Vital Villages Thriving Towns
Increased Use of Iron Tools
Iron tools came into use at the end of chalcolithic age. Some iron tools have been found from the megalithic burial sites. The use of iron tools increased around 2500 years ago.
Benefits of Iron Tools
Iron is stronger but lighter than stone. It is much easier to give shape to iron. Much sharper and lightweight tools could be made from iron than what was possible with stone. The iron tools made the task of workers a lot easier.
Use of iron in ploughshare made it possible to increase the area under cultivation. Many other iron tools made farming much easier, e.g. sickles, axe and spade. This helped in increasing the farm yield.
Effect of Irrigation on Agricultural Production:
At the beginning of the Iron Age, people began transplantation of paddy. This helped in increasing the production of paddy. Thus, transplantation of paddy was a major innovation at the beginning of the Iron Age.
People began to make special structure for irrigation. This also helped in improving farm productivity. Canals, wells and tanks were built for irrigation.
During this period, the size of the kingdoms increased. The kings needed more taxes from people. Farmers were the main contributors towards taxes. So, some methods had to be found out to increase farm productivity. To ensure this, the kings made arrangements so that canals, wells and tanks could be built. This helped farmers to increase farm production. This also helped in increasing tax revenue for the kings.
Social Structure in villages
Let us take two examples to understand social structure of villages during that time. One example is from a south Indian village and another is from a north Indian village.
South Indian Village
A village of south India could be divided into following categories of people:
- Vellalar: Large landowners were called vellalars.
- Uzhavar: Ordinary ploughmen were called uzhavars.
- Kadaisiyar and adimai: Landless labourers and slaves were known as kadaisiyar and adimai.
Sangam Literature: The literary compositions in Tamil which were created around 2300 years ago are known as Sangam Literature. These were composed in assemblies of authors. Such assemblies were held in Madurai. The term ‘sangam’ means assembly. This explains the naming of Sangam Literature. Sangam Literature has been used to get information about social structure of south Indian villages of that period.
North Indian Village
A village of north India could be divided into following category of people:
- Grambhojaka: The village headman was known as the grambhojaka. His position was hereditary in nature. So, the members of the same family held that position for many generations. A grambhojaka was also the largest landowner of the village. He kept slaves and hired workers to work in his farm. He was very powerful. He had the authority to collect taxes from other farmers. He also served the function of a judge and sometimes, that of a policeman.
- Grihapati: The independent farmers were called the grihapati. They were usually small landowners.
- Dasa karmakara: The landless men and women were called the dasa karmakara. They worked in other farmer’s fields.
Crafts persons also lived in villages, e.g. carpenter, potter, weaver, etc. Villages were the main centres of food production. A village served as source of food grains and other farm produce for the people in cities.