CHAPTER 1: – What, Where, How and When?


  • History is the knowledge that is gained from the study of the past. The people who describe the past are known as historians.
  • The word ‘history’ comes from the Greek word historia which means ‘knowing or learning by enquiry’.
  • Herodotus was a Greek historian who systematically collected his material and arranged them in a chronological order. He is called ‘The Father of History’.

Division of The Past

The past has been divided by historians into three time periods: –

Pre – History                     Proto – History                         History     

  • Pre – History: – It is the period of human development when writing had not been invented and human beings did not know how to read and write. Hence, there are no written records for this period.
  • Proto – History: – It is the period between pre-history and the beginning of history. Few written records are present for this period. Example: pictographic script of Indus Valley, but still they have not been deciphered.
  • History: – It is the period for which written records are available. Early writing was done on the barks of birch trees, palm leaves etc.

Concept of dates in History

  • We understand the concept of dates in history through timeline which is the chronology of events.


1000    BC
  500     BC
       0     Birth of Jesus Christ
  500    AD
 1000     AD
 1500    AD
  • Th time period in history is expressed by using two terms – AD & BC.
  • BC: – It stands for Before Christ. All the dates before the birth of Christ are expressed in BC. Many historians now use the term BCE also for this period which means Before Common Era.
  • AD: – It stands for Anno Domini. All the dates after the birth of Jesus Christ are written as AD. Another term used for this period is CE which means Common Era.

How to understand BC and AD in the timeline?

  • To understand BC and AD in the timeline we need to this example: 300 years Before Christ is written as 300 BC/BCE. All the dates before the Birth of Christ are counted backwards. 400 BC/BCE will come first than 300BC/BCE. However, in the period of AD, the dates are counted forward example: 300AD/CE comes before 400 AD/CE.

What is the need to study History?

We need to study history due to the following reasons: –

  • It tells us about our past such as our ancestors, their struggles and achievements.
  • It makes us wiser as it guides us in seeking solutions in a better way.
  • It tells us about the life of great kings, leaders and great men.
  • It tells us how languages have developed and provides information about foo habits, dresses and related rituals.
  • It tells us about the development of different civilisations and cultures.

Why did people travel in the past?

People travelled from one place to another due to the following reasons: –

  • They moved from one place to another to escape from natural disasters like floods, earthquakes etc.
  • They moved in search of food and livelihood.
  • They moved for buying and selling things.
  • They moved to expand their empires or kingdoms, for spreading religious awareness or for new discoveries.
Literary Sources (Written)
Archaeological Sources (Non – written)

Sources of History

Archaeological Sources: –

  •  Fossil Remains – These include the imprints of plants, animals and humans preserved in rocks. Example: – Fossils of dinosaur.
  • Artefacts – This includes paintings, sculptures, coins, jewellery, stone tools, vessels, pottery etc.
  • Inscriptions – These are the messages inscribed on rocks and pillars, example: Sanchi inscription of Chandragupta II and Stone Pillar inscription of Samudragupta (Allahabad Pillar).
  • Monuments – The Taj Mahal at Agra, Red Fort in Delhi, The Ajanta Caves near Aurangabad and Qutub Minar in Delhi come under this category.

Literary Sources: –

  • Religious Literature – Vedas (Rig, Sam, Yajur and Atharva), Puranas, Epics (the Mahabharata and the Ramayana) and Upanishads are some examples of religious literature.
  • Secular Literature – Harshacharita by Banabhatta, Abhigyana Shakuntalam by Kalidasa and Arthashstra by Kautilya are some examples of secular literature.
  • Travellers Account – Indika written by Megasthenes, Tarikh-Al-Hind by Al-Beruni fall under this category.

Difference between Manuscripts and Inscriptions


  • It is a handwritten text or document on a palm leaf written in the past.
  • These were written on palm leaves and bark of a tree.
  • It tells us about the social customs; institutions, professions etc that prevailed in ancient times.
  • It cannot be preserved for a longer period as they can be eaten by insects.


  • These are the writings on pillars, rocks, cave walls and walls of forts etc.
  • These were written on stones or metals.
  • It provides political and social information of the past.
  • These include king’s orders and messages.
  • It can be maintained for a longer period.

Earliest Settlements (Places) of Early Man

  • Banks of Narmada (generally skilled gatherers).
  • Areas along the Sulaiman and Kirthar Hills (growing crops like wheat and barley, rearing animals).
  • Banks of Indus and its tributaries (earliest cities flourished around 4700 years ago).
  • Areas along the Vindhayas and the Garo Hills (rice was grown her first).
  • Bans of Ganga and its tributaries (largest kingdom Magadha developed here).

Some important terms: –

  • Historians – A person who studies about the past.
  • Numismatics – The study of coins.
  • Archaeology – The study of remains such as monuments, coins, inscriptions, pottery etc discovered through excavations conducted at various historical sites.
  • Artefacts – The objects such as pottery, vessels, stone tools, jewellery, coins and sculptures, paintings etc found during the excavation by archaeologists.
  • Script – It consists of signs and letters of language.
  • Chronology – The order of arranging events that happened first, followed by events that happened later.
  • Decipherment – The process of interpreting the writings on the inscriptions.

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