What Books and Burials Tell Us Class 6 Notes | DailyHomeStudy

One of the oldest books in the world

  •  There four Veda – the Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda.
  • The oldest Veda is the Rigveda, composed about 3500 years ago.
  • The Rigveda includes more than a thousand hymns, called sukta or “well-said”.
  • These hymns are in praise of various gods and goddesses.
  • Three gods are specially important: Agni, the god of fire; Indra, a warrior god; and Soma, a plant from which a
    special drink was prepared.
  • These hymns were composed by sages (rishis).
  • Priests taught students to recite and memorise each syllable, word, and sentence, bit by bit, with great care.
  • Most of the hymns were composed, taught and learnt by men. A few were composed by women.
  • The Rigveda is in old or Vedic Sanskrit, which is different from the Sanskrit you learn inschool these days.
  • The books we use are written and printed.
  • The Rigveda was recited and heard rather than read.
  • It was written down several centuries after it was first composed, and printed less than 200 years ago.

What Books and Burials Tell Us

Sanskrit and other languages

  • Sanskrit is part of a family of languages known as Indo-European.
  • Assamese, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri and Sindhi, and many European languages such as English, French, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish belong to this family.
  • They are called a family because they originally had words in common.
  • Take the words ‘matr’ (Sanskrit), ‘ma’ (Hindi) and ‘mother’ (English).
  • Other languages used in the subcontinent belong to different families.
  • Those used in the north-east belong to the Tibeto-Burman family; Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam belong to the Dravidian family; and the languages spoken in Jharkhand and parts of central India belong to the Austro-Asiatic family.

How historians study the Rigveda

  • Historians, like archaeologists, find out about the past, but, in addition to material remains, they examine written sources as well.
  • Hymns in the Rigveda are in the form of dialogues.

Cattle, horses and chariots

Kingdoms, Kings and an Early Republic

  • There are many prayers in the Rigveda for cattle, children (especially sons), and horses.
  • Horses were yoked to chariots that were used in battles, which were fought to capture cattle.
  • Battles were fought for land, which was important for pasture, and for growing hardy crops that ripened
    quickly, such as barley.
  • Some battles were fought for water, and to capture people.
  • Some of the wealth that was obtained was kept by the leaders, some was given to the priests and the rest was distributed amongst the people.
  • Some wealth was used for the performance of yajnas or sacrifices in which offerings were made into the fire.
  • These were meant for gods and goddesses.
  • Offerings could include ghee, grain, and in some cases, animals.
  • Most men took part in these wars.
  • There was no regular army, but there were assemblies where people met and discussed matters of war and
  • They also chose leaders, who were often brave and skilful warriors.

Words to describe people

New Questions and Ideas

  • People were described in terms of the work they do, the language they speak, the place they belong to, their family, their communities and cultural practices.
  • There are two groups who are described in terms of their work — the priests, sometimes called brahmins, who performed various rituals and the rajas.
  • These rajas were not like the ones you will be learning about later.
  • They did not have capital cities, palaces or armies, nor did they collect taxes.
  • Sons did not automatically succeed fathers as rajas.
  • The word vaishya comes from vish.
  • Several vish or jana are mentioned by name.
  • People who composed the hymns described themselves as Aryas and called their opponents Dasas or Dasyus.
  • These were people who did not perform sacrifices, and probably spoke different languages.
  • The term dasa (and the feminine dasi) came to mean slave.
  • Slaves were women and men who were often captured in war.
  • They were treated as the property of their owners, who could make them do whatever work they wanted.
  • The Rigveda was being composed in the north-west of the subcontinent, there were other developments elsewhere.

Ashoka, The Emperor who Gave up War

Silent sentinels—the story of the megaliths

  • Megaliths (literally big stones) these were carefully arranged by people, and were used to mark burial sites.
  • The practice of erecting megaliths began about 3000 years ago, and was prevalent throughout the Deccan, south India, in the north-east and Kashmir.
  • Megaliths can be seen on the surface, other megalithic burials are often underground.
  • Sometimes, archaeologists find a circle of stone boulders or a single large stone standing on the ground.
  • These are the only indications that there are burials beneath.
  • Burials have some common features.
  • The dead were buried with distinctive pots, which are called Black and Red Ware.

Finding out about social differences

  • Archaeologists think that objects found with a skeleton probably belonged to the dead person.
  • Sometimes, more objects are found in one grave than in another.
  • These finds suggest that there was some difference in status amongst the people who were buried.
  • Some were rich, others poor, some chiefs, others followers.

Were some burial spots meant for certain families?

Vital Villages, Thriving Towns

  • Sometimes, megaliths contain more than one skeleton.
  • These indicate that people, perhaps belonging to the same family, were buried in the same place though not at the same time.
  • The bodies of those who died later were brought into the grave through the portholes.
  • Stone circles or boulders placed on the surface probably served as signposts to find the burial site, so that people could return to the same place whenever they wanted to.

A special burial at Inamgaon

  • Inamgaon is a site on the river Ghod, a tributary of the Bhima.
  • It was occupied between 3600 and 2700 years ago.
  • Adults were generally buried in the ground, laid out straight, with the head towards the north.
  • Sometimes burials were within the houses.
  • Vessels that probably contained food and water were placed with the dead.
  • One man was found buried in a large, four legged clay jar in the courtyard of a five-roomed house (one of the largest houses at the site), in the centre of the settlement.
  • This house also had a granary.
  • The body was placed in a cross- legged position.

Traders, Kings and Pilgrims

What skeletal studies tell us

  • It is easy to make out the skeleton of a child from its small size.
  • There are no major differences in the bones of a girl and a boy.
  • Sometimes, people decide on the basis of what is found with the skeleton.
  • If a skeleton is found with jewellery, it is sometimes thought to be that of a woman.
  • There are problems with this. Often, men also wore ornaments.
  • A better way of figuring out the sex of a skeleton is to look at the bone structure.
  • The hip or the pelvic area of women is generally larger to enable child bearing.
  • These distinctions are based on modern skeletal studies.
  • About 2000 years ago, there was a famous physician named Charaka who wrote a book on medicine known as the Charaka Samhita.
  • There he states that the human body has 360 bones.
  • This is a much larger number than the 200 bones that are recognised in modern anatomy.
  • Charaka arrived at this figure by counting the teeth, joints and cartilage.

Occupations at Inamgaon

New Empires and Kingdoms

  • Archaeologists have found seeds of wheat, barley, rice, pulses, millets, peas and sesame.
  • Bones of a number of animals, many bearing cut marks that show they may have been used as food, have also
    been found.
  • These include cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, dog, horse, ass, pig, sambhar, spotted deer, blackbuck, antelope, hare, and mongoose, besides birds, crocodile, turtle, crab and fish.
  • There is evidence that fruits such as ber, amla, jamun, dates and a variety of berries were collected.


  • These writings were on animal bones.
  • These are called oracle bones, because they were used to predict the future.
  • Then fortunetellers studied these cracks, and tried to predict the future.
  • As you may expect, they sometimes made mistakes.
  • These kings lived in palaces in cities.
  • They amassed vast quantities of wealth, including large,elaborately decorated bronze vessels.
  • However, they did not know the use of iron.

Buildings, Paintings and Books


  • Beginning of the composition of the Vedas (about 3500 years ago)
  • Beginning of the building of megaliths (about 3000 years ago)
  • Settlement at Inamgaon (between 3600 and 2700 years ago)
  • Charaka (about 2000 years ago)
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