How India got its present name?
- The Iranians and the Greeks came through the north-west about 2500 years ago and were familiar with the Indus river. They called it Indos or the Hindos, and land to the east of the river was called India.
- The name Bharatha was used for a group of people who lived in the north-west, and who are mentioned in the Rig Veda, the earliest composition in Sanskrit (dated to about 3500 years ago). Later it was used for the country.
Where did people live?
- People have lived along the banks of Narmada river for thousands of years. Some of the earliest people who lived here were skilled gatherers. They also hunted animals.
- Some of the areas where women and men first began to grow crops such as wheat and barley about 8000 years ago are located in the Sulaiman and Kirthar hills to the north-west. People also began rearing animals and lived in villages.
- The Garo hills to the north-east and the Vindhyas in central India were areas where agriculture developed. The places where rice was first grown are to the north of the Vindhyas.
- About 4700 years ago, some of the earliest cities flourished on the banks of river Indus and its tributaries.
- Later, about 2500 years ago, cities developed on the banks of the Ganga and its tributaries, and along the sea coasts.
Finding out about the past
There are several ways of finding out about the past:
- Reading manuscripts which were written long ago by hand. These were usually written on palm leaves, or on the specially prepared bark of a tree known as the birch, which grows in the Himalayas.
- Studying inscriptions. These are writing on relatively hard surfaces such as stone or metal.
- Studying the remains of buildings made of stone or brick, paintings and sculpture.
- Exploration and excavation of earth’s surface. Objects made of hard, imperishable substances usually survive for a long time.
- Archaeologists look for bones of animals, bird and fish to find about the eating habits of people.
What do dates mean?
- Years are counted from the date generally assigned to the birth of Jesus Christ. So 2000 mean 2000 years after the birth of Christ.
- All dates before the birth of Christ are counted backwards and usually have the letters BC (Before Christ) added on.
- Sometimes we can find AD before the dates. It stands for two Latin words, ‘Anno Domini’, meaning ‘in the year of the Lord’. So 2016 can also be written as AD 2016.
- Sometimes CE (Common Era) is used in place of AD and BCE (Before Common Era) instead of BC.
- Sometimes, the letters BP meaning ‘Before Present’ are used.
Some Important Dates
- The beginning of agriculture (8000 years ago).
- The first cities on the Indus (4700 years ago).
- Cities in the Ganga valley, a big kingdom in Magadha (2500 years ago).