Timeline Description: Ancient India is the periodization often given to the time in Indian history between prehistoric times and c. 500 CE. During this period the first Indus valley civilizations rose, followed by the first major empire under the Maurya and India's "Golden Age" under the Gupta empire.
|3102 BC||Manu becomes the first king of India.(3102 BCE)
According to myth, Manu Vaivaswata becomes the first king of India in 3102 BCE. There is little evidence to support this claim, but by 3102 BCE villages in the Indus valley had begun to develop into towns.
|2300 BC||The first Harappan cities emerge.(c. 2300 BCE)
By 2300 BCE, the first villages in the Indus valley have developed into cities in the Harappan civilization. Named after the city of Harappa, one of the earliest discovered ancient sites, this civilization features far-flung trade with Mesopotamian civilizations and planned cities surrounded by walls.
|1700 BC||The Harappan civilization ceases to exist.(c. 1700 BCE)
Between 1750 and 1700 BCE, the people of Mohenjo-Daro and other Harappan cities begin to flee their homes. The cause may be earthquake, flood, or some other natural disaster, and by 1700 the Harappan civilization ceases to exist. Only a few people remain, living a limited existence.
|1500 BC||The Aryans settle in the Indus valley.(c. 1500 BCE)
Sometime between 1575 and 1500 BCE, nomadic Aryans from the north settle in the Indus valley. Accustomed to fighting and living in roving bands of warriors, the Aryans eventually settle in the ruins of the Harappan civilization.
|1400 BC||Oral composition of the Rig Veda begins.(c. 1400 BCE)
Around 1400 BCE, the Aryans begin to orally compose the Rig Veda, the earliest collection of Indian hymns. The Rig Veda explains the nature and requirements of Indian gods, and serves as an invaluable source of information on Aryan priests and religious rituals. It also outlines the originss of the Hindu religion.
|950 BC||The Bharata War ignites between Indian clans.(c. 950 BCE)
Chronicled in the epic Mahabharata, the Bharata War ignites between Indian clans around 950 BCE. The war grows out of a complicated genealogical tangle over inheritance, and the Pandava brothers win in a bloody massacre.
|569 BC||The Mahavira attempts to reform India's hierarchy.(c. 569 BCE)
By the 6th century BCE, India's rigid hierarchy is fully entrenched in society. Nataputta Vardhamana, later known as the Mahavira, attempts to reform this hierarchy by rejecting the wealth and privilege of his birth and spending twelve years in silence and meditation. He determines that man must reject the passions of the material world, and begins traveling through India to teach others.
|544 BC||King Bimbisara begins to build the first Indian empire.(544 BCE)
King Bimbisara comes to the throne of Magadha in 544 BCE. He begins to build the first Indian empire with the minor conquest of the kingdom of Anga, and constructs roads across his kingdom in order to collect taxes more easily.
|534 BC||The Buddha begins his self-imposed exile.(534 BCE)
The prince Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, begins his years of self-imposed exile in 534 BCE. Hoping to come to peace with the inevitability of decay and corruption, his ultimate enlightenment comes with the realization that humans must be free from existence in order to be free from desire. His teachings become the foundation of Buddhism.
|321 BC||Chandragupta Maurya begins the Mauryan dynasty.(321 BCE)
Chandragupta Maurya, ruler of the Magadha kingdom, conquers the Punjab region and founds the Mauryan dynasty in 321 BCE. He extends his empire to Persia, becoming the first emperor to unify almost all of India under one administration.
|260 BC||Asoka conquers the kingdom of Kalinga and turns his attention to dharma.(260 BCE)
Asoka, king of the Mauryan empire, conquers the notoriously resistant kingdom of Kalinga through horrific violence in 260 BCE. His conquest preys on him until he decides to spend the rest of his reign pursuing dharma, or the Way or Virtue. His beliefs encourage the spread of Buddhism throughout his empire, which collapses after his death.
|175 BC||Demetrius I conquers the Punjab.(175 BCE)
After Asoka's death, the Mauryan empire collapses and Asoka's sons rule over a rapidly diminishing territory. The Greek Bactrian king Demetrius I, bent on conquering the southeast, conquers several independent states and takes the Punjab by 175 BCE.
|320 BC||Chandragupta I founds the Gupta dynasty.(320 CE)
Chandragupta I ascends to the throne of the northern Gupta territories. He makes a beneficial marriage to Kumaradevi, the princess of the rich ruling family in Magadha. The wealth and political advantage from this marriage allows him to start conquering the small Indian kingdoms, eventually spreading his rule from the Ganges River to Prayaga (modern-day Allahabad). He assumes the imperial title, Maharajadhiraja (king of kings).
|528 BC||The Hun are driven out of India.
After attacking India in 510, the Hun are driven out of India in 528, thanks to an alliance between the Gupta emperor, Narasimhagupta, and the king from Malwa, Yashodharman.
|550 BC||The Gupta Empire ends.(550 CE)
The succession of the Gupta rulers are unclear, but the last ruler, Vishnugupta, loses power in 550. In addition to the Hun invasion, competition from the Vakatakas and Yashodharmans contribute to the Gupta's decline.