Question 1

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


The various literary sources for the study of ancient Indian history 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 ascriptions 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 land charters. At times, there 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 extent of the empire of a particular King. Individual inscriptions are generally found in the temples or are engraved on the idols. The information’s 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 rulers. The religious figures on the coins give us the idea the religious conditions. The content of gold us the idea about the economic condition.

Question 2

Discuss the important features of Neolithic cultures of India.


The Neolithic culture is believed to have become widespread in southwest Asia around 8000 BC-7000 BC, though earlier individual sites have been identified. Although archaeological evidence provides scant evidence as to which of the genders performed what task in Neolithic cultures, by comparison with historical and contemporary hunter-gatherer communities it is generally supposed that hunting was typically performed by the men, whereas women had a more significant role in the gathering. By extension, it may be theorised that women were largely responsible for the observations and initial activities which began the Neolithic Revolution, in so far as the gradual selection and refinement of edible plant species was concerned. The precise nature of these initial observations and (later) purposeful activities which would give rise to the changes in subsistence methods brought about by the Neolithic Revolution are not known; specific evidence is lacking.
However, several reasonable speculations have been put forward, for example, it might be expected that the common practice of discarding food refuse in middens would result in the re-growth of plants from the discarded seeds in the (fertilizer-enriched) soils. In all likelihood, there were a number of factors which contributed to the early onset of agriculture in Neolithic human societies, southeast Europe agrarian societies first appeared by ca. 7000 BC. and in Central Europe by ca. 5500 BC. Through a combination of cultural diffusion and migration of people, the Neolithic traditions spread west and northwards to reach north western Europe by around 4500 BC. The Vinca culture may have created the earliest system of writing the Vinca-signs though it is almost universally accepted amongst archaeologists that the Sumerian cuneiform script was the earliest true form of writing and the Vinca signs most likely represented pictograms and ideograms rather than a truly developed form of writing.
The megalithic temple complexes of Ggantija on the Mediterranean island of Gozo (part of Malta) and of Mnajdra (Malta) are notable for their gigantic Neolithic structures, the oldest of which date back to c. 3600 BC. At more than 5500 years old, the Ggantija temples are the world's oldest man-made free-standing structures and the world's oldest religious structures. The Vinca culture was an early culture of Europe (between the 6th and the 3rd millennium BC), stretching around the course of Danube in what today is Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Macedonia, although traces of it can be found all around the Balkans, parts of Central Europe and Asia Minor. A significant and far-reaching shift in human subsistence and lifestyle was to be brought about in areas where crop farming and cultivation were first developed : the previous reliance upon an essentially nomadic hunter-gatherer subsistence technique or pastoral transhumance was at first supplemented, and then increasingly replaced by a reliance upon the foods produced from cultivated lands. These developments are also believed to have greatly encouraged the growth of settlements, since it may be supposed that the increased need to spend more time and labour in tending crop fields required more-localized dwellings. This trend would continue into the Bronze Age, eventually giving rise to towns, and later cities and states whose larger populations could be sustained by the increased productivity from cultivated lands.