The Indus Valley civilisation owed its survival to the river Indus and
the fertile soil on its banks. The actual method of cultivation is still
unknown, though it is certain that agriculture was an important part of
daily life. In ruins, species of wheat and barley found are not wild
varieties. In fact, the same varieties are cultivated in northern India
today. Evidence of rice and date palm cultivation also exists.
The alluvial soil in the valley was also conducive to cotton cultivation.
There is evidence that shows that the cotton used at the time was not wild,
but a coarser variety still used today.
Animals were also a source of food. Apart from hunting crocodile,
tortoise and fish, the people probably domesticated the humped bull, the
buffalo, the sheep, the pig and the camel for, among other things, food.
Agriculture in the Vedic age showed great development. Soil was prepared
by ploughing using a ploughshare drawn by bulls. The sickle was used for
harvesting. The harvest was threshed by placing it on a hard floor and
stamping it, often with the help of animals. Finally the grain was winnowed
by wind to separate it from the hay. The Aryans recognised the use of
natural manure in the field. However, they resorted to spells and prayers
when it came to dealing with pests. Artificial irrigation was also used,
though the exact system they used is not known.
In effect, the Aryans had developed the entire cycle of agriculture as it
was used, with little variation, throughout the rest of Indian history, and
In later times, fowl was known but eggs did not play much of a part in
India. The peacock’s flesh was eaten, especially by royalty. Silkworms
were also cultivated by the 5th century BCE, though the high-quality silk
was still imported from China.