Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Discuss the element of Change between early Vedic and later Vedic economy. What role did iron play in this change?

The economic progress of the Aryans is said to be tremendous in the later Vedic age with the advent of iron technology. This period witnessed the transition from pastoral farming of Rig Vedic age to sedentary farming cultivation.

Aryan settlements moved from the earlier Sapta Sindhu region to the Gangetic basin in search of fertile soils and new pastures. The dense forests and harder soils necessitated the usage of iron technology in the form of axed and iron plough shares respectively. Thus, the economy became highly agrarian in the later Vedic period replaced pastoral economy of Rig Vedic age. Rice became the staple food instead of wheat and barley of earlier time. The agricultural output increased by the virtue of higher land reclamation and irrigation.

Emergence of specialized crafts and trade is observed in the later Vedic period. References to the merchants, trade caravans and sea trade are available in late Vedic texts. Formation of trade guilds contributed to the economic prosperity of the later Vedic age. Bali which was a voluntary gift to the chief earlier had now become a regular tax and was collected to maintain the political and administrative structure. The tax structure became elaborate and complex in the later Vedic age. The primary role of the chief transformed from Gopala and Bhupala in this age. Niska and Satamana were transacted as units of currency instead of cow as in the Rig Vedic age.

The usage of iron was extensive in later Vedic age along with bronze, copper, gold, tin, silver of the earlier age. Iron being cheaper and harder than bronze, was helpful in cleaning hard timber of tropical forests and no stressing was required to deep plough the hard Gangetic soils. Iron was also very instrumental in the manufacturing of chariots along with offensive and defensive weapons like swords, daggers, arrow heads, spearheads. So, iron contributed both to higher agricultural output and improvisation of defense techniques.
In conclusion, the economy of later Vedic age was more stable and prosperous than the Rig Vedic age. Usage of iron led to the rise of urban centers and progressive agrarian economy. So, the contribution of iron to the economic development in the later vedic age is noteworthy.

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