Ancient Days - BURTGN STEIN HE PREwFORAM TION OF INDMN...

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Unformatted text preview: BURTGN STEIN- HE PREwFORAM TION OF INDMN C1171”er TION uma-n communities are thought to have inhabited the Indian subcontinent. far 560,900 years; acceding to stuns: age Site's [’mmd scattgzred between the-fa; u" 10f Karma and Tamil Nadu and the'S'oan and Baas river _vaiiiey§ in. .. ' ‘ ml’gnia‘b; 'éndfmm 096:.963812 to the other; cstimmfi ef dams {91' same 6f ‘esgf'range batsmen 490,-qu to 505000 years ago. ' .. " . . . ._ . méafiédj‘middle Stonenge" societies appeared batman 403300 and 10,060 _ ars' 'ago, folléiwd by those fising microliighic 'touls, .fu-st--f0und..amund 153300 yeafi- agg..--Some 'micmlithic mmmunifiea overlapthe firstmziofithici ccmmunu ificsfzby' around “mm”: age, and both types of culzugc continué to be found in mos; parts of thé subcontinent alozrig; with hunfinngaflierihg' and nomadic; pasiom! economies; after; their aéfififiesihavc: been caught-if: r652}: aft; guch as- the ekafiaples'found at BhirxriclzneIzléa-3 in Madhya P;ad¢sh,,-a_ middge smfle._a_g¢ as ' Wail axia- Irficreiiflfic site, arid. occupied in latcr'timeg as'well; .Othbrli'ate stone ge sires hatfe 21150 been identifi'gtig half 'o£ them mattered around the comin-' ‘ I pardons-of the subconfincht and file-rest found in variouss'pa'rts of the asp":- spuuhiem axténsihm. - -. - r .. Arourid 700;) 3:12; njealjthic 'mmunities begamo hefoundeci in the valieys 33 firming the mountains which Separated the jsubcpntincfit from _ Afghanistan and 'contingntzil Asia. Frame: 4000 201252 hunterégafligrers had ' "3:3; i1“th ng'mrgf compiex _afi_d-- advanced” commuffi'ties 13f _ farmers and __ . gal-‘gpecialists in settlemerits of circular mud—Covered bambop-hu’ts: The ' earliest known cf these are found in Baiuclfistan, with: si'fxu'lar cci'nmunizjes swearing shé'rtly fifter’ in the: Gangciic glam and on the Deccani-piateafii Thaggmrchaeolegists have discovéred'ngoiiflflc assenfialages: domesticated came, shgep, goats and plants, inducing n'cc. These stone age cultures ergad~jnw iron. age cemmunixje's- by 1000 BC]:5 again divided betwaén notifier}; and southernindia. ' ‘WSQPGTAMW' .éémECTION’ figifxfiimfimfic molémakfim th s'etfieci at _a place nowglhd ,Mebxgarh, in: the Roma river- basin in-‘BaluchiStan, initiated a new phase of .human’ ' ANCESNT INDiA organization in india which-has shattered. ail-previous beliefs abbut early there. Frcimihe first forays by Europeéih‘jsgholgrsrime Indian pmhi ci' "dur' ' the lat-e nineteenth can‘me a' sihgle general garadigin heid'sway‘; It gym is d of the folio“!ng propositions about civilization- in nqrthwestem India:_' - 1' A}; grban- cuiture, or civiiization, iamerged suddeniy. inzL'hc: middl'g' ihird millennium 30E, rather late in camparisdn with whet-areas ii _ Old World and therefore thought m be a plantatian of adionists from - Mastipuzamia-Gr Bisewhere in western Asia. ' I 7' This-urban culture remained Static and unifonn over much Off the: Iridiis River basin. . ' H ' ' It Eben collapsed suddenly and uniformly. . _ _ . ; -, -_ The collapse Came in the face of the onslaught. of Trade—Aryans Emmi puma-a} Asia steppe; - ' 7 ' I This formuiation held Sway until thczigsfis- arid was based. on a ' :.' field. data, lacking both substanfiai‘. Stratigfaphit-andquantitativ . " " _ Moreover, littie heed was paid to Ecological variations among kngwn sites Skid and the, Punjabj'and littl: atmntiun given to human oscupafion the advcht of Cities. ' ' - I . I: could scarcely hav'e'been otherwise given what was known and haiku-own during the first century of modem Indian scholarship. Eurbpean Sdioiafi had not had. the slightest intimation of thecxistence of the cities of the In b35111. I before they were found. The discovery. of ancient urban ruins .Df -. ' ' ghiloiogical schoiarshipj of thc'latéicighteenth and nineteenth cenfiixiges was __ antiquity of h1d0~3uropean ia'nguages; to which Germanic owes-- _ Reid From the {intact what wag hitcilcctufifiy valiiable m'éhem about 111' 'w reifiije‘ medic hyinfis oft'hie ‘Aryan-invadersffbfEadie. 'Thehynms inspired; g _ 7_ and interest Sanskrit, but also made it' clam: 1112: 83:1th Cam Ir iii clauivhérc; it was not] Ciinsidcrcd iii'igiijiéily .-fri_diar_1~, 7 _ ‘ .. Our 'un'dersrancting of what was calleci “the. Ifidus biviiization’ hgisf gpncjizonsiderable mbdifipaljfin over past decades. Wiping 'many'to girlie up the older View was the grewirig evidénce of farming 6mm nities in the northweSt long before the emergence of cities in aboii 5 and the evidence of contifluous evolution of- these agricultural ccmmunitigs into urban-.configumiions. Mehrgarh' is the earliest of such commum ' ' oneipn which a fine assemblaga of physical evidence has been amass _ . - l ' ' ' nealithic communitiesrinifiatcd an epoch which cuhninattd' around." 5," " .whgn the pie-fibrillation of something to be"-called-'Ifidian cifiili'zafi be [anger than Standard hismficaiaccbuntslhad rhithétto regkoiiedx Reaaivaci wisdom had long held that flie'priaces's whicli"traiisftinne India from its prehistutie; un‘gins thrbugh apromhistuty into history p V " ’ 'déci'sivel'y shaped by farms nutsifie the Subcontinent. Thus, it isnots that when the ruins of immense Indus cities wan: uncovered Lb gigs they were assumad m be outligrs of mar-Cities {if ancient Meaopota ; ANCIENT DAYS 'ptoducts of indigenom invention. It not until later that many pro—urban archaeological sites were uncovered in northwestern India. That, together the philological bias toward ixnportcd culture, explains several erroneous fictions that pea-slated even after colonial control ended in die aftermath of the _ Second World War. - _ eology and often goid'eci by new theories, they succeeded in revising our views of the ptotohistoric cultures of file subcontinent, for which there was a wide array of material evidence, but no written documentation. Where previously virtually nothing had been known of the pie—urban phases of occupation and it was assumed that Iii-ban come had been imported around 3509 BCE, there were now grounds for ' believing that a very long, indigenous, pie—urban phase, dating to 7000 ace, 3 followed by a swift transition to a full‘hlown urban phase beginning about co sea. The urban phase might have been stimulated by enema] contacts, Including trade; however, the length of gestation suggests that it was home FROM AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITIES TO URBAN CONFIGURATIONS Mehrgarh’s seventh millennium act: occupants made buildings of seVeml moms for habitation and storage out of mud~btick5 they made stone tools for ' y Cfiliivatcd and for shaping ornaments out ' {local as well as imported substances; they bun’cd their dead and interred I and sacrificed domesticated goats. The layers vels reveal other developments occurring by 6 larger and some were used exclusively for the settlement. The number of crafts had teased to an extent that suggested the settlement had begun to specialize in och commodities as baskctwotk, Wool and cotton temiles, handmade pottery 4:! copper ware. None of these Changes appears to have been imposed from stant, external sources, but rather they constituted indigenous elaborations 21!; continued to the middle of the fourth millennium 8813, when yet more new one of production appeared: wheel—throw pottery to replace the halidbuilt ' e; the use of larger copper ingots, with new technologies of mining and long; and a consumption of domesticated cattle higher than anywhere else e contemporary ancient world. - a third of a mile square » and Quotta valley that have since become the acts of archaeological sold,qu them, .Mehrgarh pottery and other prod— arc found, as well as the stampvseala and female figurines characterisch of Harappan material culture, By this time too — that is, around 3000 BCE Mar evolutionary developments can be documented in neighbouring valleys ' showing variation around a coherent set ANCIENrINDLA ' - of cultural elements which provided the foundation for the emergence of what is now known as Harappan culture. THE HARAPPAN STATE AND SOCIETY It is culture to which the now rejected paradigm outlined above pertains, Much has been learned about Harappan settlements in recent years. The number-of known sites is now over 400 in aI-Iooo square mile triangle of the northwesn While few. if - any scholars currently support the idea that these hundreds of settlements were transplanted from western Asia, the older notion :has. been replaced by several different conceptions of how a few great cities and numerous smaller satellite ceminunities dated between 3500 and 2500 BCE continued a smooth evolutionary trajectory stemming from neo-lithic settle- ments like Mehrgarh. .In addition, some scholars have considered the possibil— ' - ity that therernight have been a sudden and rapid series Iof external stimuli that jolted ,an old'evolutionary- process into-the new urban forms typifiedsby'the large cities of Mohenjo—Daro_and Harappa on the lower and upper Indus. None of the knOwn Harappan sites contains stratigraphic sequences capable of falsifying one or the other of these hypotheses, sothe Indus urbanization remains unresolved, as do other aspects of Harappan culture. have existed from around 2500 BCE. Under the supposition that the cities of ‘ northwestern India were colonies of Mesopotamia, it was assumed that the mode of govemment- was the same. A theocratic polity was posited, with a degree of centralized control that exceeded anything known in western Asia, because the area- governed by Indian cities was far greater. It was believed that this unified state managed a vast and homogeneous culture area from its inception in 3500 Ben until it was destroyed around 1500 BCE. Now that postulated homogeneity is considered to have been vastly exaggerated, especially considering that the region defined by the distribution of Harappan cultural elements covers 158,000 square miles, hence, the dis- tances over which an administrative grid supposedly extended would have had to link the city of Harapp'a with the cluster of recently uncovered Harappan sites in northern AfghaniStan called Shortugai. This Was a distance of 300 miles and very unlikely, given the terrain and the transportation available at the time. Each subregion of these sites contained one or more clusters of dense population in a river valley or coastal area, demarcated from neighbouring subregions by ecological differences. It was in these several settings that the cities emerged, each becoming a commercial gateway for a hinterland of agricultural villages and each, it is now thought, the seat of local government in the form of complex chieftaincies, with a hierarChy of rank and multiplicity of sources of legitimacy, function and power. Beyond that the extant evidence does not permit us to proceed, except to stress that this civilization was essentially an indigenous development that evolved in relation to other civili— zations from which it differed in its political forms and in other ways. No documentation exists to explain the very high degree of civic control 48 i One area of persistent~mystery pertains to the nature of the state that might i - - l , l nwfirnHHHn—n-Ana-—n.. (1') IT: (I) deis’ and ' other mofiumamal struc;u_res of . . but it was assumed théf the ‘state’ impliea by ' se Structures would have been impressive, even if the cities Were-L net ' humus, but succci‘s'ivc, politian capitals of a single changihg political hie-1:. Such a grate, or states; would have had government as :poWerful as any file World at that time,_including the Egyptian Old Kingdom (if the third to ‘ 11h dynasties or Mintmn Crete. Yettherewas and'is not a shred of corroboru axing documentary evidence about this state, or any uzhcr Indian ‘statc’, until uch iatet. - . Whatever their government, sustaining such a hemosk of major urban sites fould'hair'e required acivanced levels of surplus prodfiction, commerce and- ahorace division's. of fabo'ur; all.of__these are substantiatgfl hggrchgieélqgical _ mains of ibmign trade goods, workshops and grain siofége faéilifiési- Wood ' a; pmdigiéugly conéumad.in .fionsajuction, especially f9: firingthe' Eritiks: that are 'u'sed in Ihe'Splmdid buildixigs ianéi drainage woflts; In fact, deforestation and. eventuai emsién may haw: forced the f the Indus cities and ' ' ' '7 ,,'where.th¢ .characmfistic in Smalicr '_ places- and -' Nevcmiess, the unlikclihpod'pf thé existence of a 'strong,.imifigd poiiticaf system is réihfurc‘e‘d byihe absence éf'ény huildfing-that can hg'idemified as a" temple-Dr a palace that hduscd. the State’s -__autoc_r'ats1 and offortified walls,- : mighrh-ave protested fihem from attack. Nut have. gig-mamas <21? ' ' I ' ' ’ I yieidééi the sort of: grave goods that would " and mama“: few signs of the [tea-suit: ' n expc'acmd of a colonial-Elite; notwith? ' __ . intensive: trade réiaticn‘é bemeén north.- _.ij?bfe$tem' India and central Asia, southern. Iran, Mesopotamia and the Gulf ‘ raglan. _'HARAPPAH COMMERCE "fifths-notion Ufa cenpralizcd autocracy has been re gamer ’iii scam: invoivingrnifiés and firms of the _ ningto be-adeguataly appreciatedlifidezme fro' , _ b ' m that basic been exitex'as'itieiy excavated. indicates Ia'tgé populations, of ._ ' ' ‘ ' '_ " wérepia'ced in public storehouse's and, .idezitifiéd'i'ay the am: of. claynsgaisy Regul'atgd weights far: 313:: found, All 0f this .tfisufies to a degree: of urbanizétiw comparing fawfira'bly to that {if Mésopoy _ ' ' u In 'éize' and sophisfiéatien, Since Mohén‘imDm-o, Harappa afid saverai _ [13* discovered Sitesfin- Runjab' and Gujarat exceed 406 acres, sham: 2.5 square "xiii-123. Exchanges hemeen I330 ww- Eurasian zones at“ bronze age 'ciyfiizarjon involveci imparts of grain and animal pmdums from the high agriculture and pastoralisn; bf jMzésopomeia, as wed} as; tin. From the Indian [Side came an array of timber products originating in .a zone ofwuaem India kiqnding from the Himalayan firomifls to the Beaten: plateau, some supper _ fidd'preciofis stems, red pigments'for cloth dyeing (suppoxting odmr’evidenc: ' 49 Plate 2 Impression from an Indus Valiey sea}, depicting ai’lumped bull (305 inflamfi)‘; From Momma-Dam {2500—2000 3013). The writing has: stiii not been safisfgétbfily deciphercd (BM 0A. 1947. 4-16. I, Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Musemfi of precocious textile prtmucrjon), gold, ivory and pearfis. These were 13 , . and scold from six different subreginns of the large Harappnn cultural. ma. THE DECLINE 0F HAMPPAN CULTURE As m what became of the Harapp-ans, much uncertainty remains about are - thing except that meir culture dici no: come to an abrupt and. Rating ,fw " around 2am 3C8, a series of ratreats from high civilization can be traced 'Mar'xy-r settlements of the Indus basih Seem to have been abandoned anmnd that thin: but not destroyed as had been preSum'ed in 131:: uki View. Simultanéously momover, new settlements arose in casmm Punjab and Guiarat dispiayi g many Harappan cultural filfimflflts. Mast were smaflcr than the earliefirgifis’ ped bull (Bus z'ndi'cus). 10t been satisfactorily the British Museum); 'hese were produced pan cultural area. ' emains about every-i t end. Rather, from :an be traced. Many 3d around that time, :w. Simultaneously, Gujarat displaying an the earlier Indus r 2a General View of the (much reconstructed} ruins of Mohenjo—Daro. The ddhist stupa on themound is of course of a much later date (Courtesy of George _s1tes, the largest of which were by then abandoned. Some Harappan features seem also to have vanished, including the remarkable clay seals with their ' quuisitely sculpted figures and undeciphered graffiti. _' [Archaeologists now often label this changed ‘Indus’ society as ‘Late Harappan’, and examples of it extend beyond eastern Punjab and Gujarat into the Ganges—Yamuna basin east of Delhi. There, links have been seen between the stone— and bronze-using communities of the third millennium BCE and the iron—using people of the Gangetic plain and the Deccan of around 1000 BCE. In terms of the prehistoriography of the subcontinent, the continuity of the Harappan cultural phase with a new phase of urbanization in the Gangetic basin suggested a continuous movement of urbanization from Harappa and other older Indus cites to the urban site of Kaushambi near modern Allahabad in the central Gangetic plain. Its stratigraphy indicates'a period from about I000 BCE to 1300 CE but includes features suggesting a close association with the classic Ramayana story formulated around 500 BCE. Nevertheless, still more recent discussion of this question has revived in some scholars a prefer- ence for a fresh processof urbanization in the Ganges valley, based on crop Patterns and other features that differed from the earlier process observed in the Indus valley. It may be some time before the questions of continuity and discontinuity are finally resolved. ' ANCIENT DAYS ism VEiJJG CULTURE _ The vedi‘cage has Carried. scvetai-diffgrént labels: ‘ir'nn age India’, ‘the séfiéfid. urbanization’, and ‘Gangctic {Manama-each can b; justified, maul-1113133:ng ' nation -_‘vedic cultuie’ paints to thé main 'miecmry'of'hismricai dbxiclbgixzuefii; : , It is new wideiy' accepted that'the Subconment-began to be infilfiaiééi'weil : 7 before the. middle' of the first milienniumnca by pecple Speaking at: 'I'ndb; _ European languagé, latento be call-ed Sanskrit and. Closes? associate‘dfiifii 17116" 7 ancient Eanguage'of'peepié of‘thé' kanian plateaugas ciridenced fi- m ' _ ancient zomasm tax: 'AvestHL-II-iistoric'aklinguism find this-sq chronQEggiqai baéis for. die later. defielQQQizgts szianglifigfifi 13k " ., which: 53033635 is strong glem_c§t..ef anew: Davidi'an "Iing'u'isti'c féa“ ' also for Paniuikugtafiimar (Winch around-400 m), which may " ' ' ' _ jammed to standardize Sanglg'igfisag'e aggins; sarong tendencies t we omér'and .Volcler languag'esppfih: Submufinént; (Indeed, shrug find evidéncc' of firavidian' linguiétic- influences jn' the language of: itself.) Such conjectures deaf-1y do rm}; fefdt'eflif; Qlder hypomesi Aryafis destroyed the Indus-citieS-m a series 'of invafiions, much ES'fl‘ilf: late; Muslims conQucrcjd__nurthem India, but that notion i‘s-now-disfifisséd “on 0616: grounds. ' - ' - ' ' ' " " ’ " ' THE- INDUS'AND" THE 'ARYANS I _ Trifle thiori that fliggngiéfit’lflcfihn bitiea‘of tfie Indus were: OVtrwhel I desttcéyéd by Afyari invadérshaslost mdibiiity; nomzithstandingflia _ - simultaneity of-urban decling-andmigrations ism} the subcontine ' __ from around flieCaspian Sta- wlio called themselvaes Ma. Th ' net-speak of finding cities, but'ofr-a mere gafimitive satiety. 3?? _ , . ' Sanskrit compositions are similariy unmoved by whamvcr ugba'n egacy ' remained. In effect, thatcfore, thalfigh, urban culture sprcad over 1h: m.) ' west of the subcontinent for a mnenniumdigappeared as mysteriously'as (hm; far'mo're rapidly than) it-seema to'ha've been imposed over thasm‘itfiir’ed ' ;' find-limnzteusingfafiizers iglthgig-vfilage-COmmfigifies. If we ass ' my?! the 'Indus cifi'cs were a genuincly autochmondfis cigyelépmem, an n miplm‘ from'ihe urban mums of-Was-tezfi' Asia; then. that urbiin imp se ‘ 7_ fipn'tirgiy 105:, submerged by me 'prctailing.-1ifg of first 'famfing'arid as'mffili .commuhiti'cs found throughout thaws; subdfintinent by :mé‘wfi... _ THIWEDAS' ' The-1028 hymrig preserved as the Rigzzedq were Campumd hem-cm :a‘ _ and 1260 BCE by a herse-usigg,’and possibiy ironwusing, lamp-1%.. but languagezrpamculafly- that sets ‘AfYa-nsrgpai—t-from other peoples, nograc, as thg assumed. The hymns .wér'e preset-tied in oral traditécn by 'mga'n £117.39 poflis canon. devised by Aryan-priests to 'pggiz'se their gods dufirig-‘théantuafi q sacrifice. In one of the earliest, the hymi‘iist .tifi'ers a paean'tb the g6; ‘ ANGIE _ {)5ng thEchEOWEI' (3f blessings.“ ' Jami Agnixh'e hgfisghoid pfieét, file divine mirusze'r oi me" gamma; the chic? .- ' Afiéghgx hyfim, .‘The Kym-of Creatien’, may be one of-the ea‘fliest'rccdfded :_é:;ptes§ions of doubt about the man...
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