Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture

By John S. Bowman | Go to book overview

India
POLITICAL HISTORY

PREHISTORIC SOUTH ASIA: 450,000–2600 B.C.

South Asia—the Indian subcontinent and certain adjacent lands and islands—is a vast region with great diversity in its climate, terrain, ecology, and other environmental features. Inevitably, then, it is impossible to set down generalizations that apply to the entire region. But one does hold up: there are no known fossil remains of the early hominids who most certainly are living there at least by about 450,000 B.C. (In fact, stone artifacts dating back as far as some 2,000,000 years have been found in the Pabbi Hills and Riwat in northern Pakistan, but these appear to be isolated instances.) Starting about 450,000 B.C., hominids and then archaic Homo sapiens living in parts of India produce a sequence of stone tools that, with several regional variants, tend to pass through much the same stages (in terms of types and techniques) as in other parts of the world during the Lower, Middle, and Upper Paleolithic periods. At some point, Homo sapiens appears in South Asia, but exactly who these first humans are—where they come from, their physical characteristics, etc.—is as yet unknown. By about 8000 B.C., the stone tools are also associated with rock paintings in caves and rock shelters, yet there are still no known remains of human beings. In the following millennia, communities begin to emerge throughout India, particularly in the northwest that will become Pakistan, and these gradually adopt or develop agriculture, domesticated animals, pottery, and the other elements of what is known as the Neolithic culture. The oldest human fossil remains known in South Asia are dated to about 3000 B.C., and by this time there is emerging in the Indus Valley the network of communities that will constitute the first true civilization of South Asia.

450,000–70,000B.C.: Hominids (presumably Homo erectus) apparently live in parts of the Indian subcontinent, for they leave their stone tools in many sites. During this time, these tools pass through much the same stages—crude hand-held choppers to more diverse and refined tools—as those made by hominids in other parts of the world during this period. Where these hominids came from is not known—possibly from Africa, possibly from the Near East; in any case, by the end of this period, the inhabitants of

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Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture *
  • Contents v
  • Consultants and Contributors vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture *
  • Part One - East Asia 1
  • China - Political History 3
  • China - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 79
  • China - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 99
  • Japan - Political History 118
  • Japan - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 162
  • Japan - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 179
  • Korea 193
  • Taiwan 225
  • Hong Kong 236
  • Macau (Macao) 244
  • Part Two - South Asia 250
  • India - Political History 251
  • India - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 325
  • India - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 355
  • Pakistan 370
  • Bangladesh 379
  • Bhutan 384
  • Maldives 389
  • Nepal 393
  • Sri Lanka (Ceylon) 400
  • Part Three - Southeast Asia 408
  • Brunei 409
  • Cambodia 415
  • Indonesia 436
  • Laos 452
  • Malaysia 465
  • Myanmar (Burma) 476
  • The Philippines 488
  • Singapore 501
  • Thailand 506
  • Vietnam 521
  • Part Four - Central Asia 545
  • Mongolia 547
  • Central Asian Republics 566
  • Tibet 577
  • Appendix 1 - National/Independence Days 583
  • Appendix 2 - Scientific-Technological Achievements in Asia 590
  • Appendix 3 - Asian History: a Chronological Overview 603
  • Index 679
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