Wikijunior:Ancient Civilizations/Dravidians

What country did they live in?


Dravidian refers to the speakers of the Dravidian languages in South Asia. There are around 220 million native speakers of Dravidian languages. Dravidian-speaking people are mostly found in southern India and Sri Lanka, with smaller groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Although in modern times speakers of the various Dravidian languages have mainly occupied the southern portion of India, nothing definite is known about the ancient domain of the Dravidian parent speech. It is, however, a well-established and well-supported hypothesis that Dravidian speakers must have been widespread throughout India, including the northwest region.[6] Origins of Dravidian people are informed by various theories proposed by linguists, anthropologists, geneticist and historians.

Some linguists hypothesized that Dravidian-speaking people were spread throughout the Indian subcontinent before a series of Indo-Aryan migrations. In this view, the early Indus Valley civilisation (Harappa and Mohenjo Daro) is often identified as having been Dravidian.[7] Cultural and linguistic similarities have been cited by researchers such as Finnish Indologist Asko Parpola as being strong evidence for a proto-Dravidian origin of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation.

What did their buildings look like?


Dravidian architecture was an architectural idiom that emerged in the Southern part of the Indian subcontinent or South India. It consists primarily of temples with pyramid shaped towers and are constructed of sandstone, soapstone or granite. Mentioned as one of three styles of temple building in the ancient book Vastu shastra, the majority of the existing structures are located in the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, and Andhra pradesh.

What did they eat?


Rice is the staple diet, with fish being an integral component of coastal South Indian meals. Coconut is an important ingredient in Kerala and costal part of Karnataka of South India, whereas the cuisine in Andhra Pradesh is characterized by the delicious pickles, spicy aromatic curries and the generous use of chili powder. Dosa, Idli, Uttapam etc. are popular throughout the region. Coastal areas like the state of Kerala and the city of Mangalore are known for their seafood. South Indian coffee is generally quite robust, and coffee is a preferred drink throughout the Malabar region.Tamil Nadu is well known for its idli,dosai,pongal,sambhar,vadai which is the common breakfast in Tamil families.

What did they wear?


Traditionally, Dravidian men do not cover their upper body. Sometimes, in a formal situation, a piece of cloth may cover the upper body. Certain temples in South India, even today ban men from wearing upper-body garments when inside the temple. The lungi or mundu or panchey are worn by men. The lungi is draped over clockwise or counterclockwise and is tied at the back or fixed just along the waist line.

Women traditionally wear the sari while the men wear a type of sarong, which could be either a white dhoti or a colourful lungi with typical batik patterns. The sari, being an unstitched drape, enhances the shape of the wearer while only partially covering the midriff. In Indian philosophy, the navel of the Supreme Being is considered as the source of life and creativity.[1][2][3][5] Hence by tradition, the stomach and the navel is to be left unconcealed, though the philosophy behind the costume has largely been forgotten. Traditionally, South Indian men do not cover their upper body. Sometimes, in a formal situation, a piece of cloth may cover the upper body. Certain temples in South India even ban men from wearing upper-body garments when inside the temple.

What did they look like?


The Elamo-Dravidians are said to be Neolithic settlers from modern-day south western Iran. They are assumed to be darker skinned Caucasian people with slender body and built and copper skin tone. They are usually lumped with the Mediterranean race. They must have taken the route from the erstwhile Elam region via Balochistan to the Indus region around 8000 to 7000 B.C., where they are often credited to have built the famed Harappan civilization. They eventually mixed with the local Austro-Asiatic peoples, who were of Proto-Australoid and Paleo-Mongoloid stock. The admixture was liberal, steady and stabilised. As a result, most modern day Dravidians have clear and dominant Australoid features.

What did their writing look like?


The best-known Dravidian languages are Tamil (தமிழ்), Telugu (తెలుగు), Malayalam (മലയാളം), and Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ). There are three subgroups within the Dravidian language family: North Dravidian, Central Dravidian, and South Dravidian, matching for the most part the corresponding regions in the Indian subcontinent.

Dravidian languages are spoken by more than 200 million people. They appear to be unrelated to languages of other known families like Indo-European.

Dravidian grammatical impact on the structure and syntax of Indo-Aryan languages is considered far greater than the Indo-Aryan grammatical impact on Dravidian. Some linguists explain this anomaly by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan and New Indo-Aryan were built on a Dravidian substratum.[24] There are also hundreds of Dravidian loanwords in Indo-Aryan languages, and vice versa.

What did they believe?


What is their history?


South India remains is in the Mesolithic until 2500 BCE. Microlith production is attested for the period 6000 to 3000 BCE. The Neolithic period lasts from 2500 BCE to 1000 BCE, followed by the Iron Age, characterized by megalithic burials.[1] Comparative excavations carried out in Adichanallur in Thirunelveli district and in Northern India have provided evidence of a southward migration of the Megalithic culture.[2] The Krishna Tungabhadra Valley[3] is also a place for Megalithic culture in South India.

The earliest Iron Age sites in South India are Hallur, Karnataka and Adichanallur, Tamil Nadu[4] at around 1000 BC. Early epigraphic evidence begins to appear from about the 5th century BCE, in the form of Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions, reflecting the southward spread of Buddhism.

Evidence in the forms of documents and inscriptions do not appear often in the history of ancient South India. Although there are signs that the history dates back to several centuries BCE, we only have any authentic archeological evidence from the early centuries of the common era.

During the reign of Ashoka (304–232 BCE) the three Tamil dynasties of Chola, Chera and Pandya were running in the south, probably with late megalithic phase material culture. These areas (known as Tamilakam- "Land of Tamils"), while not part of Ashoka's empire, were in friendly terms with the Maurya Empire.

Are some of them famous even today?


What is left of them today?


Dravidians have contributed in various fields of science, medicine and arts. Even today many scientific intellectuals from India trace their roots to ancient Dravidians.

This civilization gave the world the language with letters known as Tamil. Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world. 2,200-year-old Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions have been found on Samanamalai It has been described as "the only language of contemporary India which is recognizably continuous with a classical past."

Kalaripayattu is an Indian martial art which originated in the west coast of the then Tamilakam, during the early 13th Century AD. It is considered to be one of the oldest fighting system in existence.

It is now practiced in Kerala, in contiguous parts of Tamil Nadu and among the Malayali community of Malaysia. It was originally practiced in northern and central parts of Kerala and the Tulunadu region of Karnataka.

It is claimed that learned warriors can disable or kill their opponents by merely touching the correct marmam (vital point). This is taught only to the most promising and level-headed persons, to discourage misuse of the technique. Marmashastram stresses on the knowledge of marmam and is also used for marma treatment (marmachikitsa). This system of marma treatment comes under siddha vaidhyam, attributed to the sage Agastya and his disciples.