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Early India Preview Starting Points Map: Eastern Asia

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Presentation on theme: "Early India Preview Starting Points Map: Eastern Asia"— Presentation transcript:


2 Early India Preview Starting Points Map: Eastern Asia
Main Idea / Reading Focus India’s Geography Indus Valley Civilization The Vedic Period Quick Facts: The Varnas

3 Click the icon to play Listen to History audio.
Click the icon below to connect to the Interactive Maps.

4 Early India Main Idea Reading Focus
Early civilization arose in the Indus River Valley, flourished, and then mysteriously died out. Later India’s Vedic civilization developed a culture based on old and new beliefs. Reading Focus How did India’s geography affect the development of civilization there? What were the defining features of the Indus Valley Civilization? What do we know about life in India’s Vedic period?

5 India’s Geography Indus River flows across northwest edge of Indian subcontinent—large landmass, part of a continent Home of one of ancient world’s great river valley civilizations Indian subcontinent includes three major geographic zones Far north: Himalaya, Hindu Kush mountain systems, separating India from rest of Asia South: Deccan Plateau, high plateau receiving less rain than other parts of subcontinent Between mountains, plateau are Northern Plains, where society first developed in India

6 Floods and Annual Rainfall
Flood deposits from Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra rivers enrich soil of Northern Plains, make it very fertile Heavy rains also add to fertility of plains Much of rain brought to India by seasonal winds, monsoons Fertile Region Summer, monsoon winds from southwest bring warm air, heavy rains from Indian Ocean; most of annual rainfall at this time Winter, northeast monsoons blow cool, dry air from Central Asia, drier months Monsoon Winds

7 Water Critical Factor Monsoon Rains Devastating Effects
The people of India’s first civilizations depended upon the monsoons to bring the water that their crops needed. Monsoon rains flooded rivers; rivers deposited fertile silt in which farmers could grow crops With abundance of rainfall came threat of devastation Monsoon Rains Monsoon rains too heavy— crops, homes, lives could be lost Monsoon rains too late, did not last long enough—people could not grow crops; famine became danger Devastating Effects

8 What problems could monsoons cause for early Indians?
Describe What problems could monsoons cause for early Indians? Answer(s): flooding or drought

9 Indus Valley Civilization
People have lived in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. At first people lived as hunter-gatherers, but slowly people began to settle down in farming communities. Farm communities gave rise to India’s first civilization Developed in valley of Indus River Began 2500 BC, when people first developed writing system First Civilization 1920s,remains of two large cities first ruins found Harappa Mohenjo Daro Civilization called Harappan Other cities, towns since uncovered Cities, Settlements Settlements well planned, carefully laid out Streets ran in grid pattern; major avenues twice as wide as minor streets Indus Society

10 Life in Towns and Cities
Water came from community wells, smaller wells in courtyards of homes Public drainage systems carried away wastewater Walled, elevated citadel—fortress—enclosed buildings like granaries, warehouses Homes, workshops, shrines built outside citadel Uniformity suggests central authority in power Economy Economy likely based on agriculture, trade Most probably farmed, herded livestock In cities, many specialized in crafts like pottery, metalwork, jewelry Indus traded goods with people nearby, distant civilizations Traders from Indus Valley brought goods to locations as distant as Central Asia, Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia

11 Society Few Details Similarities Decline
Archaeologists, historians not able to learn many details about Indus society Had writing system, but historians not able to read it Some say Indus civilization single society, rather than collection of city-states Similarities People shared common tool designs, standard set of weights, measures Suggest single authority in control Civilization thrived from about 2500 BC to 2000 BC, then began to decline Decline No one knows what led to decline, or if single cause Environmental damage suspected; flooding, disappearance of Sarasvati river Invasion, disease may also have helped end civilization

12 Why do historians know relatively little about Indus society?
Analyze Why do historians know relatively little about Indus society? Answer(s): have not deciphered Indus writing

13 Archaeological Evidence
The Vedic Period Sometime after 2000 BC, a new people took control of India. Historians often refer to this group as the Aryans, from a Sanskrit word meaning “noble.” Eventually the Aryans ruled over most of India, except for the far south. Historians not sure when Aryans arrived, where they came from Some assume they moved from area between Caspian, Black seas Others argue Aryans developed in northern India, did not move into area Origin of Aryans Little archaeological evidence remains to document early Aryan period in India Most comes from sacred writings called the Vedas Include many details about Aryan history, society Archaeological Evidence This period in Indian history is often called the Vedic period.

14 Vedic Society Social Structure Varnas
According to the Vedas, people settled in villages smaller than cities of Indus Valley Later groups of villages banded together under regional leaders known as rajas Raja primarily war leader responsible for protecting people; received payments of food, money in return According to oldest of the Vedas, the Rigveda, Vedic society divided into four social classes, varnas Each played particular role in society People of four varnas created from body of single being Social Structure Part of body from which each varna created tied to its duties Brahmins came from mouth, source of speech, wisdom; were priests Kshatriyas: warriors, rulers Vaisyas: common people, farmers Sudras: servants Varnas


16 Jobs and Privileges Castes Social Hierarchy
Over centuries, four varnas of Vedic period divided into hundreds of smaller castes Membership in caste determined what jobs one could hold, whom one could marry Castes Social hierarchy developed, some castes had more privileges than others Not everyone belonged to a caste Untouchables had no protection of caste law, could perform only jobs that other castes did not Social Hierarchy

17 Vedic Religion Vedic Religion Prayer Fire Sacrifices Complex
Vedas consist mostly of hymns in praise We know much about Vedic religion as result Prayer People prayed to many aspects of single eternal spirit One aspect was Indra, who ruled over heaven Fire Sacrifices People worshipped gods through fire sacrifices, chanting sacred hymns Priests offered food, drink by placing on roaring fire Complex Rituals grew more complex Priests said order in universe maintained only through rituals Brahmin varna gained more influence in society

18 How was Vedic society organized?
Summarize How was Vedic society organized? Answer(s): into four social classes called varnas

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