Post Mauryan Age: Sources, trade economy and cultural contacts
Posted on : 18-11-2017 Posted by : Admin


The history of post mauryan period (200BC to 300AD) can be gathered from various sources. For the history of some regions, literary sources are importance sources giving lists of ruling dynasties and kings. Also inscriptions provide valuable inputs about the history of this period.  The information about the period just after Mauryan empire texts like Gargi samhita, Mahabhashya of patanjali, Divyavandana, Malavikagnimitram of Kalidasa and Harsacharita by Bana are useful.  

Evidences about Sunga dynasty can be obtained from the inscriptions of Ayodhya, Vidisha and Bharhut. The coins of this period give information about the smaller ruling dynasties.

Post mauryan period was the most flourishing period in the history of crafts and commerce in Ancient India. The greatness of this period can be gathered from the following works,

  • Mahavastu catalogues: This work mentions 36 kinds of workers living in Rajagriha town.
  • Milinda-Panho: This work enumerates 75 occupations. Out of these, 60 were connected with crafts.

Among the locations, telangana region of south India was richest in iron artefacts. Indian iron and steel cutlery were exported to Abyssinian ports. These artefacts received great prestige in west Asia. Also Mathura was the centre for the manufacture of a special type of cloth called ‘shataka’.

Trade and economy

The whole sub-continent was well-connected by different trade routes. Tamluk was the chief port of trade with Burma and Pataliputra was well connected to this port. Broach was the main port at western coast. Kaveripattanam in the south served the purpose of trade with western world, South East Asia and China.

The chief articles that were exported include Perfumes, Pearls, Copper and Sandal wood. Imports included Cloth, Glass, Silver and Gold. During Post Mauryan period the most profitable trade was with Roman Empire.

Achievements during Post mauryan period

The glass-blowing technique reached the peak during this period. Artisans during post-mauryan period were organized into 24 guilds or unions. The leading unions among these were potters, metal workers and carpenters.

These guilds acted as bankers, financiers and trustees. They made banking a wide spread profession. Possibly, post-mauryan age was the only period when money economy penetrated so deeply into the life of the common man.

Cultural contacts and foreign trade

Foreign trade was facilitated by the infiltration of Greeks, Shakas, Parthians and Kushanas. Though south India carried out trade with Western world and China through sea-route, North Indian trade was limited owing to geographical location. South India also traded with countries of South East Asia.

This helped in the growth of industries, handicrafts and also gave rise to organized mercantile community. This change in the society affected the social, economic and religious outlook of the people and this ultimately reflected in literature and fine arts.

Though Mauryan dynasty came to an end, the society as a whole did not set back. The material and technical advancement was still progressing. This progress can be viewed in terms of crafts and commerce. The process of change initiated by the Mauyran empire reached the level of maturity in post mauryan period. Consequently, there was a rise in the number of kingdoms in different parts of India.

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