pottery). Its use was sparse in the beginning,
During this period its horizon expanded to include the central and lower
Ganges valley, where it marked a significant break from the earlier cultures.
    In the Malwa region and Tapti valley too, at sites such as Nagda, Eran
and Prakash, iron brought in an element of change in the earlier Chalcolithic
cultures, and it is possible that the use of iron was slightly earlier in this
region (1000 BC) than in the Ganges valley.
    Similarly, at Hallur in north Karnataka iron appears to overlap the
Neolithic implements of 900 BC. Furthermore, even if this date is not
applicable to the other Iron Age sites of southern India, a definite cultural
departure from the earlier Neolithic period is seen in the Iron Age megaliths
of this region.
Impact of Iron
In all the regions mentioned above iron brought in a change of economy, the
characteristic feature of which was a more advanced type of agriculture.
    In the Ganges valley and in the Malwa region iron also led to the rise of
urban centers. Both Brahmanical and Buddhist texts are replete with
reference to cities during the middle of the first millennium BC and it is
precisely at such cities, Ahichhatra, Varanasi, Kausambi, Sravasti and
Ujjayini to name only a few that archaeological evidence of Iron Age
urbanisation is available.
    Archaeology of the Iron Age phases of the Ganges valley settlements is
certainly much better known than that of the preceding phase; and there is a
hint of their being larger in size.
    By the middle of the sixth century BC some of these settlements had
reached the proportions of urban centres. This suggests that for the first time,
since the decline of the Harappan civilisation, a substantial agricultural
surplus, which could sustain such urban centres, had emerged. The use of
silver and copper coins, in large numbers, during this period implies
considerable trade and commerce.
    Some of the urban centers were also seats of political power, as suggested
by elaborate defense arrangements in some of them. Thus a political system
with definable territorial units as its bases had also developed by this time.
    Although urbanisation is not evidenced in the south till a few centuries