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Chapter

MMW Textbook Notes (Dubois)


Department
Making of the Modern World
Course Code
MMW 11
Professor
Page Dubois

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MMW Pages 70-81 Notes
Harappan Society
o Named after Harrappa, one of two chief cities, developed in the Indus
o Two problems we don’t know about Harappan, hard to excavate and no one to decipher
written records
o Foundations of Harappan Society
The Indus Rivr
Like the Nile the indus draws its waters from rain and melting snow in
towering mountains(from Hindu Kush and Himarlayas-world’s highest
peaks
Indus deposits burden of rich soil in lowlands like Nile
Sowed wheat and barley, meat from herds of cattle, indus first
domesticated chickens
Pakistan and Northern India- larger than Egypt and Mesopotamia
Political Organization
Harappa and Mohenjo-daro big cities but not sure if they were political
centers, no evidence of any political organization
Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro
Has city walls, a fortified citadel, and granary
o Suggest that they served as centers of political authority and
where collected taxes
Both had marketplaces, temples, public buildings, broad streets
Mohenjo-Daro had large pools maybe for religious or ritual purposes
These two cities influenced other cities
Specilized Labor and Trade
Pottery, tools and decorative items were traded domestically and in
foreign
o Harappan Society and Culture- rich society
Social Distinctions
Rulers wielded great authority from citadels
Peasants in jaro lied in one-room tenements in barrackslike
Found a bronze figurine of a dancing girl
Fertility Cults
Strong concern for fertility
Recognized a mother goddess and a horned fertility god
Harappan Decline
Ecological degradation was a major cause of decline
o Deforestation led to erosion of topsoil and also to reduced
amounts of rainfall-became a desert
Periodic flooding also weakened this
Harappan beliefs did not die with them
The Indo-European Migrations and Early Aryan India
o Nomadic and pastoral peoples speaking Indo-european languages-Aryans
o Aryans and India
The Early Aryans
Kept sheeps and goats, horses, and cattles, heavily a pastoral economy
Aryans weren’t really hindus, ate beef

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The Vedas
Their sacred language, Sanskrit
Vedas- the earliest and most important of which is the Rig Veda, a
collection of 1,028 hymns addressed to Aryan gods
These represent a priestly perspective on affairs
The Vedic Age
Aryans clashed with Dravidians- Aryans wrecked irrigation systems, etc
The Vedas identify Indra, the Aryan war god and military hero, as the
one who ravaged citadels and smashed dams
The Aryans didn’t have a central govt. so they formed hundreds of
chiefdoms organized around herding communities and agriculture, most
chiefdoms had a raja, a king
Aryan Migrations in India
Aryan groups settled in Punjab- began to cultivate rice
Migrated to the Ganges river valley as well
Changing Political Organizations
Councils of elders won recognition as the rincipal sources of poltical
authority
o Directed affair of small republics
Chiefdoms developed into regional kingdoms
o Origins of the Caste System
The Aryan socil structure rested on sharp hereditary distinction sbetween
individuals and groups according to their occupations and roles in society
Caste- social class of hereditary and unchangeable status
Caste ad Varna
Varna use to refer to major social classes, Varna means color in Sanskrit
Diistintcions arose from complexion Aryans- wheat colored Dravidians-
darker skinned
Social Distinctions in the Late Vedic Age
Four main varnas- Brahmins(priests), Kshatriyas(warriors and
aristocrats), vaishyas(cultivators, articans, and merchants), and
shudras(landless peasants and serfs). And untouchables-people who
performed dirty tasks
Rig Veda says varnas came from gods
Subcastes and Jati
Occupation determined a person’s jati. People working at the same time
in agiven area belonged to the same subcaste, untouchables belonged
to jati
Elaborate rules dictated forms of address and specific behavior
appropriate for communication between members of different castes
and subcastes
Caste and Social Mobility
Could move up and down social ladder
o Happened as a group with jatis
o The Development of Patriarchal Society
Men dominated Aryan societies, priests, warriors, and tribal chiefs were men
Women did not get educated or learn vedas

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o The Lawbook of Manu
Manu, founder of the human race according to indian mythology
This dealt with proper moral behavior and social relationships
The author advised men to treat women with honor and respect
o Sati
Women voluntarily threw herself on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband
Religion in the Vedic Age
o Aryan Religion
Aryan Gods
Indra-war god. He also had a domestic dimension, the Aryans associated
him with the weather and the coming of rain to water
They also recognized the sky, the moon, fire, health, disease, dawn, and
the underworld
They believed that the god Varuna presided over the ksy from his
heavenly palace, where he oversaw the behabior of mortals
Ritual Sacrifices
Involved dozens sometimes hundreds of animals
o They sought to gets gods support through this
Spirituality
Believed souls could experience transmigration and reincarnation
Beginning 800 bc many thoughtful individuals went to forests of the
ganges valley where they live as hermits and relected on the
relationships between humans the world and the gods.
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