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BHIC-101: History of India –I

BHIC-101: History of India –I

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

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Assignment Code: BHIC-101/ ASST / TMA / 2021 - 2022

Course Code :BHIC-101

Assignment Name: History Of India-Ⅰ

Year: 2021 – 2022 (July 2021 and January 2022 Sessions)

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Note: There are three Sections in the Assignment. You have to answer all questions in the Sections.


Assignment – I


Answer the following in about 500 words each.


Q1. What do you understand Archaeology ? Explain the importance archaeological sources for the reconstruction of history of ancient India. 20

Ans) Archaeology is a discipline of science that explores material culture in order to gain a better understanding of the past. It has a strong historical connection. Sculptures, pottery shards, bone fragments, house ruins, temple ruins, coins, seals, inscriptions, and floral relics such as burned grains, ancient pollen, and spores, among other things, make up the material culture that archaeologist’s study.


We have been able to examine the prehistoric past thanks to archaeological evidence. Archaeology has been used to reconstruct the protohistoric period in India. Excavations have yielded a wealth of information on the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Iron Age, Megalithic, and a variety of other cultures. Because the Harappan script has yet to be deciphered, archaeology has been the sole source of knowledge for this period. It provides information about the civilization's beginnings, spread, settlement patterns, town layout, trade, polity, economy, agriculture, hunting, crops, agricultural equipment, technology, beads, seals, fire altars, religion, and how it declined.


History through Coins

In early Indian history, the 'Second Urbanization' is the first time we find literary and archaeological evidence of coinage. This was a period marked by the formation of states, the expansion of towns and cities, and the spread of agriculture and trade. Copper, silver, gold, and lead were used to make early Indian coins. The Magadhan kind of Punch stamped coins superseded those minted by other states as the Magadhan dominion expanded. Though the first coins just contained symbols, later ones included figures of kings and divinities, as well as dates and names. Western Kshatrapa coins, for example, show dates from the Shaka reign. The study of coin circulation has allowed us to piece together the histories of various ruling dynasties. The coins reveal a great deal about political organisation. Lead, potin, copper, bronze, silver, and gold were used to make post-Maurya coinage.

History through Inscriptions

Epigraphy refers to the study of inscriptions. Seals, copper plates, temple walls, wooden tablets, stone pillars, rock surfaces, bricks, and images are all used to carve inscriptions. The oldest inscriptions date from around 2500 BCE and are written in the Harappan script, which has yet to be deciphered. The Ashokan inscriptions, which have been unearthed on rock surfaces and stone pillars all over the subcontinent, are the earliest deciphered inscriptions.


In the first century BCE, the first pure Sanskrit inscriptions appeared. Early inscriptions were written in a mix of Prakrit and Sanskrit, but by the fifth century CE, Sanskrit had supplanted Prakrit as the language of royal inscriptions. There are many different types of inscriptions. Royal instructions pertaining to social, religious, and administrative affairs were addressed to officials or the general public in Ashokan inscriptions. Political, social, and economic history can all be found in inscriptions. They are useful resources for historians since they provide information about current events and ordinary people. The distribution of inscriptions is used to determine the reigning king's territory. Many inscriptions provide useful information regarding genealogy, dynastic details, and even the names of rulers who are not mentioned in the main genealogies. The Pallava, Chalukya, and Chola period land grants provide information on revenue systems, agricultural details, and governmental institutions.


Inscriptions serve a variety of purposes, including dating the sculptures on which they appear, providing information about extinct religious sects such as the Ajivikas, and providing information about historical geography, iconography, art and architecture, literature and language history, and even performing arts such as music. They are more trustworthy than literary writings since they are not always religious.


Q2. What is Neolithic revolution. Describe the major sites of Neolithic culture in India. 20

Ans) The early Holocene agro-pastoral cultural achievements are referred to as the "Neolithic Revolution." The Neolithic Revolution describes the emergence of agriculture, animal domestication, and a settled way of life. It refers to the transition in civilisation from a food gathering to a food producing economy. In reference to the Neolithic way of life, the term "revolution" refers to a dramatic transformation in human cultural adaptation. According to Miles Burkitt, the Neolithic culture was marked by polished implements, animal and plant domestication. As a result, the name "Neolithic" alludes not only to the employment of new tools, but also to new adaptability and living patterns.


Neolithic Cultural Sites in India

The Neolithic sites that can be discovered in many locations of India. The Neolithic sites of the Indian subcontinent, often known as South Asia, are classified into several cultural groups.

They are as follows:

North-western region

In the northwest, the Neolithic culture spans what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this region, there is evidence of early domestication of wheat and barley, as well as animals. It is one of the world's first regions to show traces of plant and animal domestication. In this place on the borders of Central Asia, bread wheat and spelt wheat grow organically. Aegilops tauschii, an ancient wheat species, had its native habitat in this area. As a result, farming in this area may have originated independently.


Northern region

Northern Neolithic cultural sites can be found in Kashmir. Harappan civilization and Kashmir's Neolithic civilisation were both active at the same time. Neolithic civilisation began in this region during the fourth millennium BCE, according to current studies. During excavations in Burzahom, Gufkral, and Kanispur, significant Neolithic materials were unearthed. Burzahom and Gufkral have also yielded Megalithic and Early Historic relics.


The Vindhyan hills and the Ganga valley

The Belan river valley was home to one of India's oldest Neolithic occupations. There is a clear change from food gathering to food production in this area. Chopani-Mando, Koldihwa, Lehuradeva, and Mahagara in the Ganga valley are important excavated sites in this region. These sites have yielded wattle-and-daub houses, post-holes, microlithic tools, querns, pestles, and unfired hand-made pottery. 'Corded ware,' which includes bowls and storage jars, is the most popular sort of crockery. Agriculture and animal husbandry were the mainstays of the population. There were additional bones of cattle, sheep, goats, deer, turtles, and fish. At Mahagara, evidence of domesticated rice has been uncovered.


Mid-Eastern Ganga valley region

At Chirand, Chechar, Senuwar, and Taradip, settlements dating from roughly 2000 BCE have been unearthed. Planted rice, barley, and field crops have been found in Senuwar. The Neolithic Period saw the utilisation of peas, lentils, and millets. At the Chirand site, mud floors, ceramics, microliths, polished stone axes, and clay human figurines have all been uncovered. At these sites, a variety of bone tools have also been unearthed. Residents of Chirand lived in wattle-and-daub houses with post holes and round and semi-circular homes. At this location, rice, wheat, barley, moong, and lentil plant remains have been unearthed. It's probable that there was a two-cropping system in use. Terracotta figures of a humped bull, birds, and snakes, as well as bangles and beads, and slingstones, have been uncovered.


Central Eastern region

Neolithic sites can be found in West Bengal and Odisha in a variety of locales. Birbhanpur, a Neolithic site in this area, is notable. Neolithic sites in eastern India have yielded shoulder axes, pointed-butt celts, and chisels. Some of the region's most well-known Neolithic sites include Kuchai, Golbaisasan, and Sankarjang. These cultures are identical to the Neolithic complexes of east and southeast Asia. Mace heads, pounders, coarse red ware, cord imprinted pottery, flooring, postholes, and bones have all been discovered.


North-eastern region

In north-eastern India, the Neolithic civilisation dates from a later period. This region still has shifting cultivation, yam and taro production, stone and wooden shrines for the deceased, and the presence of Austro-Asiatic languages. Southeast Asia and this region share cultural similarities.


Southern region

Ash mounds can be seen at several early Neolithic sites. For a long time, cow dung was burned on a regular basis. These locations may have served as cattle pens, with the cow dung being burned on a regular basis for various purposes. Ash mounds can be found in Andhra Pradesh at Utnur and Pallvoy, and in Karnataka at Kodekal, Kupgal, and Budihal. The ash has vitrified and resembles volcanic ash as a result of the continual burning of cow manure. Layers of soft ash and decomposing cow manure are also visible. Around the ash mounds, there is evidence of occupancy in the form of buildings and tombs. The dead persons were buried within the houses.



Assignment – II


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.


Q3. What do you understand by Early Harappan cultures ? Discuss some of the characteristics of the transition phase from early to mature phase. 10

Ans) The Indus civilisation is also known as the Harappan Civilisation, after its type site, Harappa, which was the first of its sites to be excavated in what was then British India's Punjab province and is now Pakistan, early in the twentieth century. Harappa and, soon after, Mohenjo-Daro were discovered as a result of excavation that began in 1861. However, in the same area, there were earlier and later cultures known as Early Harappan and Late Harappan; as a result, the Harappan civilisation is sometimes referred to as the Mature Harappan to separate it from these other cultures.


Over 1,000 Mature Harappan cities and settlements have been documented by 2002, with just about a hundred of them having been excavated. Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Dholavira, Ganeriwala, and Rakhigarhi are the only five large urban sites. Local Neolithic agricultural villages preceded the early Harappan cultures, from which the river plains were occupied.


Transitional Phase to Mature Phase

This is demonstrated by the commercial production of pottery, the presence of Turbinella pyrum type shell bangles, and blades made of chert obtained from the Sukkur-Rohri hills of upper Sindh in the relevant context at Harappa. Along the Aravallis, copper metallurgy evolved as well. At this moment, another determinant is the formation of a well-organized irrigation system. In the Indus-Hakra plain, the number of settlements rose. Only the expansion of an irrigation network could have made this possible. All of this points to the Mature phase's emergence. The gold and silver jewellery recovered from Kunal, for example, implies the establishment of an elite class, and the numerous divisions of urban space that solidified at Dholavira point to the notion that water management and irrigation were a socially controlled affair. As a result, the formation of a controlling or ruling nucleus is obvious.


Q4. Explain the changes that occurred in the religion society and economy from the Rigvedic to the later Vedic phase. 10

Ans) Later Vedic Age is the period that followed the Rig Vedic Age. The Samveda Samhita, the Yajurveda Samhita, and the Atharvaveda Samhita, as well as Brahmanas and Upanishads of all four Vedas, and eventually the two great epics—the Ramayana and the Mahabharata—were written during this period. In comparison to the Rig Vedic period, this period experienced significant changes in social life.


Changes to later Vedic Phase:

Society: The division of social groupings was solely based on occupation, yet society remained flexible enough that one's occupation was not determined by birth. The varnadharma documented the ritual status of each group even in later ages, i.e., post-Vedic times. The varna system did not preclude non-kshatriyas from claiming kshatriya status and ruling (as the Nandas and Mauryas did), nor did it prevent brahmanas from claiming political suzerainty (e.g., Shunga kings).


As a result, in the post-Vedic period, the theoretical concept of the varna system could never be strictly enforced. With the shift in geographical focus during the Later Vedic period, the Vedic people are likely to have encountered many non-Vedic tribes, and significant interaction must have aided in the formation of a composite society. In addition, the increasing social importance of kshatriyas and brahmanas made it necessary to maintain their exclusive superior status over the rest of society. The idea of varna, on the other hand, was rudimentary throughout the Later Vedic period. For example, there was no concept of untouchability.


Economic Condition: The economic situation of the later Vedic period changed dramatically, just like the political and social settings. Various jobs arose as a result of the establishment of the caste system. The existence of extensive stretches of rich alluvial lands in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab and the middle-Ganga valley enabled the spread of agriculture in the Later Vedic period. Later Vedic writings, on the other hand, demonstrate the enduring importance of pastoralism.


Religious Condition: The religious mood changed dramatically throughout the later Vedic period. Rites and rituals cast a pall over religion. During this time, new gods and goddesses appeared. Varun, Indra, Agni, Surya, Usha, and other Rig Vedic gods have lost their allure. They were revered with less zeal by the populace. In the Later Vedic Period, new gods like as Siva, Rupa, Vishnu, Brahma, and others arrived in the religious firmament. The inclusion of the Atharvan religious tradition in the Vedic religious system demonstrates that different cultures and beliefs were assimilated into the Vedic religious system. The sacrifice religion of the time is documented in the Yajurveda Samhita and Brahmanas. During this time, sacrifices became highly important, and they took on both a public and a private aspect. The public sacrifices, such as the Rajsuyas, Vajapeya, and Ashvamedha, were carried out on a large scale, involving the entire community.


As a result, we can see that there was a significant shift in religious ideas and practises between the Early Vedic and Later Vedic periods. The religious changes that occurred during this time period paralleled and reflected the socio-political and economic developments that occurred between the Early Vedic and Later Vedic periods.


Q5. Briefly describe the Mauryan administration. 10

Ans) The Mauryan Empire was divided into four provinces, with Pataliputra as the imperial capital. The four provincial capitals were Tosali in the east, Ujjain in the west, Suvarnagiri in the south, and Taxila in the north, according to Ashokan edicts (in the north). Megasthenese claims that the empire had a military force of 600,000 soldiers, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants. There was a large espionage system in place to keep an eye on the officials and messengers going to and fro for the sake of internal and exterior security. Tax collectors were assigned by kings to collect taxes from herders, farmers, dealers, and craftsmen, among others.


The king was at the heart of the administrative structure, and he was the one who chose ministers and high officials. The following was the administrative structure:


The King was aided by the Mantriparishad (council of ministers), which included Mantriparishad Adhyaksha, and his subordinates were as follows:

Yuvaraj: The crown prince

Purohita: The chief priest

The Senapati: The commander in chief

Amatya: Civil servants and few other ministers.


According to scholars, the Mauryan Empire was further divided into numerous departments, each with its own set of significant officials:

Revenue department:- Important officials: Sannidhata: Chief treasury, Samaharta: collector general of revenue.


Military department: Megasthenese mentions a committee with six subcommittees for coordinating military activity of these, one looked after the navy, the second managed transport and provisions, and the third was responsible for foot-soldiers, the fourth for horses, the fifth for chariots and the sixth for elephants.


Espionage Department: Mahamatyapasarpa controlled Gudhapurushas (secret agents)


Police department: The jail was known as Bandhangara, and it was different from lock-up called Charaka. There were police headquarters in all principal centres.


Provincial and Local Administration: important officials: Pradeshika: modern district magistrates, Sthanika: tax collecting officer under Pradeshika, Durgapala: governor of fort, Antapala: Governor of frontier, Akshapatala: Accountant general, Lipikaras: Scribes, Gopas: responsible for accountants etc.


Municipal Administration: Important officials: Nagaraka: in charge of city administration, Sita- Adhyaksha: Supervisor of agriculture, samastha-Adhyaksha: superintendent of market, Navadhyaksha: Superintendent of ships, Sulkaadhyaksha: Collector of tolls, Lohadhyaksha: Superintendent of Iron, Akaradhyaksha: Superintendent of mines and Pauthavadhyaksha: Superintendent of weight and measures etc.


Megasthenes appointed six committees, five of which were in charge of Pataliputra's administration. The administration was in charge of industries, foreigners, birth and death registration, trade, manufacturing and selling commodities, and sales tax collection.



Assignment – III


Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.


Q6. Palaeolithic rock art. 6

Ans) Prehistoric art was created on either stones or bones, as we know it today. Mud, charcoal, shell, teeth, and horn have all been utilised in the past. "Home art" or "Art Mobilier" refers to art created on such portable materials. "Cave art" or "Art Parietal" refers to art created on the walls and ceilings of caves and rock shelters.


Aside from engraving and painting, there were numerous examples of modelling done with just mud or bone ash. These latter examples shed a lot of light on the prehistoric artist's additional abilities. It's important to understand that the skill required to model an object differs from that required to paint or engrave.


Q7. Two famous Iron age cultures of North India. 6

Ans) Painted Grey Culture

PGW culture is closely related with north India's Iron Age. Painted Grey Ware (PGW) is a type of pottery that is grey in colour and painted with black motifs. This culture's pottery is created on a rapid wheel with well-levigated clay. With a few localised differences, the entire PGW assembly is homogeneous. This pottery, which consists primarily of tableware, was most likely intended for use by the upper classes.


Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) is an important Indian subcontinent ceramic tradition. The period spans 700 BCE to 100 BCE. This is a fine ware, often as thin as 1.5 mm, wheel-made premium pottery that is well fired. It has a strong metallic sound and was made on a fast wheel. Bowls with straight, convex, tapering, and corrugated sides; dishes with incurved rims and convex sides; knobbed lids; sharply carinated handis; and small vases are some of the most popular types.


Q8. The six systems of philosophy (The Shaddarshan)6

Ans) Philosophical thought in Hindu philosophy is divided into two categories: Nastika and Astika. Nastika roughly translates to "na asti" (it is not). They don't view the Vedas as supreme knowledge, and they don't strive to prove their own validity by citing them. Buddhists, Jainas, and Charvakas are the three major groups. There are six orthodox schools known as Astika-mata. Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta, Mimamsa, Nyaya, and Vaisheshika are among them. They're also known as Saddarshana, or the six philosophical systems. They were created for diverse purposes and have now come to be seen as equally acceptable paths to salvation.


Q9. Hydrology in ancient India.6

Ans) Hydraulic techniques were previously implemented by political authorities and even by locals to suit agricultural demands. They reflect highly advanced water gathering techniques, and these indigenous systems are still highly appreciated today.


The field of hydraulic engineering has seen a lot of progress. The Great Bath, for example, was discovered at Mohenjodaro. It's a tank with steps on both sides for access. The use of gypsum combined in the mortar composition made the side walls and base of the tank waterproof. The manner the tank was built, and the water-proofing procedures used reflect a high level of hydraulic engineering expertise.


Q10 Position of Women in early ancient India. 6

Ans) Many fascinating references to women in various roles may be found throughout the Upanishads, from the four Samhitas through the Upanishads. The Vedic corpus mentions their names, stories, some extremely revered songs, and other fascinating details. Women are mentioned not just in terms of societal roles, but also as the authors of numerous important hymns. The Vedic corpus contains not only feminine and masculine characters, but also a variety of neuter characters and categories. Women and men both took part in society, the economy, and politics. Women are credited with writing some of the most famous hymns, such as the gayatri mantra. All three Vedic socio-political assemblies, Sabha, Samiti, and Vidhata, included women. They had access to education and were even involved in the creation of knowledge.

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