the meeting point of two ecological zones. The uttarapatha or northern route
went along the foothills and then southwards, following the Gandak. But, the
significance of the control over river traffic which grew in importance over
time and superseded the uttarapatha is demonstrated in the transformation of
Pataligrama (as it was called originally) to Pataliputra of Nandas, located as it
is, near the confluence of the major rivers of the Ganga valley. In other
words, the rivers provided a wider circuit of exchange. The dakshinapatha or
the southern route going, through Ujjain southwards, was aimed at linking the
Ganga valley with the west coast, a link which probably began in this period,
although it developed fully later.
     The capitals of the gana-sanghas such as Kapilavastu, Koliyanagara,
Kusinagara and Pava, though described as important towns, do not figure as
mahanagaras. Even Vaisali, which controlled an important segment of the
uttarapatha, is not consistently listed as a mahanagara. In at least two cases,
capitals which were political centres were shifted to locations on important
commercial routes, the Kosala capital being moved from Ayodhya to Sravasti
and the Magadhan capital from Rajagriha to Pataliputra.
Geographical Spread of Trade Trade within northern India extended over
a wide geographical reach, as is evident from the distribution of the Northern
Black Polished Ware and related artefacts in the earlier phases of this culture.
In the northwest and particularly, in Gandhara the demands of the
Achaemenid empire may have laid the foundations for external trade, the
fuller, development of which dates to the Mauryan period. Another potential
area would be Gujarat, with its maritime connections extending into the Gulf
area. The Assyrian empire in its twilight period, may have had some trade
connections with western India, which are hinted at in the sources. The
importance of Bhrigukaccha and Sopara as ports on the west coast can only
be explained in terms of a maritime trade with west Asia and with the
emergence of the west coast from Sind to Sri Lanka, as a circuit of trade with
its own coastal network.
Items of Trade Commodities involved in the early trade included metals
(iron, copper, tin, lead and silver), salt, pottery and textiles of a large range,
among the more common items. The elaboration of exchange on local
circuits may have led to the marketing of the first two items. The distribution
of luxury wares such as the NBPW