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Title: The economic life of Northen India in the Gupta Period, cir. A.D. 300-550
Author: Maity, Sachindra Kumar
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1956
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This thesis is a study of the economic history of Gupta India as far as it can be re-constructed from the available sources. By utilizing material not hitherto studied in this connection we believe that we have thrown fresh light on several aspects of the subject. The first chapter deals with previous work on the subject, and the sources used. In Chapter II we study the land system. We have made a specially detailed study of the surviving inscriptions relating to the transfer of land, and in several respects have tried to throw new light on the subject. In our study of the units of measurement used we have tried to establish equivalences by thorough examination of the evidence, and for the first time we have also noticed the great demand for land in the Gupta period. Our third chapter deals with the revenue system; in this we have carefully studied the terms used in our sources, and attempted to explain several on which there is difference of opinion among scholars. The fourth chapter, dealing with agriculture and stockbreeding, throws some new light on the conditions of the time, by reference to the works of Varaahamihira and Amara, which have not hitherto been used for this purpose. Our chapter on Industry - the fifth - studies the subject both in the light of the written sources and of archaeology. The sixth chapter on trade and commerce contains sections on both internal and external trade; in the latter section contemporary Western and Chinese sources have been utilized, and throw some new light on India's maritime trade. In our study of labour conditions, Chapter VII, we have collated the evidence of inscriptions and legal texts on slavery, forced labour and hired labour. Chapter VIII deals with corporate economic life; we compare references to this in our own period with those in earlier sources, and conclude that guild organization greatly developed under the Guptas. Our ninth and final chapter deals with the currency system; here we attempt a study of Gupta coinage from the economic point of view, and adduce certain new conclusions from our tests of the purity of Gupta gold coins; we also consider moneylending in the period, and conclude that it greatly increased as compared with earlier times. Our work contains a three appendices; the first is a summary of Varahamihira's forecasts relating to economic life, which we believe are of some significance in assessing the economic situation of the time; the second is a synoptic table of the contents of the documents relating to land-sale of our period; and the third appendix gives the results of our specific gravity tests of Gupta coins.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral