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.
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
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
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
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.
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.