Economy and Society

In the post -Mauryan era (200 BC -300 AD) the economy moved at an accelerated tempo. Society witnessed structural reorientation as significant groups of foreigners penetrated into India and chose to be identified with the rest of the community. The occupation of craftsmen was an important segment of the day's socio-economic milieu. The craftsmen were not only associated with the towns but also villages like Karimnagar in the Telengana region of AP. The categories of craftsmen who were known in this period bear out the truth that there was considerable specialization in mining and metallurgy. A large number of iron artefacts have been discovered at various excavated sites relating to the Kushan and Satavahans period. Telegana region appears to have made special progress in iron artefacts not only weapons but also balance rods, sickles, ploughshares, razors and ladles have been found in the Karimnagar and Nalgonda districts.

The progress was made in cloth making and silk weaving. Dyeing was a craft of repute in some south Indian towns. The use of oil was also high because of the invention of oil wheel. The inscriptions mention weavers, goldsmiths, dyers, workers in metal and ivory, jewellers, fishermen as the donors of caves, pillars, tablets, cisterns etc. Among the luxury items the important ones were ivory and glass articles and bead cutting. Coin minting reached a high level of excellence made out gold, silver, copper, bronze, lead and potin. A coin mould of the Satavahans period shows that through it half a dozen coins could be turned out time. In urban handicrafts the pride of place goes to beautiful pieces of terracotta produced in profuse quantities. They have been found in most of the sites belonging to the Kushan and Satavahans periods. The terracotta figures of great beauty have been found in the Nalgonda district of Telengana. The immense manufacturing activity was maintained by guilds. At least a dozen kinds of guilds were there. Most of the artisans known from inscriptions hailed from the Mathura region and the western Deccan which lay on the trade routes leading to the ports on the western coast. The guilds coming from the days of the Mauryan period became a more important factor in the urban life both in being instrumental to increase in production and moulding public opinion. The primary guilds of the day were those of the potters, metal workers and carpenters. Some guilds organized their own distribution system while owning a large number of boats to transport goods from various ports of the Ganges. Ususry was a part of banking and the general rate of interest was around 15% loans extended to sea trade carried higher interest rate. The immense commercial activity was bolstered by the thriving trade between India and Roman Empire. With the movement of Central Asian people like Sakas, Parthians and Kushans trade came to be carried across the sea. Among the ports the important ones were broach and Sopara on the western coast and Arikamendu and Tamralipti on the eastern coast. Out of these ports Broach was the most important as not only goods were exported from here but also goods were received. Across land the converging point of trade routes was Taxila which was connected with the Silk Route passing through Central Asia. Ujjain was the meeting point of good number of trade routes. The trade between India and Rome mostly consisted of luxury goods.