By Colin Mason
The peoples of Asia now make up greater than half the world's inhabitants. they're more and more well-educated, and profitable in each zone of contemporary alternate and expertise. Their effect within the remainder of the realm can also be turning into higher. Colin Mason presents a readable and transparent advent to their historical past and traditions, from prehistory correct as much as the current day. This completely revised, up-to-date and accelerated new version comprises the sizeable adjustments and additions made important by way of the fast-changing scene in Asia, really China's expanding prominence in global affairs. There are new chapters on Afghanistan and Taiwan, and on global battle and its importance in Asia, in addition to large transforming of the chapters at the countries of South Asia. Maps and illustrations now additionally increase the textual content all through, making this the basic consultant to the historical past of a desirable continent and its peoples.
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However, these ancient 40 A Short History of Asia Figure 3 The giant Borobadur temple, built over an existing hill in central Java, is one of Indonesia’s most impressive monuments. This detail is one of thousands of carvings there Javanese societies are shadowy indeed, and on present available evidence are likely to remain so. They could scarcely have been ‘empires’ in the usual sense – they were more likely to have been loose regional alliances based on existing village structures. In northern Cambodia, not far from the Thai border, are the ruins of vast buildings, painstakingly fashioned from intricately carved and jointed pieces of greenish sandstone, some of which weigh many tons.
Once born into their class, death was the only escape from it. Generation after generation were compelled to carry out lowly and unpleasant work, nor could they marry outside their caste. At the very bottom of the social heap are the chandals, the caste who carry out the actual work of cremations – cremation over a wood fire is the usual way of disposing of the bodies of adult Indians. Children’s bodies are 22 Indian Culture: Hinduism and Buddhism 23 Figure 1 Acute poverty in many parts of the Indian plain has perpetuated this kind of traditional village housing, with its low mud walls and thatched roofing simply placed in rivers.
Among the ruins small figures in soapstone, alabaster and marble have been found depicting people, often in a sophisticated and lively style. There was a well-developed, distinctive system of weights and measures. Copper and bronze were used for weapons, tools and ornaments. The nature of the religion is unclear, but there are strong indications of a connection with gods of the later, Hindu, period, with evidence particularly of worship of a mother-goddess concerned with the fertility of the earth and the creation of life.
A Short History of Asia, Second Edition by Colin Mason