Friday, June 16, 2017

Indo-Aryan Migration

Indo-Aryan migrants. What is certain, however, is that sometime around 1750 B.C., new groups of Indo- European speaking peoples, whose original homeland was probably somewhere north of the Black and Caspian Seas, began to move south through the mountain passes into northern India. Although they called themselves Aryans, scholars today refer to them as Indo-Aryans, to distinguish them from those Aryan tribes who remained in what is now Iran. The nomadic Indo-Aryans herded sheep and cows. Skillful fighters, the Indo-Aryans eventually conquered the Indus Valley and then gradually moved eastward along the great Ganges River, until after several centuries they controlled the entire Gangetic plain of northern India.

Most of what we know about early Indo-Aryan society comes from the Vedas, the great literature ot the Indo-Aryan religion. Eventually, Indo-Aryan settlements joined to form small city-states, each ruled by a raja a prince or king. Differences between the Indo- Aryans and the earlier inhabitants of India led to the development over time of a complex social system, with warriors and later priests at the top, followed by merchants, traders, farmers, and servants at the bottom.

Less influenced by the influx of the Indo-Aryans, southern India at first developed somewhat differently from the north. Separated from the Indo- Gangetic plain in the north by the forest-covered mountains of the Vindhya Range, the people of the south were able to resist conquest by the Indo- Aryans for centuries. They remained linguistically, ethnically, and culturally distinct from the populations of the north. The southern part of India is quite hilly, and this too worked against political or cultural unification. As a result, southern India remained fragmented into many different groups. Some lived as farmers, others as hunter-gatherers. Those living along the coast often turned to trade and commerce for a living and, through coastal ports, southern Indians eventually made contact with other civilizations in southeast Asia.

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