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The Chronology of Kings

Reference: Satyartha Prakash by Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Source of Satyartha Prakash : A fortnightly magazine Harishchandrika and

Mohanchandrika published from Srinathdware in Udaipur-Chittoregarh in Rajasthan in
Vikram Sanvat 1939. The editor of this magazine translated this information from another
Sanskrit book published in Vikram Sanvat 1782 (1726 AD).

Contributor's (Virendra Verma) Note: The conversion from Vikram Samvat to A.D. is
mine. I could be wrong there.

The kingdom of Indraprastha was ruled by Indians for 124 generations for a period of
4157 years, 9 months and 14 days between the event of Mahabharat and the begining of
the Mughal era in 1193 AD.

30 generations of Raja Yudhisthir ruled Indraprastha for a total of 1770 years, 11 months
and 10 days as follows:

King/Queen Years Month Days


1 Raja Yudhisthir 36 8 25
2. Raja Parikshit 60 0 0
3 Raja Janmejay 84 7 23
4. Ashwamedh 82 8 22
5. Dwateeyram 88 2 8
6. Kshatramal 81 11 27
7. Chitrarath 75 3 18
8. Dushtashailya 75 10 24
9. Raja Ugrasain 78 7 21
10 Raja Shoorsain 78 7 21
11 Bhuwanpati 69 5 5
12 Ranjeet 65 10 4
13 Shrakshak 64 7 4
14 Sukhdev 62 0 24
15 Narharidev 51 10 2
16 Suchirath 42 11 2
17 Shoorsain II 58 10 8
18 Parvatsain 55 8 10
19 Medhawi 52 10 10
20 Soncheer 50 8 21
21 Bheemdev 47 9 20
22 Nraharidev 45 11 23
23 Pooranmal 44 8 7
24 Kardavi 44 10 8
25 Alamamik 50 11 8
26 Udaipal 38 9 0
27 Duwanmal 40 10 26
28 Damaat 32 0 0
29 Bheempal 58 5 8
30 Kshemak 48 11 21

Vishwa, the prime minister of Kshemak, killed Kshemak and took over the
kingdom. Fourteen generations of Vishwa ruled for 500 years, 3 Month and
17 dyas as follows:

1 Vishwa 17 3 29
2 Purseni 42 8 21
3 Veerseni 52 10 7
4 Anangshayi 47 8 23
5 Harijit 35 9 17
6 Paramseni 44 2 23
7 Sukhpatal 30 2 21
8 Kadrut 42 9 24
9 Sajj 32 2 14
10 Amarchud 27 3 16
11 Amipal 22 11 25
12 Dashrath 25 4 12
13 Veersaal 31 8 11
14 Veersaalsen 47 0 14

Veersaalsen was killed by his prime minister Veermaha whose 16

ruled for 445 years, 5 months and 3 days as follows:

1 Raja Veermaha 35 10 8
2 Ajitsingh 27 7 19
3 Sarvadatta 28 3 10
4 Bhuwanpati 15 4 10
5 Veersen 21 2 13
6 Mahipal 40 8 7
7 Shatrushaal 26 4 3
8 Sanghraj 17 2 10
9 Tejpal 28 11 10
10 Manikchand 37 7 21
11 Kamseni 42 5 10
12 Shatrumardan 8 11 13
13 Jeevanlok 28 9 17
14 Harirao 26 10 29
15 Veersen II 35 2 20
16 Adityaketu 23 11 13

Raja Dandhar of Prayaag killed Adityaketu of Magadh. 9 generations of

Dhandhar ruled Indraprastha for 374 years, 11 month and 26 days as

1 Raja Dhandhar 23 11 13
2 Maharshi 41 2 29
3 Sanrachhi 50 10 19
4 Mahayudha 30 3 8
5 Durnath 28 5 25
6 Jeevanraj 45 2 5
7 Rudrasen 47 4 28
8 Aarilak 52 10 8
9 Rajpal 36 0 0
Rajpal was killed by Samant Mahanpal who ruled for 14 years. Later
was killed by Vikramaditya of Ujjain (called Avantika). Vikrmaditya
ruled for
93 years. He was later killed by Samudrapal yogi of Paithan. 16
of Samudrapal ruled for 372 years, 4 months and 27 days as follows:

1 Samudrapal 54 2 20
2 Chandrapal 36 5 4
3 Sahaypal 11 4 11
4 Devpal 27 1 28
5 Narsighpal 18 0 20
6 Sampal 27 1 17
7 Raghupal 22 3 25
8 Govindpal 27 1 17
9 Amratpal 36 10 13
10 Balipal 12 5 27
11 Mahipal 13 8 4
12 Haripal 14 8 4
13 Seespal 11 10 13 Also mentioned as Bhimpal in some
14 Madanpal 17 10 19
15 Karmpal 16 2 2
16 Vikrampal 24 11 13

Raja Vikrampal attacked Malukhchand Bohra in the west. Vikrampal was

by Malukhchand Bohra (from west) in the war. 16 generations of
ruled for 191 years, 1 month and 16 days as follows:

1 Malukhchand 54 2 10
2 Vikramchand 12 7 12
3 Manakchand 10 0 5
4 Ramchand 13 11 8
5 Harichand 14 9 24
6 Kalyanchand 10 5 4
7 Bhimchand 16 2 9
8 Lovchand 26 3 22
9 Govindchand 31 7 12
10 Rani Padmavati 1 0 0

Rani Padmavati was the wife of Govindchand. She had no child. So her
appointed Hariprem Vairagi for the throne. 4 generations of Harimprem
for 50 years, 0 month and 12 days as follows:

1 Hariprem 7 5 16
2 Govindprem 20 2 8
3 Gopalprem 15 7 28
4 Mahabahu 6 8 29

Mahabahu took sanyas. Hearing the news of his sanyas, Adhisen of Bengal
attacked and took over the kingdom of Indraprastha.
1 Raja Adhisen 18 5 21
2 Vilavalsen 12 4 2
3 Keshavsen 15 7 12
4 Madhavsen 12 4 2
5 Mayursen 20 11 27
6 Bhimsen 5 10 9
7 Kalyansen 4 8 21
8 Harisen 12 0 25
9 Kshemsen 8 11 15
10 Narayansen 2 2 29
11 Lakshmisen 26 10 0
12 Damodarsen 11 5 19

Damodarsen mistreated his umrao Deepsingh who with the help of army
revolted and killed Damodarsen. 6 generations of Deepsingh ruled for
107 years, 6 months and 22 days as follows:

1 Deepsingh 17 1 26
2 Rajsingh 14 5 0
3 Ransingh 9 8 11
4 Narsingh 45 0 15
5 Harisingh 13 2 29
6 Jeevansingh 8 0 1

Jeevansingh sent his army to the north for some reason. Hearing this
Prithviraj Chauhan of Vairat attacked Indraprash and killed Jeevansingh.
5 generations of Prathviraj ruled for 86 years, 0 month and 20 days as

1 Prathviraj 12 2 19
2 Abhayapal 14 5 17
3 Durjanpal 11 4 14
4 Udayapal 11 7 3
5 Yashpal 36 4 27

Sultan Shahbuddin Gauri from Garh Gazni attacked raja Yashpal and
him in the fort of Prayaag in Vikram Sanvat 1249 (1193 AD). 53 Gauri
generations ruled for 745 years, 1 Month and 17 days as documented in
history books.

The Mahabharata
Pictures and Tales from The Hindu Epic of
Last Updated: January 24,2006


Mahabharata (a.k.a. Mahabharat) is a great story

of sibling rivalry, of complex interwoven sub-
stories, of philosophy, divinity, adventure,
bravery, and betrayal. The characters are very
well developed and are glorified in great works
of Indian art and literature.

Table of Contents

The Song Celestial

The Bhagavad-Gita is
the war time counsel
of Krishna to his
Arjuna during the
Mahabharata war.
Who's Who of Wife of Five
Mahabharata Husbands
Learn about some of The story of Draupadi
the important through the works of
characters of great artists
Mahabharata epic.
You can find how they
are related to each
other by clicking the
red hyperlinks
Bheema Finds Duryodhana Immersed in
Death of Abhimanyu
Depiction of the Gadayudha Epic
Draupadi's Wedding
Duryodhana Hiding Under Water
Gandhari by Nandalal Bose
Karna's Predicament
Krishna Kills Bakasura
The Mahabharata
The Mystifying Architecture of
Rajasuya Sacrifice of Pandavas
Shantanu Meets the Fishergirl Satyavati
and Falls in Love

See Also:

Four men of Mahabharat who are still

Hanuman, the Son of Wind God

Books on Mahabharata

Books on Mahabharata Epic at Amazon


Scholars from across the world came together, for the first time, in an attempt to establish the
'Date of Kurukshetra War based on astronomical data.' Undoubtedly, it was an amazing collation
of information presented in a colloquium, held on January 5 and 6, 2003 at the Mythic Society,
Bangalore. The colloquium was jointly organized by The Mythic Society, Indira Gandhi National
Centre for the Arts - Southern Regional Centre and Sir Babasaheb (Umakanth Keshav) Apte
Smarak Samithi Trust.
Inaugurating the two day session, Dr. Raja Ramanna, Member of Parliament and eminent nuclear
scientist, emphasized that the 'best clock for dating was the sky itself and the position of stars.'
He added that 'research and scientific theory should be questioned although he found that many
homes and libraries hampered the progress of research by keeping ancient manuscripts to
Dr. Kalyan Raman clarified the purpose of the colloquium in his introductory remarks. Well-known
historian, Dr. Suryanath Kamath, in his Presidential address explained the objective as an '
exploration of the authenticity of dates using planetary software and textual evidences containing
over 150 references.' He felt that 'chronology was most important for the history of any society
since history without chronology is like a body without a skeleton.' He also gave a detailed
explanation of the development of the Mythic library and the collections.

The other dignitaries present on the dais were Dr. M.K.L.N. Sastry - Hon. Secretary, Mythic
Society, Prof. P.V. Krishna Bhat - Hon. Coordinator, IGNCA-SRC and Shri K. Narahari - Managing
Trustee, Apte Trust. The opening session set the tone for the mind stirring sessions with various
interpolations found in the Mahabharata. Several scholars put forth their perception and
calculated derivations. Dr. S. Balakrishna (NASA, USA) proved the occurrence of 'two eclipses in
(a span of) 13 days prior to Mahabharata'. Analysing the astronomical possibility of Vyasa's
statement in Bhishma Parva "Amavasya occured on the 13th day. Two eclipses in a month, on
the thirteenth day." he presented the data of eclipses during the period 3300 BCJ (Before the
Calendar of Julian Ceaser) to 700 BCJ visible at Kuruxethra, using Lodestar Pro software. He
stated the possibility of 672 eclipse pairs, ten 'thirteen day lunar first' eclipse pairs and concluded
that 2559 BC eclipse pair was nearest to the text of Mahabharata.

Prof. R.N. Iyengar (I.I.Sc., Bangalore) systematically dealt with "Internal consistency of eclipses
and planetary positions in Mahabharata". Verifying all double eclipses of 501-3000 B.C. and when
Satur + Jupiter were near Vishaka, he concluded that 1478 B.C. was the most likely year of the

Dr. B.N. Narahari Achar (Dept. of Physics, University of Memphis, U.S.A.) gave a brief description
of various available planetary software, a review of the works of astrophysicists Kochhar,
Siddharth and astronomers, Sengupta and Srinivasa Raghavan and other astronomical
references in the epic. He critically examined the limitations and the reliability of simulations and
concluded that the astronomical events in the Mahabharata pointed to 3000 B.C.E. (Before
Common Era)* and simulation of events to 3067 B.C.E., identical to the one given by Raghavan.

Speaking on 'The date of Mahabharata War with reference to Bhishmashtami', Dr. Kalyan Rama
(Chennai) validated the ground truth of River Saraswati of Vedic times that established the
historicity of the Mahabharata.

Dr. Shambhu Shastry (Franklin, USA) and Dr. Venkateswara Reddy dealt with 'Natural cycles in
the Solar System and Chaturyuga Cycles.' Dr. Kalyan Raman (Chennai) validated the ground
truth of River Saraswati of Vedic times that established the historicity of the Mahabharata.

Dr. Shambu Shastry (Franklin, USA) and Dr. Venkateswara Reddy dealt with 'Natural cycles in the
Solar System and Chaturyuga Cycles.' Dr. Shambhu Shastry showed that the chatuyuga and
manavantara schemes of Hindu chronology are directly from natural astronomical cycles and
based on this, he stated, that the human race is about five million years old. He concluded that
this helped demythologize the Mahabharata and Ramayana and placed them in the last
descending Chaturyuga segment over a time span of not more than 6000 years.

Shri P.V. Holey (Nagpur) was of the opinion that the war began on the 13th day of November 3143
B.C. He sourced this to crucial events with planetary positions after a comparative study of
astronomical dates based on nakshatra, the Julian and Gregorian systems.

On the second day, Dr. Mohan Gupta (Ujjain) dealt with Puranic and Astronomical evidences.
Based on genealogical and astronomical calculations he concluded that 17th October 1952 B.C.
Thursday, Marga Krsna Amavasya kali 1157 or shakapurva 2029, Julian year 2762 as the date
when the Mahabharata war began. Dr. S.R. Rao based his derivation on archaeological evidence
obtained from onshore and offshore excavations conducted in Dwaraka, Bet Dwarka and in the
Kurukshetra region and found 1900-1700 B.C. as acceptable.

Dr. N.S. Rajaram (Bangalore) expressed a need to exercise caution while interpreting
astronomicla statements and that it should take into account both the literary evolution and
interpolated passages. He felt 3100m B.C. had the best astronomical support. Shri K.V.
Ramakrishna Rao (Thiruvananthapuram), felt that due to periodical corrections in Indian
astronomical works, changes had crept it and without the significance of the two ears - kali and
saka - dates cannot be determined, Dr. M.V. Subba Rao (Secundrabad) gave astrological
references of Sri Krishna and felt that the dates could be calcutated from the day of Ktrishna's
birth. Shri M.V. Narasimhan (Mysore) spoke of a research methodology using the shastric and the
scientific inputs. Referring to Pulakesin's inscription and comet at Nagercoil he concluded 3100
B.C. as the year of the war.

Despite the inspiring deliberations, it was observed that further resource data from varied fields
was required to calibrate supportive evidence. Thus the concluding session unanimously drew a
plan of action. Dr. S. Nagaraju reviewed the colloquium with regard to the two objectives set at
the beginning - to establish internal consistency with respect to dates and chronology mentioned
in the Mahabharata and whether it could be proved using planetary software and secondly, if a
correct date of the Mahabharata could be derived from the 150 astronomical references and have
a sheet anchor of chronology of pre-Buddhist India? He said that at least four papers dealt with
the problem directly and clarified a non-discrepancy with respect to the dates given. This is he felt
was the most important contribution of the colloquium. But a problem he sighted was, out of the
one-lakh odd sholkas, to distinguish what was added at what time. In this context he suggested
that more interactions might be had with people who had knowledge of geography and other
related areas of study. Secondly, he felt that the dating of the Mahabharata war could not be done
merely on the basis of astronomy alone. Since there are a number of texts one should find out the
correct text and establish a critical edition giving all details.

Dr. R. Subramaniam in his observations also agreed that there was a need to develop a critical
editions of the verses with interpretations in consensus with astronomy, history, archaeology,
Sanskrit astrology and mathematics. He suggested that verifications should take into account
occurrence of double eclipse, Saturn in Rohini and the use of all available software and data.
Another valid point he raised was the absence of direct reference to winter solstice in the
Mahabharata. Once that is available it was felt that 'everything could be nailed.'

'Where do we go from here?' Answering the self-query Dr. Kalyan Raman voiced the common
desire to 'trash Western Indological work done with motivation and instead rewrite Indian history.'
The fundamental task would bring to light traditional works which can be achieved in a series of
colloquiums. Truth, he felt, should be perceived in terms of our national heritage and his
colloquium had established the reliability of this tool.

The Chairperson, Prof. K.I. Vasu addressed the various issues discussed and surmized that the
Mahabharata could be 'considered a historical document'.

- Report from Southern Regional Centre

* (B.C.E. - Before Common Era (indicates dates before the Chiristian era, used especially by non-Christians; B.C.J. - indicated the
Julian Calendar. The Julian Calendar is names after Julius Caesar who ordered its adoption in 45 B.C.E. upon the advice of Greek
astronomer Sosigenes and decided to use a purely solar calendar. The Julian Calendar also established the order of the month
and the days of the week as they exist in present day calendars. Caesar's Calendar consisted of 11 months of 30 or 31 days and a
28 day February with no leap year. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII ordered another reform of the calendar, which came to be known as
the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is still in official use and was adopted throughout Europe. It is used today
throughout most of the Western world and in parts of Asia.)

The Indus Riddle from India Today

The Indus Riddle from India Today

A flurry of excavations has uncovered startling evidence that presents a radically picture
of the Indus Valley civilisation -- and calls for a complete revision of ancient Indian

By Raj Chengappa

Indus Valley To school students, history classes on the Indus Valley civilisation have
always been simplistic. Even dull. Most textbooks talk of how the civilisation appeared
like a meteor on ancient India's skyscape, shone brilliantly for a while and then was
snuffed out either by marauding Aryans or sudden floods.

Archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht describes the syllabus as "dead boring". He could be
dead right. Egyptian mummies somehow seem to evoke more interest than the town-
planning feats of the Indus engineers. Did you, for instance, raise your hands in class and
ask just how stone-age farming communities almost overnight took a giant leap forward
and transformed themselves into sophisticated urbanites living in cities so well designed
that Indians have never been able to replicate the achievement even 5,000 years later?
Did you actually believe that poppycock about an Aryan blitzkrieg that wiped out a
glorious civilisation, plunging India into the dark ages for over a thousand years?

Indus Valley You probably did. Now if Bisht has his way, you will have to relearn ancient
Indian history. For the past six years, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team
headed by him has been systematically excavating an Indus site called Dholavira on the
salty marshes of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. What they have been uncovering is
turning accepted notions on the Indus on their heads. Says Bisht: "Exploring Dholavira is
like opening a complete book on the Indus. We now have answers to some of the most
enduring riddles about the civilisation." For starters, Indus town planners are not as
"monotonous" and "regimented" as archaeologists had us believe. In Dholavira they
display a surprising exuberance that expresses itself in elaborate stone gateways with
rounded columns apart from giant reservoirs for water. Bisht also found a board inlaid
with large Harappan script characters -- probably the world's first hoarding.

While experts regard Dholavira as the most exciting Indus find in recent times,
archaeologists have excavated or are in the process of digging up 90 other sites both in
India and Pakistan that are throwing up remarkable clues about this great prehistoric
civilisation. Among them: That Indus Valley was a misnomer and that in size it was the
largest prehistoric urban civilisation -- even bigger than Pharaonic Egypt. That the empire
was ruled much like a democracy and the Indus people were the world's top exporters.
And that instead of the Aryans it was possibly a Great Depression that did them in. In
Lahore, M. Rafique Mughal, Pakistan's top-ranking archaeologist, says: "It is both a
revelation and a revolution. Our history textbooks need to be rewritten."

Should it be called Sarasvati Civilisation?

Were they Indians or Outsiders?
Were they Copycats or Genuises?
Surprise was it a Democracy?
Can we crack their Code?
The World's Greatest Exporters?
Did Aryans kill them or a Depression?
Indus Chronology
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Gupta Dynasty Hejira


Era of
Samudragupta conquers the the
North and most of the Deccan Hejira
Chandragupta II comes to power begins
Skanda Gupta assumes power
of Sind
of Sind
mad Bin

Eastern Chalukyas

Rise of the Eastern Chalukyas

The Chola Dynasty: Accession of
Rajaraja, the Great
Defeat of Jaipal by Sultan


[Reproduced from the handwritten manuscriptsed.]

More important for the history of India were the conquests of the Sakas and Yueh-chih,
nomad tribes of Central Asia similar to the modern Turkomans The former are first heard of
in the basin of the river Hi, and being dislodged by the advance of the Yueh-chih moved
southwards reaching north-western India about 150 B. C. Here they founded many small
principalities, the rulers of which appear to have admitted the suzerainty of the Parthians for
sometime and to have borne the title of Satraps. It is clear that western India was parcelled
out among foreign princes called Sakas, Yavanas, or Pallavas whose frontiers and mutual
relations were constantly changing. The most important of these principalities was known as
the Great Satrapy which included Surashtra (Kathiawar) with adjacent parts of the mainland
lasted until about 395A.D.

The Yueh-chih started westwards from the frontiers of China about 100 B. C. and, driving
the Sakas before them, settled in Bactria. Here Kadphises, the chief of one of their tribes,
called the Kushans, succeeded in imposing his authority on the others who coalesced into
one nation henceforth known by the tribal name. The chronology of the Kushan Empire is one
of the vexed questions of Indian history and the dates given below are stated positively only
because there is no space for adequate discussion and are given with some scepticism, that
is desire for more knowledge founded on facts. Kadphises I (c. 15-45 A. D.) after
consolidating his Empire led his armies southwards, conquering Kabul and perhaps Kashmir.
His successor Kadphises II (c. 45-78 A. D.) annexed the whole of north-western India,
including northern Sind, the Punjab and perhaps Benares. There was aconsiderable trade
between India and the Roman Empire at this period and an embassy was sent to Trojan,
apparently by Kanishka (c. 78-123), the successor of Kadphises. This monarch played a part
in the later history of Buddhism comparable with that of Asoka in earlier ages He waged war
with the Parthians and Chinese, and his Empire which had its capital at Peshawar included
Afghanistan, Bactria, Kashgar, Yarkhand, Khotan and Kashmir. These dominions, which
perhaps extended as far as Gya ,in the east, were retained by his successors Huvishka (123-
140 A. D.) and Vasudeva (140-178 A. D.) but after this period the Andhra and Kushan
dynasties both collapsed as Indian powers, although Kushan kings continued to rule in Kabul.
The reasons of their fall are unknown but may be connected with the rise of the Sassanids in
Persia. For more than a century, the political history of India is a blank and little can be said
except that the kingdom of Slirastra continued to exist under a Saka dynasty.
Light returns with the rise of the Gupta dynasty, which roughly marks the beginning of
modern Hinduism and of a reaction against Buddhism. Though nothing is known of the
fortunes of Patali-putra, the ancient imperial city of the Mauryas, during the first three
centuries of our era, it continued to exist. In 320 a local Raja known as Candragupta I
increased his dominions and celebrated his coronation by the institution of the Gupta era. His
son Samudra Gupta continued his conquests and in the course of an extraordinary campaign,
concluded about 340 A. D. appears to have received the submission of almost the whole
peninsula. He made no attempt to retain all this territory but his effective authority was
exercised in a wide district extending from the Hugli to the rivers Jumna and Chambal in the
west and from the Himalayas to the Narbuda. His son Candragupta II or Vikramaditya added
to these possessions Malwa, Glijarat and Kathiawar and formorethan half a century the
Guptas ruled undisturbed over nearly all northern India except Rajputana and Sind. Their
capital was at first Pataliputra, but afterwards Kausambi and Ayodhya became royal
The fall of the Guptas was brought about by another invasion of barbarians known as
Huns, Ephthalites or White Huns and apparently a branch of the Huns who invaded Europe.
This branch remained behind in Asia and occupied northern Persia. They invaded India first
in 455, and were repulsed, but returned about 490 in greater force and overthrew the Guptas.
Their kings Tormana and Mihiragula were masters of northern India till 540 and had their local
capital at Sialkot in the Panjab, though their headquarters were rather in Barnyin and Baikh.
The cruelties of Mihiragula provoked a coalition of Hindu princes. The Huns were driven to
the north and about 565 A. D. their destruction was completed by the allied forces of the
Persians and Turks. Though they founded no permanent states their invasion was important,
for many of them together with kindered tribes such as the Glirjars (Gujars) remained behind
when their political power broke up and, like the Sakas and Kushans before them, contributed
to form the population of north-western India, especially the Rajput clans.
The defeat of the Huns was followed by another period of obscurity, but at the beginning
of the seventh century Harsha (606-647 A. D.), a prince of Thanesar, founded after thirty five
years of warfare, a state which though it did not outlast his own life, emulated for a time the
dimensions and prosperity of the Gupta Empire. We gather from the account of the Chinese
pilgrim Hsuan Chaung, who visited his court at Kanauj, that the kings of Bengal. Assam and
Ujjain were his vassals but that the Panjab, Sind and Kashmir were independent. Kalinga, to
the south of Bengal was depopulated but Harsha was not able to subdue Pulakesin II, the
Calukya king of the Deccan.
Let us now turn for a moment to the history of the south. It is even more obscure both in
events and chronology than thatofthe north, but we must not think of the Dravidian countries
as Uninhabited or barbarius. Even the classical writers of Europe had some knowledge of
them. King Pandion (Pandya) sent a mission to Augustus in 20 B.C. Pliny speaks of Modura
(Madura) and Ptolemy also mentions this town with about forty others. It is said that there
was a temple dedicated to Augustus at Maziris, identified with Craganore. From an early
period the extreme south of the peninsula was divided into three states known as the Pandya,
Cera and Cola kingdoms The first corresponded to the districts of Madura and Tinnevelly.
Cera and Kerala lay on the west coast in the modern Travancore. The Cola country included
Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Madras, with the greater part of Mysore. From the sixth to the eighth
century A. D. a fourth power was important, namely the Pallavas, who apparently came from
the north of the Madras presidency. They had their capital at Canjeevaram and were
generally at war with the three kingdoms. Their king, Narasimha-Varman (625-645 A. D. )
ruled over part of the Deccan and most of the Cola country but after about 750 they declined,
whereas the Colas grew stronger and Rajaraja (985-1018) whose dominions included the
Madras Presidency and Mysore made them the paramount power in southern India, which
position they retained until the thirteenth century.
As already mentioned, the Deccan was ruled by the Andhras from 220 B. C. to 236 A. D.,
but for the next three centuries nothing is known of its history until the rise of the Calukya
dynasty atVatapi (Badami) in Bijapur. Pulakesin II of this dynasty (608-642), a contemporary
of Harsha, was for some time successful in creating a rival Empire which extended from
Gujarat to Madras, and his power was so considerable that he exchanged embassies with
Khusru II, King of Persia, as is depicted in the frescoes of Ajanta. But in 642 he was defeated
and slain by the Palavas.

With the death of Pulakesin and Harsha begins what has been called the Rajput period,
extending from about 650 to 1000 A. D. and characterized by the existence of numerous
kingdoms ruled by dynasties nominally Hindu, but often descended from northern invaders or
non-Hindu aboriginal tribes. Among them may be mentioned the following :
1. Kanauj or Panchala. This kingdom passed through troublous times after the death of
Harsha but from about 840 to 910 A. D. under Bhoja (or Mihira) and his son, it became the
principal power in northern India, extending from Bihar to Sind. In the twelfth century it again
became important under the Gaharwar dynasty.
2. Kanauj was often at war with the Palas of Bengal, a line of Buddhist kings which began
about 730 A. D. Dharmapala (c. 800 A. D.) was sufficiently powerful to depose the king of
Kanauj. Subsequently the eastern portion of the Pala Kingdom separated itself under a rival
dynasty known as the Senas.
3. The districts to the south of the Jumna known as Jejak-abhukti (Bundelkhand) and
Cedi (nearly equivalent to our Central Provinces) were governed by two dynasties known as
Candels and Kalacuris. The former are thought to have been originally Gonds. They were
great builders and constructed among other monuments the temples ofKhajurao. Kirdvarman
Chandel (1049-1100) greatly extended their territories. He was a patron of learning and the
allegorical drama Prabodhacandrodaya was produced at his Court.
4. The Paramara (Pawar) dynasty of Malwa were -likewise celebrated as patrons of
literature and kings Munja (974-995) and Bhoja (1018-1060) were authors as well as
successful warriors.

Saka Period
According to Vincent Smith, after first adopting A. D. 78 which appeared the most
probable, finally chose 120 A. D. and we may agree that this date marks the beginning of the
Saka period inaugurated by Kanishka.
The order in which the chief Kushan kings followed doubtful. It is generally agreed that
Kanishka cameafte phises I (Kujula Kara Kadphises) and II (Vima Kadphises) former of these
two, a Bactrinised Scythian, must, in Dr. Smith's view, have assumed power about 40 A. D.
He seized Gandhara and the country of Taxila from Gondophares, the Parthian prince who,
according to the apocryphal acts of the apostles, received St. Thomas. His son Vima (78-110)
carved out a great empire for himself, embracing the Punjab and the whole western half of
the Ganges basin.
There seems to have been an interval of about 10 years between Kadphises and
Kanishka, the latter was the son of one Vajheshka and no relation of his predecessor, he
seems to have been from Khotan, not Bactria, and indeed he spent the summer at Kapisi in
Paropan. . . and the winter at Purushapura (Peshawar) the axis of his empire was no longer
in the (midst) of the Graeco-lranian country.
The empire of Kanishaka did not last long. Of his two sons, Vasishka and Havishka only
the second survived him.
The power of the Kushans in the third century was reduced to Bactria with Kabul and
Gandhara, and they fell beneath the yoke of the Sassanids.

Kshatrappas or Satraps.
This title, which is Iranian, is borne by two dynasties founded by the Sakas ho had been
driven from their country by the Yuch-chi invasion.
I. The first was established in Surashtra (Kathewar). One prince of this line Chasthana,
seems to have held Malwa before the great days of the Kushans and to have become a
vassal of Kanishka; he ruled over Ujjayini, which was the centre of the Indian civilisation.
II. The second line to which the name of Kshaharata is more particularly attached, was
the hereditary foe of the Andhras ; it ruled over Maharashtra, the country between modern
Surat and Bombay. It was this latter Saka state that was annihilated by the Satakarni and it
was the former which arranged it, when Rodraman, the Satrap of Ujjayni conquered the
Andhra King. The antagonism between the eastern & western states seems to have been
accompanied by a difference of ideals. The Sakas, like all the Scythians of India or Serindia,
such as the Thorkhans, retained from their foreign origin a sympathy for Buddhism, whereas
the Andhras were keen supporters of Brahmanism.

The Guptas
The events of the third century are unknown to history and we have very, little information
about the Kushan empire.
Day light returns in 318-19, when there arises in the old country of Magadha a new
The Guptas-Chandragupta II conquered the country of Malvas, Gujrathand Surashtra
(Kathiwar) overthrowing the 1st great Satrap of the Saka dynasty of Ujjain. As an extension of
his territory westward he made Ayodhya and Kausambi his capitals instead ofPataliputra.
About 155 (B.C.) he conquered the whole of the lower Indus and Kathewar, waged war in
Rajputana, and Oudh but took Mathura (Muttra) on the Jumna, and even reached Pataliputra.
He was severely defeated by Pushyamitra (?). Bactriana was at least in the north, a
barrier between Parthia and India. India was therefore less exposed to attack from Parthia.
Nevertheless, there was at least one Parthian ruler, Mithradates 1(171-136) who annexed the
country of Taxila for a few years, about 138.

End of the independence of Parthia and Bactria

The event that put an end to the independence of Parthia and Bactria was a new
invasion, resulting from a movement of tribes, which had taken place far away from India in
the Mongolian steppes.
About 170 (B.C.) a horde of nomadic Scythians, the Yuch-chi or Tokharians, being driven
from Gobi, the present Kansu, by the Hiang-nu or Huns, started on a wild migration which
upset the whole balance of Asia.
They fell on the Sakas, who were Iranianised Scythians dwelling north of the Persion
empire and settled in their grazing grounds north of the Jazartes. The expelled Sakas fell on
Parthia and Bactriana, obliterating the last vestiges of Greek rule, between 140 and 120 (B.
C.) Then the Tokharians, being defeated in their turns by the Wu-Sun tribe, established
themselves on the Oxus, and after that took all the country of the Sakas in eastern Iran at the
entrance to India. That entrance was found in the first century after Christ.
The conquest of India was the work of the Kushans (Kushana), a dynasty which united
the Yue-Chi tribes and established their dominion both over their own kinsfolk the Sakas of
Parthia and over peoples of the Punjab.
The accession of the principal King of this line, Kanishka, was placed at uncertain dates
between 57 B. C. and A. D. 200.
Pushyamitraa mayor of the Palace as Sybrani Livi called him.
The Selected Empire ruled by Antiochos III (261-246 B.C.) and lost two provinces Parthia
and Bactriana which emancipated themselves simultaneously. The Parthians whom the
Indians called Pahalvas, were related to the nomads of the Turkoman steppes and occupied
the country south-east of the Caspian. The Bactrians bordered on the Parthians on the north-
east and were settled between the Hindu Kush and the Oxus ; the number and wealth of their
towns were legendary. These two peoples seem to have taken advantage of the difficulties of
Antiochos and his successors, Seleucos II (246-226 B.C.) and III (226-223 B.C.) in the west
to break away.
The Parthian revolt was a natural movement, led by Arsaces, the founder of a dynasty
which was to rule Persia for nearly 500 years.
The Bactrian rising was brought about by the ambition of a Greek satrap. Diodotos,
represents an outbreak of Hellennism in the heart of Asia.

There is no doubt that the formation of these enterprising nations on the Indo-lranian
border helped to shake the empire of Ashoka in the time of his successors.
The Punjab, once a Persian satrapy and then a province of Alexander, was to find itself
still more exposed to attack, now that smaller but turbulent states had arisen at its doors.
After Diodotos I & II, the King of Bactria was Euthidemes, who went to war with Antioches the
Great of Syria. Peace was concluded with the recognition of Bactrian independence about
208. But during hostilities Syrian troops had crossed the Hindu Kush and enteming the Kabul
valley had severely dispoiled the ruler Subhagasena. Demetrius, the son of Enthidemos,
increased his dominion not only in the present Afghanistan but in India proper, and bore the
title of King of the Indians (200-190). Between 190 and 180 there were Greek adventurers
reigning at Taxila, named Paleon & Agathocles. From 160 to 140 roughly, Kabul and the
Punjab were held by a pure Greek, Milinda or Minander, who left a name in the history of


In the last years of Kumargupta new Iranian peoples assailed the empire, but they were
kept back from the frontiers. Under Skandagupta, the first wave of formidable migration came
down upon the same frontiers. This consisted of nomad Mongoloids to whom India afterwards
gave the genuine name of Huna, under which we recognised the Huns who invated Europe.
Those who reached India after the middle of the fifth century were white Huns or
Ephthalites, who in type were closer to the Turks than to the hideous followers of Attila. After
a halt in the valley of the Oxus they took possession of Persia and Kabul. Skandagupta had
driven them off for a few years (455 A. D.) but after they had slain Firoz the Sassanid in 484,
no Indian state could stop them. One of them, named Toramana, established himself among
theMalavas in 500 and his son Mihirgula set up his capital at Sakol(Sialkot) in the Punjab.

A native prince Yeshodharman shook off the yoke of Mihirgula. The expulsion of the Huns
was not quite complete everywhere. A great many resided in the basin of the Indus.
At the beginning of the 7th century a power arose from the chaos in the small principality
of Sthanvisvara (Thaneshwar, near Delhi). Here a courageous Raja Prabhakar Vardhan
organised a kingdom, which showed its mettle against the Gurjars, the Malwas and other
neighbouring princes. Shortly after his death in 604 or 605 his eldest son was murdered by
the orders of the king ofGauda in Bengal. The power fell to his younger brother Harsha.
Economic and Political Weekly April 2, 2005 1442

I must confess that I feel diffident about giving a memorial

lecture for Sachin Chaudhuri because at the back of my mind
I keep hearing his deep-throated laugh and his voice, saying,
So, you are giving a lecture in my memory lets see what you
have to say. What I have to say is to try and recall the early
1960s, in Delhi, a recollection in which I remember him as
something of an intellectual pivot. The conversations and concerns
of those who knew him, were imaging extraordinary times,
full of intellectual exuberance, especially in what came to be the
social sciences or the human sciences as some of us prefer to
call them. Looking back, I would like to compare this to a
conjunction of constellations, the point at which in ancient
astronomical reckoning one yuga or cycle ended and another
began through a realigning of the constellations. The disciplines
within the human sciences, began conversing with each other,
moving towards new definitions. And somehow Sachin was
unobtrusively central to many such conversations.
Reflection does not come easily to me, yet let me try. I did
not really know Sachin in Bombay. As a student in the 1950s
I was only briefly in and out of Bombay. I knew of him of course
as he was a close friend of my brother, Romesh and his wife
Raj and they often spoke of him. I got to know him personally
when Romesh moved to Delhi in 1961 and Sachin would frequently
stay with them when he visited Delhi. Romesh was
editing Seminar, but wrote a regular column for The Economic
Weekly. Their friendship encapsulated the commitment of two
editors introducing two new kinds of journals to the reading
public. The Economic Weekly, although broadly concerned with
economic matters included much else from other disciplines,
whereas Seminar focused on a single theme each month and
brought together diverse views. Both carried thoughtful analyses
with, if need be, a questioning of existing wisdom, written and
read by those who were seriously concerned about the world
around them. Both journals were brought out on a shoe-string
budget with none of the hoopla that accompanies such
publications today. It may have been symbolic that both men had
their birthdays on January 1, though on different years.
It was not easy to bring out such journals. People had to be
persuaded to write: some were indolent and could not meet
deadlines, others were hesitant about giving their thoughts a
written, public form. But Sachin was persuasive, his mind reached
out to a range of human activity and he could connect ideas in
a dynamic way, posing the necessary questions to stimulate a
variety of answers. He sought not only the established names
but also the post-independence generation of young intellectuals.
Growth economics and the debate on a planned economy were
major issues as were concerns about democratic functioning.
Discussions on these were central to Sachins view of the
implications of development. The initiative was begun in Bombay
University in the 1950s and was reflected in The Economic
Weekly, as also were the views of economists at Cambridge who
were Sachins personal friends, among them Joan Robinson,
Richard Goodwin and Maurice Dobb. In the 1960s some of this
activity shifted to Delhi University, which is where I first met it.
Therefore, it was a matter of great distress when The Economic
Weekly, widely read in the 1950s and early 1960s, had to be closed
down because of financial problems. It was then decided to collect
contributions towards publishing what was to be called the
Economic and Political Weekly. The title reflected a broader
scope recognising the interrelationship between economics, politics
and various other disciplines.
EPW came to host discussions on emergent disciplines in the
social sciences. Like its predecessor, EPW too was a forum for
economics, sociology, anthropology, geography, demography
and history, with a much needed focus on Indian problems and
peculiarities. Gradually the interface between these disciplines
in the late 1950s and early 1960s became part of the evolving
social sciences. History as a social science developed a new
orientation different from its earlier inclusion in Indology. The
colonial construction of what was called Indology referred

Decolonising the Past

Historical Writing in the Time of Sachin and
The decades of the 1950s and 1960s were a watershed in the writing of history.
of the past continued to be written as they are to this day, and there continues to be a
valuable gathering of new evidence. But the more challenging trend has been to pursue
answers to questions that relate to why and how something happened rather than merely
and where. Actions and events had multiple causes and the priorities among these have
to be
justified by the evidence as well as by logical argument. There is also a need to integrate
variety of facets in constructing a historical context. History was an explanation of what
happened in the past, an attempt to understand the past, and of basing this understanding
on critical enquiry, incorporated into what is also called the historical method.
Historical understanding also has to be viewed as a process in time.
_________ _____

Economic and Political Weekly April 2, 2005 1443

literally to all aspects of studies on India. But there was an
emphasis on history, languages, religion, art and archaeology and
anything that came to be associated with culture.
As a consequence of history moving towards the social sciences
two parallel approaches emerged in historical research. One was
the growing recognition that the past had to be explained,
understood, reinterpreted on the basis of what was being called
critical enquiry, and that such explanations could also help us
understand the present in more focused ways than before. The
other approach was reluctant to include critical enquiry into
investigating the past. In this second approach earlier theories
were reincarnated in order to justify the preconceptions of some
ideologies of the present, which drew on a continuation of
colonial notions about the Indian past.
I would like to dwell at greater length on the first of these
approaches, the crtitique of the second being implicit. The attempt
to understand the past through new methods of analyses resulted
in a paradigm shift in the historical writing on early India. I have
limited the theme to early history since I have some familiarity
with it. But I also want to highlight another interest that Sachin
had and which is often overlooked his search for the subtleties
in defining Indian culture. I recall many sunny, winter afternoons
in the garden in Delhi, when we chatted about culture
as patterns of living, and particularly those going back to the past.
Two Approaches to Indias Past
Fifty years ago, at the time of independence, we had inherited
a history of the subcontinent which incorporated two substantial
views of the past : the colonial and the nationalist. Both claimed
to be based on contemporary techniques of historical research.
The claim was reasonably correct to the extent that they were
primarily concerned with chronology and sequential narratives
about ruling powers. The initial colonial view going back to the
early 19th century was a departure from any earlier Indian
historical traditions and drew on European preconceptions of
Indian history.
It had three foundational arguments. The first was the
periodisation of Indian history, a periodisation that was to have
consequences not only for the writing of history but a major
political fallout effect in the 20th century. Indian history was
divided into the Hindu and the Muslim civilisation and the British
period, formulated by James Mill in The History of British India
written in the early 19th century. These labels were taken from
the religions of the ruling dynasties Hindu and Muslim. The
divisions were endorsed by the assumption that the units of Indian
society were mutually hostile, monolithic and uniform religious
communities, primarily the Hindu and the Muslim. The Hindus
came to be called the majority community, and the Muslims and
others, were the minority communities, on the basis of their
numbers in the census returns. This periodisation projected an
obsession with an absence of historical change in India and
further, it presumed that religion superseded all other authority.
That we still cling to it or to its shadow almost two hundred years
later indicates our willingness to deny historical change in our past.
The second assertion was that the precolonial political economy
conformed to the model of Oriental Despotism, which assumed
a static society characterised by an absence of private property
in land, despotic and oppressive rulers and therefore endemic
poverty. This pattern did not envisage any marked economic
change and was characteristic of backward societies.
The third aspect was the argument that society was divided
into castes the four varnas and these formed a frozen social
structure, again unchanging through history. Those that had some
admiration for the Indian past, such as Max Mueller and a few
other Orientalists, derived it largely from what they saw as the
Aryan imprint on Indian civilisation both as a race and a language,
and caste was said to be rooted in these foundations. The dominant
language of the civilisation was Sanskrit and the paramount
religion was Vedic Brahmanism. This was seen as characteristic
of Aryan culture and there was a concern to identify and segregate
the Aryan from the non-Aryan. Aryan was seen as superior in
part because of a supposed link with Europe.
These preconceptions governed routine history focusing on
chronology and the narrative of dynasties. Indian historians, by
and large continued this routine. Nevertheless, there was also
some concern especially among historians influenced by nationalist
ideas about certain of these preconceptions. Most accepted
the colonial periodisation. Others changed the nomenclature to
ancient, medieval and modern, borrowed from Europe and thought
to be more secular, although the markers remained the same.
Thus, there was no effective change in periodisation.
The theory of Oriental Despotism was rejected. Curiously
however, there was little interest in providing carefully thoughtout
alternative hypotheses on the Indian political economy and
society. Social history in standard works largely reiterated the
description of the four varnas, registering little recognition of
deviations, leave alone explaining them. Although there were
exceptions pointing to other ways, these exceptions were not at
the forefront.
Parallel to the above what has been described as mainstream,
secular nationalism were the two religious nationalisms, Hindu
and Muslim. These were systematised into ideologies of political
mobilisation in the early 20th century. For them the interest was
less in researching alternate paradigms and more in seeking to
use history to legitimise current political ideology and mobilisation.
An example of this was the insistence that a religious identity
was the seminal identity in the past and continued to be so in
the present. This was a justification for separate nation states
in contemporary times. These historical views were based on
the colonial interpretations of Indian history which were reincarnated,
as it were, to serve the political intentions of the present.
The past is inevitably part of the present. But the relationship
between the two, which includes continuities and disjunctures,
becomes more meaningful if the past can be explained and understood,
with all its features both agreeable and disagreeable, rather
than being used arbitrarily to validate the agendas of the present.
Re-examining History: Early Trends
The need to examine history in terms of a different set of
parameters was at this point a somewhat premature thought
among mainstream historians. However, such parameters were
being suggested by other writing. The prehistory of the social
sciences as it were, had begun in discussions around the nature
of Indian society and the cause of economic poverty. Dadabhai
Naoroji had maintained that the colonial economy drained the
wealth of India and was the source of Indian poverty. Analysing
the colonial economy was the first step for those who either
supported or contested this theory. Rajni Palme Dutts indictment
of colonial policy made a substantial contribution to the debate.
The teasing out of the strands of the caste structure and its
social implications was evident in the writings of D P Mukherjee
and N K Bose who were unfreezing the theoretical pattern. By
describing the ground reality of caste and underlining what
differentiated it from the norms set out in the dharma-shastras,
new research on caste was initiated. The point was not easily
taken by most historians. The normative view was implicit to
the then vision of Indian civilisation where caste tied to the
conventional reading of religion was seen as the enduring feature.
B R Ambedkars writings on the history of the shudras and dalits
were not cited in studies of social history, nevertheless they had
an indirect impact. Caste was not merely a social hierarchy but
was inherently linked to issues of domination and subordination.
The interlinking of higher and lower through intermediate categories
in the hierarchy prevented a confrontation between the
dominant and the subordinated.
Among the more influential colonial representations of the
world at that time was its division into discrete civilisations. Each
was demarcated territorially and associated with a single language
and religion. The implicit counterpart to the civilised was the
presence of the non-civilised, the lesser breeds without the law.
The implications of this superiority had not been questioned at
the time. (I might add as an aside, that even now, although
questioned by many, nevertheless Arnold Toynbees 26
civilisations have merely been overlaid by Samuel Huntingtons
eight). Colonial perception identified caste Hindus as the civilised
and the others less so and labelled some of the latter as primitive,
a label that persists at the popular level.
Cultural nationalism came to be formulated from colonial
notions of civilisation, much discussed by the Indian middleclass.
Few attempted to ascertain precolonial definitions of culture
with its multiple variations. It was easier to stay with the colonial
reading. The powerful intellectual controversies of earlier times,
authored by brahmanas and non-brahmanas, tended to be projected
as religious sectarian discourses by both colonial and
nationalist interpreters. That these earlier discussions had drawn
on dialectics incorporating rational and logical reasoning and had
recorded dissent, was hardly conceded and rarely explored. There
was a preference for viewing them as minor disagreements within
a centrally agreed philosophy. Early scientific knowledge was
described but its social implications were seldom part of a
historical discourse. Given the separation between history and
philosophy as disciplines it was not thought necessary to locate
ideas in a historical background. Cultural nationalism was confined
to contours dictated by colonial preconceptions. The current
claims to authentic, indigenous identities, unchanging and eternal,
pose immense problems to historians. Identities are neither
timeless and unchanging, nor homogeneous, nor singular as
maintained in the 19th century notion of civilisation. Even concepts
of cultural nationalism have to be located in the historical circumstances
that fashion them.
The questioning of existing theories about the past gradually
altered the criteria of analyses among historians and the asking
of new questions also widened the range of sources. This led
to some distancing from both the colonial and the nationalist
interpretations of Indian history. Since knowledge is not chronosfree,
it has to be related to a specific situation and time. This
is all the more so where a shift in paradigm is involved, where
the frame of reference is being realigned. In part this shift had
to do with questions related to the broader issues concerning the
Indian nation state in the 1950s. This was not an attempt at
imposing the present on the past, but at trying to understand the
present by more insightful explanations of the past.
Emerging from a colonial situation, the initial question was
how the new nation was to be shaped. This required understanding
the components of the nation and the form they had taken
in the past. A better understanding of this provided a prelude
to current concerns. These included discussions on economic
growth, the establishing of a greater degree of social equality
and comprehending the potential of a variegated cultural heritage.
These were issues that were being discussed in The Economic
Weekly and the discussions were to continue in the EPW. Inevitably
this also led to questioning the view of history that had
been constructed in the last two hundred years, apart from
obtaining information about aspects of the past that had not been
researched earlier. The questions were not limited to politics and
the economy but extended to social forms, cultural and religious
expression and the formulation of identities and traditions.
Historiography, the history and philosophy of historical writing
and seeing the historian as part of a historical process began to
surface in historical writing. This was to become a significant
aspect of historical exploration. Earlier historical writing came
to be re-assessed in the light of new kinds of evidence and of
theories explaining the past.
In the questioning of existing explanations the validity of
periodising history as Hindu, Muslim and British was increasingly
doubted. It posited two thousand years of a golden age for
the first, eight hundred years of despotic tyranny for the second,
and a supposed modernisation under the British. Such divisions
set aside the relevance of significant changes within these periods.
That any such age can be described as consistently glorious or
tyrannical was questioned as also the characterisation of an age
merely by the behaviour of rulers or by their religion. The doubt
was encouraged when history became more than just the study
of dynasties, and also from the realisation that communities and
religions are not monolithic, but are segmented and segments
had their own varying relationships with each other.
Dialogue with Other Disciplines
Alternate notions of periodisation were in part a reaction to
the opening up of a dialogue between history and other disciplines,
in ways that were different from earlier attempts at
introducing diverse facets of the past. Conventional history
juxtaposed the succession of dynasties one more glorious than
the next with economic history, social history and the history
of religion and the arts. These were all included within the same
chronological brackets but were segregated. However, by relating
them more closely to each other and to a historical context they
formed a network of interconnected features and gave greater
depth to historical argument. The interface between the past and
the present encouraged the notion of exploring some themes even
in other disciplines through looking at their historical past. Some
familiarity with earlier historical experience could provide insights
into contemporary phenomena. This also introduced the
idea of comparative history. The intention was not to apply the
patterns of other societies to India but to use the information in
a comparative manner to ask further questions of ones own society.
I would like to consider some examples of the kind of history
that emerged from these dialogues. Discussion on these went
through two phases. Initially history was opened up to interdisciplinary
perspectives and to new analytical methods in the
1950s and 1960s. Consequently extensive explanations of the past
followed. Some were based on hitherto unknown evidence but
more generally they arose from new enquiries. To pinpoint the
precise time when these interpretations came to be established is
difficult since it is an ongoing process. I shall therefore also be
touching on more recent work that has followed the initial paradigm
shift, referring where possible to the earlier and later phases.
The concept of the nation had run into confusion with the twonation
theory. The clarification did not lie in taking it back to
earlier times but in differentiating between nation and state, with
the state being the primary entity in early times. The state had
earlier been associated with a patriarchal society whereas in the
theories of state-formation in the 1960s various other features
were given priority, ranging from environment to the nature of
political control. A centrally administered kingdom had been
assumed to be the basis of all states in the past. The break-up
of large kingdoms into smaller ones was equated with political
decline and read as a fragmentation of a polity accompanied by
an absence of consolidated power. But this was not invariably so.
The likelihood of variation in patterns of power gradually led
to the demarcation between forms of political organisation. Clanbased
societies with chiefs, generally agro-pastoral, are thought
by some historians as being prior to the existence of a state,
although not all would agree. Kingdoms demonstrated greater
complexity reflecting more clearly the emergence of the state.
The change has been seen as seminal to the societies described
in the Vedas, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, and the early
Buddhist canon. These studies will hopefully shift the obsessive
discussion on the origin and identity of the Aryans and the Aryan
foundations of Indian civilisation to broader questions such as
those being currently considered on the nature of social change,
on the interface between multiple cultures, and on mechanisms
of legitimising power ; all questions germane to enquiries into
the early Indian past. Historical analyses are of course complicated
by the fact that these variant forms have coexisted as they
still do and their complexities are reflected in historical sources.
When the structure of the state began to be discussed it led
to a focus on the typology of state systems. How a state comes
into existence at different times has now become a focused study
in which the state is not something distinct from society. The
nature of the formation of states suggested variables that were
different from earlier to later times. The Mauryan state was not
identical with that of the Guptas. The discussion on varied forms
had implications for the definition of empire as well, as is evident
in the study of imperial administrations. Thus it can be asked
whether the Mauryan empire was a highly centralised bureaucratic
system as most of us had argued in our earlier writing or
can it be seen as a more diversified system as some of us began
arguing in our later writings. The tension between control from
the centre and assertion of local autonomy has been a recurring
feature and is now being commented upon. The regular use of
the term empire for all kingdoms has come in for questioning
with kingdom being differentiated from empire. Religion was
an unlikely primary factor in the initial emergence of the state
which required more utilitarian resources. But in the welding of
segments into empire, as in the policies of Ashoka and Akbar,
there was recourse to certain facets of religion.
In the colonial view the village was the economic unit of Indian
society and towns received less attention. The trend towards what
were to become urban centres of the historical period in the Ganga
plain dates to about the sixth century BC. The presence of towns
becomes gradually more marked in subsequent centuries. Cities
were linked to state systems, not just as capitals but also as centres
for the exchange of goods. The recognition of urban sites on
the ground also led to broader definitions of urbanisation. As
a process it was investigated in terms of the environment and
resources of its location, its demography and its potential as a
centre for exchange. This was partially influenced by the focused
research on Harappan cities both in tracing their emergence as
urban centres and the causes of their decline.
The ideological confrontation between the gana-sanghas
the oligarchies or chiefdoms, and the rajyas kingdoms, earlier
referred to in passing, is now eliciting greater interest. The texts
present divergent views on social ethics, as for example, on
ahimsa/non-violence, in the Pali Buddhist canon and the
Bhagavad Gita. Arguments and counter-arguments among the
intellectuals of those times were an intrinsic part of the urban
experience. Earlier studies noted that orthodox views were
challenged by the heterodox, whom the brahmanas referred to
as the nastika and the pashanda; and the latter used similar
terms for the former. Relating these ideas to a historical context
had only a small beginning in historical studies, the trend being
to treat them non-historically.
Exchange in varying forms, from barter to commerce, for which
there is a spurt of evidence from the post-Mauryan period provided
an additional economic dimension. Numismatics or the
study of coins was not limited to honing the chronology of rulers
but introduced the preliminaries of money and markets at exchange
centres. Closeness to other parts of Asia was known
through overland routes. Maritime connections have now come
to the forefront, underlining further cultural and intellectual
cross-currents. The dialogue between Indian astronomers and
those of Alexandria in the early centuries AD, was but one aspect
of this. More recently evidence of what seems to have been
bilingualism in Greek and Prakrit and probably, Sanskrit, suggests
a need to re-examine the cross-currents in the many cultures
of the north-western areas. The role of commerce in a range of
Asian economies was once limited to the listing of archaeological
and textual evidence. Now the questions relate to the complexities
of commercial arrangements. The orbit ran from Tunis to Canton
in the period prior to European expansion. Half-serious comments
are being made on globalisation before globalisation.
Serious observation questions the validity of discrete, selfsufficient
Theories of Explaining the Past
In the 1960s and in many parts of the world, historical research
had become an attempt to explain the past. Consequently theories
of explanation came in for intense discussion. These incorporated
commentaries on the writing of Karl Marx, Max Weber, the
French sociologists and historians of the Annales School, and
more recently on Michel Foucault. The Otherness of India,
sometimes projected as the absence of features leading up to
capitalism, can be seen for example, in Karl Marxs construction
of the Asiatic Mode of Production and in Max Webers projection
of the religion of India. Their explanations were not always
applicable to Indian history in a literal sense, nevertheless, even
in rejecting these, questions were raised that led to exploring new
themes, as did their methods of analyses.
Explanations of Indian society were debated, particularly those
drawing on Marxist thought. The explanations were not definitive
and permanent although the fervour of the discussion suggested
that they might be so. They introduced the historian to aspects
of the past that had earlier seemed closed and brought the
peripheral into the mainstream in a meaningful way.
The centrality of social and economic history was evident in
all these theories. Methods of analysis influenced by historical
materialism were adapted by some but with the caveat that the
Indian data might suggest variant patterns. The work of D D
Kosambi was a paradigm shift and whether or not one agrees
with his generalisations, his writings were impressively wideranging
and catalytic. He was able, authoritatively, to open to
wide scholarly discussion what was often regarded as the closed
preserve of Indologists.
Marxist historical writing introduced the idea of modes of
production which further altered periodisation. Marxs notion of
an Asiatic Mode of Production was set aside. However, the
possibility of a feudal mode of production and the debate on
the transition to capitalism captured historical interest. The notion
of feudalism had initially drawn on European parallels but now
the discussion was of the more extensive Marxist model. Significantly,
the critiquing of the feudal mode for India was also
initiated by Marxist historians and when joined by others became
an even more vigorous debate.
The argument was based on changes in land relations in the
latter half of the first millennium AD. The transition to feudalism
lay in the system of granting land or villages, primarily to
brahmanas, to temples, to Buddhist monasteries and to a few
who had served the state. Since the granting of land became a
focal point of the political economy, it brought about a tangible
change in agrarian relations. This change played a significant
role particularly after about the eighth-ninth centuries AD. The
discussion for and against the feudal mode opened up new
perceptions about the state, the economy and society, religious
activities and other potential areas of investigation, as well as
other theories of explanation.
Grants of land to religious beneficiaries led predictably to
innovations in their activities and beliefs. They established
institutions and became powerful property holders. Inscriptions
recording these grants are a telling example of how a historical
record is used only minimally until a new set of questions are
asked. The inscriptions had been read since the 19th century but
largely for data on chronology and on dynasties. Only in the last
50 years did they begin to be examined in-depth for data on agrarian
relations and for assessing elite patronage to religious groups.
Some religious cults became a network of support for particular
dynasties, a process that was more visible at the local level. The
yadavas for instance, were both devotees and patrons of the
emerging cult of Vitthala, and the geographical distribution of
the cult could also be seen as the area of support for the patron.
Religious institutions such as the vihara and the matha, have
been studied as agencies of intervention, often in association with
the ruling powers, quite apart from their fostering formal religions.
Sifting the activities covered by the all-inclusive label of
religion, and attempting to unravel their social functions helps
to clarify the links between social roles and religious beliefs. At
the same time popular religious movements, some known to
contradict or deviate from the orthodox, occupied a prominent
place on the historical canvas. The contours of popular religions
the Bhakti and Shakta sects in particular and later the gurus
and pirs are being mapped through finding out who their
followers were and their patrons, as well as through the manner
in which they either distanced themselves from or accommodated
conventional religious teachings. Such intersections are of historical
interest, particularly in the current ambience when political
groups are muscling in and claiming to be defending this or that
religion. The interaction between religious sects and social groups
are often lost in the rigidities of formal religion. The relationship
between the worshipper and his deity in the bhakti tradition has
been compared to that of the peasant and his feudal lord. This
remains a continuing argument but the discussion it has provoked
enables us to know more about the intricacies of both relationships.
Anthropological studies used in a comparative manner have
pointed to further directions in social history. Thus the analysis
of kinship connections, is helping to trace diverse genealogical
patterns in the lengthy ancestral lists of the Kurus and the
Pandavas in the Mahabharata. The earlier presumed uniformity
is being replaced by seeing these lists as incorporating varied
social groups. Ritual is inherently an act of worship but when
encrusted with social meaning it could also become a way of
legitimising power and status. The discrepancies between statements
in narrative sources and the regulations of the dharmashastras,
pointed up the fact that the latter were indeed normative
texts and did not necessarily describe actual society as had been
assumed earlier. Nor were claims to opulence and grandeur to
be taken literally without other supporting evidence. The point
was brought home more visibly through excavations of simple
mud and mud-brick structures at places believed to be those
mentioned in the Mahabharata. Epic poetry is more often the
capturing of an illusion rather than the mirroring of reality.
The supposedly immobile character of caste gave way to
realising that there were degrees of caste mobility. The sociological
theory of sanskritisation that lower castes sometimes
sought upward mobility by imitating the mores of upper castes
was applied to certain historical situations but it had its limitations.
It was more appropriate to assertions of status among
the brahmanas and kshatriyas who were sometimes recruited from
lesser castes. Ritual specialists of various kinds could end up as
temple priests when cult shrines evolved into temples. Politics
was an open arena and claims to kshatriya identities are among
the more ambiguous. The process was not always one of osmosis.
Imitating lifestyles can be the cause of some friction if not
These re-orientations in the study of early Indian history were
anticipated as a consequence of interdisciplinary trends, of theories
of explanation and of methodological change. The later themes
emerged from these discussions although some also touch contemporary
For instance, gender studies have not been just the accumulation
of more data on the history of women but garnering the
views and activities of women and observing how these conditioned
society. Particular social forms became patterns of
control over women, and resistance to these is significant to social
history. Earlier, popular belief held that Gargi asking philosophical
questions, or the official recording of the donations of Ashokas
queen, Karuvaki, were proof of women generally being held in
respect. But when such references were placed alongside the
evidence of a subordinate status, the assessment required reconsideration.
Historically women were as central to the creation
of communities and identities as were men.
The mutation implied in the phrase, from jana to jati, from
clan to caste, suggested new modalities in the history of social
change. For example, it was perhaps possible to trace the origins
of certain jatis to non-caste groups such as forest dwellers. The
chief families aspired to become kshatriyas and other clansmen
were relegated to being shudra peasants and providing labour.
A vignette of this process is given in the Harshacharita of
Banabhatta, a seventh century biography of the king Harsha. The
mutation required an alteration in the immediate economy,
often converting forest into fields, and an acceptance by an
erstwhile relatively more egalitarian society of the hierarchies
essential to caste.
Descriptions of the nishada, bhil and shabara overlap at times
with those of the rakshasas/demons. One wonders whether the
rakshasas were figures of fantasy as was thought earlier, or
whether some at least represent a demonising of the culturally
alien as is being thought now. The initial systematic study of
collecting references to the chandala needs now to be related
to delineating alternate social forms, to whatever degree the
references allow. Seeing the change as a historical process involves
the need to integrate the contribution of such groups to the making
of Indian history, a contribution still waiting for recognition.
Shifts in Understanding
Subba Raos work in the late 1950s suggested connections
between geographical regions, the environment and historical
perspectives. These were causal factors in history and sometimes
became problematic. Awareness of the environment reflected on
historical causation. The range included the silting up of deltas
as observed by ancient Greek navigators requiring the relocation
of ports ; changing river courses leading to migrations and shifting
settlements, as happened with the late Harappan settlements on
the Hakra river; or deforestation changing the landscape, the
economy, and much more.
The interest in regional history grew by degrees, assisted to
some extent by the creation of linguistic states from the 1950s
superseding the more arbitrary boundaries of the erstwhile provinces.
The new states were treated as sub-national territorial units.
Texts in the regional languages provide abundant information,
some from early periods as in south India and more generally
with a marked increase after about AD 1000. The standpoint of
subcontinental history, conventionally viewed from the Ganga
plain, has had to change with the emergence of regional perspectives.
For example, when kingdoms were no longer seen
invariably as centralised bureaucratic systems then the region as
part of larger polities had a more defined role.
Regional histories form patterns that sometimes vary and the
variations have a historical base. For example, the model of the
four varnas was not the caste pattern in the entire subcontinent
as was maintained earlier. Why did brahmanas and vellala peasants
give shape to the history of Tamil Nadu whereas khatri traders
dominated the Punjab? Differences are not just diversities in
regional styles. They are expressions of multiple cultural norms
that cut across monolithic, uniform identities. This requires a
reconsideration of what constitutes the identities that have come
to us from the past.
This also requires the historian to juxtapose a diversity of
sources from artifacts to texts. It was thought that whereas
artifacts, being material and tangible, can be examined from
multiple perspectives, this was not possible with texts. But
gradually texts are also being examined from various perspectives.
Indological studies, and especially philology, were extensive
investigations into the structure of the languages which also
helped to date the texts. These studies are now being further
facilitated by computer analyses of the literary styles of a text,
the constructing of concordances of words/signs, and locating
the occurrences of words, although such studies are sporadic.
Individual words have a history and their meaning may change
in a changed historical context. The word pashanda, initially used
in the sense of any doctrine, was in later centuries, used for heresy.
However, a different kind of investigation of placing the text
in its context has widened the possible range of meanings and
intentions. We know that texts cannot be taken literally. Their
authors, audiences and agendas have to be scrutinised. Thus
intention and agency become significant and have to be differentiated
for each text. For example, inscriptions are often the
official version issued by the ruler. They have to be distinguished
from narratives claiming historicity, the vamshavalis, of which
the Rajatarangini the history of Kashmir, written in the 12th
century by Kalhana is the finest example. These again are different
from the charitas the biographies of rulers, such as,
the Ramacharitam of Sandhyakara Nandin, a biography of the
Pala king Ramapala. Where court poets pursued literary style at
the expense of veracity, rhetoric has to be separated from fact.
The texts that have survived from the early period are generally
those of elite groups. There are hardly any written sources from
those marginalised by mainstream society women, dalits, forest
dwellers, lower castes. This realisation has led to a re-reading
of texts in search of even oblique references to the perspectives
of such groups. In earlier historical studies creative literature was
used largely only as a source of information. In recent times
literary texts are beginning to be used as articulations of time,
place and people, visualising a glimpse of a historical moment.
Resort to the more influential literary turn as it has been called,
is apparent in some of the writing of the subaltern historians,
but this is restricted so far to analyses of modern times.
The decades of the 1950s and 60s therefore were a watershed in
the writing of history. Narratives of the past continued to be
written as they are to this day, and there continues to be a valuable
gathering of new evidence. But the more challenging trend has
been to pursue answers to questions that relate to why and how
something happened rather than merely when and where. Actions
and events had multiple causes and the priorities among these
have to be justified by the evidence as well as logical argument.
There is also the need to integrate a variety of facets in constructing
a historical context the nature of the state and the economy; the
pattern of caste and gender relationships; religious sects, icons,
monuments and institutions as forms of social expression; the
impact of the environment; and many more still awaiting exploration.
History was an explanation of what happened in the past,
an attempt to understand the past, and of basing this understanding
on what was recognised as the necessary critical enquiry, incorporated
into what is also called the historical method. The understanding
is not confined to just a moment in time, to a particular
context, since it has also to be viewed as a process in time.
History Today
This was not something that we were taught as students, but
it is an essential part of what we teach our students today. It is
a training that begins with a careful assessment of the reliability
of the evidence and an insistence that all possible evidence
pertaining to a subject be used. The analysis of the evidence
revolves around issues of causality and objectivity and centres
the argument on logic. An initial hypothesis is tested at various
stages as the research proceeds. Where necessary it is modified
or changed. The generalisation that emerges is an explanation
of the theme being researched and hopefully provides an understanding
of a segment of the past. Even where the explanation
requires a small leap of the imagination, the leap takes off from
critical enquiry. This is the historians contribution to knowledge
but it is also an essential process in human sciences. And in
making this contribution the historian is aware that other evidence
may surface, fresh generalisations may emerge and knowledge
be further advanced. But claim to an advance receives consideration
only if it fulfils the requirements of the historical method.
My attempt at an overview of the directions taken by recent
interpretations of early Indian history would be incomplete if I
did not comment on the recent controversy over historical writing.
The comment is necessary because an attempt is being made
mainly through the propagation of what some are now calling
the Hindutva view of history, to dismantle the history and the
historical method that I have been discussing. It uses history as the
bedrock of legitimising a particular identity and a particular selfperception
projected as nationalism. In the claim to propagating
an indigenous view of history it effectively endorses the 19th
century colonial frames of interpreting Indian history in fact
precisely the kind of history that has now been critiqued and
sloughed off.
It insists, for example, on exclusive Aryan foundations of Indian
civilisation. This is taken back to the Harappa culture by stating
that the creators of the Indus cities were Aryans. It is taken forward
by asserting that Hindus are Aryans and the ancient period was
the age of Hindu glory brought to an abrupt end by Muslim
invasions. The medieval period is characterised by continuous
Muslim conquests with their counterpart of continuous Hindu
resistance. Colonial preconceptions are re-incarnated in this view
through returning to the periodisation of Indian history into Hindu,
Muslim and British; through the theory of Oriental Despotism
which is sought to be applied to governance in the Muslim period;
and through the assertion that Indian society throughout the
Hindu period conformed to the ideals of caste society as laid out
in the varnashramadharma and therefore did not need to change.
There is a refusal to concede social and economic change, nor
the interface between many cultures with varied relationships,
nor the pluralities of Hindu, Muslim and other societies.
Obviously there is an element of ideology conscious or
subconscious in the exploration of knowledge, but this is not
the same as the induction of arbitrary preconceptions into knowledge
: and the more so if they are intended for political mobilisation
and sectarian ambitions. A differentiation has to be made between
a history based on the critical enquiry that governs historical
method, and a history put together from preferred preconceptions.
If the history of the subcontinent is to be written as a sensitive
and thoughtful understanding of the past, the analyses have to
draw on critical enquiry. Should this be abandoned, then that
which is labelled as history becomes a free-for-all, accompanied
by public abuse and physical force (as we witnessed in recent
years), in order to silence those that still respect the procedures
inherent in advancing knowledge. Such silence is not just a
censoring of history but a censoring of knowledge. These assaults
will continue to be possible until critical enquiry is given the
centrality that it should have in our academic and intellectual
And this takes me back to Sachin who would have been
immensely curious about some of the interconnections that I have
referred to, as also stimulated by the potentialities that they
suggest as indeed are those of us who are involved in these
explorations. He would also have been enraged by the attempts
to censor knowledge. I would like to conclude with his words
in his last editorial:
Concessions to unreason and illegitimate demands however
powerfully engineered by sectional interests are a dire threat to
the very existence of the nation and to civilised government. The
spectre of naked reaction and triumphant unreason must be fought
to the finish.
[This is an expanded version of the first Sachin Chaudhuri Memorial
Lecture, organised by the Sameeksha Trust, that was delivered by the author
on March 15, 2005 in Mumbai. Amit Bhaduri and Neeladri Bhattacharya
commented on an earlier draft of this lecture and their comments, much
appreciated, have helped clarify some of what this article tries to say.]
Ancient Civilizations
More Asia links
More African links
More MesoAmerican links
back to social studies link index
Aztec /Celts /Egypt /Etruscans /Fertile Crescent (Mesopotamia)/Greece / India /
Mayans / Olmecs / Rome /Writing / Creation Myths
Aeneid-Vergil's-The Legend of Aeneas and the Foundation of Rome an
explanation also hypertexted version
Ankhesenamun: Princess of Amarna /Queen of Destiny - Poignant biography of
the Princess/Queen Ankhesenpaaten/Ankhesenamun -wife of the pharaoh
Tutankhamun. Also features extensive Amarna book and link study resources,
and a Galleria of Amarna art images.
Argos - Search the Ancient World
African Pottery Forming-Virtual Slide Show
African Empires Ancient Contacts Between India And Greece @ The Aryan
African Outline with links - Web Chronolgy web site includes Nok, Kush, and Egypt
Alphabets- Ancient development and connections -has a graphic organizer that shows the
family tree of various alphabets and their links to each other from alphabets of the Middle East and
connections to the Phoneican
o Ancient Scripts by region - Fertile Crescent, Africa, Europe, India, the Americas, Far East
o MesoAmerican scripts - includes Olmec and Mayan
o Inuktitut script - script which includes consonants (writing of the Eskimo)
Alexander the Great
Ancient Art-has maps, pictures, study of vases by time period, history of Fertile Crescent, Greece
and other civilizations. Very extensive.
Ancient Egypt, History of - Picconnes collection and comments excellent site.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN PAPYRUS - how to make it and other documents
Ancient World Cultures Exploring-Best site for Ancient Civilizations. Links and data to Egypt,
India, Greece, Rome and Middle Ages.
Ancient Scripts - Describe categories of development of writing and has detailed examples of Mayan,
Egyptian, many Mesopotamian, Meroe, Coptic, Cyrillic, Cherokee, Korean, Japanese, etc.... Most
developed site on the web. Excellent examples. See below also other sites Writing
Athenian Constitution - hypertexted in 6 parts
Athenian Education -
Athenian Tyrannts -

Aztec - (more links)

o Creation - the story of according to the Aztec - has cultural and
historical information
o Calendar -
Babylonian and Persian art - has a stele of Hamurabi, the head of Sargon
Babylonian plumbing - a history
Britannia - during Roman occupation
Byzantine Images
Byzantine 1200 -
Calendars - lots of text but gives good history of Chinese, Islamic, Indian,
o Ancient Calendars - Ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Aztec, Sumerians, Mayan
o Calenders - email FAQ very detailed and gives great explanations of all calendars
o Egyptian Calendar -
o Calendar - Introduction to Julian, Gregorian Calendars, calendars in religion, Muslim,
chinese, roman and greek calendars
o Aztec Calendar -
o Mayan - very detailed and great information on the Long Count
o Mayan Calendar - order a calendar
o Mayan conversion site - convert any calendar into the Mayan calendar online
o Mayan worksheet - gives hs level activities to compute days using long count with pdf worksheet
explanation of activity and details of Mayan calendar are at
o Mesopotamian calendar - text with lots of discussion and detail
o Other Calendars - includes Egyptian, India,
Chinese calendar

o Cultural and Historical data
o Clothing of the Ancient Celts
o Who were the Celts - who were the Celts? A history with cultural references
Chaldeans -
Chronology Web project - Front page links to sites that are all from this web site. History by
region, history by chronological eras. Excellent.
Cities - 3 cities explored Alexandria 1AD, Cordoba 1000 AD, and New York
City 2000AD interactive. Compares foods, daily lives
Classics and Mediterranean Archaeology HomePage
Cleopatra - the discovery channel
Coins - ancient coins of Greece, Rome, Persia, China, India, Japan, plus maps and a timeline
Costumes - History of costume with ancient to modern day examples

Creation Myths
o Creation Myths -
o Large group of links to many creation myths
Cuneiform -
Cuneiform writing - description and history
Cuneiform - Write like a Babylonian. Type your name and initials and it is
displays your initials in cuneiform
Daily Life
o Ancient Greece
o Ancient China
o Ancient Rome
o Ancient India
o Ancient Egypt

o Art
o Art and Archaeology Institute
o Art Gallery(EAG)
o Calendar
o Cleopatra - very detailed information about the Ptolemy's and their
involvement with Rome
o Creation Story -
o Dynasties & Overview
Pharoahs and Dynasties
o Educated women in Ancient Society - Education of women in Greece,
Eygpt and Rome
o Educating the Middle and Upper clasess - of Rome, Greece and Egypt
o Egypt - Life in Ancient Egypt
o Egypt Page
o Egypt Page - Reeders
o Egyptian Page Mark Millmore's data on Ancient Egypt great data
o EGYPT has it all!!
o Gods and Goddess -
o Gods and Goddess a picture list -
o hieroglyphics - online translators
Egyptian Hieroglyphics - see your name in hieroglyphics!
English to Hieroglyphic - a script presented by the Egyptian tourist board
that transforms English text into Hieroglyphic symbols.
Fun Pharaoh - give us your name and we will discover if you you have any
Pharaonic roots.
Online Hieroglyphics Translator
Spell Your Name in Hieroglyphics
Your Name in Hieroglyphics - online hieroglyphic translator, Instantly
translate your name or any other word or phrase into ancient
Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Hieroglyphics - write your name in Egyptian hieroglyphics
o Kings- a site called Egyptian kings but it has the dynasties broken down and
hypertexted. Very good data and graphics. Has the cartush for each of the
Pharoahs. Very authentic site that often uses the Egyptian name for the
Pharoahs rather than the more historically accepted names.
o Kings/Pharaohs- a list broken down by kingdoms
o Language of Egypt
o Land of Pharaohs
o Life in Egypt
o Little Egyptian Reader - learn how to write heirogylphics.
o Mummification- clickable mummy, find out how it was mummified part by part
o Papyrus Paintings
o Pre-Dynastic period - 6000BC - 3100BC, great details on daily life before
o Pyramid Tour - Tour the ancien
o Pyramid, The Great and Its Message for Earth
o PyramidsGreatGreat Picturest The Step Pyramid of Saqqara
o Pyramids How they were Built l
o Rameses - Virtual Study Tour Rameses and Palace at Knossos Virtual Tour
o Rosetta Stone -
o Webquest - discover ancient Egypt through an interactive quest

o Etruscan script - wonderful site with actual pictures of the script and
an interpetation of the language.
o Etruscan History -
o Etruscan Geography - with map
o Etruscans - background with map
o Etruscan Culture - details on the role of women, and family traditions. Some language
o Etruscan Religion - details on priests and ceremonies
o Tabula Cortonensis - explanation of this example of Etruscan writing found in 1992 and
translated in 1999. 25 new Etruscan words found. Examples of the writing are found here
Female poets in Antiquity -

Fertile Crescent -
o Akkadian Language page - shows the links between Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians
and others of the Fertlile Crescent. Has lots of cuniform characters.
o Assyrain Kings - from Sargon 2334 BC until Ashur-Uballit II 612 BC just a list
o Babylonian plumbing - a history
o Babylonian Gods -
o Cuneiform writing - description and history
o Cuneiform - Write like a Babylonian. Type your name and initials and it
is displays your initials in cuneiform
o Fertile Crescent - an anrcheological wxploration of the ancient city of Catalhoyuk
o Gilgamish, An Introduction plus idetification of characters with explanations of the
o Hittities -
o Mesopotamia Glossary -
o Mesopatamia - Why civlizations collapse
o Mesopotamian Art and Culture
o Mesopotamia
o Middle East and Mestopotamia- Sumerians, etc....
o Sumerians of Ancient Mesopotamia
o Sumerian Language page -
o Sumer- Mostly geographic but has great maps explains the origin of the
name of Sumer
o Writing - found on Ancient/Classical History
Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions Includes introduction, translation,
and search function. Inscriptions in Old Persian, Elamite, Akkadian,
Aramaic and Egyptian.
The Aramaic inscription from Tel Dan Analysis by Giovanni Garbini
of the significance of an Aramaic inscription from the 9th C BC
apparently relating the victory of an Aramaic sovereign over a king
of the House of David.
Catalog of Hittite Texts Ongoing Internet project to update
Emmanuel Laroche's 1971 Catalogue des Textes hittites. 760 texts
and fragments for use by Hittitologists.
The Code of Hammurabi Witch hunts' guilt by sinking, death for
frivolous lawsuits, judiciary culpability, disposal of stolen goods ,
firmly dealt with in this ancient Babylonian grandfather of all legal
Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon A newsletter from Hebrew Union
College Jewish Institute Of Religion. Currently only three issues are
up. Bibliography.
The Dead Sea Scrolls Page Introductory page on the discovery of
the scrolls, the Essene hypothesis and their slow dissemination to
the public. Subsequent pages contain essays.
Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature Project to put
online 400 Sumerian poetic compositions dating from 2100 to about
1650. Contains an index of mythological figures featured in the
Epic of Gilgamesh Summary by Richard Hooker taken from 12 stone
tablets written in Akkadian.
HammurabiSite introduces the Code, compares it with Mosaic code,
and explains the similarities.
Hebrew Alphabet The Hebrew consonants, their transliteration in
English and their use as numbers.
History of Aramaic Rocco A. Errico and Michael J. Bazzi's short
article on the spiritual impact, history, and major dialects of
How was Cuneiform Translated The Behistun inscription
(discovered in the 19th C.) was the Rosetta Stone for cunieform.
Learn Assyrian Online Directions for writing individual letters of
the Aramaic alphabet, their English transliteration and pronunciation
via audio files.
Legend of Ahikar Proverbs to instruct Ahikar's nephew so he'll be a
fit member of the court.
Lexicon of Sumerian Logograms John Halloran's list of meaningful
cunieform signs and words made of compound signs. Includes
etymologies, signals to distinguish homophones, and vocabulary
pronunciation guide.
Old Persian Texts Cunieform inscriptions from the Achaemenian
Kings (600-300 BC).
The Qumran Library Scrolls from 3rd C. BC - 68 AD include: Psalms,
Phylactery, The Community Rule, Calendrical Document, Some Torah
Precepts, Enoch, and Hosea Commentary.
Sumerian Text Archive Sumerian text archive of administrative
texts from the Ur III, Old-Sumerian and Old-Akkadian periods, and
royal inscriptions, transliterated into the ASCII alphabet.
Who Invented/Adapted/Adopted The Sumerians invented
cunieform and the Hittites simplified it.
Who Wrote and Read Cuneiform Writing began as a tool for
businessmen but evolved into a complicated system intelligible to
Europe - Ancient Northwest Europe - includes data on Ancient Angles, Saxons, Celts, and Norse
Forum Romanum Explore the Forum Romanum to experience Rome's past
Gaul - a breakdown of the Roman provinces of Gaul

o Alexander the Great
o Alexander the Great and his times - comprehensive listing of probably everything on
the internet concerning ancient Macadonia and Alexander the Great Hellenism etc... Very well
organized excellent references for anything Greek.
o Alphabet- the Greek Alphabet
o Amazon- How the Greeces interacted and viewed this ancient civilization of women warriors
o Athenian Constitution - hypertexted in 6 parts
o Athenian Education -
o Athenian Tyrannts -
o Athens - map and throne of succession
o Attica - ancient calendar
o Daily Life
o Death & Religion
o Dorians - early Greek civilizations and founders of Sparta
o Economy & Occupation
o Educated women in Ancient Society - Education of women in Greece,
Eygpt and Rome
o Educating the Middle and Upper clasess - of Rome, Greece and Egypt
o Exploring World Cultures - Greece - one of the best sites on the web
for Ancient civilizations
o Geograph of Ancient Greece with map -
o Greek World Ancient - not specific to either Athens or Sparta but more like Athens
o Greeks- great detail about role men, role of women and daily life. Plus relgion and other
cultural aspects
o Greek Daily life -
o Daily Life in both Sparta and Athens - great detail
o Greek Economy -
o Greek Manufacturing -
o Greek Trade - includes perfumes and oil with a collection of vase
o Greek&Roman Cities of Western Turkey
o Greece Temples - Ionic, Doric styles
o Greek roles in society - generic city state roles
o Greeks - breaks down into Sparta and Athens. Has shield decorations for the Greek soldiers
o Greek Slavery -.
o Hellenic (Greek) Culture Greek culture a great deal modern but some historical data
o Hellenic World -Foundations of Hellenic World a non profit cultural
institution of charitable status. Its mission is to study and project
Hellenic history and culture diachronically, across the entire geographical
span of its historical presence and in all aspects of life.
o Map - of Ancient Greece
o Minoans -
o Minoan Religion -
o Mythology - great graphics and data about Gods, Titans, Sirens,
includes family trees. Also many things Greek including maps and
thrones of succession to many Greek City- States
o Olympics - The real story
o Religion & Death
o Persian Wars
o Persian Wars
o People and Places of Greece - lists many Greece city states and includes
maps and succession to the throne
o Slavery in Ancient Greece -
o Spartan Education -
o Sparta - kings of
o Sparta Map and throne of succession -
o Sparta - an overview with many details about government and the role of the helots or slaves
o Spartan government -
o Spartan stories -
o Sparta - materials for the study of ancient sparta
o Sparta - a text based article that discusses many aspects of Spartan life. The article is
title "Sparta - its own worst enemy" reading down the article lists education in Sparta and what
daily life was like, the government of Sparta, as well as econcomic references but you must
read the article and not just click away after the first paragraph.
o Sparta- many different aspects of Spartan life including education and daily life. Links to
primary source documents such as the Xenon Constitution
o Spartan map -
o Time Periods in Ancient Greece -
o Vases - Agean Bronze Age - Greece vase painting and has many pictures of the Palace
at Knosos Cultural links to ancient civilizations
o Vases- Balck figure and Red Figure styles with examples
o Voyage of the ARGONAUTS - A Map
o Underworld - a map
o Waterways- The Ancient Greeks and water: technology and advances, use, and social impact.
o Weapons and Armor -
o Women's status in Greece and Rome - Women's Voices Men's Opinions
Philosophers Legal Status in the Greek World Legal Status in the Roman World Public Life
Private Life Occupations Medicine and Anatomy Religion
Guide to Krannert Museum GreekVase Collection
Hadians Wall -
Harrappa - detailes about the early Indus River Vallley civilizations
Harrappa - a tour of what is left today
Hellenic (Greek) Culture Greek culture a great deal modern but some historical data
Hellenic World -
Hieroglyphics - write your name in Egyptian hieroglyphics
Hindu Calendar
Hittities -
Historical Classical Rome - hundreds of sites and documents for the republic and imperial eras.
Includes everyday life.
Imperial Era: III Chinese Imperial era Ming Dynasty

o Daily life - Employment, transportation, homes, buildings, transportation
o Harrappa - details about the early Indus River Vallley civilizations from WebChronology
o Harrappa - a tour of what is left today
o Hindu Calendar
o Indus River Valley - Mohenjo-Daro & Harrappa
o Indus River Valley - history plus religion, occupations, and images
o Indus , the story - an archelogical site
o Indus River Valley -
o Indus script -
o Indus Script - an explanation of the development of the ancient Indus
o Indus River Valley Development -
o Languages and scripts of India ( includes some ancient Indus River
o Indus Civilization - the rise and fall an introduction
o Indus Valley seals including the unicorn
o India - Ancient Civilizations
o Mohenjo-Daro - pictures of the ancient site including the baths
o Occupations and Society and Religion -
o Script - pictures and explanations of some of the script which is still
not completely deciphered.
Introduction toVirtual Renaissance
Italy- History:the Early Italic Tribes - Listing and data on the first 12 tribes during the
archaic period.
Italian tribes - early history
Kush - (combined with Nubia) lots of dates and specific information Kushite
Labyrinth Home Page - One of the best sites on the web for ancient
Latin language studies
Latin Grammar,Allen and Greenough's New -Table of Contents
Link to Ancient History
Map - mostly maps of ancient civilizations
Map - Roman Empire clickable map
Masada - overview of the incident in which 1000 Jews commit suicide rather
than give in the Romans
Military Uniforms - Romans and some ancients. Great reference site plus some
items for sale such as toy soldiers of different ancient campaigns
Military History - Romans and some ancients. Great reference site plus some
items for sale such as toy soldiers of different ancient campaigns. Same site
as above

o Glyphs - how to write your name in Mayan glyphs
o Glyphs - a catelog of glphys and their meanings
o Date calculator using Mayan time
o Calendar - an explanation of the symbols
o Calendar - wonderful explanation of the Mayan calendar
Mayan - very detailed and great information on the Long Count
Mayan Calendar - order a calendar
Mayan conversion site - convert any calendar into the Mayan calendar online
Mayan worksheet - gives hs level activities to compute days using long count with pdf
worksheet explanation of activity and details of Mayan calendar are at
o Maya Astronomy Page Find lts of information about the Mayan calendar, mathematics,
writing and other topics about this civilization.
o Mayans - Links to Mayans sites
o Mayan Art & History -
o Mayans - civilization
o Mayans - background including a timeline
o Mayan games and society
Mali - Songhai - African Civilizations
Mediterranean Way Bertolli- Food of the Mediterranean. Good site
Mediterranean Basin - outline and overview of civilizations of the Mediterranean including
Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans.
Mesopotamia Glossary -
Mesopatamia - Why civlizations collapse
Mesopotamian Art and Culture
Middle East and Mestopotamia- Sumerians, etc....
Military history By time period Ancient, Medieval, etc.. then by specific battle. Excellent details and
primary source documents. Display of issues such as security and challenges for war.
Minoans -
Minoan Religion -
Mohenjo-Daro - pictures of the ancient site including the baths
Multimedia Archives - Ancient African studies
Mummies - Who were the mummies ? What are mummies ? How are Mummies
made ? Afterlife ?
Mummy (clickable mummy)
Mungo Park
Nile, Mysteries of - take a self guided tour by the discovery channel
Nubia -
Nubian Women - many women rulers
Oedipus the Game You've read the play: now play the Game!-
Odyssey - become a character in the actual story and make decisions as they had to make

o Daily life
o Olmec Culture. Culture and Entertainment Web.
o Olmecs - has maps and script with great data
o Heads - National Geographic quick discussion and pictures of how they
may have been transported
o Glyphs - an archeological site that describes the discovery of some new
o Epi - Olmec logograms - ancient glyphs
o Mesoamerican Encyclopedia Olmecs -
o Civilizations in America Olmecs -
o Mexico Connect - a site maintained by a professor with a great overview of
Olympics - prehistoric and antiquity
Olympic Games in the Ancient Hellenic World
Olympic Games - The Myths Surrounding the
Olympics--Online Exercise
Pyramids-- The InsideStory NOVA Online
Papyrus - Papyrus page - how to make papyrus
Persian Wars
Persian Wars
Persia - chronicles the entire history of Iran, from Ancient Persia all the way
through to modernity
Perseus Project Homepage
Punic Wars
Pyramid Tour - Tour the ancient pyramids
Pyramid, The Great and Its Message for Earth
PyramidsGreat Great Picturest The Step Pyramid of Saqqara
Pyramids How they were Built l
Rameses - Virtual Study Tour Rameses and Palace at Knossos Virtual Tour

o Army part I - military organization, armor, weaponry, etc. during the
late Republic and early Empire.
o Army part II - information on legionary armor, auxiliary troops, army
activities and pay, and punishments and rewards.
o Archaic Rome - just a quick overview of the beginnings of Rome with a
couple of pictures
o Archaic Rome - all text with great details over 12 printable pages
o Cleopatra - very detailed information about the Ptolemy's and their
involvement with Rome
o Circus Maximus -
o Cities - present day name sof Roman cities
o Coinage - names of and value of ancient romans coins
o Clothing - detailed description of plus many graphics includes tunics,
togas, footwear, undergarments. Also has link to women's clothing
o Colosseum - great data and graphics
o Daily life in Rome - Athletics Food History Holidays Houses and
Baths Laws Maps Politics Rhetoric Texts Wine Writing Women
o Educated women in Ancient Society - Education of women in Greece,
Eygpt and Rome
o Educating the Middle and Upper clasess - of Rome, Greece and Egypt
o Emperors Roman :(Justin Paola's collection) Great List with biography on
Roman Emperors. One of the best on the web
o Emperors of Rome - Forum Romanum - Explore the Forum Romanum to experience
Rome's past
o Exploring Ancient World Civilizations - Rome - one of the best sites on the
web for Ancient Civilizations
o Family names - This was also called the nomen gentilicum or clan name and was the second
of the three names of a Roman citizen. It took the feminine case - gens Julia, gens Claudia -
and the plurals would be Julii, Claudii. It is sometimes difficult to tell from sources whether a
name is a nomen or cognomen so it is possible that some of these are in the wrong list but every
effort has been made to be accurate. Feminine forms took an -a instead of the masculine -us
o Festival - 224 days of Roman festivals
o Gaul - a breakdown of the Roman provinces of Gaul
o Hadians Wall -
o History (Illustrated History of the Roman Empire -
o House - detailed plan with explanations of a Roman house
o Italy- History: the Early Italic Tribes - Listing and data on the first 12 tribes
during the archaic period.
o Italian tribes - early history
o Julius Caesar - historical background
o Languages of Ancient "Italy" - includes a map
o Names - describes differences in mens names until the empiral period
and how women were named
o Pantheon -
o Republic of Rome - the fall of
o Republic to Empire - articles with graphics on clothing, names, legions,
slave revolts, baths, very large site
o Roman Civilization - a complete site dedicatd to all aspects of the Romans
o Roman History - very detailed
Roman History site includes - Chronology of Roman History The events that shaped
the Roman world The Day Vesuvius Awoke
Experience the eruption from four locations The Roman Art of Death (What were Julius
Caesar's real last words? Who assassinated Caligula? It's all here with many more deaths of
important figures in Roman history.) Growth of Roman Dominions under the Empire
225k map of the empire at three stages Picture Index Includes a section on historical
o Roman Daily Life - Woman's role, slavery, peasants life, education, trade
o Rome
o Roman African sites - Lepcis Magna
o Rome - Great Links to other sources on Rome
o Rome - daily life
o Roman Empire - clickable map of
o ROM: Archaeological Pieces of the Past - Intro.
o Roman Empire Great Link on Roman Army
o Roman names of cities - what they are today
o Roman German villa -
o Roman Empire French sites -
o Roman World - Spain - site is in Spanish but you can use the maps
o Roman Empire - barbarians that joined the empire in the late periods
o Roman trade routes - map that takes a long time to load but well worth
the wait
o Rome Reborn --Vatican Exhibit
o Roman Politics - includes information on the founding of Rome and the
Tarquin kings
o Romans in Scotland -
o Roman Republic - Art of the Roman Republic
o Roman Republican System - details of the government of Rome during
the Republic
o Roman Virtues - thought to be the foundation of the Roman Civilization
o Spartacus - historical background
o Tribes - the names of the 35 voting tribes of Roman Republic
o Twelve Tables - law code of the Roman Civilization
o Units of the Roman Army
o Varus - The Story of Publius Quinctilius Varus
o Aeneid - Vergil's - The Legend of Aeneas and the Foundation of Rome
an explanation also hypertexted version
o Women in Rome - also has other role of other classes of people
o Women's status in Greece and Rome - Women's Voices Men's Opinions
Philosophers Legal Status in the Greek World Legal Status in the Roman World Public Life
Private Life Occupations Medicine and Anatomy Religion
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Shih Huang Ti - first emperor of China
Slavery in Ancient Greece -
Spartan Education -
Sparta - kings of
Sparta - an overview with many details about government and the role of the
helots or slaves
Spartan government -
Spartan stories -
Sparta - materials for the study of ancient sparta
Sparta- a text based article that discusses many aspects of Spartan life. The article is title "Sparta
- its own worst enemy" reading down the article lists education in Sparta and what daily life was like, the
government of Sparta, as well as econcomic references but you must read the article and not just click
away after the first paragraph.
Sumerians of Ancient Mesopotamia
Sumer - details plus maps of the ancient Sumerians and the city of Ur
Time - measuring time, includes ancient calendars. although mechanical clocks weren't used until the
1500's sundials and other methods substituted. This study of the measure of time begins in ancient
civilizations and continues through the atomic clock. There is a link here on how to site windows to
"internet" time.
Tsu - The ancient Chinese mathematician
Tutankhamen @ Actual text and photos from the 1923 edition of
National Geographic put you right at this landmark archaeological discovery. Narrating three days of
exploration into the Valley of the Kings, photojournalist Maynard Owen Williams does a nice job of bringing
the scene to life. You'll also find Williams' correspondence to National Geographic's editors, as well as
related Egyptology links.
o Ankhesenamun: Princess of Amarna / Queen of Destiny - Poignant
biography of the Princess/Queen Ankhesenpaaten/Ankhesenamun -
o wife of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. Also features extensive Amarna book
and link study resources, and a Galleria of Amarna art images.
Twelve Tables - law code of the Roman Civilization
Units of the Roman Army
Wales - Prehistoric
Welcometo Feng Shui MadeEasy Cecil Lee - Ancient Chinese Art of the Earth
World Map of Ancient Civilizations

Writing - links to page that you can write in Hierglphics, cuneiform,

mayan, and more
o Alphabets- Ancient development and connections - has a graphic organizer that
shows the family tree of various alphabets and their links to each other from alphabets of the
Middle East and connections to the Phoneican
Ancient Scripts by region - Fertile Crescent, Africa, Europe, India, the Americas, Far
Alphabetical listing of scripts on this site -
MesoAmerican scripts - includes Olmec and Mayan
o Cuneiform -
o Cuneiform writing - description and history
o Cuneiform - Write like a Babylonian. Type your name and initials and it
is displays your initials in cuneiform
o Cuneiform - Who Invented/Adapted/Adopted The Sumerians invented
cunieform and the Hittites simplified it.
o Translation of Cuneiform - a National Geographic news article about the
release of the Sumerian Dictionary to Decipher Ancient Texts
o Cuneiform- Who Wrote and Read Writing began as a tool for businessmen
but evolved into a complicated system intelligible to scribes.
o Cuneiform How was Translated The Behistun inscription (discovered in the
19th C.) was the Rosetta Stone for cunieform.
o Etruscan - Tabula Cortonensis - explanation of this example of Etruscan writing found in 1992
and translated in 1999. 25 new Etruscan words found. Examples of the writing are found here
o Fertile Crescent links to specific civilizations
o Glyphs - an archeological site that describes the discovery of some new
glyphs of the Olmecs
o Olmec logograms - ancient glyphs
o hieroglyphics - online translators
Egyptian Hieroglyphics - see your name in hieroglyphics!
English to Hieroglyphic - a script presented by the Egyptian tourist
board that transforms English text into Hieroglyphic symbols.
Write your name in hieroglyphics -
Fun Pharaoh - give us your name and we will discover if you you have
any Pharaonic roots.
Online Hieroglyphics Translator
Spell Your Name in Hieroglyphics
Your Name in Hieroglyphics - online hieroglyphic translator, Instantly
translate your name or any other word or phrase into ancient
Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Hieroglyphics - write your name in Egyptian hieroglyphics
o Hebrew Alphabet The Hebrew consonants, their transliteration in English
and their use as numbers.
o History of Aramaic Rocco A. Errico and Michael J. Bazzi's short article on
the spiritual impact, history, and major dialects of Aramaic.
o Glyphs - how to write your name in Mayan glyphs
o Glyphs - a catelog of glphys and their meanings
o Indus script -
o Languages and scripts of India ( includes some ancient Indus River
Indus Civilization - the rise and fall an introduction
o Indus script -
Odyssey Program .
WAR- Neolithic Warfare to present day. Different types of battle techniques plus weaponary and
armor, uniforms American Revolution and Civil War includes Hiroshima and Vietnam
Zero - The ancient discovery of zero
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Killeen Harker Heights Connections
World History Course
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The Mysterious Indus Civilization 3000-1500 BCE

Aryan Civilization Daily Life 1500-500 BCE

Vedic Period 1500-1000 BCE

Epics Period 1000 - 500 BCE

Age of Empires Daily Life 500 BCE-700 CE

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Indus Valley Civilization Daily Life
3000-1500 BCE

We know very little about this civilization, but what we know is fascinating!
Over 4,000 years ago, in the Indus Valley, people built huge, planned cities,
with straight streets, and brick homes with private baths! Kids played with toys
and women wore lipstick!

How do we know this? In 1922, archaeologists found something exciting!

They found the remains of an ancient city called Harappa. They found
another city, located 400 miles southwest of Harappa, called Mohenjo-Daro.
Other ancient cities from the same period, arranged in the same way, have been
found since. Collectively, this civilization is referred to as the Indus Valley
Civilization (sometimes, the Harappan civilization). This civilization existed
from about 3000-2,500 BCE to about 1500 BCE, which means it existed at
about the same time as the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations.

What was life like, over 4,000 years ago, in Harappa and in Mohenjo-Daro, two
busy cities of about 35,000 people each? Would you have wanted to live in one
of these flourishing ancient cities? (I think they sound neat!) Let's see what you

Homes: Houses were one or two stories high, made of baked brick, with flat
roofs, and were just about identical. Each was built around a courtyard, with
windows overlooking the courtyard. The outside walls had no windows. Each
home had its own private drinking well and its own private bathroom. Clay
pipes led from the bathrooms to sewers located under the streets. These sewers
drained into nearly rivers and streams. This was a very advanced civilization!

Clothing: Men and women dressed in colorful robes. Women wore jewelry of
gold and precious stone, and even wore lipstick! Among the treasures found
was a statue of a women wearing a bracelet. (Bracelets with similar designs are
worn today in India.)

Entertainment: A beautiful small bronze statue of a dancer was found, which

tells us that they enjoyed dance and had great skill working with metals. In the
ancient city of Mohenjo-daro, scientists have found the remains of a large
central pool, with steps leading down at both ends. This could have been a
public swimming pool, or perhaps have been used for religious ceremonies.
Around this large central pool were smaller rooms, that might have dressing
rooms, and smaller pools that might have been private baths.

Food: Dinner might have been warm tasty wheat bread served with barley or
rice. It would appear they were very good farmers. They grew barley, peas,
melons, wheat, and dates. Farms raised cotton and kept herds of sheep, pigs,
zebus (a kind of cow), and water buffalo. Fish were caught in the river with fish
hooks! Each town had a large central storage building for grain. Crops were
grown, and the harvest stored centrally, for all in the town to enjoy.

Toys: Some of the toys found were small carts, whistles shaped like birds,
and toy monkeys which could slide down a string!

Art: This ancient civilization must have had marvelous craftsmen, skilled in
pottery, weaving, and metal working. The pottery that has been found is of very
high quality, with unusually beautiful designs. Several small figures of animals,
such as monkeys, have been found. These small figures could be objects of art
or toys. There are also small statues of what they think are female gods. So far,
scientists have found no large statues. They have found bowls made of bronze
and silver, and many beads and ornaments. The metals used to make these
things are not found in the Indus Valley. So, either the people who lived in this
ancient civilization had to import all of these items from some other place, or
more probably, had to import the metals they used to make these beautiful
things from somewhere else.

Transportation: The people used camels, oxen and elephants to travel over
land. They had carts with wooden wheels. They had ships, with one mast,
probably used to sail around the Arabian Sea. Seals with a pictographic script,
which has not as yet been deciphered, were found at the Indus Valley sites.
Similar seals were found in Mesopotamia, which seems to indicate possible
trade between these two civilizations.

The Riddle of the Indus: What does it take to build a city with straight streets
and well designed sewers? It takes smart engineers and a lot of planning! These
well organized cities suggest a well organized government and probably a well-
developed social life.

What is amazing is that it appears the Harappan cities did not develop slowly,
which suggests that whoever built these cities learned to do so in another place.
As the Indus flooded, cities were rebuilt on top of each other.
Archaeologists have discovered several different cities, one built over the other,
each built a little less skillfully. The most skillful was on bottom. It would
appear that builders grew less able or less interested in perfection over time.
Still, each city is a marvel, and each greatly advanced for its time.

So far, scientists have found no wall carvings or tomb paintings to tell us

about their life. We do know they had a written language, but only a few
sentences, on pottery and amulets, have been found. We dont know what it
says. Scholars have quite a few mysteries to solve about the ancient Indus
civilization. For one thing, the people who lived in these marvelous cities
disappeared around 1500 BCE. Perhaps they ran out of wood to hold back
flooding, or perhaps their soil gave out and no longer would grow crops. No
one knows what happened these people, or where they went. Historians are
very curious. It will be interesting to see what archaeologists "dig up" next!

UPDATE ON THE INDUS VALLEY! (Spring, 1998) Thanks to

modern technology and international rivalry, nearly 1,400 Indus sites (towns!)
have now been discovered. That is a very big civilization, large enough to be
called an empire, only there is no evidence that these people were governed
by emperors who lived in palaces or large estates. Rather, the opposite has
been discovered. Some homes are a bit larger than others, but that might be due
to a larger family unit.

What else have scientists discovered about this fascinating culture? LOTS!
Their towns were laid out in grids everywhere (straight streets, well built
homes!) These people were incredible builders! Scientists have found what
they think are giant reservoirs for fresh water. They have also found that even
the smallest house at the edge of each town was linked to that town's central
drainage system. (Is it possible that they not only drained waste water out, but
also had a system to pump fresh water into their homes, similar to modern
plumbing? What a neat thought! Who were these people? Remember-these
systems were built over 3,500 years ago!)

Although scientists can not yet read the language, they are beginning to believe
these people had a common language! That's incredible! As well, scientists
have found artifacts at different sites (towns) with the same or similar picture of
a unicorn on them. India Today suggested humorously that perhaps it was a
logo - like Pepsi and Coke, only this one was Unicorn!

What next? Scientists remain very curious about these people, who lived about
the same time in history as the ancient Mesopotamians and the ancient
Egyptians. Did these ancient civilizations know each other in ancient times?
My personal opinion is - yes! As scientists continue to unravel the riddle of the
Indus, we may find we will have to rewrite history! Was it the ancient
Mesopotamians who first invented the sailboat and the wheel, or was it perhaps
the people in the Indus Valley? Where did these people come from, and where
did they go? It's a fascinating riddle.

To explore the ancient city of Harappa in pictures and articles, see Harappa!

Aryan Civilization Daily Life

The Vedic & Epics Periods
1500-500 BCE

The Red Dot on Foreheads: Have you ever wondered why Indian women place
a red dot on their foreheads, between their eyes? We did, so we asked a few
people what the red dot meant. Here are two replies!

1. "This goes back to Aryan days! In ancient times, a groom used to

apply a spot of his blood on his bride's forehead, in recognition of
wedlock! Today, married Indian women may choose to wear this
mark. A married woman does not have to do this, but she can if
she wants. However, if a woman is single, divorced or a widow,
she can not wear this mark. It's a sign of marriage!" (Sudheer

2. "At one time, the tilak or bindi as it is called, was a sign of a

happily married woman. Today, it is much more a fashion
accessory--it can be any colour, any shape or size, and women
often wear more than one." (Gerald L Harrison; Adult educator:
Asian Studies Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Canada)

Things do change over time. Things certainly changed in the Indus Valley when
a new group arrived, called the Aryans. The Aryans came from Central Asia
(modern day Russia). They entered the Indus Valley through the fabled
Khyber pass. The Aryans were nomads. They raised livestock, rode chariots,
and loved to gamble. They had no sophisticated government. They grouped in
clans, and were ruled by warrior chiefs called rajas. Their history is one of
constant war amongst themselves, between the various clans. We have little
archaeological evidence, but have something else we can use to learn about
them. The Aryans created marvelous stories, stories they told or sang for

The VEDAS: The Aryan beliefs and daily life are described in the four Vedas,
a collection of poems and sacred hymns, composed in about 1500 BCE. Veda
means knowledge. The Vedas are composed of the Rig, Sama, Yajur, and
Atharva Vedas. This is why the period from roughly 1500 BCE to 1000 BCE is
called the Vedic Period. It is named after the Vedas.

The Ramayana & the Mahabharata: Around 1000 BCE, the Aryans started
to create two marvelous epics. We know about daily life during this period
from these famous epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. These epics
are stories about Aryans life, wars, and accomplishments. School kids in India,
today, know these stories very well. They're great stories! The Ramayana tells a
story in which the (good) aryan king Rama destroys the (evil) pre-aryan king
Ravana. The other epic, Mahabharata, talks of Aryan wars amongst themselves,
where two clans, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, battle it out, and the Pandavas
emerge victorious. This is why the period from roughly 1000 BCE to 500 BCE
is called the Epics Period. It is named after these two great epics, the Ramayana
and the Mahabharata.

How did the Aryans live? The Aryans clans, or tribes, settled in different
regions of northwestern India. The tribes were called Gana (literally a
"collection" - of people). The chief of each tribe was an hereditary job. If your
father was the chief, someday, you would be chief. It was the only way to
become a chief. The chief made decisions, after listening to a committee, or
perhaps even to the entire tribe. People had a voice, but the chief was the boss.

Aryan Houses: The people in the Vedic period lived in straw and wooden
huts. Some homes were made of wood, but not until later, during the Epics

Yagna (central fire-place): The life of the tribal Aryans was focused around
the central fireplace called the Yagna. Dinner time was social time. The tribe
would gather around the central fireplace, and share news, and the days
happenings. Those who tended the central fireplace also cooked for the rest of
the tribe. This was a very special job. The fire tenders were the go-between
between the fire god and the people. These fire tenders, later on, formed the
caste of priests. The Aryans ate meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, milk, and
fish. The word for guest was Go-Ghna or eater of beef.

What did they do when they were not working or fighting each other? The
Aryans loved to gamble. They introduced the horse to ancient India and raced
chariots. They played fighting games. They loved to tell stories. The ancient
Aryans were proud and fierce, and deeply religious. They had many gods and

Jobs: As the Aryans settled in and began to grow crops, people started to
have occupations. In each tribe, people began to belong to one of four groups:
the Brahmana (priests), Kshatriya (warriors), Vaishya (traders and
agriculturists), and Shudra (workers). In the beginning, these were just
occupations. You could move from group to group. This changed over time,
until a person's occupation or group depended upon birth. If your father was a
farmer, you had to be farmer. Change from one group to another became very

Education Kids were taught by a guru (a teacher). Even chiefs sons had to
obey the guru. All students followed a rigorous course of studies which were
imparted orally. Writing was done on bark and leaves, and hence was
perishable, so we have very few rock edicts to tell us what they studied or what
they wrote.

Clothing was initially made of animal skins. As the Aryans settled down,
clothing began to be made of cotton.

Age of Empires Daily Life

500 BCE - 647 CE
The next thousand years saw a great many kings and emperors! Some did
fabulous things, like plant trees along the roads and built rest houses for
travelers. Other started great public works programs. Let's take a closer look at
just one of the empires - my favorite - the Gupta Empire.

The Gupta Empire (320 CE to about 500 CE). The Gupta Empire existed at
about the same time as the Roman Empire. It dominated northern India. The
Gupta Empire was neat. Villages were protected from bandits and raids with
local military squads. Each squad was made up of one elephant, one chariot,
three armored cavalrymen and five foot soldiers. In times of war, all the
squads were brought together to form the royal army!

People were happy during the Gupta period, the "Golden Age" of ancient India.
They had religious freedom. They were given free medical care, which
included simple surgery. Criminals were never put to death. Instead, they were
fined for their crimes. Rewards of money were given to writers, artists, and
scholars to encourage them to produce wonderful work, and they did. Very few
of the common people were educated, but the Gupta Empire had many
universities. Students came from as far away as China to study at Gupta

Gupta homes: In the villages and towns, homes were mostly one room huts
made of wood or bamboo, with thatched roofs. Even the palaces were made of
wood! Larger homes had several rooms and balconies.

Gupta villages: Streets between the homes were narrow and twisted. Stalls
for selling things were located on both sides of the street. People mostly walked
where they wanted to go inside their village. Villages were very noisy places.
Not only were they full of happy, busy people, they were full of animals. A
monkey might sneak up and steal food right out of your hand! Imagine coming
home from the market, and telling your mother that the monkeys stole the food
you bought, again!

Art: The craftsmen worked with iron and copper. Their iron work, especially,
was outstanding. Even today, statues exist from this period, made of iron,
that show very little rust!

Jobs: People worked on roads and other public works, but, (as they were in
ancient Egypt), they were paid for their work. In the Gupta Empire, wheat
was the main crop, and they kept cows for milk. This civilization produced
great works of literature and marvelous works of art. Sculpture was their thing,
though. They were very good at it.

They were also very smart scientists. They believed the earth was a sphere,
and rotated around the sun. They also figured out that the solar year had
365.358 days. (Today, our scientists think it's probably more like 365.242,
which means they only missed by 3 hours!) They were great with math.
Ancient India gave us the number system we use today - 9 digits, the zero,
and the decimal!

What did they eat? The concept of breakfast did not exist. In earlier times,
meals were both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, depending upon your religious
beliefs. After the coming of Buddhism, Jainism and other pacifist religion and
reforms in Hinduism, vegetarian food (strictly excluding animal and fish meat)
became the norm for as much as half of the population. In the Gupta Empire,
they mostly ate vegetables, cereals, fruits, breads, and drank milk.

School: Older kids, who went to school, lived at school. School (ashram) life
was tough. You had to do everything yourself. There were no servants. Even
princes had to wash their clothes, cook their food, and follow a rigorous course
of studies. They had a lot to learn. They studied math, science, engineering,
literature, art, music and religion.

Marriage: In ancient India, the most popular form of marriage was called
Swayamvara. In this type of marriage, potential grooms assembled at the
bride's house and the bride selected her spouse. Instances of Swayamvara
ceremony are found in India's national epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
There were other types of marriage as well, such as Gandharva Vivaha (love
marriage) and Asura Viviha (marriage by abduction).

Sports and Games: Ancient Indians invented many of the games we play
today, like chess, polo, and playing cards (which are said to have gone from
India to the other parts of our globe). They practiced martial arts, wrestling, and
fencing. Hunting was also a favorite pastime of the nobility.

What kind of pets did they have? The pets were mainly birds like parrots.
The royals had peacocks. (Monkeys were not usually pets. Monkeys were
mostly a nuisance, but cute!)

in Northern India: In the north, Ancient Indians wore (some still
wear) an unstitched garment called dhoti. This was a 9 meter long
cloth that was draped around the legs and tied at the abdomen.
Both sexes wore it the same way. Women wore bright colours.
Men wore either white or dark colors.

Ancient Indians did not use banks, so the family "fortune" was
worn by the Vaishnav women in the northern half of India. In the
north, they wore lots of jewelry. It was used both by men and
women. Jewelry included armbands, waist belts, leg and ankle
bangles for both sexes, ear rings, nose rings, rings on fingers and
toes, crowns and other hair adornments.

In 326 BCE, Alexander the Great (that great Greek!) invaded

northwest India. Here's his account: They use parasols as a screen
from the heat! They wear shoes made of white leather and these
are elaborately trimmed, while the soles are variegated, and made
of great thickness, to make the wearer seem so much taller.

in Southern India: In the south, however, ancient scriptures

describe women as wearing saris. A sari is a single cloth wrapped
around the body. It covers the woman from head to toe. A dhoti is
less modest. In ancient times, it was considered very important for
women to be covered from the neck down to the feet. The
southern half of India has been almost exclusively Shaivite for
thousands of years. Shaivites typically have very, very few
possessions. A Shaivite woman would not have worn such
jewelry. Shaivite men have typically worn only a loin cloth and
perhaps a cloth on the head to protect from the sun, never jewelry.

Here are some great sites about ancient India!

We would like to thank Sudheer Birodkar, an Indian novelist and historian, who
generously shared with us a great deal of information about ancient India daily
life! This site could not have been written without his help! Sudheer has placed
online some very interesting pages that share his knowledge and love of ancient
India. Here are just a few of them:

Sudheer Birodkar's Sites

Ancient India
A Timeline of Ancient India
The Hindu Kids Universe (great site!)
INDOlink - ancient & modern Indian stories, coloring book

The Buddha
The Vedas
The Ramayana
Ancient India

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