Chapter 8 Notes
Villages, Towns and Trade
Class 6 – Social Science
|Chapter Name||Villages, Towns and Trade|
|Chapter No.||Chapter 8|
|Category||Class 6 History Notes|
Question 1 What was the use of iron tools?
Question 2 What were the sources of irrigation to increase production?
Question 3 Name the people who live in the Tamil region.
Question 4 Briefly discuss the different kinds of people living in villages in the northern parts of the subcontinent.
Question 5 Why earlier Tamil text were called as Sangam?
Question 6 What are punch marked coins?
Question 7 Write a short note on inscriptions found in Mathura.
Question 8 Why Mathura has been an important settlement for more than 2500 years?
Question 9 Write a short note on Northern Black Polished Ware.
Question 10 Mention some of the evidence which tell us about life in early cities.
Question 11 Write a short note on the shrenis.
Question 12 Why was Grama Bhojaka powerful?
Question 13 What evidences were found by archaeologists at Arikamedu?
Question 14 How do you think Northern Black Polished Ware reached these places?
Question 15 List the craftspersons who would have been present in both villages and cities.
Question 16 What kinds of evidence do historians use to find out about trade and trade routes?
Question 17 What does the word muvendar means?
Question 18 What do you mean by Arretine Ware?
Question 19 Write short notes on region of Mathura.
Question 20 How do we find out about early cities of the subcontinent?
Question 21 What were the rules for spinning and weaving?
Question 22 What was the role of chiefs in New Kingdom?
Question 23 Write a note on Satavahanas dynasty.
Question 24 Why Some kings tried to control large portions of the route?
Iron Tools and Agriculture
The use of iron began in the subcontinent around 3000 years ago. Some of the largest collections of iron tools and weapons were found in the megalithic burials.
Around 2500 years ago, there is evidence for the growing use of iron tools. These included axes for clearing forests, and the iron ploughshare. The ploughshare was useful for increasing agricultural production.
While new tools and the system of transplantation increased production, irrigation was also used. Irrigation works that were built during this time included canals, wells, tanks, and artificial lakes.
Who lived in the villages?
There were at least three different kinds of people living in most villages in the southern and northern parts of the subcontinent.
In the Tamil region, large landowners were known as vellalar, ordinary ploughmen were known as uzhavar, and landless labourers, including slaves, were known as kadaisiyar and adimai.
In the northern part of the country, the village headman was known as the grama bhojaka. Usually, men from the same family held the position for generations. The post was hereditary. The grama bhojaka was often the largest landowner. Generally, he had slaves and hired workers to cultivate the land. Besides, as he was powerful, the king often used him to collect taxes from the village. He also functioned as a judge, and sometimes as a policeman.
There were other independent farmers, known as grihapatis, most of whom were smaller landowners.
And then there were men and women such as the dasa karmakara, who did not own land, and had to earn a living working on the fields owned by others.
In most villages there were also some craftspersons such as the blacksmith, potter, carpenter and weaver.
The Earliest Tamil Compositions
Some of the earliest works in Tamil, known as Sangam literature, were composed around 2300 years ago. These texts were called Sangam because they were supposed to have been composed and compiled in assemblies (known as sangams) of poets that were held in the city of Madurai . The Tamil terms mentioned above are found in Sangam literature.
Archaeologists have found several thousands of coins belonging to this period. The earliest coins which were in use for about 500 years were punch-marked coins.
Punch-marked Coins were generally rectangular or sometimes square or round in shape, either cut out of metal sheets or made out of flattened metal globules (a small spherical body). The coins were not inscribed, but were stamped with symbols using dies or punches. Hence, they are called punch-marked coins. These coins are found over most parts of the subcontinent and remained in circulation till the early centuries CE.
Cities with Many Functions
Mathura has been an important settlement for more than 2500 years. It was important because
(1) it was located at the cross roads of two major routes of travel and trade — from the northwest to the east and from north to south.
(2) There were fortifications around the city, and several shrines.
(3) Farmers and herders from adjoining areas provided food for people in the city.
(4) it was also a centre where some extremely fine sculpture was produced.
(5) it was also a religious centre — there were Buddhist monasteries, Jaina shrines, and it was an important centre for the worship of Krishna.
(6) Several inscriptions on surfaces such as stone slabs and statues have been found in Mathura. Generally, these are short inscriptions, recording gifts made by men (and sometimes women) to monasteries and shrines. These were made by kings and queens, officers, merchants, and craftspersons who lived in the city. For instance, inscriptions from Mathura mention goldsmiths, blacksmiths, weavers, basket makers, garland makers, perfumers.
Crafts and Craftspersons
Archaeological evidence for crafts include extremely fine pottery, known as the Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). It gets its name from the fact that it is generally found in the northern part of the subcontinent. NBPW is a hard, wheel made, metallic looking ware with a shiny black surface. The potter used to expose the earthenware to very high temperature in his kiln which resulted in the blackening of its outer surface. A fine black slip was also applied on this, which gave the pottery a mirror-like shine.
We know from texts that the manufacture of cloth was important. There were famous centres such as Varanasi in the north, and Madurai in the south. Both men and women worked in these centres.
Many craftspersons and merchants now formed associations known as shrenis. These shrenis of craftspersons provided training, procured raw material, and distributed the finished product. Then shrenis of merchants organised the trade. Shrenis also served as banks, where rich men and women deposited money. This was invested, and part of the interest was returned or used to support religious institutions such as monasteries.
Between 2200 and 1900 years ago, Arikamedu was a coastal settlement where ships unloaded goods from distant lands.
(1) A massive brick structure, which may have been a warehouse, was found at the site.
(2) Pottery from the Mediterranean region, such as amphorae (tall double-handled jars that contained liquids such as wine or oil)
(3) Stamped red-glazed pottery, known as Arretine Ware, which was named after a city in Italy. This was made by pressing wet clay into a stamped mould.
(4) There was yet another kind of pottery which was made locally, though Roman designs were used. Roman lamps, glassware and gems have also been found at the site.
(5) Small tanks have been found that were probably dyeing vats, used to dye cloth.
(6) There is plenty of evidence for the making of beads from semi-precious stones and glass.
Trade and Traders
The Northern Black Polished Ware is a fine pottery, especially bowls and plates that were found from several archaeological sites throughout the subcontinent.
Traders may have carried them from the places where they were made, to sell them at other places. South India was famous for gold, spices, especially pepper, and precious stones. Pepper was particularly valued in the Roman Empire, so much so that it was known as black gold. So, traders carried many of these goods to Rome in ships, across the sea, and by land in caravans. There must have been quite a lot of trade as many Roman gold coins have been found in south India.
Traders explored several sea routes. Some of these followed the coasts. There were others across the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, where sailors took advantage of the monsoon winds to cross the seas more quickly. So, if they wanted to reach the western coast of the subcontinent from East Africa or Arabia, they chose to sail with the south-west monsoon.
New Kingdoms along the Coasts
The southern half of the subcontinent is marked by a long coastline, and with hills, plateaus, and river valleys.
Amongst the river valleys, that of the Kaveri is the most fertile. Chiefs and kings who controlled the river valleys and the coasts became rich and powerful.
Sangam poems mention the muvendar.
This is a Tamil word meaning three chiefs, used for the heads of three ruling families, the Cholas, Cheras, and Pandyas, who became powerful in south India around 2300 years ago.
Each of the three chiefs had two centres of power: one inland, and one on the coast.
Of these six cities, two were very important: Puhar or Kaveripattinam, the port of the Cholas, and Madurai, the capital of the Pandyas.
The chiefs did not collect regular taxes. Instead, they demanded and received gifts from the people. They also went on military expeditions and collected tributes from neighbouring areas. They kept some of the wealth and distributed the rest amongst their supporters, including members of their family, soldiers, and poets.
Many poets whose compositions are found in the Sangam collection composed poems in praise of chiefs who often rewarded them with precious stones, gold, horses, elephants, chariots, and fine cloth.
Around 200 years later, a dynasty known as the Satavahanas became powerful in western. The most important ruler of the Satavahanas was Gautamiputra Shri Satakarni. We know about him from an inscription composed on behalf of his mother, Gautami Balashri. He and other Satavahana rulers were known as lords of the dakshinapatha, literally the route leading to the south, which was also used as a name for the entire southern region. He sent his army to the eastern, western and southern coasts.
Silk Route and the Kushanas
Some kings tried to control large portions of the route because they could benefit from taxes, tributes and gifts that were brought by traders travelling along the route.
In return, they often protected the traders who passed through their kingdoms from attacks by robbers. The best-known of the rulers who controlled the Silk Route were the Kushanas, who ruled over central Asia and north-west India around 2000 years ago.
Their two major centres of power were Peshawar and Mathura. Taxila was also included in their kingdom.
During their rule, a branch of the Silk Route extended from Central Asia down to the seaports at the mouth of the river Indus, from where silk was shipped westwards to the Roman Empire.
Rules for Spinning and Weaving
These rules are from the Arthashastra. They describe how spinning and weaving could be done in workshops under the supervision of a special official. “Widows, young women who are differently abled, nuns, mothers of courtesans, retired women servants of the king, women who have retired from service in temples, may be used for processing wool, bark, cotton, hemp and flax.
They should be paid according to the quality and quantity of work. Women who are not permitted to leave their homes can send maidservants to bring the raw material from the superintendent and take the finished work back to him.
Women who can visit the workshop should go at dawn to give their work and receive their wages.
There should be enough light to examine the work. In case the superintendent looks at the woman or talks about anything other than the work, he should be punished. If a woman does not complete her work, she will have to pay a fine, and her thumbs can be cut off.”