Mauryan Capital Pataliputra was larger than Rome

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by Vikramjeet, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. Vikramjeet

    Vikramjeet Regular Member

    Mar 1, 2015
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    In book 'History of India' by Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund , following lines are of much importance as they describe what Megasthenes the Seleucid envoy to Mauryans said about capital itself.

    "Two parts of his report have attracted special attention: his description of the
    imperial capital, Pataliputra, and his account of the seven strata of Indian
    society which he observed there.

    He reported that Pataliputra was fortified with palisades. This fortification
    was shaped like a parallelogram measuring about 9 miles in length and
    about l.5 miles in breadth and it had 570 towers and 64 gates. The circumference
    of Pataliputra was about 21 miles and thus this city was about
    twice as large as Rome under Emperor Marcus Aurelius. If this report is
    true, Pataliputra must have been the largest city of the ancient world"

    There is simply no reason to distrust his account when it is so accurate about city with care about gates and towers, the only reason is 'Rome was largest' prejudice.

    Pataliputra was not some Rome or Vijaynagar situated far from rivers flooding their surrounding areas, much of Mauryan city is now under deep bed of river Ganga so archaeological excavation can not help much. Even then Raymond Allchin did find timber walls of city( which proves correctness of Megasthenes) covering an area upto 2200 hectares and Raymond does say that walls are partly excavated and will never be fully known about. As per Megasthenes , area was around 3400 hectares.

    Given that Mauryans controlled all lands from Karnataka to Kabul , it is not surprising. Also, Kannauj capital of Harshavardhana's area was around 1000-1100 hectares so there is nothing inconsistent about this size of Pataliputra.

    Tangs had their capital city Changan as large as 8000 hectares.

    Many expressed doubts about Megasthenes account but as the book says

    "But the German Indologist D. Schlingloff has shown that the
    distances between the towers or between a tower and the next gate as derived from Megasthenes’ account closely correspond to the distance prescribed for this kind of fortification in Kautalya’s Arthashastra (i.e. 54 yards)."

    Megasthenes mention 570 towers which means distance between two towers was around 54 yards so 570 towers in a parallelogram give us same area.

    Greek writer Arrian has described Mauryan palace as excelling in splendour royal palaces of Susa and Ecbatana. Interestingly, we have corraboration of same from Chinese traveller Fa Xian who visited Pataliputra in early fifth century and described palace as something which could not be created by humans alone.

    So archaeology, Megasthenes and Indian accounts all show that Pataliputra was larger than Rome.

    Rome had an area of around 1700 hectares under Marcus Aurelius.
  3. warrior monk

    warrior monk Regular Member

    Nov 24, 2014
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    We were the richest country in the world till 1500 when China overtook us for 100 years then we overtook China . We Indians had atleast 30 cities bigger than anything in Europe till the 17 th century. We were 33 % of the world's GDP for pretty much of the last 2000 years even after so much looting my Islamic Invasions.

    Roman historian Pliny complained of the roman trade deficit with India . " Pliny the Elder, in 77 CE, called India “the sink of the world's gold!” In the 16th century, Portugal protested that its hard-won silver from South America was being lost to India. The British Parliament echoed this lament in the 17th century and exhorted the East India Company to interest Indians in English goods "
    All the world's gold - The Hindu
    DingDong likes this.

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