What, Where, How and When of the Past

The compilation of these What, Where, How and When Notes makes students exam preparation simpler and organised.

What, Where, How and When of the Past

Let’s say you are watching a cricket match on TV and favourite player is batting. Unfortunately, he’s out in the first ball itself. You would want to know every detail of this match now like when it happened, where it happened, how the players played and why the player got out so that you can discuss it with your friends. In the same way, we have to study the ‘what, where, how and when’ of history.

This is done to only discuss about the events but to also apply the lessons in the future. Therefore, knowing the past is essential for the future. So let’s learn about our past together.

In History whatever we study is basically the changes that took place with time and we call it the Chronological changes or the Temporal changes. Any specific changes would be a part and parcel of the concept of temporal changes.


The first concept we will study is about the past is ‘what’.

  • What food the people ate
  • Kind of clothes they wore
  • Houses in which they lived

There are several things we can find out, what types of people were there, what kinds of clothes they wore, the houses in which they lived. We can also find out about the lives of hunters, herders, farmers, rulers, merchant, priests, artist, musicians and scientist.


“History is studied geographically and geography is studied historically”. This means that to study Geography we should be aware of how the Earth was formed, how the landforms were formed, how the various rivers flow, how the continents and oceans came into existence, etc. So for geography, the concept of “how” is solved by history.

Similarly to study history we should also know geography so that we can know where the major kingdoms were, where the wars were, what were the major trade centres in the country, what were the areas which were fertile? So for history, the concept of “where” is solved by geography. This means that we should be able to understand that which areas were full of resources and attracted people and which were the areas which were isolated.

What, Where, How and When of the Past

In the map, we can see the river Narmada. People have lived along the bank of this river for several hundred thousand years. Some of the earliest people who lived there practised many professions like,

  • Food Gatherers – People who were well known as gatherers were people who gathered their food. They were aware of the plants in the surrounding forest and collected roots, who tell other forest products for their food.
  • Hunters – They also hunted animals for their food. If we go towards Suleman and Kirthar hills, these were the places where women and men first began to grow crops such as wheat and barley. They also begin rearing animals like sheep, goat and cattle and started living in the villages.
  • Travel – It was an integral part of history and geography. Most of the ocean and continent discovered were the result of travelling. Travel also leads to the expansion of many kingdoms.

For instance, Ashwamegh Yagya was one of the practices in the history. During this, horses used to travel in a territory and that whole territory was being acquired by the king of that region. Then we have Alexander who invaded India. Thus there were many nations who were the result of travel. Travelling also enriched our cultural traditions. People had shared new ways of carving stone, composing music and even cooking food over several hundreds of years.

  • Wars and Kingdoms – Where did the major wars took place and where did the major kingdoms flourish?

About 4700 years ago, near the river Ganga, Jhelum and the tributaries of Indus, some of the earliest cities were developed. Near the tributaries of Indus, we had Indus Valley Civilization- the oldest Civilization. Later the cities developed near river Ganga. Magadha was the most powerful and largest Kingdom. So we have different time periods when Civilization developed in the various parts of India.

Different Names of India
The word India is derived from Indus, called Sindhu in Sanskrit. When Iranian and Greek invaded India, they called India, Hindos or Indos. Lastly, the word Bharat comes from Rig Veda. The people living in Northwest who studied Rig Veda mentioned India as Bharat.

How? – Finding the Past

To find out what happened in the past we have 3 resources:

1. Manuscripts
Manuscripts are the documents written by hand. They were written on the palm leaves or the birth of the bar and then tied together to make a book. Common languages used at that time were Sanskrit, Prakrit or Tamil and these books were also written in the same language. Sanskrit was the language of scholars. The Prakrit was the language of common man.

What, Where, How and When of the Past 1

2. Inscriptions
Inscriptions are the writings on relatively hard surfaces such as stone, baked clay or metal. These inscriptions were written in scripts. Scripts consist of letters or signs. Sometimes Kings got the orders inscribed so that people could see, read and obey them. For instance, an old inscription dated to about 2250 years ago was found in Kandahar.

3. Archaeology
At last, we have Archaeology- it is the study of the objects that were made and used in the past. Those who study these objects are called Archaeologists. They study the remains of buildings made of stone and brick, paintings and sculptures. They dig the earth to find the tools, weapons, pots, pans, ornaments and coins.

The objects used to give the information about how the people lived, what were the things they used and what was their lifestyle. Bones of animal, birds and fish were used to find out what people ate in the past. These were the hard and imperishable substances which survived for a long time.

Different Pasts
The past was different for the different people, for example, the life of the king and Queen was different from the life of farmers and herders. Life of merchants was different from the life of craftspersons and so on. For example, today most people living in Andaman islands get their own food by fishing, hunting and collecting forest produce but most people living in cities depend on others for supplying food.


We all consider History as full of dates. History helps us to know the dates on which the important incidents happened. Dates are generally considered with the birth of Jesus Christ. They are classified as :

  • Anno Domini(AD)- After the death of Jesus Christ
  • Before Christ (BC)- Before the death of Jesus Christ
  • AD is also known as Common Era
  • BC is also known as Before Common Era
  • Sometimes we also use BP which means Before Present.

What, Where, How and When of the Past 2


In India, the cave drawings of the prehistoric period are found at ______ in Madhya Pradesh.
a. Hunasagi
b. Bhimbetka
c. Kurnool
d. Raichur
b. The relics of the hunting and food-gathering man are available in Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh