What is History?
History is a chronological account of events as they took place in the past.
- When we live in a society, we become used to the world around us.
- We begin to take that world for granted.
- We forget that life was not always the way we see it.
- History can take us into these pasts.
Sanchi from The Mauryan Empire
Why Should We Study History?
We should study history as it tells us about our past.
- It gives us an understanding of our ancient culture and lifestyle.
- It helps us to solve the problems of the present-day world.
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved.
What do Dates Mean?
If somebody asks you the date, you will probably mention the day, month and year, 2000 and something. These years are counted from the date generally assigned to the birth of Jesus Christ.
- Historians use a chronological sequence for a better understanding. The birth of Jesus Christ has been taken as year zero.
- Any event before Christ is called Before Christ (BC) and any event after the birth of Jesus is called Anno Domini (AD).
- The timeline of history is divided into three stages:
Try yourself:All dates before the birth of Christ are counted backwards and usually have the letters
Years are counted from the date generally assigned to the birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. So, 2000 means 2000 years after the birth of Christ. All dates before the birth of Christ are counted backwards and usually have the letters BC (Before Christ) added on.
What can we know about the Past?
There are several things we can know about our past such as:
- What people used to eat, the type of clothes they used to wear, the houses in which they lived.
- How were the lives of hunters, herders, farmers, rulers, merchants, priests, craftspersons, artists, musicians, and scientists?
- The games children used to play, the stories they have heard, the songs they sang.
Where did People Live?
People majorly lived near river valleys. This was because rivers provided water for all purposes.
- Traces of life were found near Sulaiman and Kirtar hills in North West.
- Traces of life even existed along Ganga. Mahajanapadas like Magadha, Kashi, Vajji, etc., flourished 2500 years ago.
- The Himalayan mountain has acted as a natural barrier between India and Central Asia for ages.
- The places where rice was first grown are to the north of the Vindhyas.
People lived near rivers.
Names of the Land
Two of the words we often use for our country are India and Bharat.
- Bharat was used by the people of North India in the Sanskrit composition Rigveda.
- The word Indus traces its roots from the river Indus which is called Sindhu in Sanskrit.
Finding Out About the Past
Archaeologists and historians study several sources to tell us about the past. There are two sources - archaeological and literary.
- Archaeology: The study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of physical remains.
- Inscriptions: Inscriptions are writings on relatively hard surfaces such as stone or metal. In the past, when kings wanted their orders inscribed so that people could see, read and obey them, they used inscriptions for this purpose.
- Archaeologists use sources like monuments, artifacts, inscriptions, and coins.
- Handwritten or any other written record of the past is known as a literary source.
- Literary sources include two types of literature - religious literature and secular literature.
- Manuscripts are books that were written long ago by hand. These were written on palm leaves or on the specially prepared bark of a tree known as the birch, which grows in the Himalayas. These books dealt with all kinds of subjects: religious beliefs and practices, the lives of kings, medicine, and science.
Manuscripts on Palm Leaves
Try yourself:Where were the manuscripts written?
Palm leaf or the bark of the birch tree was used in ancient times to write manuscripts. In India, the palm leaf manuscript, with a distinctive long rectangular shape, was used from ancient times until the 19th century.
One Past or Many?
- There were two groups of people who studied history. One was called archaeologists and the other group was called historians.
- Archaeologists studied the remains of buildings made of stones, bricks, paintings, and sculptures.
- The other group called historians were the people who studied the past and used information found in inscriptions, seals, and scripts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1 They study the remains of buildings made of stone and brick, paintings, and sculptures. They explore to find tools, weapons, ornaments, and coins. Who are they?
Ans: There were many things that were made and used in the past. Those who study these objects are called archaeologists. They study the remains of buildings made of stone and brick, paintings, and sculptures. They also explore and excavate (dig under the surface of the earth) to find tools, weapons, pots, pans, ornaments, and coins.
Q.2. Name two main groups (or categories) of historical sources.
Ans: The two main groups (or categories) of historical sources are :
- Archaeological sources include physical remains inscriptions, coins, etc.
- Literary sources include religious books, manuscripts, foreign, travelers’ accounts etc.
Q.3. Explain the term BC.
- The letter BC means Before Christ.
- Dates are generally counted (i.e., the day, the month, and the years) or assigned to the birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity.
- So 2000 BC means 2000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.
- All dates before the birth of Jesus Christ are counted backward and generally have the letter BC (Before Christ) added on.