Ancient India
India is a subcontinent, a
large land mass that is
somewhat separated yet
still part of a continent.
The Indus River Valley
was an ideal place for
people to settle because
the river flooded often—
spreading fertile soil—
and the monsoons
brought regular rain fall.
The Indus Valley Civilization
Supported by a stable
food supply, people
settled in the Indus River
Valley and eventually
built cities.
The Indus River
Civilization probably had
a strong central
government with
information flowing
freely between towns.
Trade took place with
communities as far away
as Mesopotamia and the
Persian Gulf.
Contributions of the Indus River
Valley People
After lasting 1000 years, the
Indus River Valley civilization
finally declined.
The Indus River Valley
people were the first to raise
chickens for food. Today
chicken is eaten worldwide.
The Indus Valley people
made jewelry and cotton
cloth, both of which are still
made today.
The Aryans
The Aryans were part of a larger
semi nomadic group we now call
the Indo-Europeans.
The Indo-Europeans left their
homeland around 2000 B.C. and
migrated throughout Europe, Asia,
and India.
Aryan beliefs and daily life were
described in Vedas, a collection of
sacred hymns and poems, passed
down orally from generation to
Social Structure
As the Aryans and the
Indus Valley people
combined cultures, they
ended up with a four class system.
Divisions within classes
were called castes.
People did not change
The Aryans worshipped
a number of nature gods,
and priests became very
powerful in their society.
Contributions of the Aryans
Sanskrit, the language
spoken by the Aryans, is
the root of Hindi, one
of the most common
languages of modern
Many people in modern
India still follow the
caste system created by
the Aryans thousands of
years ago.
The Beginning of Buddhism
Siddhartha Gautama
established Buddism, one of
the world’s major religions.
After much searching and
meditation, Siddhartha
reached a height of
understanding that Buddhists
call enlightenment.
After his enlightenment,
Siddhartha was called the
Buddha. He preached
Buddhist dharma for many
years until he died.
Teachings of Buddhism
The Buddha preached
that everyone could find
peace, without the Vedic
priests or animal
The Buddha’s teaching
centered on how people
should think and act.
The Buddha taught that
the Eightfold Path leads
to enlightenment.
Buddhism gradually
traveled to China, Korea,
Japan, Tibet, Burma and
other areas of Southeast
A Great Buddhist Ruler
Asoka, a powerful
emperor, converted to
Buddhism and sent
missionaries around and
beyond the subcontinent.
Asoka announced his
Buddhist beliefs to his
people in edicts, and
ordered his empire to
follow them.
Hinduism is both the major
religion of India today, and a
way of life, with roots in the
Vedic religion of the Aryan
Hinduism teaches its
followers to do the duties of
their caste.
Certain Hindus go through
different stages of life: the
last stage is as a wandering
holy person.
The Gupta Empire
Both India and Hinduism
grew and flourished under
the Gupta Empire.
Under the Guptas, India
traded with Rome and the
rest of the Mediterranean,
Saudi Arabia, Central Asia,
China, and Southeast Asia.
Guilds grew as trade
increased under the Guptas.
Achievements of Ancient India
Under the Guptas, two
important epics of
Hinduism were written
down for the first time.
An Indian astronomer
determined the world
was a sphere that rotated
around the sun and
accurately calculated the
length of a solar year.
Indian mathematicians
devised the number
system we use today,
featuring nine numerals,
the zero, and the

Ancient India - Palmdale School District