You are on page 1of 9


Hero-stones are memorials commemorating the
honourable death of warriors who sacrificed their lives
defending their kingdom or region.
Where do we find them?
In whose memory?
Which was the kingdom defended?
When we try to find answers to these questions we
enter into History. History is a continuous, systematic
narrative of past events arranged in chronological
order. It tells us about our ancestors, their lifestyles,
occupations, customs and traditions, religious beliefs,
social and political systems and cultural patterns. It
also tells us about the problems, aspirations and
achievements of people who lived in the past.
Why study History
Studying History is important because -
It tells us the background of our society and gives us an identity.
It helps us to learn from the past so that we do not make the same mistake.
It gives us valuable lessons to understand the past and help us to make
decisions for the present and future.
It help us to know and understand other people, their way of life and culture
which opens our eyes to different people and their cultures.
Time frame in History
Generally History is divided into three periods:
Proto-History Prehistory History
Prehistorical period is before history began to be
But how, in the absence of written records, are we to
find out anything about prehistoric man? People
who lived before the dawn of history left behind
them many things which tells us about the kind of
life they led. We find great quantities of tools and
weapons and other articles shaped by them in
ancient gravel beds along the streams and rivers
where they fished or hunted, and in the caves which
gave them shelter and in the graves where they laid
their dead. From these we learn what skills the early
man had acquired and the extent of their cultural
Our knowledge of prehistoric man depends entirely
on the archaeological excavations. The physical
remains such as pottery, jewellary, coins, tools and
bones of the early man dug out by the archaeologists
help us to know about the past.
Proto history
This is the transition period between prehistory and the earliest recorded history. It is
the period immediately before the recorded history of a culture. In other words, it
refers to the history of people who have an oral literary tradition although they did
not take to literary writing.
For example in India there was a well-developed oral tradition. The Vedas and Sutras
were handed down from generation to generation by oral repetition and memory
retention. The Indus Valley Civilization reveals the early stages of writings on the
seals. But these sources do not give sufficient information. So, we depend on the
archaeological sources to know about this period.
Indus Valley seals Sumerian cuneiform Egyptian hieroglyphs
History is the period of recorded events of man. This marks the period in which
writing was invented. Important events were systematically recorded on clay
tablets, palm leaves, rocks, pillars and copper plates. These are valuable sources of
Calculating time and dates in History
Historians express dates in BC and AD. BC. stands for "Before Christ." Years are
counted backwards in BC. For example BC 300 comes before BC 200.
A. D. for anno domini which means "in the year of our Lord." Years are counted
forwards in AD. For example 200 AD comes before 300 AD.
Today, many scholars prefer to use the term BCE (Before the Common Era) instead
of BC, and CE (Common Era) instead of AD.
To find out the difference between two periods in BC or in AD the smaller number
should be subtracted from bigger number.
For example the difference between BC 400 and BC 100 is 300 years.
In the same way the difference between 100 AD and 400AD is 300 years.
When one date is in BC and the other is in AD both should be added.
For example the difference between Bc400 and 400AD is 800 years.
The Geographical Framework
The geography of a region plays a very important part in shaping the region's history.
India's history, is greatly affected by geography.
The Himalayas
The Himalayas in the north separate India from Central Asia. In spite of this
separation, the high mountain passes in the northwest allowed the early migration of
Aryans into the subcontinent and later other races from central and west Asia, like
the Greeks, Huns, Turks and Mughals, to invade India. Passes along the northern
mountains helped in the spread of Buddhism. Thus these mountain passes have
been a route to contacts with many kings, travellers, traders and scholars. These
contacts resulted in the development of a rich culture.
The two great perennial river systems Indus and the Ganges arise from the
Himalayas. These rivers gave rise to the fertile northern plains on which arose
ancient civilizations.
The Himalayan ranges are responsible for bringing in monsoon rains.
They also prevent the very cold and dry winds of central Asia from flowing into India.
The Khyber Pass
The Khyber Pass has been a silent witness to countless great events in the
history of mankind. The very sight of the Khyber reminds one of the conquerors
who forced their way through its dangerous defiles.
It has been a strategic gateway from the time of Alexander the Great (326BC),
when his army marched through it to reach the plains of India.
It is only through Khyber pass that the Persian, Mongol, and Tartar armies
forced their way into India.
The subcontinent was invaded time and again by conquerors like Timur, Babar,
Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali through this pass and brought Islam into

Planets do not have light of their own. They reflect the light of the sun. All
planets are spherical in shape but vary in size.
The Northern Plains
Civilizations flourished along the river banks. For example,in the subcontinent Indus
Valley Civilization, which existed around 2500 BC, stands as the best example to the
high level of urban culture reached by the people in the north-western portions of the
northern fertile plains. Later in1500BC the rural Vedic Culture took root and spread
across the gangetic plains with the coming of the Aryans .
The ancient river ports like Kanauj, Benares, Pataliputra and Prayag became centres
of commerce as the northern rivers could be used for trade and commerce. This
along with the productivity of the fertile plains, helped in the growth of many large
kingdoms in the region.
The Southern Region the Deccan
South of the northern plain are the Vindhya range of mountains which cut across the
middle of the subcontinent. The region south of the Vindhya is a peninsula, called
Deccan. The Vindhya range served historically as a barrier between the northern and
the southern parts of India. This resulted in the formation of two distinct cultures
the Vedic culture in the north and the Dravidian culture in the south.
Through the ancient ports on the western and eastern coastlines maritime trade and
commerce flourished with Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, East Africa and
South-East Asia. The colonies and kingdoms established in South-East Asia had the
influence of the languages, religions and cultures of the subcontinent.
Sources of History
History is study of the past. It is the collection and orgsnisation of the past events.
Archaeologists study these physical remains to reconstruct the past as accurately as
possible. Historians depend upon evidences left behind by earlier societies and
people. These historical sources are in the form of tools and implements, carvings
and paintings, inscriptions, sculpture, coins, ruins, manuscripts and historical texts.
Inscriptions Artefacts Coins Religious Secular
Books based on
religious themes
Biographies and
travellers' account
Archaeological Sources
The main source of information for
prehistory is archeology.
The archaeologists excavate the physical
remains of the past and study them
carefully to tell us about the past. They
are the true evidences.
We get various information from four
important sources namely inscriptions,
monuments, artifacts and coins.
Inscriptions are written records. Kings recorded the important events of their reign
on the cave walls, walls of temples and palaces, metal pillars, copper plates and clay
tablets for the people to know of their achievements.
For example We get a lot of information on the rule of King
Raja Raja Chola through the copper plates issued by him.
We are able to know about the Mauryan king Ashoka the
great through the inscriptions found at various places.
Tiruvalangadu copper plates
The seal itself is a work of art. It has a tiger, the emblem of the Cholas; an
umbrella and two fly-whisks, representing royalty; a swastika and two lamps,
auspicious symbols. Besides, it has two vertical fishes (the royal emblem of the
Pandyas), a bow (the Cheras' emblem), and the boar (eastern Chalukyas'
emblem), signifying that Rajendra Chola had conquered the Pandyas, the
Cheras and the eastern Chalukyas. These copper plates record Rajendra Chola
gifting the Palaiyanur village to the Siva temple at Tiruvalangadu in the present-
day Trivellore district.
The languages used are sanskrit and Tamil. The Sanskrit portion was written in
the Pallava grantha script, the Tamil language was written in Tamil script.
Issued by emperor Rajendra Chola (1012-1044
A.D.).They were a set of 31 copper plates secured by
a big, circular copper seal with the royal emblem of
the Chola dynasty. The legend around the emblem
written in Sanskrit.
Monuments are buildings of historical
importance. They provide information on
the period in which they were built.
Palaces,forts, pillars, temples and
monasteries provide information on the
social life of people, their religious beliefs,
their knowledge in various fields.
The objects made by man in the past are called artifacts. Ornaments, jewelery,
tools,weapons and metal objects excavated by archaeologists provide a lot of
information on the knowledge and skills of the people of that period.
Coins are considered as the most
important source of information as they
can provide information on the extent of a
king's rein and empire, the metals used in
that period, the regions with which trade
was carried on, art, religion, language and
achievements of the kings.
Literary sources
Hand written records of the past are called
manuscripts. Before the advent of printing,
palm leaves and barks of birch trees were
used to record. Many of the manuscripts
were destroyed due to their fragile in
nature. Literary sources are divided into two
types- Religious and secular.
Religious literature
Books based on religious themes are called religious literatures. These books provide
useful information on not only religion but also on politics and various customs and
traditions of the then existing society. The Vedas, puranas and the epics Ramayana
and Mahabharata provide important information on ancient India.
Secular literature
These books deal with subjects other than religion such as politics,grammar, poems,
plays biography and travelogue. Kautilya's Arthashastra a political treatise,
Kalidasa's poems and plays, Banabatta's Harshcharita a biography, Megasthenes'
Indiga, the travel accounts of FaHein and Hieun Tsang and the Sangam literatures
are the best examples of secular literatures that tell us about the people,society,
economics and politics of the time.
Looking Back!
History is the study of past.
It is important to study History.
History is divided into three periods- prehistory, proto-history and
Historians express time and dates - BC and AD.
The geography of a place influences its History.

Inscriptions, manuscripts, monuments, artifacts and coins are the

archaeological sources. Literary sources are divided into religious and
Key Words
chronological a record of events, starting with the earliest and following the
order in which they occurred.
archaeology the study of human history and prehistory through the
excavation of sites and the analysis of the physical remains
advent the arrival of a notable event
Summative Assessment
A. Tick the correct answers.
1. A systematic narrative of past events, arranged in chronological order.
a. Archaeology b. History c. Geography
2. The transition period between prehistory and the earliest recorded history:
a. Prehistory b. Proto history c. History
3. Recorded events on the copperplates:
a. monument b. artifact c. inscription
4. Hand written records of the past:
a. manuscript b. inscription c. monuments
5. Banabatta's Harshacharita:
a. Biography b. traveller's account c. religious literature

B. Say true (T) or false (F)
1. History tells us the background of our society and gives us an identity. ( )
2. Proto-history is the transition period between prehistory and history.
3. Historians study the physical remains to reconstruct the past.
4. Palaces, forts, pillars, temples and monasteries are monuments.
5. The objects made by man in the past are called artifacts.
6. There are three types of literary sources.
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
C. Give short answers.
1. Define: a. History b. Archaeology
2. What is the difference between Prehistory and History?
3. Name the archaeological sources.
4. What are artifacts?
5. Name some religious literature.
D. Answer in detail.
1. Why should we study History?
2. Explain the geographical influence of the Himalayas on the history of India.
3. Give the importance of inscriptions and coins as sources of History.
4. How does secular literature differ from religious literature? Give examples.
Formative Assessment
A. Calculate the date.
1. Alexander fought an epic battle against the Indian king Porus in
battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC. How many years ago?
2. Julius Caesar was killed in 44 BC. How many years ago?
3. The Chinese invented a writing system in 1200 BC and developed
paper in AD100. How many years passed between the two events?

B. Match the old cities with their present names.
City then City then
C. Find the names of the mountain passes in the northwest of India and
mark them in an outline map of India.
D. Find out the ancient kingdoms of northern India. Who were the
famous rulers of those kingdoms?

Life Skills
Visit a museum and have a close look at the various archaeological sources
What information can we get from jewellery excavated by the archaeologists?