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Chapter 1: What, Where, How and When? (Notes) Posted on : 19-11-2017
Posted by : Admin
In India, the earliest people lived along the banks of the river Narmada for several hundred thousand years. They were skilled Gatherers and used to gather food. They had very vast knowledge of the plants growing around them. They also used to hunt animals for food.
Sulaiman and Kirthar hills to the North West of India were one of the first places man first began to grow crops like Wheat and barley some 8, 000 years ago. At these places people also started to rear animals like sheep, goat and cattle. These people lived together in villages.
Garo hills to the North-east and Vindhya mountain range in Central India are some of the other places where Agriculture first began.
Rice was first grown at the areas to the North side of Vindhya mountain range.
About 4700 years ago, cities flourished along the banks of River Indus and its tributaries
And about 2500 years ago, cities flourished along the banks of river Ganga and its tributaries.
In ancient times the area to the south of the river Ganga was called as Magadha. Its rulers were very powerful and Magadha was a powerful kingdom.
In ancient time people used to travel very extensively for trade or in search of livelihood or in adventure or to teach or to escape natural calamities like drought, floods etc. or to conquer.
Travelling enriched the cultural traditions and sharing of ideas between people. People shared new ways of carving stones, composing music and cooking for several hundreds of years.
Our country is often called by two words "India" & "Bharat". The name India came from the river Indus (Sindhu in Sanskrit). 2500 years ago, the Iranians and the Greeks who came to India from the Northwest side called the river Indus as 'Hindos' or 'Indos'. And the land to the east of this river was called India.
The name Bharata refers to a group of people who lived in North West part of India. They are also mentioned in Rig Veda some 3500 years ago. Later this name was use for the country.
Manuscripts are the very important way to find out the ancient history. The word Manu is a Latin word which means Hand. Hence manuscripts are usually hand written. They are written on palm leaves or on the specially prepared bark of a tree known as Birch (especially silver birch tree) which grows in the foot hills of Himalayas.
* The manuscripts written on palm leaf are called “Taala Patra grantha” (used since 5th century BC).
* The manuscripts, when written on Birch bark are called as “Bhurja patra” (used since 4th century BC)
Though several manuscripts were destroyed and eaten away by the insects, many manu scripts have survived. The manuscripts were often preserved in temples and Monasteries. They dealt with many subjects like medicine, religious beliefs, practices, kings, Science etc.
These manuscripts were written in Sanskrit or Tamil or Prakrit (language used by common man).
A manuscript from Rig Veda on birch bark was found in Kashmir. About 150 years ago it was used to prepare one of the earliest printed texts on Rig Veda as well as English translation. It is now preserved in a library in Pune, Maharashtra.
Inscriptions are also very important to know about the ancient history. These are writings on hard surfaces like stone or metal. Usually kings got their orders and victories in the wars inscribed on them so that people could read and obey them.
One of the old inscriptions which date back to 2250 years was found in Kandahar (Present-day Afghanistan). The orders of the ruler Asoka were inscribed on it. It consisted of Greek and Aramaic languages which were used in that area.
The process of understanding these scripts, symbols and languages is called as Decipherment. The little frame of the inscription found in Rosetta town in North coast of Egypt, North Africa was called Cartouche. This contained inscriptions in 3 different languages (Greek & 2 forms of Egyptian). This was most famous decipherment and is 5000 years old.
Normally a script of any language consists of signs or symbols when written. But when we speak or talk we use a language.
Archaeologist is a person who studies the people and what they did in the past by the things they left behind. They look for artifacts, which are the things made by the people and these artifacts reveal more about the past. They also carry on excavations (Digging the surface of the earth)
Archeologists also study bones of animals, birds and fish to find out the food habits of the people of past. They even study the plant remains, but the plant remains barely survive for so long.
The evidences found by the Archaeologists are called Features.
Historians are the persons who study the past or the history. The evidences found by them are called Source. The sources can be Manuscripts, Inscriptions and also some archaeological evidences.
CE (Common Era) or AD Anno Domini, means in the year of Lord. BCE (Before Common Era) or BC-Before Christ.
All the dates before the birth of the Christ are counted Backwards.
We use these terms because the Christian Era is now used in most countries of the world. In India we started using this system since 200 years. Sometimes the letters BP (Before Present) are also used.