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Ancient India Anatomically modern humans are thought to have arrived in South Asia 73-55,000 y ears back,[20] though

the earliest authenticated human remains date to only abou t 30,000 years ago.[21] Nearly contemporaneous Mesolithic rock art sites have be en found in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, including at the Bhimbetka ro ck shelters in Madhya Pradesh.[22] Around 7000 BCE, the first known Neolithic se ttlements appeared on the subcontinent in Mehrgarh and other sites in western Pa kistan.[23] These gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation,[24] th e first urban culture in South Asia;[25] it flourished during 2500 1900 BCE in Pak istan and western India.[26] Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa , Dholavira, and Kalibangan, and relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civ ilisation engaged robustly in crafts production and wide-ranging trade.[25] During the period 2000 500 BCE, in terms of culture, many regions of the subcontin ent transitioned from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age.[27] The Vedas, the oldes t scriptures of Hinduism,[28] were composed during this period,[29] and historia ns have analysed these to posit a Vedic culture in the Punjab region and the upp er Gangetic Plain.[27] Most historians also consider this period to have encompa ssed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the northwest.[30][28][31] The caste system, which created a hierarchy of priests, warrio rs, and free peasants, but which excluded indigenous peoples by labelling their occupations impure, arose during this period.[32] On the Deccan Plateau, archaeo logical evidence from this period suggests the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organisation.[27] In southern India, a progression to sedentary life i s indicated by the large number of megalithic monuments dating from this period, [33] as well as by nearby traces of agriculture, irrigation tanks, and craft tra ditions.[33] Damaged brown painting of a reclining man and woman. Paintings at the Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, 6th century In the late Vedic period, around the 5th century BCE, the small chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oliga rchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas.[34][35] The emerging urbanisation and the orthodoxies of this age also created heterodox religious m ovements, two of which became independent religions. Buddhism, based on the teac hings of Gautama Buddha attracted followers from all social classes excepting th e middle class; chronicling the life of the Buddha was central to the beginnings of recorded history in India.[36][37][38] Jainism came into prominence during t he life of its exemplar, Mahavira.[39] In an age of increasing urban wealth, bot h religions held up renunciation as an ideal,[40] and both established long-last ing monastic traditions. Politically, by the 3rd century BCE, the kingdom of Mag adha had annexed or reduced other states to emerge as the Mauryan Empire.[34] Th e empire was once thought to have controlled most of the subcontinent excepting the far south, but its core regions are now thought to have been separated by la rge autonomous areas.[41][42] The Mauryan kings are known as much for their empi re-building and determined management of public life as for Ashoka's renunciatio n of militarism and far-flung advocacy of the Buddhist dhamma.[43][44] The Sangam literature of the Tamil language reveals that, between 200 BCE and 20 0 CE, the southern peninsula was being ruled by the Cheras, the Cholas, and the Pandyas, dynasties that traded extensively with the Roman Empire and with West a nd South-East Asia.[45][46] In North India, Hinduism asserted patriarchal contro l within the family, leading to increased subordination of women.[47][34] By the 4th and 5th centuries, the Gupta Empire had created in the greater Ganges Plain a complex system of administration and taxation that became a model for later I ndian kingdoms.[48][49] Under the Guptas, a renewed Hinduism based on devotion r ather than the management of ritual began to assert itself.[50] The renewal was reflected in a flowering of sculpture and architecture, which found patrons amon g an urban elite.[49] Classical Sanskrit literature flowered as well, and Indian

science, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics made significant advances.[49] Medieval India The granite tower of Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur was completed in 1010 CE by Raja Raja Chola I. The Indian early medieval age, 600 CE to 1200 CE, is defined by regional kingdom s and cultural diversity.[51] When Harsha of Kannauj, who ruled much of the Indo -Gangetic Plain from 606 to 647 CE, attempted to expand southwards, he was defea ted by the Chalukya ruler of the Deccan.[52] When his successor attempted to exp and eastwards, he was defeated by the Pala king of Bengal.[52] When the Chalukya s attempted to expand southwards, they were defeated by the Pallavas from farthe r south, who in turn were opposed by the Pandyas and the Cholas from still farth er south.[52] No ruler of this period was able to create an empire and consisten tly control lands much beyond his core region.[51] During this time, pastoral pe oples whose land had been cleared to make way for the growing agricultural econo my were accommodated within caste society, as were new non-traditional ruling cl asses.[53] The caste system consequently began to show regional differences.[53] In the 6th and 7th centuries, the first devotional hymns were created in the Tam il language.[54] They were imitated all over India and led to both the resurgenc e of Hinduism and the development of all modern languages of the subcontinent.[5 4] Indian royalty, big and small, and the temples they patronised, drew citizens in great numbers to the capital cities, which became economic hubs as well.[55] Temple towns of various sizes began to appear everywhere as India underwent ano ther urbanisation.[55] By the 8th and 9th centuries, the effects were felt in So uth-East Asia, as South Indian culture and political systems were exported to la nds that became part of modern-day Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, M alaysia, and Java.[56] Indian merchants, scholars, and sometimes armies were inv olved in this transmission; South-East Asians took the initiative as well, with many sojourning in Indian seminaries and translating Buddhist and Hindu texts in to their languages.[56] After the 10th century, Muslim Central Asian nomadic clans, using swift-horse ca valry and raising vast armies united by ethnicity and religion, repeatedly overr an South Asia's north-western plains, leading eventually to the establishment of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate in 1206.[57] The sultanate was to control much of N orth India, and to make many forays into South India. Although at first disrupti ve for the Indian elites, the sultanate largely left its vast non-Muslim subject population to its own laws and customs.[58][59] By repeatedly repulsing Mongol raiders in the 13th century, the sultanate saved India from the devastation visi ted on West and Central Asia, setting the scene for centuries of migration of fl eeing soldiers, learned men, mystics, traders, artists, and artisans from that r egion into the subcontinent, thereby creating a syncretic Indo-Islamic culture i n the north.[60][61] The sultanate's raiding and weakening of the regional kingd oms of South India paved the way for the indigenous Vijayanagara Empire.[62] Emb racing a strong Shaivite tradition and building upon the military technology of the sultanate, the empire came to control much of peninsular India,[63] and was to influence South Indian society for long afterwards.[62