Ancient India

Ancient India
• The highest mountains in
the world, the Himalayas,
are in the north.
• Two rivers:
– Ganges
– Indus
• The rest of India is the
Deccan Plateau.
– Hilly and Dry interior
– Lush coastal plains
• India’s climate is dominated
by the monsoon cycle.
– Seasonal winds that bring
heavy rains.
• Farmers depend on the
– If they come too early or late,
or bring too much or too
little rain, crops are
destroyed and thousands
Indus Valley Civilization
• There were thousands of settlements in the Indus Valley.
– Two major cities:
• Harrapa
• Mohenjo Daro
• Between 3000BC and 1500BC
– Sumer?
– Egypt?
– China?
Harappa and Mohenjo Daro
• Populations:
– Harappa – 35,000
– Mohenjo Daro – 40,000
• Cities were highly organized:
– Built in a grid pattern
– Public wells supplied water
for all
– Wastewater and garbage
systems took water and
garbage out to the streets.
Public Well in Harappa
Sewer System in Harappa
Mohenjo Daro
Rendition of Mohejo Daro
• Theocracy
– Royal palace and holy
temple were combined in the
same fortress
• Economy was based on
farming and trade.
– Later, will trade as far away
as Mesopotamia.
Citadel in Mohenjo Daro
Disappearance and Immigration
• Indus Valley cities began to
gradually decay around
– Floods
– An earthquake
– Course of the Indus River
• Final blow was an influx of
new people called Aryans.
– Bring major changes to
India’s culture
A New Way of Life
• Indus Valley had a simple
– Aryans develop Sanskrit in
around 1000BC.
• Record all oral legends and
traditions in the Vedas.
– Holy text of Hinduism
• Indus Valley and Aryan
religions blended together.
Aryan Government and Life
• India was broken into many
small kingdoms.
– Led by rajas (maharajas).
• Society was centered around
the family.
– Extended family all under the
same roof.
• Patriarchal
– Ritual of Suttee
– Arranged marriage
Social Structure in India
• The Social Structure reflected
the Aryan ideas of an ideal
– Caste System
• Every Indian is born into a
– Determines…
• What job people could have.
• Whom they could marry.
• What groups they could
socialize with.
Social Structure in India
• A persons caste is based on beliefs
about religious purity.
– Greater religious purity = higher caste.
– Bottom castes = impure
• Connects to beliefs about
• Lowest level – “untouchables”
– So impure, they are outside the caste
system completely.
– Were given degrading tasks like
collecting trash and handling dead
Social Structure in India
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BHS Caste System
Is there a “Caste system” at BHS?
– Things to think about:
• Who is where in the hierarchy?
• Can a student move from one “varna”
to another?
• Can students interact/date with other
• Can students join clubs or sports
viewed as being outside of their