Lesson 1 – THE GEOGRAPHIC AND
ECOLOGICAL SETTING OF INDIA
- India is named for the Indus River that spawned a great urban civilization more than four thousand
- The subcontinent of South Asia encompasses an area of more than one and a half million square miles,
from the Hindu Kush and Baluchi Hills on the west and the Great Himalayas on the north, to the
- Burmese mountains on the east and the Indian Ocean on the south.
- Geographically, the subcontinent may most simply be divided into three major horizontal zones;
the northern mountain belt; its neighboring offspring of Indo-Gangetic alluvial plains; and the peninsular massif of the south, which may originally have been part of Afrcia.
- The earliest traces of human habitation in South Asia survive as flakes of stone found scattered around the valley of the Soan River in what is now the northern part of Pakistan.
- Denied the north’s bounty of perennially snow-fed streams, South India has always depended on rain for its water.
- The winds that annually bring revitalizing rain to the south also probably brought the first humans to peninsular India by sea from East Africa, possibly at about the time East Asian migrants first wandered into the northern Soan River valley.
- Dravidian, the linguistic family still dominant in South India, is a unique mode of communication, quite distinct from the Indo-European, Indo-Aryan languages of North India.
- In Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia, India’s western neigbors made the transition from primitive hunting and food gathering to crop raising; a transition that marks the dawn of the New Stone Age and the advent of civilization, between the ninth and fifth millenia B
- That Neolithic revolution seems to have occurred in South Asia only after 4000 BC, the approximate date of the earliest Neolithic settlements found thus far in the hills of Baluchistan on the northwest frontier.
- The tough, monsoon-nourished sal forests of the Yamuna-Ganga plain east of the Rajaasthan desert, however, poised more formidable barriers to human settlement; not to be overcome until iron ploughs drawn by oxen were developed well after 1000 BC.
- How would you describe India geographically?
- Why are India’s rivers important to its history?
- Why are monsoons important to India?
- Why is the transition from hunting and gathering to cultivation important to all ancient cultures?
- How did the glacial age affect India?
- Why are nature’s barriers an impediment to culture development?
- Why do many cultures throughout the world differ according to their physical locations?
- Why do many cultures have animistic and shamanistic practices in common?
- Why do most river-valley civilizations have much in common?
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