1. Polity, Economy and
2. Socio – Religious life
India after 6th century B.C. Age of Janapadas, Persian &
Jainism and Buddhism : Teaching and Impact
SYBA History- Paper- III
Ancient India from Earliest Times to 1000 A.D.
Objectives : To acquaint the students with different sources of Ancient
Indian History. To enable the students to understand the political, socioeconomic and cultural developments in the period under study and
appreciate the rich cultural heritage in India
Module I: Sources of Ancient India and their Importance
(c) Foreign Travellers
Module II: Indus Valley Civilization
(a) Social and Economic Life
(b) Religious Life
(c) Town Planning and Decline of the Civilization
Module III: Vedic Age
(b) Social and Economic Life
Module IV: India after 6th Century B.C.
(a) Administration of Mahajanapadas
(b) Jainism and Buddhism
(c) Persian and Greek Invasions
Agarwal D.P., The Archaeology of India, (Delhi Select Book Services)
Allichin –B-Zidget and F. Raymond, Origin of a Civilization – The
History and early Archaeology of South Asia, (Delhi Oxford and
Ayyanger, S.K., Ancient India and South Indian History Culture,
Oriental Book Agency, Pune, 1941.
Basham A.L., The Wonder that was India, Rupa & Co., 1998.
Bhattacharya N.N., Ancient Indian Rituals and their Social Contents,
Manohar Publications, Delhi, 1996.
Chakravarty Uma, The Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism,
Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 1996.
Chakravarty, K.C., Ancient Indian Culture and Civilization, Vora and
Company, Bombay, 1952.
Jha, D.N, Ancient India in Historical Outline, Motilal Banarasidas,
New Delhi, 1974 Kautilya ,The Arthashastra, Penguin Books, 1987.
Kulkarni, C.M, Ancient Indian History and Culture, Karnataka
Publishing House, Mumbai, 1956.
Luniya B.N., Life and Culture in Ancient India, Lakshmi Narain
Agarwal, Agra, 1994.
Majumdar R.C. and Altekar A.S. ed, The Vakataka- Gupta age,
Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1967.
Majumdar, R.C, Ancient India, Motilal Banarasidas Publishers Pvt.
Ltd. New Delhi, 1974.
Mookerjee, R.K.,Ancient India, Allahabad, Indian Press, 1956.
Mukherjee, B.N., Rise and Fall of the Kushan Empire, (Kolkata
Nandi R.N., Social Roots of Religion in Ancient India, (Kolkata K.B.
Nilkantha Shastri, A History of South India, Madras, 1979
Pannikar K.M., Harsha and His Times, D.B. Taraporewalla Sons and
Pargitar, F.E.: Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Motilal
Banarasidas Publishers Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, 1962.
Pathak, V.S., Historians of India (Ancient India), Asia Publishing,
PossellG.L.ed., Ancient Cities of the Indus, Vikas, Delhi, 1979.
Sen, S.N., Ancient Indian History and Civilization, Wiley Eastern
Pvt.Ltd, New Delhi, 1988.
Sharma, L.P., Ancient History of India, Pre- Historic Age to 1200
A.D., Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981.
Sharma, S.R., Ancient Indian History and Culture, Hind Kitab Ltd.,
Thapar Romila, Ashoka and decline Mauryas, Oxford University
Press, London, 1961.
Tripathi R.S. History of Ancient India- Motilal, BanarasidasVaranasi- 198 Marathi Books:
Gayedhani R.N. and Rahurkar, Prachin Bharatacha Itihas, Continental
Joshi, P.G., Prachin Bharatacha Sanskritik Itihas, Vidhya Prakashan,
Khabde Dinkar, Prachin Bharat, Kailash Prakashan, Aurangabad.
Kosambi, D.D., Prachin Bharatiye Sanskritibha Sabhyata, Diomond
Pub, Pune, 2006.
Kulkarni, A.R., Prachin Bharat, Snehvardhan Prakashan, Pune.
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Singre, Anil, Dakshin Bharatacha Itihas, Kailash Prakashan,
1.2 The Archaeological Sources
1.2.1 Importance of the Archaeological Sources
1.2.2 Development of Archaeology in India
1.3 Inscriptions (Epigraphic Records)
1.3.1 Types of Inscriptions
1.4.1 Importance of Coins as a Source of History
1.5 Monuments Sculptures, Paintings, Pottery and other Antiquities.
1.5.2 The sculptural Art
1.5.5 Other Antiquities
History Paper III, ‘Ancient India’ at SYBA level aims at studying
the History & Ancient period from the Earliest times to 1000 A.D. Forthis
study we need historical sources. The sources of the history of Ancient
India are broadly classified into two main categories viz.
1] Archaeological Sources.
2] Literary Sources
In this lesson, a critical survey of the archaeological sources for the
study of Ancient Indian history has been done. At the end of this lesson,
students will be able to –
i) Understand the importance of Inscriptions as a source of AncientIndian
ii) Describe the contribution of Coins as a source of history.
iii) Realize the significance of Structural Monuments in understanding the
Ancient Culture of India.
iv) Study the role of Artifacts and other Antiquities discovered in the
v) Describe the Socio-Economic life with the help of Ancient
Sculptures and Paintings.
The word ‘History’ comes from the Latin word `Historia’ which
means ‘finding out’. History is a study of events in the past. It is a record of
the achievements of man. For the reconstruction of historyof any country
or people, we should know the past events. These events are called as the
‘historical facts’. The history of any people is known to us by the records
left behind by them. These records are known as historical sources.
The study of Ancient Indian history is important as it tells us how
in Ancient times, the people of India developed their culture and
civilization. The study of history is very much useful for :
It helps us to know about our past.
It helps us to understand our present in a better way.
It helps us to learn some valuable lessons from our past mistakes.
It also helps us to shape our future in a better way.
It makes us broad minded and we learn to live in peace with
people who have views different from us.
The History of any Ancient people is largely conditioned by the
authenticity of the source material. In broad terms, sources of AncientIndian
history are classified into three categories. They are:
1) The Archaeological Sources,
2) The Literary Sources,
3) Accounts of Foreign Travelers
In this lesson, we will be studying the Archaeological Sources
for the study of Ancient Indian history and their importance.
1.2 THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOURCES
Archaeology is the science of antiquities. The archaeological
sources included Inscriptions, Coins, Structural remains, Monuments and
other antiquities like Sculptures, Paintings, Pottery, Ornaments etc.
The archaeological sources are treated as more authentic than the
literary sources because of their contemporarity. These sources have
provided immense information of many historical facts about which
nothing was known previously. For example, Prehistoric cultures i.e.
Paleolithic, Neolithic and Megalithic Cultures and Protohistoric like the
Indus valley civilization.
Archaeology, recently has been developed scientifically and its
evidence is regarded most trustworthy. In addition to the scrutiny andclose
examinations of the monuments such as temples, statues, ruinsof the places
etc. excavation has been adopted as a means to uncover Ancient cultures.
Valuable material concerning both prehistoric and historic civilizations has
been discovered during such as Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Kot-Diji, Lothal,
Kalibangan, Nalanda etc. Some of the sites that have been excavated in
Maharashtra are: Jorve, Inamgaon, Diamabad, Paithan, Nevase, Ter,
Brahmapuri, Pauni, Sopara etc.
1.2.1 Importance of the Archaeological Sources:
The history of any ancient people depends on the authentic source
materials. The archaeological sources are usually considered as the
authentic source materials for the study of ancient history. The
archaeological material is more authentic because it is based on actualfinds of
the contemporary periods. As a matter of fact, archaeologicalmaterial is the
only source of history for understanding the cultures of `Proto-historic’
period. The best example of this kind is the Indus Valley Civilization.
Archaeological sources play a vital role in understanding the people and
their culture in the historic period. It serves as a valuable supplementary
source for a particular period. Many times, the gaps found in the literary
sources are filled by the archaeological sources. It corroborates the
historical facts mentioned in the literary sources and also reveals the
The archaeological sources are treated as more authentic because of
their contemporarity and they are not tampered with in the course of
time. These are undying witnesses or the evidences of thehistory and have
helped to reconstruct the history of Ancient India.
1.2.2 Development of Archaeology in India:
Recently archaeology, has been developed scientifically in India,and
its evidence is regarded most trustworthy. It was during the BritishPeriod that
a systematic study of archaeology in India began. From the 18th Century
onwards, the officers of British East India Company began to take keen
interest in the Antiquarian wealth of India. In the year, 1784, under the
guidance of Sir William Jones, a Judge of the Supreme Court, the ‘Asiatic
Society of Bengal’ was established in Calcutta for the study of history, the
antiquities, sciences and literature of Asia. Due to the efforts made by the
European scholars such as Sir William Jones, Dr. Buchanan, Hamilton,
James Princep, Sir Alexander Cunningham, James Burgess, Sir John
Marshall, Aural Stein, Mortimer Wheeler, M.S. Vats, and Hargreaves and
the Indian archaeologists such as Rakhaldas Banerjee, S.R. Rao and others
have contributed a lot to the development of Indian archaeology.
The British and Indian archaeologists over the past century andmore
have gathered together an extensive range of architectural, iconographic
and inscriptional materials related to the history of Mauryas, Satavahanas,
Guptas, Chalukyas, Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas, Palas and Senas and other
dynasties. These archaeological sourcesoffer us a wealth of information on
Political and even more on Religions, Social, Economic and Cultural
history of India.
Let us study all archaeological sources in detail and understandtheir
1.3 INSCRIPTIONS (EPIGRAPHIC RECORDS)
An inscription means an old engraved record. It is also known as
‘Epigraph’ and therefore, the study of inscriptions is knownas Epigraphy. In
other words, `Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions and inscriptions
literally means any writing engraved on some object’. Epigraphy forms a
branch of archaeology. These are writtenrecords on some hard substance.
The objects which were used for engraving inscriptions in India
were of various types such as lithic, metallic, earthen and wooden object,
pottery, bricks, shells, ivory plaques and other objects. The term
inscription also includes in it the writing in relief such aslegends on coins
and seals which are usually produced out of moulds or dies. Even the
records painted on the walls or written in ink or on wooden tables are also
regarded as inscriptions, although herethe letters are not actually engraved
Inscriptions are found all over the country. Their number run into
thousands. Many have to come to light. The earliest records in writing in
India are attributed to the Indus valley people. They certainly knew the art
of writing as is seen from their seals and pottery. However, this script is
still undeciphered. Many scholars and historians are making serious efforts
to decipher the Indus Script. If deciphered successfully, the beginning of
Indian epigraphy will be pushed back by about three thousand years.
Inscription in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and other
languages have been discovered. But most of the earliest inscriptionsare in
Brahmi and Kharosthi Scripts. Brahmi Script is written from left to right.
Brahmi is the oldest Indian script and dates back between 3rd Century B.C.
to 7th A.D. It remained the main script of writing in India nearly for one
thousand years. During the reign of Ashoka, we get a clearevidence of engraved
records, incised on imperishable rock or stone surface in either Brahmi or
Kharoshthi script. During the period between3rd Century B.C. and 7th Century
A.D. Brahmi script underwent somepaleographic changes after every two
hundred years and hence, thescript of different periods came to be known by
different terms such as —
a) Ashokan Brahmi (e.g. Ashokan rock edicts)
b) Satavahana Brahmi (e.g. Inscriptions of the Satavahanas)
c) Gupta Brahmi (e.g. Inscription of the Guptas) etc.
Broadly speaking the inscription can be classified into two main groups: