A map shows the Maurya and Gupta Empires.
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Maurya and Gupta emperors united much of India under their rule. How did geography limit the northward expansion of both empires? What region of the Indian subcontinent remained separate from both empires?

Deccan Kingdoms Arise

Most Indian goods shipped overseas came from cities in the Deccan. Like the northern plain, the Deccan was divided into many kingdoms. Each kingdom had its own capital with magnificent temples and bustling workshops.

Unlike the Aryan north, the peoples of the Deccan were Dravidians with very different languages and traditions. Women, for example, seemed to have attained a high status and economic power. The Tamil kingdoms were sometimes ruled by queens.

Over the centuries, Hindu and Buddhist traditions and Sanskrit writings drifted south and blended with local cultures. Deccan rulers, like their North Indian counterparts, generally tolerated all religions as well as the many foreigners who settled in their busy ports.

In the Tamil kingdoms, which occupied much of the southernmost part of India, trade was important. Tamil rulers improved harbors to support overseas trade. The various Tamil kingdoms traded with each other, as well as with China and other distant lands. Tamil merchants sent spices, fine textiles, and other luxuries westward to eager buyers throughout the Roman empire.

The Tamil kingdoms left a rich and diverse literature. Tamil poets described fierce wars, heroic deeds, and festive occasions, along with the ordinary routines of peasant and city life.

A Golden Age Under Gupta Rulers

Although many kingdoms flourished in the Deccan, the most powerful Indian states rose in the north. About 500 years after the Mauryas, the Gupta dynasty again united much of India. Under the Guptas, who ruled from A.D. 320 to about 540, India enjoyed a golden age, or period of great cultural achievement.

A Time of Peace and Prosperity

Gupta emperors organized a strong central government that promoted peace and prosperity. Gupta rule was probably looser than that of the Mauryas.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments