Outline of ancient India

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Chronology of India ‹See TfD›
James Mill (1773–1836), in his The History of British India (1817),[a] distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations.[b][c] This periodisation has been influential, but has also been criticised, for the misconceptions it has given rise to.[d] Another influential periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical, mediaeval and modern periods".[e]
World History[f] James Mill's Periodization[g] ACMM[h][i] Chronology of Indian History[j][k][l][m]
Early Complex Societes
(3500-2000 BCE)
 ? Ancient India Prehistoric Era
Indus Valley Civilization
Ancient Civilisations
(2000-500 BCE)
Hindu civilisations Early Vedic Period
(c. 1750–1200 BCE)
Middle Vedic Period
(from 1200 BCE)
Late Vedic period
(from 850 BCE)
Classical Civilisations
(500 BCE-500 CE)
Second urbanisation
Early empires[n]
(c. 600–200 BCE)[o]
Desintegration[p] and regional states
(c. 200 BCE – 300 CE)[q]
Classical India "Golden Age" (Gupta Empire)
(c. 320–650 CE)[r]
Post-classical age
(500-1000 CE)
Medieval India Regional Indian kingdoms and Beginning of Islamic raids
(c. 650–1100 CE)[s]
Transregional nomadic empires
(1000-1500 CE)
Muslim civilisations Delhi Sultanate (north India)
(1206–1526 CE)
Vijayanagara Empire (south India)
(1336–1646 CE)
Modern age
Modern India Mughal empire
British civilisations Maratha Empire
British rule
(c. 1750 CE – 1947)
- Independent India

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ancient India:

Ancient IndiaIndia as it existed from the pre-historic times (c. 7000 BCE or earlier) to the start of the Middle Ages (c. 500 CE).[1]

Geography of ancient India[edit]

Government and politics in ancient India[edit]

General history of ancient India[edit]

Further information: Timeline of Indian history

Periodisation of Indian history[edit]

An elaborate periodisation may be as follows:[2]

  • Pre-history and Indus Valley Civilisation (until c. 1750 BCE);
  • Vedic period (c. 1750-500 BCE);
  • "Second Urbanisation" (c. 500-200 BCE);
  • Classical period (c. 200 BCE-1100 CE);[note 2]
  • Pre-classical period (c. 200 BCE-300 CE);
  • "Golden Age" (Gupta Empire) (c. 320-650 CE);
  • Late-Classical period (c. 650-1100 CE);
  • Islamic period (c. 1100-1850 CE) and beginning of western colonialism (c.1500-1850);
  • Modern period (British Raj and independence) (from c. 1850).


  • Neolithic Age India Mehrgarh civilization (c. 7000 – 3300 BCE)

Iron Age (c. 1200 – 272 BCE)[edit]

Second Urbanisation[edit]

Classical Age of India[edit]

Middle Ages (c. 500 – 1500 CE)[edit]

Swami Vivekananda was a key figure in introducing Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and USA,[8] raising interfaith awareness and making Hinduism a world religion.[9]

Culture in ancient India[edit]

Art in ancient India[edit]

Language in ancient India[edit]

Religion in ancient India[edit]

Science and technology in ancient India[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smart distinguishes "Brahmanism" from the Vedic religion, connecting "Brahmanism" with the Upanishads.[3]
  2. ^ Different periods are designated as "classical Hinduism":
    • Smart calls the period between 1000 BCE and 100 CE "pre-classical". It's the formative period for the Upanishads and Brahmanism[note 1] Jainism and Buddhism. For Smart, the "classical period" lasts from 100 to 1000 CE, and coincides with the flowering of "classical Hinduism" and the flowering and deterioration of Mahayana-buddhism in India.[4]
    • For Michaels, the period between 500 BCE and 200 BCE is a time of "Ascetic reformism",[5] whereas the period between 200 BCE and 1100 CE is the time of "classical Hinduism", since there is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions".[6]
    • Muesse discerns a longer period of change, namely between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, which he calls the "Classical Period". According to Muesse, some of the fundamental concepts of Hinduism, namely karma, reincarnation and "personal enlightenment and transformation", which did not exist in the Vedic religion, developed in this time.[7]


  1. ^ Stein 2010, p. 38.
  2. ^ Michaels 2004.
  3. ^ Smart 2003, p. 52, 83-86.
  4. ^ Smart 2003, p. 52.
  5. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 36.
  6. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 38.
  7. ^ Muesse 2003, p. 14.
  8. ^ Georg, Feuerstein (2002). The Yoga Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 600. ISBN 3-935001-06-1. 
  9. ^ Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006). New Religions in Global Perspective. Routledge. p. 209. ISBN 0-7007-1185-6. 


  • Flood, Gavin D. (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press 
  • Khanna, Meenakshi (2007), Cultural History Of Medieval India, Berghahn Books 
  • Kulke, Hermann; Rothermund, Dietmar (2004), A History of India, Routledge 
  • Michaels, Axel (2004), Hinduism. Past and present, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press 
  • Misra, Amalendu (2004), Identity and Religion: Foundations of Anti-Islamism in India, SAGE 
  • Muesse, Mark William (2003), Great World Religions: Hinduism 
  • Muesse, Mark W. (2011), The Hindu Traditions: A Concise Introduction, Fortress Press 
  • Smart, Ninian (2003), Godsdiensten van de wereld (The World's religions), Kampen: Uitgeverij Kok 
  • Stein, Burton (2010), A History of India, John Wiley & Sons 
  • Thapar, Romila (1978), Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations (PDF), Orient Blackswan