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The early Vedic age began with Aryan migrations into the Indian sub-continent. Much of the area was occupied at that time by the Dravidian culture. The Aryan people did not conquer the Dravidians, but rather intermarried with them until a hybrid culture developed. The Vedas was the Aryan term for a collection of sacred writings honoring the Aryan deities. The major development of the Vedic age was the development of the Caste system which prevailed in India for many years. Originally four classes or castes were recognized; but later a fifth, the "untouchable" class was added. Strict rules of conduct and protocol dictated relationships between members of each caste. The Vedic age also saw the origins of a patriarchal society in India in which lineage was traced through the father's line, and only men held office or owned property. The practice of suttee by which a widow would throw herself on to her husband's funeral pyre also developed at this time.
The Vedic age lasted until India was conquered first by the Persians and later by armies of Alexander the Great. Even so, its influence remained persuasive.
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