In the Pre- Mauryan period for the first time an advanced food producing economy spread over middle Gangetic plains and the beginning of urban economy in this area. Cattle rearing were no longer the primary occupation and were replaced by agriculture. Rice was the staple cereal produced in the region. Iron played a crucial role in opening the rain fed forests to clearance, cultivation and settlement. This period saw the second urbanization in India as towns had come into existence as centers of industry and trade. The use of burnt bricks and ring wells appeared in the middle of NBPW phase in the 3rd century BC.Specialized craftsmen tended to form guilds because it facilitated carriage of raw materials and the distribution of finished articles. At least 18 guilds or srenis of artisans were known and functional.
The guild was not the highly developed mercantile system that it was to become later. Each guild inhabited a particular section of the town. The introduction of a monetary system facilitated trade. Coins made of metal appear during the age of Gautama Buddha. The earliest hoards of coins are found in Eastern UP and Magadha. They were referred to as Nishka and Satamana.Anathapindaka was a sresthi of Shravasti who had given jetuvana vihara to Gautama Buddha.Menduka was another sresthi of Rajagriha.The Dharmasutras laid down the duties of the each of the four Varna and the civil and criminal law came to be based on the Varna division. All kinds of disabilities were imposed on the Shudras.They were deprived of religious and legal rights and relegated to the lowest position in the society. Patriarchal tendencies became dominant. Women were looked down upon and were not allowed to access education.