History

Question 1

Evaluate the significance of archaeological sources for the study of ancient Indian history.

Solution

The importance of coins and inscriptions as a source for history writing is very much. As compare to the literary sources, there are very little chances of manipulating the archaeological sources like coins and inscriptions. Thus, the authenticity of the archaeological sources get enhanced. Inscriptions are the most important of all the archaeological sources. Most of the inscriptions of ancient India are found engraved on stone or metal sheets. Due to the engravings on the stone or metal sheet there are almost no chances of manipulation with it. But the problem of dating remains with the inscriptions. The dating is done mainly on the basis of calligraphy of the inscriptions. The most ancient inscriptions available to us belong to the period of King Ashoka of Mauryan period. These inscriptions throw right on the theories of Kingship of Ashoka and also on his religious ideas. Ashokan inscriptions are mostly in Brahmi script. Some of the inscriptions are also available in Kharoshti and Aramaic script. The inscriptions found after Ashoka can be divided into two groups : Official inscriptions and Individual inscriptions. The official inscriptions are either the eulogies written by the court poets or are land charters. At times, there are many exaggerations found in these inscriptions. So, they must be used carefully. The inscriptions engraved on the stones or pillars give us the idea of the extent of the empire of a particular king. Individual inscriptions are generally found in the temples or are engraved on the idols. The information given on these idols gives us the idea about their origin. This also throws light on the architecture and sculpture of the period.

The coins are also an important source for the study of history. There are many signs engraved on the ancient coins. There are no other information mentioned on these coins. We don't know the exact meaning of these signs. These coins were probably issued by the traders, trading guilds etc. These coins do not help the historians much. But when the Greek rulers started ruling over the North-Western parts of India, they started issuing coins on which many information’s were mentioned. Many a times apart from other information’s, the figures of the rulers was also put on the coins. The findings of coins in bulk from one place indicates that the particular place must have been in under one particular state. The dates mentioned on the coins indicate the time period of the rulers. The religious figures on the coins give us the idea about the religious conditions. The content of gold gives us the idea about the economic condition.

Question 2

Trace the developments from Paleolithic to Mesolithic age.

Solution

The Paleolithic Age or Period is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered, and covers 95% of human technological pre-history. It extends from the earliest known use of stone tools, probably by Home habilis initially, 2.6 million years ago, to the end of the Pleistocene around 10,000 BP. The Paleolithic area is followed in the Mesolithic. The date of the Paleolithic-Mesolithic boundary may vary by locality as much as several thousand years. During the Paleolithic period, humans grouped together in small societies such as bands, and subsisted by gathering plants and fishing, hunting or scavenging wild animals. The Paleolithic is characterized by the use of knapped stone tools, although at the time humans also used wood and bone tools. Other organic commodities were adapted for use as tools including leather and vegetable fibers; however, due to their nature, these have not been preserved to any great degree.

The Paleolithic period in India is severally taken to be 35,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C. Difference types of tools were used by the Paleolithic man in India like axes, spears, hammers etc. The main items of food were fruits, nuts, flesh of wild animals etc. The people of this age knew the use of fire. The people of this age are used to live in the drifts of rivers or lakes or in caves. There are ample proofs to show that the dead were left to natural decomposition.

The Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age was a period in the development of human technology between the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods of the Stone Age. The Mesolithic period began at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, some 10,000 BP and ended with the introduction of agriculture, the date of which varied by geographic region. In some areas, such as the Near East, agriculture was already underway by the end of the Pleistocene. In areas with limited glacial impact, the term Epipaleolithic is sometimes preferred. Regions that experienced greater environmental effects as the last ice age ended have a much more evident Mesolithic era, lasting millennia. In Northern Europe, societies were able to live well on rich food supplies from the marshlands fostered by the warmer climate. Such conditions produced distinctive human behaviours which are preserved in the material record, such as the Maglemosian and Azilian cultures. These conditions also delayed the coming of the Neolithic until as late as 4000 BCE (6,000 BP) in northern Europe. Microlith is a small stone tool, typically knapped of flint or chert, usually about three centimetres long or less; they are typically one centimetre long and half a centimetre wide when finished. Microliths were either produced from small blades (micro-blades) or made by snapping normal big blades in a controlled manner, which leaves a very typical piece of waste (micro-burin). The latter type of microliths are called geometric microliths. They can be formed as various kinds of triangles, lunate shaped, trapezes, etc. The shape of the microlith can be used for dating. Microliths were produced during the middle stone age (Mesolithic) until the introduction of agriculture (8000 B.C.). Some types of microliths, such as trapezes, were used in the Neolithic as well (the Linear Pottery culture and Funnel beaker culture). They were probably used as barbs, arrows, spears and composite tools.