Ancient History

Date: December 10, 2014

                                                                             History   (Ancient)              


  • No fossils of early human beings have been found in India.
  • Presence of early human beings can be traced from the presence of paeleothic tools.
  • Earliest traces have been found from Bori (Maharashtra) which dates back to 14 lakh years back.
  • Two physical features which make homosapiens different from their ancestors are development of chin and convex frontal portion of head.
  • Initially there were three races – 1. Caucasus Mongoloid                 3. Negroid

                                                                    Pre-Historic Period




       Paleolithic Period                                    Mesolithic Period                                      Neolithic Period

(25 Lakh to 10 thousand B.P.)              (9 thousand to 4 thousand B.P.)                (7 thousand to Historical period)



   Lower Paleolithic Period                     Middle Paleolithic Period                         Upper Paleolithic Period

(14 lakh to 60 thousand B.P)           (60 thousand to 40 thousand B.P)          (40 thousand to 10 thousand B.P)


  • Paleolithic age began during Pleistocene age.
  • This age can be classified on the basis of –
  1. Tool making technology 2. Types of tools    3. Stage of physical and cultural development
  • Lower Paleolithic tools are basically hand axes.
  • Middle Paleolithic tools are based on flakes
  • Upper Paleolithic tools are based on blade and burin
  • North Indian tools are based on Chopper-Chopin pebble technique.
  • South Indian tools are based on Hand axe tradition and prepared with deep flaking.
  • Men belong to primate species in which also come Monkeys and bears.
  • Primates like deer (Kasturi), goat, buffalo, pig and animals like that of giraffe belong to India while horse belongs to North America.
  • Elephants and Hippopotamus have come from Central Africa.
  • Paintings from Bhimbetka belong to upper Paleolithic age, marked for green and red colour. These paintings also give an idea of their occupation.
  • From these painting we can recognise physical feature of men and women and also we come to know that these people lived a community life.
  • From Bhimbetka we get five hundred rock paintings but only five belongs to upper Paleolithic age and rest belong to Mesolithic period.

Mesolithic Period began with Holocene period. Now ice age is over and climate is getting hotter and drier which also brings change in vegetables & animals and with it man moves to newer places.

  • It is also known as Transitional Period between Paleolithic period and Neolithic period.
  • Man was aware about hunting and collection of food material and probably with agriculture as well.

Neolithic period

Important features –    1. Development of agriculture        2. Domestication of animals            3. Use of pottery   

  1. Use of wheel                             5. Use of fire                                  6. Polished stone tools

   Other than this their developed a community life which begin with agriculture and marks increasing control over nature and its resources. Man had become producer of food products but still the most significant aspect was use of polished stone tools.

  • From Koldihava earliest evidence of rice cultivation is obtained.
  • From Aadamgarh (M.P.) and Bagaur (Rajasthan) earliest evidence of domestication of animals.
  • Balathal – from Neolithic times to Harappans it was a representative site from here a Terracotta figurine of bull has been found.

Chalcolithic Culture

Aahar its old name is ‘Tambavati’ which means a place of copper because most of the tools are made up of copper. From a house at Kayatha 29 pieces of bangles & 2 axes have been found. From the same site necklace of steatite and carnelinion have been obtained from pots, giving an idea of affluence of these people. Settlements of Kayatha are fortified.

            From Navdatoli we get black and red wears these are wares with red polish and black coloured sketches and are known as Malwa pottery and are considered the best of all Chalcolithic pottery traditions.

            Inamgaon gives the most extensive picture of Jorwe culture. From here we get evidence of hearth and a five roomed house. Imangao was a big settlement comprising almost 100 houses. It is fortified and surrounded by a moat.

            Nevasa another important site of agriculture from here we get evidence of jute cultivation and diagnostic pottery. Kayatha culture is known for its strong red colored polished wares and chocolate colored sketches.

            Earliest evidence of iron is from Ataranjikhera (Etah district) (1000 B.C.). Use of iron implements can be associated with painted gray wares.

            The story of development of Harappan civilisation is not cleared because - 1. Insufficient excavations, dominance of vertical excavations and less of horizontal excavations.     2. Many of the evidence have been destroyed because of climatic reasons and lack of proper training among excavators.     

  1. Indus scrip has remained unreadable (from no where we get a bilingual inscription).
  • Important characteristics of Harappa – wheel turned pottery, brick houses, agriculture, seals, depiction of animals, birds, mother goddess, humped bull on seals.

Early Harappa

Region –          1. Sindh – Kothdiji, Aamri, Balakot, Allahdino, Tharo etc.            2. Punjab – Harappa and Jalilpur

  1. Rajasthan – Kalibangan                                                  4. Haryana – Rakhigari, Banawali
  2. Baluchistan – Mehargarh, Ranagundai, Dambsadat, Anjira, Kulli, Nindouri
  3. 6. North Pakistan – Gumla, Rehmandheri, Levan, Tarkai Qila, Saraikhola, Jhang
  4. Afghanistan – Mundigak

Rural cultures1. Kulli           2. Aamri-naal    3. Queta           4. Jhob             5. Sothi


Import of Raw materials from different regions

Raw material



Afghanistan, Iran


Rajasthan (Khetri), Baluchistan


Iran, Afghanistan


Afghanistan, Faras, Southern India (Kollar)

Lapis Lazzuli + Neel Ratna





South Asia


Baluchistan, Rajasthan & Gujarat

Conch shell,


South India


Iran, Afghanistan, Rajasthan


Region of Himalaya



Mesopotamian City

Material of Harappa

Felka, Behrin



Seal engraved with Harappan script & unicorn, dice


Two squares shaped seals

Umma (Hama)

Harappan sealings, seal with unicorn

Tel Asmar

Harappan pottery, etched beads of carnelian, kidney shaped bone articles, dice


Harappan dice

Later Vedic Political Organisation

Power of king was not absolute. Sabha, Samiti and Ratnins still exercised some influenced over the king. There were twelve Ratnins –   1. Senani         2. Purohit           3. Yuvraaj

  1. Mahishi (Chief queen) 5. Suta (Charioteer)       6. Gramini
  2. Pratihara 8. Sangrahitri (treasurer)
  3. Bhagdudha (collector of revenuers)
  4. Akshavapa (companion of king in the game of dice)
  5. Palagal (kings friend) 12. Govikartan (kings companion during hunting)
  • Brahmins and Kshatriyas were not taxed. Burden of taxes was on Vaishyas only (anasyabalikrita).

Social Life -     

  • Upanishadas mention about scholar kings – Janaka of Vidah Ashwapati (Kekaya), Ajatsatru (Kashi), Pravahan Jabali (Panchal)
  • Shudras were called (Anasyapresya) (servant of upper 3 varnas). Shatpath Brahman recommends Soma Yagya for Shudras.
  • Concept of Gotra originated, literal meaning a place where property of whole clan was put together, which ultimately was linked to offspring of one sage.
  • Daughters were cause of worry.
  • Maitrayani Sanhita compares women with wine & dice.
  • Yagyavalkya – Gargi discourse – Brihdaranyak upanishad, Yagyalkya rebutes Gargi for her behaviour and warns to behave property lest her head would be broken.
  • Brihdaranyak mention one ritual to obtain scholar daughter.
  • Wife was better half (Ardhangini) – Shatpati Brahmin and an unmarried person was not eligible for several sacrifices (Yajnas).
  • Polygamy was prevalent among Kshatriyas.
  • Child marriage began, widow remarriage was discouraged, symbolic refence of sati appears, when a wife used lie with dead husband on funeral pyre.
  • Niyoga (a practice of cohabition with husband’s brother to get a male child, if widow was without son), was prevalent. Son of a widow was known as Dadhisatya (Taittiriya Samhita).
  • Inter caste marriages were prevalent.
  • Marriage was considered a holy institution & no scope for divorce.

Economic Life

  • Agricultural processes (Shalpath Brahmin), agriculture selected rituals (to increase production)
  • Land should not be given as grant (dana) – Shatpath Brahmin
  • Alongwith ‘Bali’, ‘Shulka’ (another tax) was also collected.

Religious System

  • Yama enlightens Nachikata & preached about self realisation – Kathopanishad
  • Only 3 Ashramas in later vedic period, Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprestha. First time 4 ashramas are mentioned in Jabalopanishad.
  • Samskaras before birth – Garbhadhan, Punsavan (for son), Simantonnayan (to protect the foetus), Namkaran, Nishkraman (first time child was taken out), Annaprashan (6th month), Karnachedan, Chudakarma (Shaving of head), Vidyarambha (first lesson), Upanayan, Vedarambha (to study vedas), Keshant (first shaving o beards & moustaches), Samavartan (convocation), Vivah.

Vedic Literature

Brahman rebated to Vedas –

            ¨ Rigveda – Aitereya, Kaushitaki                                                          ¨ Yajurveda – Shatpath Brahman

            ¨ Samveda – Panchvish, Shedvish, Chandogya, Jaiminiya                    ¨ Artharvaveda – Gopath


  • Vaishnav (Bhagvat, Satvat Dharma)
  • Founder – Krishna (Vrishni Kula), teacher – Angiras
  • Began in 4th century B.C., described by Panini, Megasthenes writes people of Mathura worshipped Heracles (Krishna) & Dionysus (Shiva).
  • First inscriptional evidence – Vidisha (Gareena Piller of Heliodorus)
  • Heliodorus who was ambasssador of Antialkedes to Sunga ruler Bhagbhadra, declares himself a Bhagvat.
  • Managhat Inscription of Naganika.
  • Inscription from Mathura, in which a lady named Tosha founded status of 5 Vrishniveeras – Vashudev, Sankarshan, Pradyumna, Aniruddha & Samba.
  • Kushana period – Huvishka & Vasudeva were follower of Bhagvat Dharma.
  • Vaishnev Dharma was at its peak, Garuna was state emblem of Guptas.

South India – Vaishnav Saints were known as Alwara, 12 in numbers, only women was Andal (Kodai).

  • Incarnation is by-product of Vaishnavism.

         ¨ First incarnation – Matsya                                ¨ Last – Kalki (yet to be)                        ¨ Total 10

   KResulted into development doctrine of Bhakti            K First mention – Shwetashwar Upanishad

   K Holy book –  Shrimadbhagvadgita


  • Oldest religion, Harappa (Pashupati), Vedic (Rudra God)
  • Megasthenese writes about worship of Shiva (Dionysus)
  • Kushan – Vima Kadphisus, depiction of Nandi, trident on coins and took the title of Maheshwar (first inscriptional evidence).
  • Gupta Age – concept of Ardha Narishwar

      ¨ Veersena, minister of Chandragupta II was a Shaivits.

      ¨ Nachna kuthar temple – Parvati (Gupta age)                 K Bhumra - Shiva

      ¨ Trimurti (Gupta age)                                                     ¨ Harsha (a shaivite initially)

      ¨ Kandariya Mahadev temple – Chandulas (Dhang)          ¨ Somnath (Lord Somnath) – Gujarat

South India

  • Nayanars, 63 saints
  • Important – Sambandar, Appar, Nambi-Andar-Nambi & Sundarmurti

Important – Shaiva Sects

  • Pashupati (oldest) – Lakulish (founder)             K Veerashaiva (Lingayat) – Vasavraj (che-navasar)
  • Nathpanthis (10th century) – Matsyundranath

Shakti or Shakta

  • 3 important centres – Kashmir, Kanchi, Assam (Kamakhya temple)
  • Became basis for subsequent Tantrism.

Mauryan Culture

Sources –    ¨  ‘Mudrarakshas’ – Visakhadutta (written Gupta period)

                     ¨ Brihat Kathamanjari – Kshemendra                ¨ Kathasarit sagar – Somdev

  • Greek writers – Strabo, Dioderus, Pliny (the elder), Arrean, Plutarch, Justin
  • Mahavansha, Deepavamsha (Buddhist literature)
  • Parishishtparvan – Hemchandra (Jain)

Rock inscriptions


  1. Shahbazgarhi - Peshawar (Kharoshthi Script)
  2. Mansehra – Pakistan (Hazara dist) (Kharoshthi Script)
  3. Kalsi - Dehradun (Kharoshthi Script)
  4. Girnar - Kathiawar
  5. Dhauli - Puri (Orissa)
  6. Jaugade – Ganjam( Orissa)
  7. Yerragudi - Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh)
  8. Sopara - Thana (Maharashtra)


K Inscription from Taxila – Aramaic script

K Inscription from Shar-i-Qune – Greek & Aramaic (Bilingual)

  • Maski was the first inscription to refer Ashoka by his name (others – Nettur, Udegolam, Gurjara) (M.P. Datiya)
  • Bhabra (Vainat) – Ashoka declares himself a believer of Buddhism
  • 1837, James Princep for the first time read Meerut - Topra (Brahmani script) inscription
  • 10th year Dhamma Yatra began (Bodhgaya)
  • 14th year appointment of Dhammamahamattra
  • 20th year – Ashok Tours (Lumbini)

Cave Inscriptions

   K   Ashoka – Sudama, Karna Chaupad, Vishwa Jhopri                           K Dasaratha – Lomasha Rishi

  • Antiochus I of Suja sent Dimechus to the court of Bindusara.
  • Bindusara by writes to him & asks for - Sweet wine                  2. Fig (Apricol) ¼vathj½        3. a Philosopher

         First 2 were sent but third was declined as philosophers were not object of sale.

  • Ptolmy II Philadelphus of Egypt sent Dionysus to Bindusara’s court.
  • Taxes –    K Praneya – During emergency             K Hiranya – collected in cash                        K Vartani – Custom

Republics of Buddha’s times

  • Republics were first time discovered by Ritz Davids in 1903. These were republics with system in keeping with ancient Indian tradition but not in strict sense of modern times. Kautilya mentions 2 types of republics –

         (i) Vartashastropjivi                              (ii) Rajasabdopjivi (took the title of Raja)

Important republics are –

  1. Shakyans (Kapilvastu) – Buddha was born in this republic, believed in purity of blood and did not marry outside their community. They deceived Prasenjit and no whom they sent a maid, whose son Vidadabha, punished Shakyan for their cheat.
  2. Buli of Alkappa – In Bihar, Buddhist
  3. Kalam of Kesaputta – Sultanpur, Alarkalam first teacher of Buddha.
  4. Koliya of Ramgram – Known for their police system. River Rohini, which flowed between Shakyans & Koliyans became a cause of dispute, which was solved by Buddha.
  5. Malla of Kushinara – Doeriya, they were offsprings of Chandraketu Malla (son of Lakshamana).
  6. Malla of Pava – Ajatsatru conquered them.
  7. Moriya of Pippalvana – Branch of Shakyans, who moved to a mountainous region because of Vidudabha. They are believed to be ancestors of Mauryans.
  8. Videh of Mithila – It was a monarchy during Janaka but ultimately became of republic.

Administrative structure in Republics – Highest officer king. He was helped by Uparaja, Senapati, Bhandagarik (Treasurer). Real power was in Sansthagaar (central committee). Members were also known Raja. Members were chosen by Sansthagaara by secret ballot. Eight stage of judicial system prevalent there. King was the highest judge (chief justice). ‘Pavenipatthaka’ (earlier incidents) was used to take decision.

  • ‘Patala’ a kingdom where used to be 2 rulers during emergency (wartime), while during peace administrator was in the hands of older people.
  • There were no slaves in Mushika dynasty.

Reasons for decline of Republics

  • Less developed agriculture, craft & commerce in comparison to Monarchy.
  • Imperialistic attitude of monarchical system.
  • Use of iron Mutual conflict of Republic.
  • Intrusion of Monarchical ideology in Republics.
  • In future out of 16 Mahajanapadas only 4 could survive. Kosala, Vatsa, Magadh, Avanti and ultimately under Magadha first imperialist all Indian Emperor was formed