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Ancient India
Science and Technology in Ancient India



Science and Technology in Ancient India
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 8 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.32

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    arabic, rhinoplasty, silk-making, yojanas, run-down, inclusion, powerhouse, trigonometry, profound, best, imbalanced, logarithm, catalogue, heliocentric, infinity, present-day
     content words:    New Guinea, When Darius, As Darius, Indus Valley, Before Indians, Ancient Indians, Nicolaus Copernicus, Ancient India


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Science and Technology in Ancient India
By Vickie Chao
  

1     India is a fascinating country with a very long history. The earliest evidence of its civilization dates back about 4,500 years. Throughout that time, Indians invented many things. Their discoveries, especially in mathematics, astronomy, and medicine, have had a profound impact on the rest of the world. While it is impossible to catalogue all their achievements, here is a quick run-down that highlights their most important findings.
 
2     Almost 3,000 years ago, Indians came across a plant called sugarcane that probably originated in New Guinea. They noticed that this plant tasted sweet. To use it as a sweetener in their cooking, they ground sugarcane stalks to extract the juice. Once that was done, they then boiled down the sugary liquid to yield sugary solids. The sugary solids looked like gravel but tasted sweet. This was what we later called brown sugar. For a while, brown sugar was the best kept secret in India. But that changed after the invasion of the Persian emperor, Darius. When Darius attacked India in 510 B.C., his army stumbled upon this wonderful invention. As Darius and his men had been accustomed to sweetening their food with honey, they were surprised to find that there was another alternative out there. They were quoted as describing the sugarcane as "a reed that gives honey without bees." Though the Persians learned about sugarcane and brown sugar, they did not spread the knowledge to other parts of the world. They and the Indians exported brown sugar as a luxury product and a medicine. They made a lot of money! Their monopoly on sugar production finally came to a halt after the Arabs invaded Persia in 642 A.D. The Arabs learned the secret and made it free to the public!
 
3     Besides sugar, ancient Indians were also credited for being the first people in the world to grow cotton. As far back as 4,500 years ago, they began cultivating cotton in the Indus Valley in present-day Pakistan. They dug ditches and canals to irrigate their farms. After they harvested their crop, they used a simple wooden spinning wheel to weave it into beautiful cloth. For centuries, India's cotton and China's silk were among the most popular goods on the trading routes between Asia and Europe. Eventually, India learned the silk-making technique from China and, thus, became a textile powerhouse.

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