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6. Indus Valley

Table of Contents | 1. Earth | 2. The Origin of Life and Evolution of Man | 3. Civilisation | 4. Fertile Crescent | 5. Egypt | 6. Indus Valley | 7. Yellow River (Haung He/Huang Ho) | 8. Hittites, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Assyrians | 9. New World | 10. Persia and Greece | 11. Rome (1) | 12. Saul of Tarsus | 13. Rome (2) | 14. Byzantium | 15. Islam | 16. Charlemagne | 17. Vikings | 18. Turks, Crusaders, Mongols, Moors, Explorers and Conquistadors | 19. Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment (-1700s) | 20. Mid-1700s - early 1900s | 21. The Great War | 22. Inter-War Years | 23. The War in Europe and Africa | 24. World War Two | 25. War in the Pacific | 26. Defeating the Axis in Europe and Africa | 27. End of Japanese Imperialism | 28. Ending the War | 29. Conquest of Space | 30. Averting Nuclear War | 31. End of Empire | 32. Man on the Moon | 33. Arms Race and Limitation | 34. Lifting the Iron Curtain | 35. Outer Space | 36. | 37. | 38. | 39. | 40. | 41. | 42. | 43. | 44. | 45. | 46. | 47. | -- | --

Continued from previous page, 5. Egypt

The History of India
Animated map of Inda 2800s BC from to AD 2016


Location, Weather, Sea & Himalayan Range

Class Teacher




Rivers of India
Class teacher
Drainage System of India
Rivers of India



Indus Valley




Generally, academics place the Indus Valley civilisation, i. e., the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, ca. 3,500 - 3,300 to 1,500 - 1,300 BC.


During and after the demise of this civilisation, the Indus River Valley was invaded by the Indo-European Aryans from the north and northwest (present-day Iran and Central Asia).


Civilisation then developed in the east   -   along the Ganges River.




Ancient Indian History

Harappan (Indus Valley) Civilisation

Harappa and Mohenjo Daro Excavations

Class Teacher



Brief description 



The First Civilisation

Episode from the documentary series Secrets in the Dust (2009)





Masters of the River


2006 episode about the the Indus Valley civilisation of India and Pakistan from the documentary series Civilisations (in English and French)












The Empire of the Spirit


Episode about India from the 1991 documentary series Legacy on civilsation with Michael Wood








The Indus Civilisation and its contacts with Mesopotamia


Lecture by Mark Kenoyer, 2010 




Harappa and Mohenjo Daro


Two brief descriptions of the Indus Valley civilisation









The Aryan Issue


Five lectures by Michael Danino at Amrita U. on 9,10 and 11 September 2015






























Test Tube News






Short lecture from the World Religions series






Episode from the documentary series Religions of the World




Hindu Mythology



The Story of the Swastika


BBC documentary




The Vedas




On the Vedas


Excerpt from the documentary series Cosmos with Carl Sagan (1980) (15:07)




Hindu Ideas of Creation 


Discussion on thr weekly BBC radio programme In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg (43 min.)


With guests Jessica Frazier, Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad and Gavin Flood

13 December 2005


You Tube:




An Introduction to the Vedas


by Uttara Nerurkar






From the series Brief Histories



The Gods of India


Part 1.


Part 2.






From the series The Gods of India






From the series The Gods of India






From the series The Gods of India




The Hindu Trinty (Trimurti)







Brahma, the God of Creation 


From the series The Gods of India








The Ten Aavatars of Vishnu


Matsya (fish)

  Kurma (tortoise)

     Varaha (boar)

        Narasimha (half-man half-lion)

           Vamana (dwarf)

              Parashurama (warrior)

                 Rama (Prince of Ayodhya)

                    Krishna (cowherd)

                       Buddha (priest)

                          Kalki (future, eternal) 






10 Avatars of Vishnu and Darwin's Theory of Evolution 




Origin of Goddess Lakshmi, Consort of Vishnu






Discussion on thr weekly BBC radio programme In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg


With guests Jessica Frazier, Jacqueline Suthren-Hirst and Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad


6 October 2016




Krishna   -   The Avatar of Vishnu


From the series The Gods of India




Krishna   -   History or Myth?


Documentary (34:25)






From the series The Gods of India






A Traditonal Tale




Unlock the Mysteries of Shiva








From the series The Gods of India




The Upanishads


Discussion on the weekly BBC radio programme In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg (41:30)


With guests Jessica Frazier, Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad and Simon Brodbeck


8 November 2012




You Tube:




The Mahabharata


Episode from the documentary series Myths of Mankind (52:01)




The Bhagavad Gita


Discussion on the weekly BBC radio programme In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg 


With guests Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Julius Lipner and Jessica Frazier


31 March 2011




You Tube:






The Legend of Prince Rama (1992)


Two animations




Caste System





Life in Ancient India



The Caste System Explained in Four Minutes




The Caste System


From the lecture series World Religions




Dailit Muslims of India


Al Jazeera World documentary




The Ganges


Gangetic Plain

Drainage basins of the Ganges (yellow), Brahmaputra (violet) and Meghna (green)


Map by Pfly based on Natural Earth data



India: Orthographical Features from the Imperial Gazetteer of India, volume 26, Atlas (Map Number 3) (1908)





River of Life


3-part 2007 BBC documentary (2 hrs., 25 min., 5 sec.) 


1. Daughter of the Mountains

2. River of Life

3. Waterland




1. Daughter of the Mountains


2. River of Life


3. Waterland























The Buddha



The Story of the Buddha






The Buddha








Short lecture from the World Religions series




Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha


From the series The Gods of India




The Buddha


Discussion on the weekly BBC radio programme In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg


With guests Peter Harvey, Kate Crosby and Mahinda Deagallee


14 March 2002




You Tube:






1972 movie based on the 1922 novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse




Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World


2011 BBC-TV documentary with Bettany Hughes


Visit to famous Buddhist temples in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and the U. S.




The Power of Ideas


Episode # 2 from the 2007 6-part documentary series The Story of India with Michael Wood






Ages of Gold


Episode # 4 from the 2007 6-part documentary series The Story of India with Michael Wood


About the Gupta empire




Chandragupta Maurya


The Mauryan Empire






Warriors of the Elephant 


Episode from the documentary series Ancient Warriors




Ancient Rulers and Sects:


Unifiers of India - Chandragupta and Asoka


Lecture # 21 by Gregory Aldrete from History of the Ancient World (Removed from You Tube)




The Mauryan Empire


Class Teacher




Ashoka Chakra, one of the numerous pillars erected by Ashoka throughout the sub-continent. The edicts inscribed on the pillars are the oldest examples of writing in India. 










A clip from Michael Wood's Story of India 




Ashoka the Great


Discussion on the weekly BBC radio programme In Our Time with hosted by Melvyn Bragg


With guests

Jessica Frazier, Naomi Appleton and Richard Gombrich

5 February 2015




The Indians


Episode from the BBC documentary series with Adam Hart-Davis What the Ancients did for us






Episode from the 2007 documentary series What the Ancients Knew


Ancient India and planned cities, houses with bathrooms and toilets, yoga, meditation, medicine, chess, science, maths, the numbers 1 to 9 and zero, plastic surgery, eye operations and inoculation




The Kama Sutra


Discussion on the weekly BBC radio programme In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg


With guests Julius Lipner, Jessica Frazier and David Smith


2 February 2012




You Tube:




Continue to next page, 7. Yellow River (Haung He/Huang Ho)






Episode from the documentary series Mysteries of Modern Asia


About the ancient home city of Krishna




The Sunken City of Dwarka



Episode, # 1, from the documentary series Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age with Graham Hancock


About Dwarka, 12,000-year-old City of Krishna 






Atlantis of the East












Ancient India


From the Indus Valley Civilisation to the Mughals


Documentary on Indian history (48:06)






The History of Hindu India
Documentary by Hinduism Today with Raj Narayan

Indian Civilisation
26-lecture course by Vinay Lal, Introduction to the History of India (History 9A), UCLA, Spring 2012
All 26 lectures:

Required reading (selections from): an history of early India by Romilla Popper; shortened versions of the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha (William Bucks); an introduction to Hinduism by Vinay Lal; and an history of India (from the beginning to the present) by Thomas and Barbara Metcalf

Other reading (selections from): The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru, etc.

Website with additional details about South Asia: Manas: India and its Neighbours

Lecture 1.
Introductory lecture
- Course requirements and course overview
- General discussion about the interpretation of Indian history
- Religion in Indian history
- Indian civilisation
- 'India'
- Sources of study
- Problems with translation   
- rendering one culture into terms familiar to another culture
- Possible difficulties in studying Indian history
- South Asia as a field of study
- Roland Barthes's Empire of Signs (1970)

Note: T. A. = Teaching Assistant (Teaching Fellow)


Lecture 2.  

- The problem of 'Orientalism'
- Problems in the interpretation of Indian history
- The relationship of knowledge to power
- the politics of representation and the institutionalisation of certain forms of representation, their relation to colonialism, etc.
- The nature of Orientalist discourse: 'The Black Hole of Calcutta' (1756) as an illustration 

- Physical geography of India
- Different names for India (Bharat, Aryavarta, Hindustan . . . )

- Indus Valley Civilisation: an urban civilisation with town planning (3300 BC - 1300 BC)

Lecture 3.
- Indus Valley Civilisation (Harappan Civilisation) (3300 BC - 1300 BC)
- Harappa and Mohenjo-daro (2600 BC - 1300 BC)
- Undeciphered script of the Indus Valley
- Seals and their figures
- Demise of Indus Valley Civilisation and the coming of the Aryans (c. 2000 BC)
- Import of the Aryan horse in India
- Creation of hierarchies with the horse and chariot
- The nature of the Rig Veda (1700/1500 BC - 1200/1100 BC), its status in Indian thought and some comparisons with the Koran
The Four Vedas: Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, and Atharva-Veda
The Rig-Veda is the oldest known text in an Indo-European language
Lecture 4.
- Aryans and the Rig Veda (1700/1500 BC - 1200/1100 BC)
- Changing nature of Indian texts
- Oral tradition
- Sir William Jones and Indo-European languages (1786) 
- Three language families in India: Indo-European (I-E), Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic
- Importance of Sanskrit
- The Rig Veda's account of creation and a comparison with the Biblical account in
- The Aryan conception of four social castes
(caturvarna)   -   Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (merchants), and Shudras (laborers)
- four stages of life   -   Brahmacharya (student), Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (retirement) and Sannyasa (renunciation);
- and the four Vedas   -   Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, and Atharva-Veda
- Varna, caste hierarchies, notions of pollution and purity
- Difference between varna (literal meaning of caste) and jati (actual significance of caste)
- Aryan social organisation
- Stages of life
- Distinction between sruti (revealed) and smriti (remembered)
- The four ends of life according to the Aryans: artha (money and material well-being), kama (sexual gratification), dharma (righteousness, virtue), and moksha (liberation, spiritual emancipation)    
- Indra as an Aryan God   -   chief god, destroyer of cities, god with the thunderbolt, god of rain, god of weather . . .
- Other Aryan Gods   -   Agni, god of fire; Vayu, god of wind; Varuna, god of rivers and seas . . .  
Note: Arya = fair-skinned, noble; dasa = slave, servant
Lecture 5.
- Aryan Society
- Early Vedic Period (c. 1800/1700 BC - c. 800 BC)
- Later Vedic period (c. 1100 BC - c. 500 BC)
- Idea of Varsnasrama Dharma
- Theory of Moksha (liberation)
- Political and social organisation of the Aryans   -   tribes, clans, rajahs (chief), sabha (assembly), and samiti
- The illiterate Aryans and the oral tradition

- Transition from Vedas to the Upanishads (vedanta) (c. 800 - 200 BC )

- Social context of the Upanishads and theory of moksha (spiritual liberation) and knowledge
- Story of Svetaketu in the Upanishads
- Meaning of the word Brahmin
- Worldview of the Upanishads
- Problems in using European categories to understand Indian texts and philosophical traditions
- Upanishads as dialogic texts
- Shankaracharya's interpretation of the Upanishads (600s AD)
- Avidya (ignorance) and vidya (knowledge)
- The affinity of the atman (individual soul) and the Brahman (universal soul)
- Distinction between real and unreal, permanent
and transient
- The story of the Buddha  (563 BC - 483 BC)   -   Siddhārtha Gautama/Shakyamuni Buddha   -   birth, childhood, enlightenment, teachings, disciples and death
- Buddhism gives us the first concrete details of India
- The Buddha's conception of suffering and freedom from the trappings of life;
- his idea of the four noble truths and the eightfold path
- The four noble truths: 1. all existence is suffering, 2. the cause of suffering is ignorance, 3. if there is suffering there is a cause for it, 4. to alleviate suffering one must follow the eightfold path
- The eightfold path: 1. right beliefs, 2. right speech, 3. right conduct, 4. right mode of livelihood, 5. right effort, 6. right mindedness, 7. right meditation, 8. right aspirations 
Vedic Period: 1500 BC - 800/500 BC
Early Vedic Period: 1500 BC - 1100 BC 
Late Vedic Period: 1100 BC - 800/500 BC
Upanishads: c. 800 - 200 BC
Lecture 6.
- The Upanishads and the notion of individual moral responsibility

- Buddha (The Enlightened One) (563 BC - 483 BC) and Buddhism 
- Mahavira (The Great Hero) (599 BC - 527 BC) and origins of Jainism
- key ideas, including dharma (law), sangha (community), ahimsa (non-violence), aparigraha (non-possession)  
- Jains
- Jaina theory of
syadvada (perspective)
- John Godfrey Saxe's version of the parable of the six blind men and the elephant (1872)
- Polity in India c. 600 BC - c. 350 BC
- Patna, centre of empire (500's - 400s BC
- Taxila (a university) (400s BC)
- Indian mathematics (zero, use of letters to designate unknown quantities such as x, y ... ), astronomy, Panini's grammar of Sanskrit (300s BC) and surgery 
- Alexander the Great's invasion of India (326 BC - 324 BC)
- Alexander the Great's encounter with the gymnosophists (sadhu, fakir) in
Vikram Chandra's novel Red Earth and Pouring Rain (Love and Longing in Bombay) (1997)
Lecture 7.
- Alexander the Great (326 BC - 324 BC) and the gymnosophists (sadha, fakir)
- Mauryan empire (322 - 185 BC)

- Chandra Gupta Maurya (ruled 324 - c. 297 BC); a Brahman (Hindu) becomes a Jain;  
- Bindusara (ruled c. 297 - 273 BC), remains a Brahman (Hindu), extends empire,  and
- Emperor Ashoka (ruled c. 268 to 232 BC) 
- Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism after the war in Kalinga (c. 262 - 261 BC)
- Ashoka's edicts
- The spread of Buddhism
- The Arthasastra (Science of Material Wealth) by Kautilya (aka Chanakya and
Vishnugupt) (The Machiavelli of the East) (100s - 200s AD) as a source for studying the Mauryan empire
- Ashoka's rock pillar edicts in India (19 survive) -   in Pakrit (vernacular language) in Brahmi script, one edict in Aramaic and Greek and one edict in Greek;  
- The Lion Capital on top of the pillar at Sarnath
- Ashoka's life, ecumenism, tolerance and non-violence
- Ashoka's attempts to put together a corpus of Buddhist texts
- A political unity in India

- The Tamil country in South India at the time of Ashoka (Tamil inscriptions); the god
Murugan (Karthikeya), son of Shiva, worshipped by Tamils;  
- Development of popular Hinduism; the trinity or trimurti   -   Brahma the creator, Shiva the preserver and Vishnu the destroyer); disappearance of Brahma 
- Iconography of gods and consorts/goddesses
- Example of Ardhnarisvara (half-man-woman god), Shiva as half-male and half-female; Vishnu has avatars (incarnations) but not Shiva
- Ten incarnations of Vishnu (dasavatara): Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki

Note: Vedas - Upanishads - Shramanic (heterodox) religions (Buddhism, Jainism) - Classical Hinduism - Trimurti (Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva) 

Note: Rama and Krishna are the most important avatars in India today

Lecture 8.
- Mauryan dynasty (322 - 185 BC)
- Political history of India   -   200 BC
- Political turmoil (200 BC -  )
- History of South India and the Sangam period (c. 300 BC - c. 300s/400 AD)
- Tamil country (c. 300 BC -  ), inscriptions
- Sangam literature (c. 300 BC - c. AD 400)

- Hindu myths
- Vishnu and Shiva; Vaishnavite and Shivaite sects 
- The Ramkatha and the Ramayana   -   Rama is an avatar of Vishnu 
- The Puranas   -   Puranic literature   -   sectarian literature
- Vishnu Purana (Vishnu) and Shiva Purana (Shiva) and Shakto Purana (Shakti)  
- The myth of Nara-simha (the man-lion) and story of Prahlad (story of sectarian Vaishnavite and Shivaite conflict)
- Gods (asuras) and demons
- Liminality
- Incarnation (avatar)
- Story of Vamana (the dwarf), an avatar of Vishnu
- The idea of many Ramayanas   -   A. K. Ramanujan and a Kannada (language of Karnataka) folktale
- Some differences between the Ramayana (a poem) and
Mahabharata (a history)
- Difficulties in viewing Ramayana as a work of history
- Tendency in recent years to historicise Rama and his story
- Rama is an avatar of Vishnu
- Distinctions between history and myth
- The dispute over the Ramjanmasthan/Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and the destruction of the Babri Masjid by Hindu nationalists (1992)
- Babur, Mughal emperor (ruled 1526 – 1530), destroyed a Hindu temple to Rama in Ayodhya, birthplace of Rama in the Ramayana, and built a mosque on the spot (1528)
Note: Samgam literature is a collection of secular literature by literary asembies of Tamil poets from c. 300 BC to c. AD 400
Lecture 9.
- Ramayana
- Many versions of the Ramayana
- Gods, humans, demi-gods and asuras (demons)
- Hanuman
- A. K. Ramanujan's article about the many Ramayanas
- Hindu nationalist readings of the Ramayana
- Agnipariksha (the trial by fire) and dharma
- The two Krishnas of Indian tradition and the view of the Bengali writer Bankimcandra Chatterjee
- The Krishna of history and myth
- Krishna and the gopis
- Episode of the vastraharana (theft of the clothes)
- Nationalists and Indian history
- The British fascination with history
- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (c. AD 400)
- Dialectic on freedom and discipline
- Yoga
- Cessation of thought
Lecture 10.
- Hindu gods and goddesses
- Iconography of the deities
- Krishna as cowherd with a flute
- Iconography of Rama and masculinization of the God
- Shiva, Narasimha and traditions of Indian miniature painting
- The episode of the vastraharana, the theft of the clothes
- the idea of nakedness, being shorn of your ego
- Rasleela
- Dasavatara (the ten avatars of Vishnu)

- Scenes from the Mahabharata   -   the sermon called the
Bhagavad Gita
- Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
- Different conceptions of yoga   -   eight limbs of yoga,
including asanas, pranayama and the cosmology of breath
- Yoga and abstentions and affirmations.
- Yoga and the understanding and attainment of freedom
- Gita and
- Schools of yoga espoused by the
- Transition from Vedas to Upanishads and Buddhism to the 
- Bhakti yoga, karma yoga, jnana yoga
- Krishna's status
- Importance of devotion (bhakti)
- Krishna's Universal form (Vishwarupa).
- Mahabharata, Draupadi and allegorical reading of polyandry
Lecture 11. 

- Mahabharata, its structure; a story within a story

- Bhagavad Gita

- The wager

- Draupadi at the Assembly Hall

- Aswatthama and the death of Drona

- Krishna and the death of Jayadratha

- Yaksha Prasna

- Yudisthira and his reputation for truthfulness

- Importance of vows and meaning of a promise

- The supreme question of dharma

- The deception of Krishna

- So-called 'Dark Ages' of India (232 BC -  AD 320) (from the death of Asoka to the establishment of the Gupta empire)

- Significance of the 2nd cent. AD  -  Manusmriti (Laws of Manu)Arthasastra

- End of the Mauryan empire (AD 185)

- Central Asians in India and Indians in SE Asia

- Indianisation of Southeast Asia (begins in first cent. AD)


- The poetry in stone created by Satavahanas 



Lecture 12. 


- Political history of India to c. AD 300 - 400   -   Shungas (187 - 78 BC), Gandhara school, Indo-Greek dynasties

- Classes of Indian literature - dharmasastras, arthasastra, nitisastras and kamasastras

- Indian writers' obsession with classification

- Vatsyayana's Kamasutra, Panchatantra and secular literature

- The marga and the desi, high-brow and low-brow Indian culture

- The Hindu tradition of the Goddess: Indian folktales and Thomas Mann's 'Transposed Heads' (1941) - the notion of identity


 Lecture 13.


- Niti Sastras (1200s AD); contrast with Dharma Sastras

- Niti Sastras deal with 'conduct'

- Indian folktales, the Pancatantra and the Kathasaritsagara

- The story of Solomon's justice; the story of the four Brahmins and the lion

- History of Indian art and architecture   -   images of the Buddha, Gandhara sculpture, Ajanta, Ellora

- Boddhisattva painting of Ajanta



Lecture 14.

- Problems with the periodisation of Indian history
- James Mill's History of British India (first published in 1818) (division of Indian history into three periods: ancient, medieval and modern or Hindu, Mohammedan and British)
- Indian history before the Guptas: Indo-Greeks (c. 2nd.  cent. BC - 1st. cent. AD), Shakas, Kushanas (AD 30 - 375), and the reign of Kanishka (AD 120 - 144)
- Indian calendrical systems and the Vikrama era (began in 58 BC)
- Evidence from Pliny the
of Indian trade with Rome (Naturalis Historia [c. AD 79]); the Sanskrit Cosmopolis
- The Guptas (c. AD 320 - 550), the so-called "Golden" or "Classical" age of India
- Astronomy
- Chess
- Kalidasa and Indian literature
- Reigns of Chandra
Gupta I (c. 320 - c. 335), Samudra Gupta (c. 335 - c. 380
), and Samudra Gupta II
- The political system Rajamandala
- Cultural capital
- Gradual shift from Buddhism to Hinduism
- Fa-hien's observations of India (c. AD 400)



Lecture 15.


- the Guptas (c. 320 - 550); The Golden or Classical Age of Indian History

- Kalidasa (court poet) (perhaps in the early 5th century);

- reign of Chandragupta II (380 - 413)  

- the consolidation of Puranic literature.


- The Hun repelled by Harsha


- Rajamandala


- the Indianisation of SE Asia: Borubodor, Prambanan, Angkor, Pagan;

- various theories on the spread of Indian influence to South East Asia


- reasons for the disappearance of Buddhism from India:

- sectariansim,

- Importance of Shankaracharya (788 - 820) and his revival of Advaita Vedanta;

- Buddhism and Brahminism;

- synthesis of Hinduism under Shankara (AD 788 - 820)



Lecture 16.

- Disappearance of Buddhism from India and competing narratives
- Shankaracharya, his establishment of maths and his attempt
to consolidate Hinduism
- Political history of India   -   the Rajputs, the Pratiharas, the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Palas in Bengal and the political fragmentation of India
- History of South India, the relationship of Tamil and Sanskrit
and loan words from Sanskrit
- Indian Ocean trading network
- The coming of Islam to India
- Elementary aspects of Islam
- Early Islamic invasions of Sind
- Theory of communalism and problems with the communalist
interpretations of Indian history
- Mahmud
of Ghazni (ruled 998 - 1030)
- Hegel (1770 - 1831) on India

- Attack on Somnath (1024)
- The politics of conquest
Continued at the bottom of Page 18. Turks, Crusaders, Mongols, Moors, Explorers and Conquistadors

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