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The Growth of Civilization in Early India

early india

Two hundred years before Columbus discovered America, a certain Marco Polo told strange, exciting stories to his friends and neighbours in Venice, a city in northern Italy. He had travelled, he said, to distant lands in Asia and had become rich. Europeans at that time had some general knowledge of eastern Asia and of its products, but Polo furnished detailed and colourful descriptions of magnificent cities, of strange customs and of powerful rulers who owned many palaces and lived in unheard of luxury. Marco Polo had visited the court of the khan, or ruler, of an empire that included most of east Asia as well as great islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Polo had been made a public official. He had been sent on errands to the cold wastes of present day Siberia and the green Spice Islands where it was always warm. He had seen civilizations of many kinds — some primitive, some more magnificent than those in Europe. Marco Polo’s stories were so amazing that not until long after his death did most people believe them. “How,” thought Europeans, “could Asians have travelled so far on the long road from savagery without our help?” Today we know that Marco Polo’s stories were true, atleast in all important respects. We know that while Egyptians were building their pyramids and the Sumerians their temple towers in Mesopotamia, civilization was growing in India. We know also that while the Greeks and Romans were creating “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome,” the Chinese were developing their own civilization and way of life. You will not find the empire of Alexander or the Roman Empire on a modern map of the world, as you know, but India and China still exist. Many changes have taken place …

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Civilization comes to India 3500 B.C to 200 B.C.

For thousands of years during the Stone Age, only scattered groups of people had lived in India. With only the simplest tools of bone, wood and stone, they hunted and gathered food. Cut off from other peoples by the mountain and the sea, the first Indians made few advances in their primitive way of life. Then, sometime between 3500 B. C., new settlers began to appear along the Indus River Valley in northwestern India, a region that would be called West Pakistan thousands of years later. It seems almost certain that these newcomers were from the mountains and plateaus to the northwest, the modern lands of Iran and Afghanistan. When they arrived, the new commers were already able to make pottery, to farm and to raise animals. Most likely too, some of them knew of the cities far to the west, on the plains of Mesopotamia. From those more advanced cities, the Indus valley people learned about new objects, such as copper and bronze tools. They also heard tales about how those distant peoples controlled the river’s water, or how they scratched signs in clay tablets to record words. However much they may have borrowed, the Indus Valley people worked out their own ways. By 2500 B. C., a distinctive civilization had begun to develop along the Indus River. The river itself played an important part in this civilization. Sometimes it flooded so badly that it wiped out villages and fieldworks, or even changed its course entirely. Usually however, it overflowed just enough to leave a rich soil for each season’s crops and the people worked together to take advantage of it. The river also made it easy for the various settlements to exchange goods and ideas. The People of the Indus Of the dozens of villages, two soon grew …

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