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Chapter 5. Ancient India and Persia. A subcontinent is a large region of land that is separated from the rest of the. continent by a mountain range or other large landform. The country of India is. an example of a subcontinent.

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Ancient India and Persia

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Chapter 5

Ancient India

and Persia


A subcontinent is a large region of land that is separated from the rest of the


continent by a mountain range or other large landform. The country of India is


an example of a subcontinent.


According to plate tectonics, Earth’s surface is made of several slowly moving plates.


The movement of these plates may cause changes such as the development of


mountain ranges, basins, and bodies of water. Smaller plates pushing up under


larger plates formed the Himalayas, and they are still rising.


The Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world with Mount Everest its


highest peak, which was measured in the late 1990’s and found to reach


29,045 feet into the sky.


In some areas on Earth, moving plates cause earthquakes.


South Asia is made up of eight different countries which include: India, Pakistan,


Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives Islands


or Maldives.


Despite the differences in landforms, much of South Asia has a similar climate.


Unlike us, South Asia only has three seasons. From October through February


temperatures are mild to cool, from March through May they quickly shift to very hot, and from June


through September comes the rainy season or monsoon


season.


Nearly all the year’s precipitation, or rain and snow, falls during the


monsoon season. The monsoon refreshes the land and it is full of life again. Farmers


depend on these rains for crops.


Three great rivers flow through the subcontinent: the Indus, the Ganges, and the


Brahmaputra. All begin in the Himalayas and fan out east and west through the


Indo-Gangetic Plain or Indo-Ganges Plain. The rivers carry water and silt to


the farmlands to irrigate and keeps the soil rich. The monsoons cause the water and silt


to spread out farther. Barley, wheat, rice, peas, beans and other vegetables are


some of the crops grown on the plain.


Subsistence farming consists of families growing food for themselves or


sometimes trading food with small groups of people in their villages.


The Indus River Valley lies on the plain in Pakistan.


South of the Indo-Ganges Plain the land narrows towards the point of a “diamond.”


This region is called the Deccan Plateau which lies between the


Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.


The Deccan Plateau is framed on the west and east by rugged mountains, the


Western Ghats, and rolling mountains, the Eastern Ghats. Each of these


mountain chains extend about 1000 miles in length. Here is a photo of Eastern.


Photos now of the Western Ghats.


People began to settle in the Indus River Valley about 3500 B.C. with the first


civilization beginning about 2500 B.C. The cities of Harappa and


Mohenjo-Daro were home to thousands of people. Artifacts tell us they had a


system of writing, but we are still unable to decode it.


The people farmed, stored grain, worked with metal crafts and pottery, wove


cotton and traded and sold goods. The people believed in many gods and made


toy boats and beads for jewelry.


In 2500 B.C. the Harappan civilization was thriving and much of its culture had


spread throughout the Indus Valley. Sometime around 1700 B.C. the


Harappan civilization vanished suddenly, which archaeologists


suspect was caused by some type of natural disaster such as monsoon,


earthquake, or flood.


Remains found at Mohenjo-Daro reveal complex architecture and city planning. The


people used a system of weights and measures to construct buildings and roads. Brick


homes were laid out in a grid system, and people enjoyed a large public bath


and even garbage collection.


About 1500 B.C. the Aryans migrated to the Indus River Valley. They


spoke Sanskrit, a different language from other people who were living in the valley.


The Aryans continued their nomadic ways of herding cattle, sheep, and goats.


The Aryans rode horse drawn chariots, and farmed and traded in the


towns and villages they established. Few artifacts of their culture remain.


What they did leave was literature and their main language Sanskrit.


For hundreds of years their stories and songs were written down. These Vedas or


Books of Knowledge contain these writings.


The Aryans formed groups who were headed by a rajah or priest leader.


These groups traded with each other and after the groups became more


prosperous there were conflicts among them.


The Aryans believed what a person did in life had much to do with who he or


she was. Priests and teachers, or brahmins held high positions in society. Warriors,


kings, and other rulers took the next position, followed by a group called the


cultivators – artisans, traders, and merchants. The sudras or serfs were given


the lowest position in society; they were ordered to farm the land and serve others.


The Persians began to arrive in the Indus Valley by the 700 B.C. and their empire


reach as far as the Mediterranean Sea. One aspect of their culture


that can be found in South Asia today is Zoroastrianism a religion that


although recognized many gods, one god was identified as supreme and the


enemy of evil.


The Gupta empire lasted for about 200 years. During this time India made great


achievements in science, which involved astronomy, and math in which the


number system we use today was expanded to include nine digits, zero, and


the decimal.


Hinduism is the main religion of India, and one of the world’s oldest religions.


The Rig Veda is the oldest of the vedas. Some hindus recognize only one


universal being, Brahman, the source and final destination of everything.


Hindus believe in dharma the order of the universe and reincarnation the


belief that after a person dies, he or she is reborn into a new life.


Every Hindu in India is traditionally a member of a caste, a lifelong


social group he or she is born into.

brahmins

Kshatryas

Shudras

Vaishyas


Castes determined which job each member was qualified for. Marriages were


permitted only between persons of the same caste. Some jobs that no one else


was willing to do was assigned to castes that were treated as “untouchables.”


Individuals were untouchables if they worked with animal skins, dealing with dead


bodies and cleaning toilets, the occupation of taking life for a living, such as


fishing, killing or disposing of carcasses, tanning leather. If a person’s job


involves any contact with human emissions such as sweat, urine, feces, or


spittle, such as sweepers or washer men, then they too are considered to be


Untouchables. The activities of a person that include eating meats such as


cattle, domestic pigs, and chickens made them an Untouchable.


Unclean people considered too impure, too polluted, to rank as worthy beings


were considered polluted.


They had to use drums to let others know of their arrival. Even their shadows


In the south, some Brahmins ordered Untouchables to


keep at least 65 feet away from them.


Castes have been illegal in India since 1950.


Siddhartha Gautama, the Budha, or enlightened one was born during


the 6th. Century B.C.


Meditation is a way of clearing the mind, and enlightenment is a state of pure


goodness. The religion of Buddhism is based on the Four Noble


Truths of human suffering which are: 1.Suffering is part of all people’s lives.


2.People suffer because they want so many things. 3.People will end


their suffering when they stop wanting things. 4.People can be free of wants and


suffering by following the Eight- fold path.


The Eightfold Path is as way of living for Buddhists to find relief from


suffering by developing three qualities: wisdom, morality, and meditation.


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