Andhras flourished much before the advent of the Satavahanas, and were said to be as powerful as Mauryans. They had 30 fortified walled cities way back in 300 BCE, wrote the Greek traveller Megasthenes in his Indika. In what could be an exciting discovery, the State Department of Archaeology and Museums has identified five of those 30 walled cities.
The Department has found physical evidence proving Megasthenes right and by the same token, throwing light on the existence of Andhras and Telugu language before the Satavahana period. The study is part of a project taken up to find the 30 walled cities mentioned by the Greek traveller and historian in his travelogue. “Though the Andhras were mentioned in books dating back to 1,000 BCE, (at least 3000 BC) we have physical evidence like coins and pottery only from the Satavahana period (200 BCE – 200 CE). Our research based on Indika of Megasthenes strengthens the theory that the Andhras existed before the Satavahanas,” said P. Chenna Reddy, Director of Archaeology and Museums Department.
Megasthenes is believed to have visited India as an Ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria to the court of Chandragupta Maurya (disputed) around 305 BCE.
In Indika, Megasthanes indicates that the Andhra (mentioned as Andarae) kings belonged to a powerful race and possessed an army of 100,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry, 1,000 elephants and had 30 well-built fortified towns.
Archaeologists have so far examined 18 sites with historical importance and singled out five. Archaeologists recovered bricks, pottery, coins and other evidence from these sites at Dhoolikatta, Kotilingala, Satanikota, Dharanikota and Bodhan. The project was taken up in October, 2005 and efforts are on to identify the remaining Megasthanes towns in Andhra Pradesh.
Satya Sarada Kandula