Gupta Era Economy
The salient features of Gupta economy included a flourishing trade (which was badly affected in later periods due to Huna invasions), abundant custom revenue from ports in west and east, flourishing robust guild system, flourishing manufacturing industries and a high standard of living.
Gupta had a still a flourishing Roman Trade but in the later part, trade was badly affected by Huna invasions. The Trade contacts developed during the Kushana Period continued and Chandragupta II’s conquest in western India further added to this trade. The people were prosperous and they were free to grow and flourish. The important port towns were Brigukachchaha, Kalyana & Sind, which were bulk trade centres with Romans. Ujjain had become a major commercial center and it was linked to southern and northern India. Nasik, Paithan, Pataliputra, Benares were other major trade centers.
Silk, Leather goods, Fur, Iron Products, Ivory, pearl, Spices and Indigo were major export items. The Port of Tamralipti was a good source of Trade with East Asia. Most of the commodities were taxed One Fifth of the value as a toll in international Trade.
Agriculture was the main occupation in Gupta Empire and there was no governmental interference. The land was fertile and means of irrigation were simple.
Gupta period had many cloth centers and silk industry witnessed a significant development during this period. The Mandsor Inscriptions gives account that Gupta people were helped to a great extent for the growth of Silk Industry. Gold, silver and Copper was used in making ornaments and issuing coins. The Gold coins show the pomp, power and prosperity of the empire.
The Coins of Samudragupta and Kumaragupta issued after the Ashvamedha depict the horse tied to a Yupastambha. The coins of Chandragupta bear Garuda preying a snake.
In ancient history, the glimpses of guild systems are seen in Jatakas Tales. Guilds refer to organizations of artisans, and traders, which have high place in the society. In Gupta Era, the activities of Guilds were increased and these activities are recorded in various literature, inscription, clay seals etc. There is a mention of Guild of architects in Raghuvamsa. The Indore Copper plate inscription mentions about a guild of oilmen. The Mandsor Inscription mentions the guild of silk weavers. The guild system declined after the Gupta Period.