Epigraphical Study of Ancient and Medieval Villages in the Tamil Country
Inscriptions on stones or copper-plates, which occur in substantial numbers, are the basic source-material for the ancient and medieval history of India, as much of India lacks history books compiled in these periods. For pre-modern village studies as well, therefore, we have to depend on inscriptions. In this paper I explain how the remains of inscriptions can be used for village studies by referring to my examination of Tamil inscriptions of the Chola period (10th to 13th centuries). Through their examination I have attempted to clarify the changes that occurred in the landholding system in the middle Chola period, and the great social change and upheaval that these represented. I also demonstrate the importance of statistical analysis of inscriptional data, of techniques that I introduced into this field of study. Many interesting and important features of ancient and medieval villages can be known from inscriptions, including information on village types, cultivation practices, taxes on villages, and the people who lived in the villages.
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