Goddess suggesting a popular, common Middle age india of the feminine principle. Who the Aryans were and what Middle age india they had on the indigenous people continues to be debated but it is generally acknowledged that, at about the Middle age india time as their arrival, the Harappan culture began to decline.
Scholars cite climate change as one possible reason noting evidence of both drought and flood in the region. The Indus River is thought to have begun flooding the region more regularly as evidenced by approximately 30 feet or 9 meters of silt at Mohenjo-Daro and this destroyed crops and encouraged famine. It is also thought the path of the monsoon, relied upon for watering the crops, could have changed and people left the cities in the north for lands in the south.
Another possibility is loss of trade relations with Mesopotamia and Egypt, their two most vital partners in commerce, as both of those regions were undergoing domestic conflicts at this same time. Racialist writers and political philosophers of the early 20th century, following the lead of the German philologist Max Muller l.
Equally untenable is the theory that the people were driven south by extra-terrestrials. Among the most mysterious aspects of Mohenjo-daro is the vitrification of parts of the site as though it had been exposed to intense heat which melted the brick and stone. This same phenomenon has been observed at sites such as Traprain Law in Scotland and attributed to the of warfare. Speculation regarding the destruction of the city by some kind of Middle age india atomic blast, however, the work of aliens from other planets is not generally regarded as credible.
Whatever the reason for the abandonment of the cities, the period that followed the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization is known as the Vedic Period, characterized by a pastoral lifestyle and adherence to the religious texts known as The Vedas. The lowest caste was the Dalitsthe untouchables, who handled meat and waste, though there is some debate over whether this class existed in antiquity. At first, it seems this caste system was merely a reflection of one's occupation but, in time, it became more rigidly interpreted to be determined by one's birth and one was not allowed to change castes nor to marry into a caste other than one's own.
This understanding was a reflection of the belief in an eternal order to human life dictated by a supreme deity. The underlying tenet of Sanatan Dharma is that there is an order and a purpose to the universe and human life and, by accepting this order and living in accordance with it, one will experience life as it is meant to be properly lived.
While Sanatan Dharma is considered by many a polytheistic religion consisting of many gods, it is actually monotheistic in that it holds there is one god, Brahman the Self but also the Universe and creator of the observable universewho, because of his greatness, cannot be fully apprehended save through the many aspects which are revealed as the different gods of the Hindu pantheon. It is Brahman who decrees the eternal order and maintains the universe through it.
This belief in an order to the universe reflects the stability of the society in which it grew and flourished as, during the Vedic Period, governments became centralized and social customs integrated fully into daily life across the region. Besides The Vedasthe great religious and literary works of the Puranasthe MahabharataBhagavad -Gitaand the Ramayana all come from this period. These changes in religion were a part of a wider pattern of social and cultural upheaval which resulted in the formation of city-states and the rise of powerful kingdoms such as the Magadha Kingdom under the ruler Bimbisara and the proliferation of philosophical schools of thought which challenged orthodox Hinduism.
Mahavira rejected the Vedas and placed the responsibility for salvation and enlightenment directly on the individual and the Buddha would later do the same. The philosophical school of Charvaka Middle age india all supernatural elements of religious belief and maintained that only the senses could be trusted to apprehend the truth and, further, Middle age india the greatest goal in life was pleasure and one's own enjoyment.
Although Charvaka did not endure as a school of thought, it influenced Middle age india development of a new way of thinking which was more grounded, pragmatic, and eventually encouraged the adoption of empirical and scientific observation and method.
Cities also expanded during this time and the increased urbanization and wealth attracted the attention of Cyrus II the Great, r. Ten years later, under the reign of his son, Darius Middle age india the Great, r. One consequence of this, possibly, was an assimilation of Persian and Indian religious beliefs which some scholars point to as an explanation for further religious and cultural reforms.
Again, foreign influences were brought to bear on the region giving rise to the Greco- Buddhist culture which impacted all areas of culture in northern India from art to religion to dress. Statues and reliefs from this period depict Buddha, and other figures, as distinctly Hellenic in dress and pose known as the Gandhara School of Art. Chandragupta 's son, Bindusara r. His son was Ashoka the Great r.
Eight years into his reign, Ashoka conquered the eastern city-state of Kalinga which resulted in a death toll ing overShocked at the destruction and death, Ashoka embraced the teachings of the Buddha and embarked on a systematic program advocating Buddhist thought and principles. He established many monasteries, gave lavishly to Buddhist communities, and is said to have erected 84, stupas across the land to honor the Buddha. In BCE, on pilgrimage to sites associated with the Buddha's life, he formally established the village of Lumbini as Buddha's birthplace, erecting a pillar there, and commissioned the creation of his famous Edicts of Ashoka to encourage Buddhist thought and values.
Prior to Ashoka's reign, Buddhism was a small sect struggling to gain adherents. After Ashoka sent missionaries to foreign countries carrying the Buddhist vision, the small sect began to grow into the major religion it is today. The Mauryan Empire declined and fell after Ashoka's death and the country splintered into many small kingdoms and empires such as the Kushan Empire in what has come to be called the Middle Period. This era saw the increase of trade with Rome which had begun c.
Rome now became India's primary partner in trade as the Romans also had already annexed much of Mesopotamia. This was a time of individual and cultural development in the various kingdoms which finally flourished in what is considered the Golden Age of India under the reign of the Gupta Empire CE. As Sri Gupta is thought to have been of the Vaishya merchant class, his rise to power in defiance of the caste system is unprecedented.
He laid the foundation for the government which would so stabilize India that virtually every aspect of culture reached its height under the reign of the Guptas. Philosophyliteraturescience, mathematics, architectureastronomy, technology, art, engineering, religion, and astronomy, among other fields, all flourished during this period, resulting in some of the greatest of human achievements. The Puranas of Vyasa were compiled during this period and the famous caves of Ajanta and Ellora, with their elaborate carvings and vaulted rooms, were also begun.
Kalidasa the poet and playwright wrote his masterpiece Shakuntala and the Kamasutra was also written, or compiled from earlier works, by Vatsyayana. Varahamihira explored astronomy at the same time as Aryabhatta, the mathematician, made his own discoveries in the field and also recognized the importance of the concept of zero, which he is credited with inventing. As the founder of the Gupta Empire defied orthodox Hindu thought, it is not surprising that the Gupta rulers advocated and propagated Buddhism as the national belief and this is the reason for the plentitude of Buddhist works of art, as opposed to Hindu, at sites such as Ajanta and Ellora.
The empire declined slowly under a succession of weak rulers until it collapsed around CE. The Gupta Empire was then replaced by the rule of Harshavardhan CE who ruled the region for 42 years. A literary man of considerable accomplishments he authored three plays in addition to other works Harsha was a patron of the arts and a devout Buddhist who forbade the killing of animals in his kingdom but recognized the necessity to sometimes kill humans in Middle age india.
He was a highly skilled military tactician who was only defeated Middle age india the field once in his life. Under his reign, the north of India flourished but his kingdom collapsed following his death. The invasion of the Huns had Middle age india repeatedly repelled by the Guptas and then Middle age india Harshavardhan but, with the fall of his kingdom, India fell into chaos and fragmented into small kingdoms lacking the unity necessary to fight off invading forces. The Muslim invasion saw an end to the indigenous empires of India and, from then on, independent city-states or communities under the control of a city would be the standard model of government.
The Islamic Sultanates rose in the region of modern-day Pakistan and spread north-west. The disparate world views of the religions which now contested each other for acceptance in the region and the diversity of languages spoken, made the unity and cultural advances, such as were seen in the time of the Guptas, difficult to reproduce.
Consequently, the region was easily conquered by the Islamic Mughal Empire. India would then remain subject to various foreign influences and powers among them the Portuguese, the French, and the British until finally winning its independence in World History Encyclopedia is a non-profit organization. Mark, J. Ancient India. World History Encyclopedia. Mark, Joshua J. Last modified November 13, World History Encyclopedia, 13 Nov Written by Joshua J.
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Please support World History Encyclopedia Foundation. Thank you! Server Costs Fundraiser Please help us pay for the servers and web services required to operate our non-profit organization's website. Mark published on 13 November Middle age india to this article. Translated text available in: Italian. Remove Advertisement. Sanatan Dharma holds there is one god, Brahmawho, cannot be fully apprehended save through the many aspects which are revealed as the different gods of the Hindu pantheon.
Editorial Review This article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. Keay, Middle age india.Middle age india
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