The influence of violence in the ancient world

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The influence of violence in the ancient world

Aryan tribes begin to infiltrate into northern India from central Asia c. The use of iron and alphabetic writing begin to spread to northern India from the Middle East c. Ashoka becomes the Mauryan emperor BCE: Asoka dies; shortly after, the decline of the Mauryan empire sets in Urban civilization first appeared in ancient India with the Indus Valley civilization in the early third millennium BCE, in what is today Pakistan and north-west India.

This was contemporary with other early civilizations of the ancient world, in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, and is one of the earliest civilizations in world history.

It is famous for its large and well-planned cities. In the following thousand years, a people known as the Aryans, speaking an Indo-European languagemoved into northern India from central Asia.

They came into India as pastoral, semi-nomadic tribes led by warrior chieftains. Over time, they settled down as rulers over the native Dravidian populations they found there, and formed tribal kingdoms.

This period of ancient Indian history is known as the Vedic ageas it was depicted in the earliest Indian writings, called the Vedas. It is also the formative period in which most of the basic features of traditional Indian civilization were laid down.

The tribal society of the early Aryans gave way to the more complex society of the Classic Age of Ancient India.


This period saw the rebirth of urban civilization in the Indian subcontinent, and with it, a literate culture. It was one of the most creative ages in the history of India, and saw the emergence of two new religions, Jainism and Buddhism.

Painting of Indra on his elephant mount, Airavata. The Maurya empire was in effect an outgrowth of the kingdom of Magadha. Under a line of kings of the Nanda dynasty reigned c. He was a remarkable and attractive ruler: Outlying provinces fell away, and by the mid-2nd century BCE the empire had shrunk to its core areas.

It was, however, one of the most formative eras of ancient Indian civilization. So far as society is concerned, the coming of Aryans into ancient India, and their establishing themselves as the dominant group, gave rise to the caste system.

This divided Indian society into rigid layers, underpinned by religious rules. Originally there were just four castes, the priestly caste, the warrior caste, the farmers and traders, and the menial workers.

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As early Aryan society evolved into the more settled and more urban society of ancient India, these caste divisions persisted. New religious movements, the Jains and Buddhistsrebelled against it, preaching that all men are equal.

However, caste was never overthrown.

The influence of violence in the ancient world

As time went on, indeed, it became more complex, and more rigid. It has endured right up to the present day. In the earliest times, many hunter-gatherer groups inhabited much of the Indian sub-continent.

However, the economic history of ancient India is one of agricultural advance. The use of iron spread from the Middle East from around BCE, making farming more productive, and populations grew. At first, this occurred on the plains of northern India.

However, iron-age farming gradually spread throughout the entire subcontinent. The hunter-gatherers were squeezed more and more into the forests and hills of India, eventually to take up farming themselves and being incorporated into Aryan society as new castes.

The spread of iron-age farming was a crucial development in the history of ancient India as it led to the rebirth of urban civilization in the subcontinent. Cities grew up; trade expanded; metal currency appeared, and an alphabetical script came into use.

Government The tribal chiefs of early Aryan society were the ancestors of the princes and kings we encounter in later Indian history.

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