Ancient history of India and Indian people. India was inhabited from Pleistocene Era with urban Indus Valley Civilization and Indian peoples totalling 5 million from 2600BC.
The discovery of habitation in India dates back to the mid-Pleistocene era and evidence of widespread and sophisticated civilizations go back 9,000 years. The Indus Valley Civilization of India and Pakistan dates from around 2600BC and has been discovered to have had both rural and urban societies with the peoples of this era possessing precise mathematical skills and a variety of construction and building techniques.
Ancient History of the Indian People from the Mid-Pleistocene Era to the Mesolithic Culture
The discovery of remains at Hathnora in Central India have indicated that India may well have been inhabited since the Mid-Pleistocene era, or between 200,000 to 500,000 years ago. Whilst, more widespread indication of the habitation of India has been confirmed by evidence of the Mesolithic culture which started approximately thirty thousand years’ ago. The Mesolithic culture was marked by a hunter-gatherer type subsistence lifestyle based on hunting, gathering and fishing with the addition of some small scale forms of herding and farming.
Indus Valley Civilization of Pakistan and North India
The first of the confirmed permanent settlements in India appeared about 9,000 years’ ago in Madhya Pradesh and by 5100BC the people of the area were farming and harvesting a simple form of wheat.
The irrigation of the Indus Valley led to the development of the urban settlements of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro about 2600BC which also indicated the start of urban society in India. Known as the Indus Valley Civilization or the Harappan Civilization, this society is noted for its brick built cities with roadside drainage systems and multistorey buildings. The intricacy of infrastructure of this period indicated the use of sophisticated measuring devices.
Mohenjo-daro was the center of the Indus Valley Civilization but settlements have been discovered around Mumbai and Delhi and even as far west as Iran and into the Himalayan mountains. Over 2,500 towns and settlements have been discovered to date.
Did an Aryan Invasion of India Cause the Demise of the Indus Valley Civilization?
With a society based upon the rich agricultural lands around the River Indus and Saraswati River, it has been noted that the Indus Valley Civilization ended around 1900BC and many scholars have reasoned this was due to the development of the Vedic Civilization.
It was believed that the Vedic Civilization originated from an Aryan invasion out of Eastern Europe. The similarities in structure of the principal European languages and the Indian Sanskrit confirmed early historians in the belief that India had been invaded by light skinned Aryans around 1900BC which was the reason the Sanksrit and European languages shared a common base. Any different conclusions would have been unthinkable at the time.
Scholars since the 1990s have now discredited the idea of an Aryan invasion of India as a myth formed by European scholars to support the theory that the Indian civilizations were created by Western invaders. Anthropologists can find no evidence of Aryan invasion of India and believe the Vedic tradition to be indigenous to Northern India.
Reasons for the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization though may well have been due to climatic changes, Professor Schaffer at Case Western University in Cleveland has suggested that the Indus Valley Civilization was centered around the Saraswati River and that this culture came to an end when the river dried up and the population migrated to the area around the River Ganges. A series of disasters from earthquakes, droughts and floods, together with the drying up of the Saraswati River, would have made continued habitation of the area impossible and caused enforced population migration.
From the above brief history it can be seen that India has been inhabited for many thousands of years and was also the center of a sophisticated and urban society in the Indus Valley Civilization from 2600BC. The population of the Indus and Saraswati Civilizations may well have numbered more than five million people and their settlements are understood to have covered an area of many thousands of square miles, stretching as far west as Iran.