• Remains that people have left behind can be used to learn about history.
  •   Archaeologists and historians study these remains and tell us what might have happened in the past.
  • Archaeologists and historians look at clues such as a piece of writing a wall or even some broken quotes. From these slowly put together the history of the period.
  • These clues are the sources of history.
  • The sources can be divided into two types archaeological and literary.

Archaeological sources

  • Archaeological sources are direct pieces of evidence.
  • They cannot be changed or altered by human beings.
  •  There are four types -- inscriptions, monuments, artifacts, and coins.


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  • Written records and graved on rock walls, metal pillars, walls of temples and palaces, and on clay and copper tablets are called inscriptions.
  • Very often, King got important events in their rain and their achievements inscribed so that the people could read them.
  • Example- Emperor Ashoka of the modern dynasty put up a large number of inscriptions in different parts of his Empire.


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  • Buildings of historical importance are called monuments.
  • They t ell us about the period in which they were built t hey inform us about the social life religious beliefs culture and knowledge of the science of the people of the period in which the monuments were built.
  • Temples, forts, palaces, stupas, and monasteries make the past come alive.


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  • Objects that humans made in the past - pottery tools, ornaments metal objects jewellery, and weapon are called artifacts.
  • They are found by archaeologists in the course of excavation.
  • They give us vital clues to the past.

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  • Coins are extremely valuable sources of information.
  • They tell us about the reigning period of kings , the economy of the kingdom, the extent of a king's empire, and trade with other regions.
  • Coins also throw light on the art and religion of earlier times.

Literary sources

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  • Handwritten records of the past , in the form of books, are called manuscripts.
  • This work is usually written on palm leaves and the bark of birch trees.
  • Due to their fragile nature , many scripts have been destroyed.
  • Those that have survived have helped us to know more about the past.
  • Literary sources are divided into two types religious and secular.

Religious literature

  • Writings that deal with religion are called religious literature. Many books are based on religious themes.
  • The Vedas, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Gita, and the Puranas are important sources of information on ancient India.


Secular literature

  • Writings that are not religious are called secular literature.
  • These include stories poems, plays, biography of kings accounts of foreign travelers, and books on politics and science.
  • The Arthshastra by Kautilya, the Indika by Megasthenes, the plays and the poems of Kalidasa, the accounts of Fa Hein and Hiuen Tsang, and the Sangam literature are some examples of secular literature written during the ancient period
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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 14 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.