India after the Mauryans - History of India
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Post-Mauryan India

About 150 BC, when the Mauryan Empire collapsed, India split up into a lot of small kingdoms. These small kingdoms were weak and so they were often invaded by stronger neighbors. The Greeks under their king Seleucus came back in 150 BC and conquered the Indus Valley (modern Pakistan) again, but they didn't stay for long. Taxila (now in eastern Pakistan) may have conquered part of western China, opening up Silk Road trade. In return, Chinese armies, under the strong Han Dynasty, invaded frequently. And the Parthians and Sassanians sometimes attacked as well.

But despite all these invasions, India was still rich (like its neighbors) from trading on the Silk Road. Indian traders sold cotton cloth, steel, cinnamon, black pepper, silver and pearls and glass beads and opium, and in exchange they bought horses - it's too hot to breed good horses in India - silk from Central Asia, glass from the Parthians, and ivory and gold from Africa. A lot of people in India were Buddhists at this time, and people came from all over - from as far away as China - to study with the botanists, doctors, mathematicians and astronomers at India's great universities at Taxila and at Nalanda (on the banks of the Ganges River). It was during this time that Indian mathematicians, in cooperation with China, worked out the number system we use today (1,2,3, etc.).

Along with all this trade and travel, the first cases of smallpox reached India sometime during this period; the doctor Charaka described the disease around 200 AD.

All this trade and exchange of knowledge only increased in 319 AD, when the Guptan Empire reunited all of northern India into one empire again.

Guptan Empire


Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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