The Mahābhārata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes and their succession. Along with the Rāmāyaṇa, it forms the Hindu Itihasa; the Mahābhārata is an epic legendary narrative of the Kurukṣetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes. It contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or puruṣārtha. Among the principal works and stories in the Mahābhārata are the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Damayanti, an abbreviated version of the Rāmāyaṇa, the story of Ṛṣyasringa considered as works in their own right. Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahābhārata is attributed to Vyāsa. There have been many attempts to unravel compositional layers; the oldest preserved parts of the text are thought to be not much older than around 400 BCE, though the origins of the epic fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE.
The text reached its final form by the early Gupta period. According to the Mahābhārata itself, the tale is extended from a shorter version of 24,000 verses called Bhārata; the Mahābhārata is the longest epic poem known and has been described as "the longest poem written". Its longest version consists of over 100,000 śloka or over 200,000 individual verse lines, long prose passages. At about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahābhārata is ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, or about four times the length of the Rāmāyaṇa. W. J. Johnson has compared the importance of the Mahābhārata in the context of world civilization to that of the Bible, the works of William Shakespeare, the works of Homer, Greek drama, or the Quran. Within the Indian tradition it is sometimes called the Fifth Veda; the epic is traditionally ascribed to the sage Vyāsa, a major character in the epic. Vyāsa described it as being itihāsa, he describes the Guru-shishya parampara, which traces all great teachers and their students of the Vedic times.
The first section of the Mahābhārata states that it was Gaṇeśa who wrote down the text to Vyasa's dictation. The epic employs the story within a story structure, otherwise known as frametales, popular in many Indian religious and non-religious works, it is first recited at Takshashila by the sage Vaiśampāyana, a disciple of Vyāsa, to the King Janamejaya, the great-grandson of the Pāṇḍava prince Arjuna. The story is recited again by a professional storyteller named Ugraśrava Sauti, many years to an assemblage of sages performing the 12-year sacrifice for the king Saunaka Kulapati in the Naimiśa Forest; the text was described by some early 20th-century western Indologists as chaotic. Hermann Oldenberg supposed that the original poem must once have carried an immense "tragic force" but dismissed the full text as a "horrible chaos." Moritz Winternitz considered that "only unpoetical theologists and clumsy scribes" could have lumped the parts of disparate origin into an unordered whole. Research on the Mahābhārata has put an enormous effort into recognizing and dating layers within the text.
Some elements of the present Mahābhārata can be traced back to Vedic times. The background to the Mahābhārata suggests the origin of the epic occurs "after the early Vedic period" and before "the first Indian'empire' was to rise in the third century B. C." That this is "a date not too far removed from the 8th or 9th century B. C." is likely. Mahābhārata started as an orally-transmitted tale of the charioteer bards, it is agreed that "Unlike the Vedas, which have to be preserved letter-perfect, the epic was a popular work whose reciters would conform to changes in language and style," so the earliest'surviving' components of this dynamic text are believed to be no older than the earliest'external' references we have to the epic, which may include an allusion in Panini's 4th century BCE grammar Aṣṭādhyāyī 4:2:56. It is estimated that the Sanskrit text reached something of a "final form" by the early Gupta period. Vishnu Sukthankar, editor of the first great critical edition of the Mahābhārata, commented: "It is useless to think of reconstructing a fluid text in a original shape, on the basis of an archetype and a stemma codicum.
What is possible? Our objective can only be to reconstruct the oldest form of the text which it is possible to reach on the basis of the manuscript material available." That manuscript evidence is somewhat late, given its material composition and the climate of India, but it is extensive. The Mahābhārata itself distinguishes a core portion of 24,000 verses: the Bhārata proper, as opposed to additional secondary material, while the Aśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra makes a similar distinction. At least three redactions of the text are recognized: Jaya with 8,800 verses attributed to Vyāsa, Bhārata with 24,000 verses as recited by Vaiśampāyana, the Mahābhārata as recited by Ugraśrava Sauti with over 100,000 verses. However, some scholars, such as John Brockington, argue that Jaya and Bharata refer to the same text, ascribe the theory of Jaya with 8,800 verses to a misreading of a verse in Ādiparvan; the redaction of this large body of text was carried out after formal principles, emphasizing the numbers 18 and 12.
The addition of the latest parts may be dated by the absence of the Anuśāsana-parva and the Virāta parva from the "Spitzer manuscript". The oldest surviving
Wattle and daub
Wattle and daub is a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material made of some combination of wet soil, sand, animal dung and straw. Wattle and daub has been used for at least 6,000 years and is still an important construction material in many parts of the world. Many historic buildings include wattle and daub construction, the technique is becoming popular again in more developed areas as a low-impact sustainable building technique; the wattle is made by weaving thin slats between upright stakes. The wattle may be made as loose panels, slotted between timber framing to make infill panels, or made in place to form the whole of a wall. In different regions, the material of wattle can be different. For example, in Mitchell Site on the northern outskirts of the city of Mitchell, South Dakota, willow has been found as the wattle material of the walls of the house. Reeds and vines can be used as wattle material.
The origin of the term wattle describing a group of acacias in Australia, is derived from the common use of acacias as wattle in early Australian European settlements. Daub is created from a mixture of ingredients from three categories: binders and reinforcement. Binders hold the mix together and can include clay, chalk dust and limestone dust. Aggregates give the mix its bulk and dimensional stability through materials such as mud, crushed chalk and crushed stone. Reinforcement is provided by straw, hay or other fibrous materials, helps to hold the mix together as well as to control shrinkage and provide flexibility; the daub may be by treading -- either by humans or livestock. It is applied to the wattle and allowed to dry, then whitewashed to increase its resistance to rain. Sometimes there can be more than one layer of daub. Still in Mitchell Site, the anterior of the house had double layers of burned daub; this process has been replaced in modern architecture by lath and plaster, a common building material for wall and ceiling surfaces, in which a series of nailed wooden strips are covered with plaster smoothed into a flat surface.
In many regions this building method has itself been overtaken by drywall construction using plasterboard sheets The wattle and daub technique was used in the Neolithic period. It was common for houses of a Linear pottery and Rössen cultures of Central Europe, but is found in Western Asia as well as in North America and South America. In Africa it is common in the architecture of traditional houses such as those of the Ashanti people, its usage dates back at least 6000 years. There are suggestions that construction techniques such as lath and plaster and cob may have evolved from wattle and daub. Fragments from prehistoric wattle and daub buildings have been found in Africa, Europe and North America. A review of English architecture reveals that the sophistication of this craft is dependent on the various styles of timber frame housing; as discussed earlier, there were two popular choices for wattle and daub infill paneling: close-studded paneling and square paneling. Close-studding panels create a much more narrow space between the timbers: anywhere from 7 to 16 inches.
For this style of panel, weaving is too difficult, so the wattles run horizontally and are known as ledgers. The ledgers are sprung into each upright timber through a system of augered holes on one side and short chiseled grooves along the other; the holes are drilled at a slight angle towards the outer face of each stud. This allows room for upright hazels to be tied to ledgers from the inside of the building; the horizontal ledgers are placed every two to three feet with whole hazel rods positioned upright top to bottom and lashed to the ledgers. These hazel rods are tied a finger widths apart with 6–8 rods each with a 16-inch width. Gaps allow key formation for drying. Square panels are large, wide panels typical of some timber frame houses; these panels may be square in shape, or sometimes triangular to accommodate arched or decorative bracing. This style does require wattles to be woven for better support of the daub. To insert wattles in a square panel several steps are required. First, a series of evenly spaced holes are drilled along the middle of the inner face of each upper timber.
Next, a continuous groove is cut along the middle of each inner face of the lower timber in each panel. Vertical slender timbers, known as staves, are inserted and these hold the whole panel within the timber frame; the staves are positioned into the holes and sprung into the grooves. They must be placed with sufficient gaps to weave the flexible horizontal wattles. In some places or cultures, the technique of wattle and daub were used with different materials thus has different names, including pug and pine and stud, hourdis and dab, pierrotage/bousillage and columage. Bajarreque and jacal are examples of structure built with the technique of daub. In the early days of the colonisation of South Australia, in areas where substantial timber was unavailable, pioneers' cottages and other small buildings were constructed with light vertical timbers, which may have been "native pine", driven into the ground, the gaps being stopped with pug. Another term for this construction is pug. "Mud and stud" is a similar process to wattle and daub, with a simple frame consisting only of upright studs joined by cross r
Archaeological Survey of India
The Archaeological Survey of India is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture, responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country. It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who became its first Director-General. ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who became its first Director-General; the first systematic research into the subcontinent's history was conducted by the Asiatic Society, founded by the British Indologist William Jones on 15 January 1784. Based in Calcutta, the society promoted the study of ancient Sanskrit and Persian texts and published an annual journal titled Asiatic Researches. Notable among its early members was Charles Wilkins who published the first English translation of the Bhagavad Gita in 1785 with the patronage of the Governor-General of India, Warren Hastings. However, the most important of the society's achievements was the decipherment of the Brahmi script by James Prinsep in 1837.
This successful decipherment inaugurated the study of Indian palaeography. Armed with the knowledge of Brahmi, Alexander Cunningham, a protégé of Prinsep, carried out a detailed survey of the Buddhist monuments which lasted for over half a century. Inspired by early amateur archaeologists like the Italian military officer, Jean-Baptiste Ventura, Cunningham excavated stupas along the width, the length and breadth of India. While Cunningham funded many of his early excavations himself, in the long run, he realised the need for a permanent body to oversee archaeological excavations and the conservation of Indian monuments and used his stature and influence in India to lobby for an archaeological survey. While his attempt in 1848 did not meet with success, the Archaeological Survey of India was formed in 1861 by a statute passed into law by Lord Canning with Cunningham as the first Archaeological Surveyor; the survey was suspended between 1865 and 1871 due to lack of funds but restored by Lord Lawrence the Viceroy of India.
In 1871, the Survey was revived as a separate department and Cunningham was appointed as its first Director-General. Cunningham was succeeded as Director General by James Burgess. Burgess launched a yearly journal The Indian Antiquary and an annual epigraphical publication Epigraphia Indica as a supplement to the Indian Antiquary; the post of Director General was permanently suspended in 1889 due to a funds crunch and was not restored until 1902. In the interim period, conservation work in the different circles was carried out by the superintendents of the individual circles; the post of Director General was restored by Lord Curzon in 1902. Breaking with tradition, Curzon chose a 26-year-old professor of classical studies at Cambridge named John Marshall to head the survey. Marshall served as Director General for a quarter of a century and during his long tenure, he replenished and invigorated the survey whose activities were fast dwindling into insignificance. Marshall encouraged epigraphical studies.
The most significant event of his tenure was, the discovery of the Indus Valley Civilization at Harappa and Mohenjodaro in 1921. The success and scale of the discoveries made ensured that the progress made in Marshall's tenure would remain unmatched. Marshall was succeeded by Harold Hargreaves in 1928. Hargreaves was succeeded by Daya Ram Sahni, supervisor of Marshall's excavation of Harappa in 1921−22, who in 1931, became the first Indian Director General of the survey. Sahni was succeeded by J. F. Blakiston and K. N. Dikshit both of whom had participated in the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro. In 1944, a British archaeologist and army officer, Mortimer Wheeler took over as Director General. Wheeler served as Director General till 1948 and during this period he excavated the Iron Age site of Arikamedu and the Stone age sites of Brahmagiri and Maski in South India. Wheeler founded the journal Ancient India in 1946 and presided over the partitioning of ASI's assets during the Partition of India and helped establish an archaeological body for the newly formed Pakistan.
Wheeler was succeeded by N. P. Chakravarti in 1948; the National Museum was inaugurated in New Delhi on 15 August 1949 to house the artifacts displayed at the Indian Exhibition in the United Kingdom. Madho Sarup Vats and Amalananda Ghosh succeeded Chakravarti. Ghosh's tenure which lasted until 1968 is noted for the excavations of Indus Valley sites at Kalibangan and Dholavira; the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act was passed in 1958 bringing the archaeological survey under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. Ghosh was succeeded by B. B. Lal who conducted archaeological excavations at Ayodhya to investigate whether a Ram Temple preceded the Babri Masjid. During Lal's tenure, the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act was passed recommending central protection for monuments considered to be "of national importance". Lal was succeeded by M. N. Deshpande who served from 1972 to 1978 and B. K. Thapar who served from 1978 to 1981. On Thapar's retirement in 1981, archaeologist Debala Mitra was appointed to succeed him - she was the first woman Director General of the ASI.
Mitra was succeeded by M. S. Nagaraja Rao, transferred from the Karnataka State Department of Archaeology. Archaeologists J. P. Joshi and M. C. Joshi succeeded Rao. M. C. Joshi was the Director General when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992 triggering Hindu-Muslim violence all over India; as a fallout of the demolition, Joshi was dismissed in 1993 and controversially replaced as Director General by Indian Administrative Service officer Achala Moulik, a move which inaugurated a tradition of appointing bureaucrats
The Prakrits are any of several Middle Indo-Aryan languages used in India. According to the dictionary of Monier Monier-Williams, the most frequent meanings of the term prakṛta, from which the word "prakrit" is derived, are "original, normal" and the term is derived from prakṛti, "making or placing before or at first, the original or natural form or condition of anything, original or primary substance". In linguistic terms, this is used in contrast with saṃskṛta, "refined". Modern scholars have used the term "Prakrit" to refer to two concepts: Prakrit languages: a group of related literary languages the Prakrit language: one of the Prakrit languages, which alone was used as the primary language of entire poemsSome modern scholars include all Middle Indo-Aryan languages under the rubric of'Prakrits', while others emphasize the independent development of these languages separated from the history of Sanskrit by wide divisions of caste and geography; the broadest definition uses the term "Prakrit" to describe any Middle Indo-Aryan language that deviates from Sanskrit in any manner.
American scholar Andrew Ollett points out that this unsatisfactory definition makes "Prakrit" a cover term for languages that were not called Prakrit in ancient India, such as: the language of Ashoka's inscriptions the language of inscriptions of India, labeled "Monumental Prakrit", "Lena Prakrit", or "Stupa dialect" the language of inscriptions of Sri Lanka, labeled "Sinhalese Prakrit" Pali, the language of the Theravada Buddhist canon the Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Gandhari, the language of birch-bark scrolls discovered in the region stretching from northwestern India to western ChinaAccording to some scholars, such as German Indologists Richard Pischel and Oskar von Hinüber, the term "Prakrit" refers to a smaller set of languages that were used in literature: Scenic Prakrits These languages are used in plays, as secondary languages Their names indicate regional association, although these associations are notional Primary Prakrits These languages are used as primary languages of literary classics such as Gaha Sattasai This includes the Maharashtri Prakrit or "Prakrit par excellence", which according to Dandin's Kavya-darsha, was prevalent in the Maharashtra region, in which poems such as Ravana-vaho were composed.
According to Sanskrit scholar A. C. Woolner, the Ardhamagadhi Prakrit, used extensively to write the scriptures of Jainism, is considered to be the definitive form of Prakrit, while others are considered variants of it. Prakrit grammarians would give the full grammar of Ardhamagadhi first, define the other grammars with relation to it. For this reason, courses teaching'Prakrit' are regarded as teaching Ardhamagadhi. Medieval grammarians such as Markandeya describe a systematized Prakrit grammar, but the surviving Prakrit texts do not adhere to this grammar. For example, according to Vishvanatha, in a Sanskrit drama, the characters should speak Maharashtri Prakrit in verse and Shauraseni Prakrit in prose, but the 10th century Sanskrit dramatist Rajashekhara doesn't abide by this rule. Markandeya, as well as scholars such as Sten Konow find faults with the Prakrit portions of Rajashekhara's writings, but it is not clear if the rule enunciated by Vishvanatha existed during Rajashekhara's time. Rajashekhara's himself imagines Prakrit as a single language or a single kind of language, alongside Sanskrit and Paishachi.
German Indologist Theodor Bloch dismissed the medieval Prakrit grammarians as unreliable, arguing that they were not qualified to describe the language of the texts composed centuries before them. Other scholars such as Sten Konow, Richard Pischel and Alfred Hillebrandt, disagree with Bloch, it is possible that the grammarians sought to codify only the language of the earliest classics of the Prakrit literature, such as the Gaha Sattasai. Another explanation is. Most of the surviving Prakrit manuscripts were produced in a variety of reigonal scripts, during 1300-1800 CE, it appears that the scribes who made these copies from the earlier manuscripts did not have a good command of the original language of the texts, as several of the extant Prakrit texts contain inaccuracies or are incomprehensible. Prakrit literature was produced across a wide area of South Asia, from Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, from Sindh in the west to Bengal in the east. Outside India, the language was known in Cambodia and Java.
Prakrit is wrongly assumed to have been a language spoken by the common people, because it is different from Sanskrit, the predominant language of the ancient Indian literature. Several modern scholars, such as George Abraham Grierson and Richard Pischel, have asserted that the literary Prakrit does not represent the actual languages spoken by the common people of ancient India; this theory is corroborated by a market scene in Uddyotana's Kuvalaya-mala, in which the narrator speaks a few words in 18 different languages: some of these languages sound similar to the languages spoken in modern India. Literary Prakrit was among the main languages of the classical Indian culture. Dandin's Kavya-darsha mentions four kinds of literary languages: Sanskrit, Prakrit and mixed. Bhoja's Sarasvati-Kanthabharana lists Prakrit among the few languages suitable for composition of literature
The Geography known by its Latin names as the Geographia and the Cosmographia, is a gazetteer, an atlas, a treatise on cartography, compiling the geographical knowledge of the 2nd-century Roman Empire. Written by Claudius Ptolemy in Greek at Alexandria around AD 150, the work was a revision of a now-lost atlas by Marinus of Tyre using additional Roman and Persian gazetteers and new principles, its translation into Arabic in the 9th century and Latin in 1406 was influential on the geographical knowledge and cartographic traditions of the medieval Caliphate and Renaissance Europe. Versions of Ptolemy's work in antiquity were proper atlases with attached maps, although some scholars believe that the references to maps in the text were additions. No Greek manuscript of the Geography survives from earlier than the 13th century. A letter written by the Byzantine monk Maximus Planudes records that he searched for one for Chora Monastery in the summer of 1295. In Europe, maps were sometimes redrawn using the coordinates provided by the text, as Planudes was forced to do.
Scribes and publishers could copy these new maps, as Athanasius did for the emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus. The three earliest surviving texts with maps are those from Constantinople based on Planudes's work; the first Latin translation of these texts was made in 1406 or 1407 by Jacobus Angelus in Florence, under the name Geographia Claudii Ptolemaei. It is not thought that his edition had maps, although Manuel Chrysoloras had given Palla Strozzi a Greek copy of Planudes's maps in Florence in 1397; the Geography consists of three sections, divided among 8 books. Book I is a treatise on cartography, describing the methods used to assemble and arrange Ptolemy's data. From Book II through the beginning of Book VII, a gazetteer provides longitude and latitude values for the world known to the ancient Romans; the rest of Book VII provides details on three projections to be used for the construction of a map of the world, varying in complexity and fidelity. Book VIII constitutes an atlas of regional maps.
The maps include a recapitulation of some of the values given earlier in the work, which were intended to be used as captions to clarify the map's contents and maintain their accuracy during copying. Maps based on scientific principles had been made in Europe since the time of Eratosthenes in the 3rd century BC. Ptolemy improved the treatment of map projections, he provided instructions on. The gazetteer section of Ptolemy's work provided latitude and longitude coordinates for all the places and geographical features in the work. Latitude was expressed in degrees of arc from the equator, the same system, used now, though Ptolemy used fractions of a degree rather than minutes of arc, his Prime Meridian ran through the Fortunate Isles, the westernmost land recorded, at around the position of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. The maps spanned 180 degrees of longitude from the Fortunate Isles in the Atlantic to China. Ptolemy was aware. Ptolemy's work included a single large and less detailed world map and separate and more detailed regional maps.
The first Greek manuscripts compiled after Maximus Planudes's rediscovery of the text had as many as 64 regional maps. The standard set in Western Europe came to be 26: 10 European maps, 4 African maps, 12 Asian maps; as early as the 1420s, these canonical maps were complemented by extra-Ptolemaic regional maps depicting, e.g. Scandinavia; the original treatise by Marinus of Tyre that formed the basis of Ptolemy's Geography has been lost. A world map based on Ptolemy was displayed in Augustodunum in late Roman times. Pappus, writing at Alexandria in the 4th century, produced a commentary on Ptolemy's Geography and used it as the basis of his Chorography of the Ecumene. Imperial writers and mathematicians, seem to have restricted themselves to commenting on Ptolemy's text, rather than improving upon it. Byzantine scholars continued these geographical traditions throughout the Medieval period. Whereas previous Greco-Roman geographers such as Strabo and Pliny the Elder demonstrated a reluctance to rely on the contemporary accounts of sailors and merchants who plied distant areas of the Indian Ocean and Ptolemy betray a much greater receptiveness to incorporating information received from them.
For instance, Grant Parker argues that it would be implausible for them to have constructed the Bay of Bengal as as they did without the accounts of sailors. When it comes to the account of the Golden Chersonese and the Magnus Sinus and Ptolemy relied on the testimony of a Greek sailor named Alexandros, who claimed to have visited a far eastern site called "Cattigara". Muslim cartographers were using Geography by the 9th century. At that time, in the court of the caliph al-Maʾmūm, al-Khwārazmī compiled his Book of the Depiction of the Earth which mimicked the Geography in providing the coordinates for 545 cities and regional maps of the Nile, the Island of the Jewel, the Sea of Darkness, the Sea of Azov. A 1037 copy of these are the
Painted Grey Ware culture
The Painted Grey Ware culture is an Iron Age Indian culture of the western Gangetic plain and the Ghaggar-Hakra valley on the Indian subcontinent, lasting from 1200 BCE to 600 BCE. It is a successor of the Black and red ware culture within this region, contemporary with the continuation of the BRW culture in the eastern Gangetic plain and Central India. Characterized by a style of fine, grey pottery painted with geometric patterns in black, the PGW culture is associated with village and town settlements, domesticated horses, ivory-working, the advent of iron metallurgy. Total number of PGW sites discovered so far is more than 1100. Although most PGW sites were small farming villages, "several dozen" PGW sites emerged as large settlements that can be characterized as towns; the PGW Culture corresponds to the middle and late Vedic period, i.e. the Kuru-Panchala kingdom, the first large state in the Indian subcontinent after the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization. The vedic literature provides a mass of information on the life and culture of the times.
It is succeeded by Northern Black Polished Ware from c.700-500 BCE, associated with the rise of the great mahajanapada states and of the Magadha Empire. The PGW culture cultivated rice, wheat and barley, domesticated cattle, sheep and horses. Houses were built of wattle-and-daub, mud, or bricks, ranging in size from small huts to large houses with many rooms. There is a clear settlement hierarchy, with a few central towns that stand out amongst numerous small villages; some sites, including Jakhera in Uttar Pradesh, demonstrate a “fairly evolved, proto-urban or semi-urban stage” of this culture, with evidence of social organization and trade, including ornaments of gold, copper and semi-precious stones, storage bins for surplus grain, stone weights, paved streets, water channels and embankments. The plough was used for cultivation. There are indications of growing complexity of society and the formation of'castes'; the old tribal groups must have disappeared as population increased and the size and number of settlements multiplied.
Arts and crafts of the PGW people are represented by ornaments and animal figurines as well as "incised terracotta discs with decorated edges and geometric motifs" which had "ritual meaning," representing symbols of deities. There are a few stamp seals with geometric designs but no inscription, contrasting with both the prior Harappan seals and the subsequent Brahmi-inscribed seals of the Northern Black Polished Ware culture; the PGW pottery shows a remarkable degree of standardization. It is dominated by bowls of two shapes, a shallow tray and a deeper bowl with a sharp angle between the walls and base; the range of decoration is limited - vertical, oblique or criss-cross lines, rows of dots, spiral chains and concentric circles being common. At Bhagwanpura in the Kurukshetra district of Haryana, excavations have revealed an overlap between the late Harappan and Painted Grey Ware cultures, large houses that may have been elite residences, fired bricks that may have been used in Vedic altars.
Fresh surveys by archaeologist Vinay Kumar Gupta suggest Mathura was the largest PGW site around 375 hectares in area. Among the largest sites is the excavated Ahichatra, with at least 40 hectares of area in PGW times along with evidence of early construction of the fortification which goes back to PGW levels. Two periods of PGW were identified at Ahichhatra, the earliest from 1500 to 800 BCE, the Late from 800 to 400 BCE. Towards the end of the period, many of the PGW settlements grew into the large towns and cities of the Northern Black Polished Ware period. In the 1950s, archaeologist B. B. Lal associated Hastinapura, Ahichatra, Barnava and other sites of PGW culture with the Mahabharata period. Furthermore, he pointed out that the Mahabharata mentions a flood and a layer of flooding debris was found in Hastinapura. However, B. B. Lal considered his theories to be provisional and based upon a limited body of evidence, he reconsidered his statements on the nature of this culture. B. B. Lal confirms that Mahabharata is associated with PGW sites in a recent 2012 presentation at the International Seminar on Mahabharata held by Draupadi Trust and gives a date to c. 900 BCE for the War recounted in the Mahabharata.
The pottery style of this culture is different from the pottery of the Iranian Plateau and Afghanistan. In some sites, PGW pottery and Late Harappan pottery are contemporaneous; the archaeologist Jim Shaffer has noted that "at present, the archaeological record indicates no cultural discontinuities separating Painted Grey Ware from the indigenous protohistoric culture." However, the continuity of pottery styles may be explained by the fact that pottery was made by indigenous craftsmen after the Indo-Aryan migration. According to Chakrabarti and other scholars, the origins of the subsistence patterns and most other characteristics of the Painted Grey Ware culture are in eastern India or Southeast Asia. In 2013, the University of Cambridge and Banaras Hindu University excavated at Alamgirpur near Delhi, where they found a period overlap between the part of the Harappan phase and the earliest PGW levels.
The Kushan Empire was a syncretic empire, formed by the Yuezhi, in the Bactrian territories in the early 1st century. It spread to encompass much of Afghanistan, the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent at least as far as Saketa and Sarnath near Varanasi, where inscriptions have been found dating to the era of the Kushan Emperor Kanishka the Great. Emperor Kanishka was a great patron of Buddhism, he played an important role in the establishment of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent and its spread to Central Asia and China. The Kushans were one of five branches of the Yuezhi confederation, a Iranian or Tocharian, Indo-European nomadic people who migrated from Gansu and settled in ancient Bactria; the Kushans used the Greek language for administrative purposes, but soon began to use Bactrian language. Kanishka sent his armies north of the Karakoram mountains, capturing territories as far as Kashgar and Yarkant, in the Tarim Basin of modern-day Xinjiang, China. A direct road from Gandhara to China remained under Kushan control for more than a century, encouraging travel across the Karakoram and facilitating the spread of Mahayana Buddhism to China.
The Kushan dynasty had diplomatic contacts with the Roman Empire, Sasanian Persia, the Aksumite Empire and the Han dynasty of China. While much philosophy and science was created within its borders, the only textual record of the empire's history today comes from inscriptions and accounts in other languages Chinese; the Kushan empire fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms in the 3rd century AD, which fell to the Sasanians invading from the west, establishing the Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom in the areas of Sogdiana and Gandhara. In the 4th century, the Guptas, an Indian dynasty pressed from the east; the last of the Kushan and Kushano-Sasanian kingdoms were overwhelmed by invaders from the north, known as the Kidarites, the Hepthalites. Chinese sources describe the Guishuang, i.e. the Kushans, as one of the five aristocratic tribes of the Yuezhi, with some people claiming they were a loose confederation of Indo-European peoples, though many scholars are still unconvinced that they spoke an Indo-European language.
As the historian John E. Hill has put it: "For well over a century... There have been many arguments about the ethnic and linguistic origins of the Great Yuezhi or Da Yuezhi and the Tochari, still there is little consensus"; the Yuezhi were described in the Records of the Great Historian 史記 and the Book of Han 漢書 as living in the grasslands of Gansu, in the northwest of modern-day China, until their King was beheaded by the Huns from Siberia who were at war with China, which forced them to migrate west in 176–160 BCE. The five tribes constituting the Yuezhi are known in Chinese history as Xiūmì, Guìshuāng, Shuāngmǐ, Xìdùn, Dūmì; the Yuezhi reached the Hellenic kingdom of Greco-Bactria around 135 BC. The displaced Greek dynasties resettled to the southeast in areas of the Hindu Kush and the Indus basin, occupying the western part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom; some traces remain of the presence of the Kushans in the area of Sogdiana. Archaeological structures are known in Takht-I-Sangin, Surkh Kotal, in the palace of Khalchayan.
Various sculptures and friezes are known, representing horse-riding archers, men with artificially deformed skulls, such as the Kushan prince of Khalchayan. The Chinese first referred to these people as the Yuezhi and said they established the Kushan Empire, although the relationship between the Yuezhi and the Kushans is still unclear. On the ruins of ancient Hellenistic cities such as Ai-Khanoum, the Kushans are known to have built fortresses; the earliest documented ruler, the first one to proclaim himself as a Kushan ruler, was Heraios. He calls himself a "tyrant" in Greek on his coins, exhibits skull deformation, he may have been an ally of the Greeks, he shared the same style of coinage. Heraios may have been the father of the first Kushan emperor Kujula Kadphises. Ban Gu's Book of Han tells us the Kushans divided up Bactria in 128 BC. Fan Ye's Book of the Later Han "relates how the chief of the Kushans, Ch'iu-shiu-ch'ueh, founded by means of the submission of the other Yueh-chih clans the Kushan Empire, known to the Greeks and Romans under the name of Empire of the Indo-Scythians."The Chinese Hou Hanshu 後漢書 chronicles gives an account of the formation of the Kushan empire based on a report made by the Chinese general Ban Yong to the Chinese Emperor c. 125 AD: More than a hundred years the prince of Guishuang established himself as king, his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang King.
He invaded Anxi, took the Gaofu region. He defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda and Jibin. Qiujiuque was more than eighty years old, his son, became king in his place. He defeated installed Generals to supervise and lead it; the Yuezhi became rich. All the kingdoms call the Guishuang king. In the 1st century BCE, the Guishuang gained prom