Early Indian economy was naturally a village economy which persists predominantly to this day. The reason is that India still continues as an agricultural country comprising about 5 lakhs of villages as against only a few towns, numbering only about forty of 1 lakh population or over each. It is thus a rural and not an urban civilization. About 80% of its population still live on land with an average holding of about 13 acres of land per head and 3 acres for a family of five. These agricultural millions have to find their support by cultivation of land only for about half the year. The other half is the off-season of agriculture, during which they must find other means of livelihood, mostly by handicrafts, and partially by transport and small trade.
Earliest Mining / Quarrying Activities in Indus Valley
Perhaps the earliest Mining industry of the world was founded in India. In the Indus Valley city of Mohenjo-Daro of c. 3000 B.C. women used a variety of ornaments of gold of which the only source in those early days was the Kolar Gold fields of Mysore State. This conclusion has been reached by a committee of metallurgical experts headed by Sir Edwin Pascoe under the direction of Sir John Marshall. This Committee subjected this ancient gold of Mohenjo-Daro to a chemical analysis and found that it contained in its composition a proportion of Silver Alloy, 11% electron, which is also found in the gold ores of the Kolar fields, and in no other known source. This discovery thus throws light upon both cultural and economic history. Not only was gold-mining an early Indian industry.
The precious products of the remote South found their market in the North. The North and South were not isolated by the natural barriers of the Vindhya hills or the impenetrable wilderness of Dandakaranya but were bound together in ties of close commercial and cultural intercourse which ultimately spread Aryan thought throughout India up to its limits, overcoming all its physical barriers.
- The copper used in it contained in its composition proportions of Arsenic and Nickel which marked the variety then obtained only from the Rajasthan mines.
- The tin used is traceable to cassiterite then found in what is now the State of Bombay, parts of Bihar and Orissa, and chiefly in the mines of Hazaribagh.
- Tin was not used by itself but as an alloy with copper so as to form Bronze containing 6 to 13% of tin.
- Besides Metals and Minerals, this old civilization was also built on Stone of different kinds. It was quarried at different sites.
- Lime-stone used for covering drains was quarried at Sukkur.
- Gypsum used as mortar came from quarries of Kirthar hills far away.
- The beautiful yellow stone was quarried in Jaisalmer.
- Other mines in Rajasthan yielded steatite and slate.
- Amethyst was derived from the Deccan trap.