Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)


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Archaeology of Trade in the Western Indian Ocean, BC–AD | SpringerLink

Finally, written sources suggest that sorghum reached southwest China only in the first half of the first millennium AD Hagarty, , and a third-century text suggests introduction at this time via Central Asia Sogdhiana Bray, : , although earlier, unsubstantiated archaeological finds have been claimed Kimber, Two types of millet were cultivated and domesticated in northern China Stevens and Fuller, in press ; Liu et al. Evidence for the cultivation of broomcorn millet Panicum miliaceum , together with foxtail millet Setaria italica , first appears in Hebei associated with the Cishan Culture — BC.

Contemporary centres of domestication with mainly broomcorn millet, and foxtail millet later, are found associated with the Xinglongwa Culture of the northeast in Manchuria. While Peiligang Cultures to the southwest in northern Henan have just foxtail millet reported. Two further centres for early cultivation are known; with both foxtail and broomcorn millet in northwest Shandong, associated with the Houli Culture, and just broomcorn millet in southeast Gangsu with the Dadiwan Culture.

However, the collapse of these cultures between and BC, followed by breaks in settlement, suggest cultivation dead-ends, without full domestication. To the south, contemporary separate processes of rice domestication were taking place in the Yangtze basin Deng et al. The drive behind this expansion is attributed to demic-diffusion with settlement and population increase evident in Shaanxi from to BC Wagner et al.

Further population increase over the next years saw the diffusion of millet farmers initially up the Weihe and Zhanghe river valleys, and later along the Yellow River and its tributaries into eastern Qinghai between and BC Wagner et al. Individual sites with evidence for broomcorn millet are shown. The contours are within year increments covering the period — BC and provide a general indication of the chronological spread of broomcorn millet based upon our best reading of current existing data as given within the text.

Earlier possible dead-end centres of cultivation and possible chronological limits are shown with a dotted line. The contours are within year increments covering the period — BC and provide a general indication of the chronological spread of foxtail millet based upon our best reading of current existing data as given within the text.

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While the body of evidence for millet farmers increases in eastern Qinghai, — BC, there is no evidence for substantial settlement, population growth or further movement into the higher altitudes of the Tibetan plateau until after BC cf. Wagner et al.

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Chen et al. It might be noted that while millets are present in Taiwan at around BC, there is no tradition of millet cultivation in mainland southeast China. An early C 14 date on foxtail millet from Thailand, — BC, suggests a rapid diffusion south Weber et al. The distribution of Sino-Tibetan languages through Nepal hints at dispersal along the Himalayan foothills by groups with ancestral knowledge of foxtail millet, broomcorn millet, rice, barley, wheat and buckwheat Bradley, However, the absence of loan words for millet connected to those used in Indic languages see Witzel, argues against diffusion of the Chinese millets themselves further west via the sub-Himalayan route, or indeed wheat or barley eastwards from south of the Himalayas.

The transport of millets into Central Asia, as with wheat, can be regarded with a low or high chronology. A cautious approach using only direct-dated finds proposes millet diffusion from China into Central Asia no earlier than the late third millennium BC e.

Frachetti et al. The earliest securely dated occurrence of broomcorn millet outside China comes from Begash, Kazakhstan, c. Regarding the former, these millet impressions may be of wild Panicum or even Echinochloa , as millet identification criteria have proved a challenge cf. Generally, Chinese millet finds dating before BC are uncommon west of Kazakhstan, raising questions as to the security of early finds in terms of identification criteria and direct C 14 dating.

Where millets have been directly dated in Europe, they invariably turn out to be no older than the second millennium BC Motuzaite-Matuzeviciute et al. Thus as concluded by Spengler , more systematic archaeobotanical sampling, morphological documentation and direct dating are needed to track the spread of millets. Concerning the arrival of the two Chinese millets on the Indian subcontinent or Africa, one faces the challenge of a wide range of local congenic relatives, including cultivated crops like Indian little millet Panicum sumatrense and yellow foxtail Setaria pumila , not to mention other morphologically similar crops, for example, Brachiaria ramosa and Echinochloa frumentacea Fuller, ; Kingwell-Banham and Fuller, In compiling AsCAD, we have taken a cautious approach to less secure identifications.

Graph showing number of sites with reported millets for South Asia for different time periods. Solid colours indicate secure identifications and hatched lines indicate specimens of questionable date or identification. Top: foxtail millet Setaria italica ; middle: broomcorn millet Panicum miliaceum ; bottom: little millet Panicum sumatrense.

Broomcorn millet appears to have spread rapidly from Central Asia in the late third millennium, with evidence from Shortugai, Afghanistan, shortly after BC Willcox, , and similar dates from Pirak, southern Pakistan Costantini, , becoming widespread in the late Harappan period Fuller, b.

Notably, sites in Kashmir, despite earlier finds of peach and apricot, only provide evidence for broomcorn millet at c. Spengler, , but these Indian finds remain problematic. The application of improved identification criteria has confirmed only the presence of Brachiaria ramosa and native Setaria spp. Fuller, , ; Pokharia, , with increasing evidence thereafter. As such, they predate Central Asian finds of foxtail millet, but not broomcorn millet. The Chinese millets arrive in India and Pakistan well after the establishment of native Indian millets Figure 5 , for example, Panicum sumatrense , confirming the inference that Chinese millets, like their African counterparts, were adopted by peoples already familiar with millet cultivation Fuller and Boivin, ; Weber, West beyond southern and Central Asia, broomcorn millet appears earlier than foxtail millet, with apparent dispersal via Arabian Sea connections to Yemen, and after Sudan before the mid-second millennium BC Fuller and Boivin, A rapid spread is also seen across central southern Europe in the Bronze Age with evidence for possible millet consumption from around BC Tafuri et al.

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Setting aside the Austrian early third millennium BC find Kohler-Schneider and Canepelle, , broomcorn millet is reported from Troy at c. The late, and inconsequential place of millets in the Middle East suggests they spread south via the Indus region to the Arabia Sea to reach Yemen and Nubia in the same era that brought African crops to South Asia Boivin and Fuller, ; Fuller and Boivin, It is perhaps worth drawing attention here also to sorghum, pearl millet and hyacinth bean that travelled to India from northeast Africa on the reverse route by the early second millennium BC based on secure finds Fuller ; Fuller and Boivin, , with a few earlier reports of sorghum claimed from third millennium BC Harappan sites in northwest India Pokharia et al.

These include artefacts, along with cultigens; peach Amygdalus persica and apricot Armeniaca vulgaris , potentially Chinese rice, Oryza sativa subsp. The seemingly broadly synchronous arrival of these crops of Chinese origin, in northwest India and Pakistan led to hypotheses that they diffused utilizing social exchanges and incipient trade networks through Central Asia see Boivin et al. It might be noted that many authors refer to this route in general terms as the Eurasian Steppe, while Spengler specifically narrows it to the southern valleys and mountain foothills linking China to Central Asia Spengler, , although he sees such diffusion as less synchronous Route A.

Additional information on the dating of these can be found in the supplementary data available online. Instead they are congruent with the beginnings of an era in which exchange, trade, and associated small-scale migrations accompanying such trade, became the major forces behind a more rapid dispersal of cultigens. Cultural and archaeobotanical assemblages from sites in Kashmir, and adjacent Swat, northern Pakistan, begin to show shared similarities from around BC.

These similarities include elements originating in China, such as Chinese-style harvesting knives, square stone artefacts with one or two holes likely to be used for the harvesting of individual cereal panicles or ears, and a small number of possible jade objects Coningham and Young, : —; Fairservis, ; Stacul, , : 88—90 , and Chinese ceramic traditions Han, Along with Near Eastern crops; wheat, barley, lentil and pea; and native Indian mungbean, two of the sites have produced evidence for charred fragments of peach and apricots, potentially including the earliest levels at Burzahom c.

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The Chinese artefacts have been associated with the Yangshao Culture Dikshit and Hazarika, ; Mughal and Halim, ; Sharif and Thapar, : , but Chinese scholars have more specifically related them to the Majiayao cultural phase of Gansu, Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan, noting strong similarities to the southeastern Tibetan Karuo Culture Han, ; Huo, However, the origins of both peach and apricot in Kashmir, where they were likely cultivated, are still a matter for some debate.

Wild stands of apricot reported from Armenia Zohary et al. The origin of apricot domestication is generally identified as north and northeast China with secondary centres, in the Tian Shan Mountains of Xinjiang, the Zaliji and Dzhungar Mountains of Kazakhstan and the Caucasus, possibly constituting introgression between wild populations and Chinese cultivars Weisskopf and Fuller, a ; contra Zohary et al. The wild progenitor of peach is regarded as once being widely distributed through northern China Kostina, ; Lu and Bartholomew, , but now extinct Weisskopf and Fuller, b.

Zheng et al.


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Peach finds recovered from the Yangshao period in central China could have been from wild trees, but it seems likely, as with apricots, that cultivation was established by the Longshan period, c. Notably, peach is only reported much later within the first millennium BC from European contexts Zohary et al. Given peach finds are unknown outside China prior to the second millennium BC, and their close association with the arrival of Chinese-style harvesting knives, it seems likely that both peach and apricot came as cultivated species from China into Kashmir by, or perhaps even before, the early second millennium BC.

Writing in , Sturtevant Hendick postulated that the quick germination and growth of peach would have allowed its rapid dispersal along ancient caravan routes from China to Kashmir or Bukhara Uzbekistan see Faust and Timon, As with apricot, feral peaches are known from Gansu, while a close relative Amygdalus ferganensis syn. The distribution of Amygdalus ferganensis and the existence of feral populations of both peach and apricot might suggest they could be spread relatively easily by agro-pastoralists at an early date.

One of the potential secondary centres for apricot domestication is in the Dzhungar Mountains, where the sites of Tasbas and Begash are located. However, neither apricot nor peach stones have been recovered from these sites see Spengler, ; Spengler et al. The third millennium BC in parts of Central Asia began to see directed animal domestication processes aimed more at transport and trade than earlier Neolithic domesticates aimed at subsistence Larson and Fuller, The start of the second millennium BC witnessed a transportation revolution, with the appearance of horses and Bactrian camels in the Indus region Meadow, This arrival is often equated with the arrival of Indic languages in South Asia Beckwith, ; Parpola, ; Witzel, , although this process was likely more complex and protracted.

The Old Indo-Aryan term for Bactrian camel appears to be a loan word from the same central Asian language that supplied the root for Cannabis sativa Witzel, , , which also sees its first archaeobotanical record in South Asia on the Middle Ganges in the late second millennium BC Saraswat, Evidence from Qinghai puts horses and camels in China from the first half of the second millennium BC Mair, During the second millennium BC, the cultivation of perennial woody plants was well-established in the Indus Valley, including grapes Vitis vinifera , tree cotton Gossypium arboreum , date palms Phoenix dactylifera and Indian jujube Ziziphus mauritiana Fuller and Madella, The late Harappan period, after BC, along with apricot and peach, saw numerous fruit trees from the Indus and of western origin adopted into cultivation in northern Pakistan and Kashmir, including grapes, almonds Amygdalus communis and hackberries Celtis caucasica Lone et al.

Dried fruit has long traditionally been seen as a valued trade item across Central Asia Kostina, But could incipient trade systems have brought peaches and apricots all this way via the IAMC? The preparation of dried fruit need not involve the removal of the stone, although the fruit stones themselves do have some food value Hosoya et al. As such, whole fruits or stones would have to be exchanged, or carried, for them to be cultivated outside of the IAMC.

Archaeology of Trade in the Western Indian Ocean, 300 BC–AD 700

Alongside the limited storage of such products using traditional techniques, that peach and apricot stones only remain viable for a year under normal dry storage conditions Scorza and Sherman, further implies that if such diffusion was without cultivation, then stones or whole fruits would have had to pass quickly along established routes to be cultivated at their end points.

Regarding mechanisms of exchange within the IAMC, Frachetti proposes a loose system of exchange of seasonally mobile pastoralists gradually diffusing goods from one valley to the next with increased political and social ties giving rise to incipient trade networks within the second millennium BC. Spengler envisages a similar scenario although emphasizes the small-scale seasonal cultivation of crops. If diffusion via this sort of exchange was frequent enough to facilitate the trans-Eurasian journey of peach and apricots across Eurasia to Kashmir, we might again expect greater evidence of charred stones from the Eurasian Steppe and IAMC sites, and perhaps beyond Kashmir.

However, the site of Sarazm in Tajikistan, which would appear key to understanding the origins of such trade Spengler, , produced no evidence for apricot and peach Spengler and Willcox, , nor Shortugai, Afghanistan Willcox, , a Harappan trading outpost. The distinctive Chinese-style harvesting knives, if part of such a trade network, are not known from sites in Central Asia cf.

Spengler, , although these might be regarded as labour-demanding to make and to use and inconsistent with more opportunistic cultivation by agro-pastoralists. The Chinese-style harvesters from at least Kalako-deray are made from a local light red schist Stacul, : 78 , which might argue for the movement of people, including craftsmen, rather than mere trade per se. While the northern route for the arrival of peach and apricot is the traditionally preferred route Boivin et al.

Furthermore, the only finds of Chinese-style harvesting knives in southern Asia outside of Kashmir and the Swat Valley come from Sikkim Sharma, and southern and southeast Tibet Han, However, the Sikkim finds are undated, while the Tibetan material generally dates to the mid-second to early first millennium BC postdating the Kashmir Valley sites, although evidence for the arrival of agriculturalists in Bhutan has been claimed to be as early as BC Meyer et al. Tree cultivation further east in India, such as in the middle Ganges plains, does not appear to start before c.

Chronology

The origin of hemp is uncertain. Li, ; however, most botanists have pointed to eastern central Asian origins, including IAMC region, where free-growing feral forms are widespread Russo, ; Zohary et al. Archaeological finds in Xinjiang date back to the first half of the first millennium BC Jiang et al.

Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)
Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)
Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)
Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)
Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)
Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)
Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)
Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research) Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE (South Asia Research)

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