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Outline of ancient India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Indian subcontinent

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

Ancient India is the Indian subcontinent from prehistoric times to the start of Medieval India, which is typically dated (when the term is still used) to the end of the Gupta Empire around 500 CE.[1] Depending on context, the term Ancient India might cover the modern-day countries of Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, though these territories had large cultural differences.

General history of Ancient India


An elaborate periodisation may be as follows:[2]

Pre-history (Neolithic Age) (c. 8000–3500 BCE)

  • Indian Pre-history Age (c. 10,000–3300 BCE)
  • Bhirrana culture (7570–6200 BCE)
  • Mehrgarh culture (c. 7000 – c. 2500 BCE)

Proto-history (Bronze Age) (c. 3500–1800 BCE)

Map of the world in 2000 BC showing the Indus Valley Civilisation

Iron Age (c. 1800–200 BCE)

The Indo-Aryan Vedic civilization and main polities in Eurasia around 1300 BC

Pre-Classical Period (c. 600 BCE–200 CE)

The Maurya Empire and main polities in Eurasia around 200 BC
Map of the world in 100 BC showing the Indo-Greek Kingdoms

Classical Period (c. 200–550 CE)

The Gupta Empire and main polities in Eurasia around 500 AD

There are varying definitions of this period.[note 1]

Culture in ancient India


Art in ancient India


Language in ancient India


Religion in ancient India


Sport in ancient India


Science and technology in ancient India


Organizations concerned with ancient India


Museums with ancient Indian exhibits



  1. ^ Different periods are designated as "classical Hinduism":
    • Smart calls the period between 1000 BCE and 100 CE "pre-classical". It is the formative period for the Upanishads and Brahmanism[subnote 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.[11]
    • For Michaels, the period between 500 BCE and 200 BCE is a time of "Ascetic reformism",[12] 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".[13]
    • 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.[14]
  1. ^ Smart distinguishes "Brahmanism" from the Vedic religion, connecting "Brahmanism" with the Upanishads.[10]


  1. ^ Stein 2010, p. 38.
  2. ^ Michaels 2004.
  3. ^ Civilsdaily, (August 15, 2017). "Case study | Pottery – Evolution and significance".
  4. ^ M Rafiq Mughal Lahore Museum Bulletin, off Print, vol.III, No.2, Jul-Dec. 1990 [1] Archived 26 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Franklin Southworth, Linguistic Archaeology of South Asia (Routledge, 2005), p. 177
  6. ^ Strickland, K. M., R. A. E. Coningham, et al., (2016). "Ancient Lumminigame: A Preliminary Report on Recent Archaeological Investigations at Lumbini's Village Mound", in Ancient Nepal, Number 190, April 2016, p. 10.
  7. ^ Neogi, Sayantani, Charles A. I. French, Julie A. Durcan, Rabindra N. Singh, and Cameron A. Petrie, (2019). "Geoarchaeological insights into the location of Indus settlements on the plains of northwest India", in Quaternary Research, Volume 94, March 2020, p. 140.
  8. ^ Lal, Deepak (2005). The Hindu Equilibrium: India C.1500 B.C. - 2000 A.D. Oxford University Press. p. xxxviii. ISBN 978-0-19-927579-3.
  9. ^ Geological Survey of India (1883). Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India. p. 80.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Smart 2003, p. 52, 83-86.
  11. ^ Smart 2003, p. 52.
  12. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 36.
  13. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 38.
  14. ^ Muesse 2003, p. 14.


  • 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, ISBN 9781444323511
  • Thapar, Romila (1978), Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations (PDF), Orient Blackswan

Media related to Ancient India at Wikimedia Commons