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Essays in Ancient Indian Economic History

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Item Code: NAL358
Author: Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya
Publisher: Primus Books, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2015
ISBN: 9789384082529
Pages: 258
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.5 inch X 6.5 inch
Weight 330 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

Essays in Ancient Indian Economic History is part of a three-volume set focusing on the developments in the economic history of India during the last millennium.

The essays in this volume provide an outline of the change in the status and orientation of early Indian economic history and in the approach to the economic features of ancient Indian history. The essays traverse diverse subjects such as the function of property, family and caste, the origin of the state in early India; agriculture, surplus appropriation and distribution, and labour; the role of crafts and craftsmen in the economy of early India; and trade and trade organizations, and coinage. In doing so, the volume attempts to provide a chronological and spatial view of early Indian economy.

Re-issued in a revised form to synchronize with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Indian History Congress, the essays are accompanied by a new Preface and a Introduction that highlight the changing contours of emphases, shifting focus and methodologies and projections of research both encouraged and documented under the aegis of the Indian History Congress.


About the Author

B.D. Chattopadhyaya was formerly Professor, Centre of Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. His publications include The Making of Early Medieval India; Representing the Other?; Studying Early India: Archaeology, Texts, and Historical Issues; Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History and; an edited volume Combined Methods inIndology and Other Writings.



THE INDIAN History Congress has emerged as a representative organization for a large section of historians in India, providing its members with a forum to present their unpublished research work, using data from across the country. The annual sessions of the Indian History Congress are invariably attended by senior historians, who provide guidance to young researchers in their endeavours. In its multi-pronged activities, the Congress is perhaps one of the few organizations in India to provide a research and publication forum. To this end, it brings out an edited volume containing selection of the research articles presented at various sessions. In fact, it is the meticulous selection of essays and rigorous editing of the volumes that has given cause for the University Grants Commission to recognize these Proceedings to the level of a referred journal for the purposes of granting Promotion to college and university teachers under the Career Advancement scheme.

During its Golden Jubilee Celebrations in 1987, the Indian History Congress decided to publish three thematic volumes focusing on the Economic history of India. This three-volume set, entitled Indian History Congress golden Jubilee Year Publication Series together contained over a hundred essays, with an introduction by eminent historians. The series met with much success, as it provided a panoramic view of 50 years of changing focuses and emphases of scholars on art, religion, and society and issues related to the historical roots of economic backwardness and the resultant economic under-development in India's colonial past.

These volumes on economic history were also important from another perspective. While inaugurating the first session of the Indian History Congress 1935, Sir Shafa'at Ahmad Khan remarked that, 'economic history is almost virgin field: In the years following 1935, research in this area gathered depth and pace. In the subsequent decade and, in particular after Independence, considerable literature too was produced on the various aspects of the economic history of India. A nationalistic critique of colonialism during the process of decolonization was a major factor in developing interest in this topic. Meanwhile, since the mid-1950s the Marxist approach too gathered acceptance in the academic world of historians as an important factor in the explication of Historical development. Together, the twin discourses of nationalist critique and Marxist approach became important contributory factors for a heightened interest in the economic aspects of India's historical past.

In challenging the imperialist historiography, Indian historians evolved Considerable interest in studying society, religion, and art. They posited that Indian cultural past was essentially composite in nature and different communities lived side by side in a spirit of syncretism. In doing so, historians also examined the nature of religious identities and their role in shaping the contours of societal developments in our past.

Prints of the 1987 three-volume set were soon exhausted. Keeping in view their usefulness and steady demand among scholars as well as students, the Executive Committee of the 71st Session of the Indian History Congress, at University of Gour Banga, Malda, West Bengal, decided to reprint the three volumes, possibly with a new introduction by their respective editors. To this end, I am grateful to Professor Satish Chandra, Professor Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, and Professor B.D. Chattopadhyaya for contributing substantial pieces for the new editions. And, it is indeed a pleasure to have these volumes released as a part of the preparations for the celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee Session of the Congress.



THE ESSAYS in this collection on different aspects of the economic history of ancient India were, originally presented at the annual sessions of the Indian History Congress and have been published in the Proceedings of the Congress. The volume was put together by scrutinizing carefully the Proceedings of the Congress during the first fifty years of its existence. The publication of this four-volume series in 1987 of which Essays in Ancient Indian Economic History was the first, was intended to mark the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of the Congress, in 1987.

It is little more than two and a half decades since. By now, this collection and its companion volumes have all gone out of print, but it seems there is still a demand for them. Ideally, this new edition should have been updated by including new essays published in the Proceedings of the Congress in the last twenty-five years, and by locating them within the global trend of economic history writing during this period. It would indeed have been interesting to have considered the general state of economic history after its heyday in the sixties and seventies of the last century and the nature of historiographical drifts towards social formation oriented studies, and further, to examine how these drifts are reflected in the contributions at the Congress. That task, one hopes, will be taken up soon, at least in the centenary year or Platinum Jubilee of the Congress. All that needs to be stated here is that all the issues which are represented in this collection continue to be of relevance to serious historical studies.

I thank the secretary of the Indian History Congress for asking me for a new Introduction to the re-issue of the collection, and I shall look forward to its post publication reception.




  Preface to the Second Edition IX
  Preface to the First Edition XI
  Introduction to the First Edition XIII
  Introduction to the Second Edition xv
1. Role of Property, Family and Caste in the Origin of the State in Ancient India 3
2. Economic Condition of Western India During 200 BC - AD 500 13
3. Family and Inheritance in Early South India 19
4. Agricultural Production During the Early Iron Age in Northern India 27
5. Some Aspects of Early Orissan Economy and Society 33
6. Aspects of Early Iron Age Economy: Problems of Agrarian Expansion in Tarnilakam 41


7. Types of Land in North-Eastern India (From Fourth Century to Seventh Century AD) 53
8. The Plough Measure in North India 59
9 Classification of Land and Assessment of Land-Tax in Early Medieval Tamil Nadu from 950 to 1300 63
10. Theory of Commendation and Sub-Infeudation in Ancient India 69
11. Farm Labourers of Karnataka (Ancient and Medieval Period) 75
12. Halika-Kara: Crystallization of a Practice into a Tax 88 81
13. Artisans in Manu 87
14. Urban Occupations and Crafts in the Kusana Period 103
15. Leather Workers in Ancient and Early Medieval India 113
16. Some Crafts of Ancient Bengal (Textile) 121
17. Basic Industries in Northern India on the Eve of Turko-Afghan Conquests 129
18. Trade and Commerce from Panini's Astadhyayi 139
19. Some Aspects of India-China Maritime Trade c. AD 250-1200 149
20. The Role of the Arab Traders in Western India During Early Medieval Period 153
21. Trade in the Growth of Towns: A Case Study of Karnataka, c. AD 600-1200 163
22. Trade Guilds Under the Calukyas of Kalyani 171
23. Merchant Guilds in Medieval Andhra 177
24. Rate of Interest During Early Medieval India 197
25. Minting in Medieval Karnataka 201
26. Socio-Economic Tensions in Bhojakara Rajya of Vakaraka Kingdom in the Time of Pravarasena II 209
27. Famines and Relief Measures Under the Imperial Colas, AD 850-1279 215
28. Socio-Economic Implications of the Concept of Mahapataka in the Feudal Society of South India 235
  Index 231


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