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By Rebecca Rowell

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Many of the spices used today were also part of ancient Indian cooking. Early options included salt, black pepper, and long pepper, a spicier, more flavorful relative of black pepper. To wash down their meals, the peoples of ancient India enjoyed an assortment of beverages. Wine was popular. Takra was a mixture of buttermilk and water. Mantha was barley meal mixed in curd, malted butter, milk, or water. Madhuparka was a blend of curd, honey, sugar, water, and ghee, a type of butter. Utensils were made of clay, metal, stone, and wood.

Indd 41 10/21/14 2:17 PM MEN, WOMEN, AND THE CASTE SYSTEM The Indus people appear to have differed from other ancient groups in that women played an important role, at least in religion. Thousands of ceramic sculptures exist that depict women. They often take the form of goddesses, especially mother goddesses, suggesting the society revered females. The generally patriarchal society of the Indo-Aryans suggests they considered women less highly. Fathers headed most families, and the mother answered to the father.

Tradition says a portion of the Buddha’s remains was buried here, along with those of another disciple. The current stupa is an enlargement of Ashoka’s older construction. Its large dome is richly decorated with carvings representing the Buddha’s life. indd 37 10/21/14 2:17 PM Chandragupta I was a local chief in the Magadha kingdom. His power grew when he married the princess of a tribe controlling much of northeastern India, which added the Ganges Valley to his realm. Samudragupta succeeded his father, Chandragupta I.

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Ancient India by Rebecca Rowell


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