Satavahana Dynasty: A Major South Indian Dynasty-The Satavahana dynasty, an Indian family, which, according to some interpretations based on the Puranas (ancient religious and mythological writings), belonged to the Andhra Jati (“tribe”) and was the first Deccani dynasty to form an empire in the Dakshinapatha—that is, the southern region. At the height of their power, the Satavahanas occupied remote areas of western and central India.
Satavahana Dynasty: A Major South Indian Dynasty
Based on Puranic evidence, the beginnings of the Satavahana dominions can be dated to the end of the 1st century BCE, although some scholars trace the dynasty to the 3rd century BCE. Initially, the Satavahana rule was limited to a few areas of the western Deccan. Inscriptions found in caves, such as those at Nanaghat, Nasik, Karli, and Kanheri, refer to the early rulers Simuk, Krishna, and Shatkarni I.
Access to western coastal ports from the early Satavahana Empire, which prospered in this period of Indo-Roman trade, and close territorial proximity with the western satraps resulted in an almost uninterrupted series of wars between the two Indian kingdoms. The first phase of this struggle is represented by the entry of satrap Nahapana into Nashik and other areas of the western Deccan.
The Satavahana power was revived by Gautamiputra Satakarni (reigned 106–130 CE), the greatest ruler of the family. Their conquests extended over a vast territorial expanse from Rajasthan in the northwest to Andhra in the southeast and from Gujarat in the west to Kalinga in the east. Sometime before 150, the satraps recaptured most of these territories from the Satavahanas and defeated them twice.
Gautamiputra’s son Vasisthaputra Pulumavi (reigned 130-159) ruled from the west. The tendency appears to be to expand east and northeast. Inscriptions and coins of Vashishtiputra Pulumavi are also found in Andhra, and Sivashree Satakarni (reigned 159–166) is known from coins found in the Krishna and Godavari regions. The distribution area of the regional coins of Sri Yagya Satakarni (reigned 174–203) is spread over Krishna and Godavari as well as in the Chanda region of Madhya Pradesh, Berar, northern Konkan, and Saurashtra.
Sri Yagya is the last important figure in the history of the Satavahana dynasty. He achieved success against the satraps, but his successors, mostly known from mythological genealogical accounts and coins, ruled a comparatively limited territory.
Fall of the Satavahanas
The “local” character of the later numismatic issues and their distribution pattern indicates the subsequent fragmentation of the Satavahana Empire. The Andhra region first went to the Ikshvakus and then to the Pallavas. Various regions of the western Deccan experienced the emergence of new local powers such as the Cultus, Abhiras, and Kurus. In the Berar region, the Vakatakas emerged as a formidable political force in the early fourth century. By this time the disintegration of the Satavahana Empire was complete.
Despite the achievements of the Northern Mauryas in the Deccan in the 4th-3rd centuries BCE, it was under the Satavahanas that the historical period proper began in the region. Although there are no clear indications whether a centralized administrative system had developed, an extensive system of currency was introduced throughout the empire. Indo-Roman trade reached its peak in this period, and the resultant material prosperity is reflected in the liberal patronage of the Buddhist and Brahmanical communities, which are mentioned in contemporary inscriptions.