Download a Booklet on Economy of Ancient Assam, based on an Article published in popular Assamese Daily: দৈনিক অসম. The articles is authored by: Shri Nagan Bhuyan. The content of this article is very important for General Studies Paper 1 and Paper 5 (GS1 and GS5) and for Assam-centric Questions.
A Brief Overview of this Article on “Economy of Ancient Assam”
History of Assam and Historical Evidences
- For writing ‘A Brief History of Assam’, Edward Gait studied 70 Coins belonging to Ahom Era, 48 copper plates, 9 Stone tablets, 28 inscriptions found in various temples and 6 epigraphs found in Barpeta (besides other sources).
- Factors behind destruction of most of the historical evidences:
- Majority of ancient historical structures were built near the bank of the Brahmaputra. Repeated floods in the region destroyed these structures
- Several earthquakes that have hit the region in the past had also destroyed several historical structures
- Due to adequate rainfall and fertile nature of the land, auspicious trees like Peepal and Banyan etc. that are planted near these structures, later, grow unchecked and inundate these structures thereby damaging them
- Years of invasions experienced by Assam, have also caused destruction of these historical and cultural monuments.
- There may be a vast wealth of undiscovered historical memorabilia existing anonymously along the vast forest land in Assam.
Description of Kamrupa according to Hiuen Tsang:
- The frontier of Kamrupa extends about 10000 ‘Li’ (approx. 2720 km) and the capital is around 30 Li
- The land has steep slopes and is very fertile.
- Local people are mostly involved in cultivation.
- People cultivated jackfruits and coconuts.
- The people are very humble and honest.
- They have very sharp memories and are very conscientious.
British Traveler Ralph Fitch mentioned about
- production of Pat-Muga and Cotton Clothes at Kamrupa Region
- Existence of veterinary facility for medical treatment of animals and birds.
- Gohaikamal Ali: A 350 Km long road built by Koch King Naranarayana from capital Koch Bihar to Pisolaguri of Narayanpur on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra. During his reign, several roads and ponds were developed, many temples (including Kamakhya) were revamped and several trees were planted.
- During the reign of Ahom King Gadadhar Singha, several public infrastructures were built: Dhodar Ali, Akar Ali, two Stone-bridges, several temples (Dol) etc.
- Gadadhar Singha introduced land measurement system in Assam.
- His successor King Rudra Singha got an eminent architect from Koch Bihar: Ghanashyam Khanikar, who built the masonry buildings, temples and other structures at Rongpur and Charaideo.
- King Rudra Singha also built several schools (Porhasali/Tol) for education of Brahmin people.
- According to Gait, as mentioned in his book, coins were used by the kings for Foreign trade with other kingdoms. These coins were made of : Gold, Silver and Bronze.
- There is evidence of production of Gold coins in Assam. On the Bank of Subansiri River in Lakhimpur/Dhemaji region, gold was extracted
- Sonowal Kachari people were employed in Gold Extraction for their expertise in this job
- Coins made of Silver and Bronze were imported from other states in exchange of local materials produced in Assam
- These coins were mostly used by the privileged sections (Royal families) for their royal transactions.
- When King Naranarayana defeated Ahom King, the Ahom king offered him 60 elephants, 60 valuable clothes, and several gold and silver coins
- The King of Kachari used to pay annual tax by offering 70 thousand silver coins, one thousand gold coins and 60 elephants
- The King of Sylhet offered one hundred elephant, two hundreds horses, three lakh silver coins and ten thousand gold coins as Annual tax.
- King Naranarayana had set up production facility for coins. Coins bearing his name were discovered by Gait during his research.
- The first Ahom King Sukapha offered the kings of Chutiya, Moran and Modahi kingdom with Gold and Silver for establishing relations with them and to win over them.
- It has also been mentioned in Gait’s book that a large storehouse of Gold, Silver and Bronze was destroyed in fire in Silikhaguri on the year 1671.
Economic Downfalls as mentioned in Edward Gait’s History:
- In 1534, thousand of animals died due to an epidemic caused by an infectious disease that had spread amongst cow, buffalo and other animals in Assam
- In the year 1548, a major earthquake destroyed the region. In 1596, in another earthquake, innumerable number of humans and animals died, even land and water bodies were shifted due to the tremor
- In 1665, a major drought in Assam resulted in crop failure in the region and this further led to widespread famine in this region. Thousands of people died due to scarcity of foods.
- In the history of Assam, there are evidences of several epidemics caused by dreadful Diseases like Cholera, Malaria, Smallpox, Influenza etc. that led to death of thousands of people.
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