History of India


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The prehistory of India goes back to the old Stone age Palaeolithic. While India lies at the eastern limit of the hand axe distribution, there are numerous Acheulean findspots. Hathnora, in the Narmada Valley has produced hominid remains of middle Pleistocene date. Recent finds include a middle palaeolithic quarry in the Kaladgi Basin, southern India. A tradition of Indian rock art dates to 40 or 50,000 years ago.

The earlier known traces of human life in India are found at Bhimbetka, a World Heritage Site. The early Neolithic is represented by the Mehrgarh culture of the 7th Millennium BCE, in northwest India. Recent data, substantiated by satellite imagery and oceanographic studies, suggests that the civilisation flourished even as far back as the 9th Millennium BCE.

The first known urban society in India was the Indus Valley Civilization, also called the Harappan civilization, which thrived between 2800 BCE and 1800 BCE. It was centered along the Indus River and its tributaries, and extended into the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, Gujarat, and northern Afghanistan. The civilization is noted for its cities built of brick. The earliest historic references to India may be those to the Meluhha in Sumerian records, possibly referring to the Indus Valley civilization.

Archaeological resources suggest that the diverse geography of ancient India was increasing in the amount and specialization of faunal remains around the era of 2400 and 1000 BC. This specialization suggests that the Indus valley civilizations were dependent upon the alluvial soil of the Indus River, which produced high yields of cereal grains, and cultivated plant materials. By the time of 2700 BC, the presence of a state level society is evident, complete with hierarchical rule and large scale public works (irrigation, etc).

The Bronze Age in the Indus valley begins with the declining Indus Valley civilization. The Indian subcontinent remained neolithic until well into the second millennium.

Vedic Civilization
The Vedic civilization is the Indo-Aryan culture associated with the Vedas, which are the first known writings in Sanskrit. The exact connection of the genesis of this civilization with the Indus Valley civilization on one hand, and the Indo-Aryan migration on the other hand, is the subject of disputes. Early Vedic society was largely pastoral. Later Vedic society became agricultural, and was organized around the four Varnas, or castes. Several small kingdoms and tribes merged to form a few large ones which were often at war with each other. 16 mahajanapadas (great kingdoms) are referred to in some of the literature. Early Indo-Aryan presence probably corresponds to Ochre Coloured Pottery, archaeologically. The kingdom of the Kurus marks flowering of the Vedic civilization, corresponding to the Black and Red Ware and the beginning of the Iron Age in Northern India begins, around 1100 BC, likely also contemporary with the composition of the Atharvaveda. Painted Grey Ware spread over all of Northern India marks the late Vedic period, corresponding to a , a wave of urbanisation occurred across the Indian sub-continent, spreading from Afghanistan to Bengal, in the 7th century BC. A number of kingdoms and republics emerged across the Indo-Gangetic plain and southern India during this period.