INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION
AND EARLY ARYAN SOCIETY
WHERE IS IT?
THE GEOGRAPHIC SETTING
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Indian Subcontinent
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North: Impassable Himalayas
East: Passable low hills
Northwest: Passable Hindu Kush, Khyber Pass
West: Arabian Sea
Northern Plain of Indus, Ganges Rivers
Southern Deccan
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To
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High plateau, extremely dry
Bordered on East and West by mountains
Separated from north by river, low mountains
The Monsoon Winds
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Off the land October to April: Dry Season
Off the Indian Ocean May to September: Wet Season
THE INDUS RIVER
CIVILIZATION
HARAPPAN SOCIETY
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The Indus River
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Harappa and Mohenjo-daro
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Runs through north India, sources at Hindu Kush,
Himalayas
Rich deposits, but less predictable than the Nile
Wheat and barley were cultivated in Indus valley
Cultivated cotton before 5000 B.C.E.
Complex society of Dravidians, 3000/2500 B.C.E.
Possibly served as twin capitals
Each city had a fortified citadel and a large granary
Broad streets, market places, temples, public buildings
Standardized weights, measures, architecture, bricks
Specialized labor and trade
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Domestic trade, items inc. pottery, tools, metals
Trading with Mesopotamians about 2300 to 1750 B.C.E.
HARAPPAN SOCIETY/CULTURE
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Social distinctions as seen from living styles
Religious beliefs strongly emphasized fertility
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Many deities were feminine
In later Hinduism, Dravidian gods are blue-faced
Harappan society declined from 2000 B.C.E.
onward
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Ecological degradation led to a subsistence crisis
Natural catastrophes - floods or earthquakes
Population began to abandon their cities by about 1700
B.C.E.
Almost entirely collapsed by about 1500 B.C.E
Evidence of warfare, invasion
INDO-EUROPEANS & ARYANS
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Indo-Europeans
 Linguistic similarities among Europe, Persia, and India
 Indo-European family of languages
 Indo-Iranian including Aryans (India), Medes/Persians (SW Asia)
 Greek, Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Italic, Celtic
 Tocarian, possibly Shang of China
 Migrations as the key to explain linguistic similarities
Indo-European origins
 North of Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Aral Sea; Ukraine, Southern Russia
 Common origins established through key vocabulary, traditions, myths
Indo-European migrations
 To Tarim Basin, fourth millennium B.C.E.
 Shang of China appear to have been Indo-Europeans
 To Anatolia (the Hittites), 3000 B.C.E.
 By 2nd millennium, established communities in Europe
 Around 1500 BCE, domesticated horse amongst Indo-Europeans
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Often called the Chariot Peoples; introduced iron and horse technologies
ARYANS IN INDIA
The early Aryans
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Depended heavily on a pastoral economy
No writing system, but orally transmitted works called the Vedas
Sacred language (Sanskrit) and daily-use language (Prakit)
The Vedic Age: 1500 to 500 B.C.E.
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A boisterous period, conflict with indigenous peoples
Called indigenous people dasas - "enemies" or "subject people"
Indra, the Aryans' war god and military hero
Aryan chiefdoms fought ferociously among themselves
Aryan migrations in India
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First settled in the Punjab, the upper Indus River valley
Spread east and south from their base
After 1000 B.C.E. settled between Himalayan foothills and Ganges
Used iron tools and developed agriculture
By 500 B.C.E. migrated as far south as the northern Deccan
Lost tribal organizations but established regional kingdoms
THE CASTE SYSTEM
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Caste and varna
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Caste:
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Hereditary, unchangeable social classes
Sanskrit word varna, "color," referring to social classes
Social distinctions based on racial skin colors
Social distinctions in the late Vedic Age
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Four main varnas, recognized after 1000 B.C.E.
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brahmins (priests)
kshatriyas (warriors and aristocrats: rulers)
vaishyas (cultivators, artisans, and merchants)
shudras (landless peasants and serfs)
Later, the category of the pariah (untouchables) was added
Subcaste or jati
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Represents more elaborate social classification, developed after 6th c. B.C.E.
Jati, or subcastes, were determined by occupations
The elaborate rules of jati life
Caste and social mobility
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Caste system was capable of accommodating social change
Social mobility was very difficult but still possible
Foreign peoples could find a place in society of the castes
RISE OF PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY
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Patriarchal, Patrilineal society
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Source: The Lawbook of Manu
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Original Aryan Society: women had rights, some were chiefs
Changes occurred with change to sedentary civilization
Men served as priests, warriors, and tribal chiefs
Family lines based on male descendants (the patriline)
Only males could inherit property
Men learned the Vedas and received formal education
Prepared by an anonymous sage, 1st century B.C.E.
Dealt with moral behavior and social relationships
Advised men to treat women with honor and respect
Subjected women to the control and guidance of men
Women's duties: bear children, maintain the household
Sati as a social custom
ARYAN RELIGION
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The Aryan gods
 The war god, Indra
 The gods of the sun, sky, moon, fire, health, etc.
 The god Varuna - an ethical concern
Ritual sacrifices
 Importance of ritual sacrifices
 Horse sacrifice originally
 Priests were specialists of the ritual sacrifices
 Ritual sacrifices for rewards from the divine power
Spirituality
 Many Aryans dissatisfied with ritual sacrifices in late Vedic age
 A shift to spiritual contemplation
 Thoughtful individuals retreated to forests as hermits
 Dravidian notions were coopted
 Transmigration of soul
 Reincarnation (nirvana)
THE RISE OF HINDUISM
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The Upanishads
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Brahman: the universal soul
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Brahman was the only genuine reality
Highest goal: to escape reincarnation and join with Brahman
Atman: The individual self-soul that is part of Brahman
Teachings of the Upanishads
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Works of religious teachings, 800 to 400 B.C.E.
The religious forums: dialogues between disciples and sages
Samsara: An individual soul was born many times
Dharma: Caste duties
Karma: specific incarnations that a soul experienced
Moksha: permanent liberation from physical incarnation
Religion and Vedic Society
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Samsara and karma reinforced social hierarchy
Upanishads were also spiritual and intellectual contemplations
Taught to observe high ethical standards
Respect for all living things, a vegetarian diet
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INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION - Ms. Flores AP World History