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==Plate tectonics: (c.160,000,000 BCE): the South Asian tectonic plate breaks off from Africa/Antarctica, and starts traveling northward (*Univ. of California*).
==the Himalayas (c.65,000,000 BCE): South Asia collides with the main Asian land mass, and tries to climb on top of it. The collision gradually creates the Himalayas (*think quest*), the highest mountains in the world. They are still growing a few inches a year as the process continues.
==Cave paintings: by 5,000 BCE, these are found all over South Asia (*IGNCA*); not surprisingly, they're often hard to date and interpret. Paintings from the Indus Valley: *Univ. of Heidelberg*; *Kharway, from AIIS*; *art and archaeology* [*Routes*]
==Met Museum timeline: *South Asia 8000-2000 BCE*
==Mesopotamia, in Iraq, is the home of a major, literate bronze-age civilization (c.3500 BCE onward) that becomes a vital resource for its trading partners in the Indus Valley (*British Museum*). Other early civilizations in the region are now being discovered, such as *Jiroft* in Iran.
==the Indus Valley Civilization (c.3000-1750 BCE): This major, widespread bronze-age civilization (*wiki*) remained unknown for centuries, and was rediscovered only by accident in the 1860's, during railroad construction in the Punjab; work on it began only in the 1920's. Nobody can read the characters on its famous seals-- if indeed they're an alphabet at all, as seems increasingly doubtful. Large amounts of fascinating and up-to-the-minute material about this very urban culture are provided at *harappa.com*. And the process of discovery continues: *U. Penn.*. [*Routes*]
==Met Museum timeline: *South Asia 2000-1000 BCE*
==the Indo-European languages keep branching out (from some area yet to be reliably determined) and spreading widely. Starting from a single "proto-Indo-European" mother tongue, they develop major offshoots that include Latin, Greek, old Persian, and Sanskrit. Discussion and examples: *PIE*, *wiki*; *Diebold Center*; *Daniel M. Short*.
==the Mitanni people maintain, from after 1500 to around 1350 BCE, a Hurrian kingdom in Mesopotamia with a language that displays some archaic Indic linguistic features, including at least a few Sanskritic names and words, and occasional references to Vedic deities: *wiki*; *Harvard Univ.*.
==the gathas of the Zend Avesta (Iran) are roughly contemporary to the Rig Veda (northern Punjab), or perhaps a little earlier, and in language and worldview they are full of parallels (a "gatha" is a verse form in Sanskrit too). Worship is accorded to "Mithra" (=Mitra), to the fire, to "haoma" (=Soma), etc.; there are also intriguing reversals: the "daevas" (=Devas) are the demons, not the gods. Texts and translations: *avesta.org*. Translation and discussion: *James Darmstetter (1880)*.
==the Vedas (c.1200 BCE onward): The earliest Indic religious texts take shape in the northern Punjab, in an old form of Sanskrit. Carefully memorized and transmitted only orally, they are not written down for many centuries. The oldest and most important is the Rig Veda: *K. L. Ross*; *Sources of Indian Tradition*; a zoomable map of *Vedic India*. [*Routes*]
==the Upanishads (c.1000-500 BCE). In the Upanishads, the Vedic fire sacrifices and soma rituals become a springboard for metaphysical speculation: *Sources of Indian Tradition*. The Upanishadic mystical syllable "OM" is still very much with us nowadays, and inspires all kinds of modern variations (*K. L. Ross*; *himalayan academy*; or go to *Exotic India* and do a search for OM). [*Routes*]
==Met Museum timeline: *South Asia 1000 BCE - 1 CE*
==The earliest coins appear (c.550 BCE): The earliest Indian coins appear (*nupam*), issued by the sixteen large quasi-tribal "maha-janapada" kingdoms (*rbi*). These punch-marked coins have been found in hoards together with early Greek and Persian coins from the same period (*sacoins*), which shows the strength of early trading networks. One important very early mahajanapada, Gandhara, is located in northern Pakistan and northeastern Afghanistan. The best research site on these coins: *Ancient Coins Canada*. [*Routes*]
==Persia rules Gandhara and Sind (from c.518 BCE to Alexander's arrival): much of what is now western Pakistan becomes the eastern border area of the Achaemenid emperor Darius the Great's (r.528-486 BCE) kingdom (*livius*). Darius's legacy from his predecessor Cyrus II includes the famous *Cyrus cylinder* (*a zoomable view*), an early human-rights charter of sorts. Darius's capital of Persepolis is an influential cultural center (*Univ. of Chicago*), and its carvings include pictures of people from both Gandhara (*livius*) and Sind: *"Indian delegation"*. Recent archaeological studies: *Charsadda* and *Akra* (NW Pakistan); *the Achaemenid Empire and the Magadhan Empire*. [*Routes*]
==Darius explores the Indus (c.515): Darius sends Scylax of Caryanda to explore the Indus River by sea. Scylax returns two and a half years later, and records his results in a work now lost. If it had survived, we'd have a source earlier than Herodotus. As it is, we know about his journey only from Herodotus: *livius*.
==Indus Sind Hind Hindi Hindu Hindavi India: From this time forward, the name of the great river of northwestern South Asia becomes the name of South Asia in general (or various large parts of it, especially the northern and northwestern). The name is later also applied to languages, religious practices, social organization, and many other things in the region. The name is thus originally one given by people west of the river, to describe people and things east of the river. Some lovely pictures of the northern Indus Valley area: *krohn*.
==Mahavira and Jainism (500's CE): Officially the 24th and final tirthankara, literally "ford-maker," of the Jain religion, Mahavira is the first one to enter the historical record. The influence of Jainism on Indian history has always been much greater than numbers alone would account for. An emphasis on nonviolence and austere living has been at the heart of it: *Sources of Indian Tradition*; *the early Jain heartland*

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