(Online Course) History for IAS Mains: Period of Mahajanapadas – Role of Iron

Period of Mahajanapadas

Topic: Role of Iron

Question : Role of Iron.

Answer: The evaluation of role of iron in second urbanisation appears to be a
controversial issue.
According to one view the wide agrarian surplus prepared the basis for second
Initially it was supposed that, this agrarian surplus and the control over it
was linked to the
control over irrigation projects under a hydraulic state, but later this
agrarian surplus started
to be linked to the use of iron implements in the field of agriculture.
According to this view, in
6th century BC onwards, agriculture expanded in middle Gangetic basin. With the
use of iron
implements clearing of forests and expansion in cultivation became easier. Some
implements like sickles, hoes, axes etc. were to be associated with this period:
Then from
the later stage of Jakhera we have unearthed even an iron ploughshare. As we
know with
the use of iron implements, there was extension in agriable land in-middle

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Gangetic basin.
Furthermore rice producing middle Gangetic basin was more productive than wheat
upper Gangetic basin. Apart from that the plantation of paddy started during
this period and for
the first time slaves and workers’ got associated with cultivation. It resulted
into surplus agrarian
production. Then this surplus production encouraged the growth in population.
For example in
Gangetic basin, the total-no. of OCP sites was 110 but total no. of PGW sites
increased to 750.
Likewise NBPW sites reached upto 1500. On the other hand surplus production in
the field of
agriculture encouraged the development of crafts. In Buddhist text, different
types of crafts have
been mentioned. The development in crafts resulted into specialisation of
crafts. Furthermore
now a group of craftsmen associated with-ii particular craft just started to
settle in a particular
region. For example at a particular place of Vaishali, 500 potters got settled
during this period
trade and commerce was encouraged: Surplus production in the field of
agriculture resulted into
money: economy and development of craft as well. For, example, punch marked
coins which
were the earliest regular coins came into, existence first time during, this
period. According
to Buddhist texts there were 60 towns in Northern India during this. period.
Among them, 20
towns were as big as Sravasti and among them 6 towns were given the status of
city. In .this way, the emergence of second urbanisation was linked to the
effective use of iron
implements in-the field of agriculture.


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