A new report says that people born in the medieval times are sometimes not identified by their full name on their death certificates.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, only a small number of people in the Indian subcontinent were born with a given name.
India’s population grew from 1.3 billion in the 1950s to 8.2 billion in 2017, but this was still less than half of the population in the US and Britain.
“It was a very, very different world,” says Vikram Nair, a professor of history at Harvard University and author of the report.
“We had an identity system and there were certain things about our identity that were more or less consistent across time.”
Nair says it’s a difficult process for people to learn about their ancestors, who were often not recognized by their names on death certificates until very recently.
“There are a lot of questions and questions about where we come from,” Nair told Quartz.
“But the answer is not really obvious in India, because the country has been so culturally and politically divided for so long.
So for the most part, the way that you come to know your ancestors is very different.”
The researchers also discovered that the name of a person was often not included in their death certificate, making it impossible to determine if they died in an accident or in battle.
“I am quite surprised that we are still in this state,” Nairs said.
“If the person’s family is not present in the name, you’re left with a blank space and it becomes a mystery.”
The study was based on data from the death certificates of 5,854 people from the medieval period between the 13th and 16th centuries.
The researchers found that about two-thirds of the deaths occurred in India’s north and west, while the rest occurred in the central and southern regions.
While the death rate in the south was higher than in other parts of the country, the researchers found no correlation between the number of deaths and the amount of land that was under cultivation.
“That’s the thing that is really striking about the data,” Naim says.
“When you look at these medieval times, you see very, much more land.
There’s less population density and more of a lack of social mobility.
There are lots of rural areas, and in some of those areas, you don’t have the opportunity to develop as a society.”
Naim also points out that, in general, people in medieval times tended to live in smaller houses and had more space to work and explore.