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Ancient and Medieval Censuses

India The Harappa and Mohanjo-Daro excavations reveal that 'as far back as the 3rd or 4th ...

👤 Prime Point Srinivasan1 Jun 2010 7:47 AM GMT
Ancient and Medieval Censuses
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The Harappa and Mohanjo-Daro excavations reveal that "as far back as the 3rd or 4th millennium BC and probably much earlier still, India was in possession of a highly developed civilisation with large and populous cities, well built houses, temples and public buildings of brick and many other amenities enjoyed during that period by the people of Mesopotamia and Egypt". The celebrated 'Arthashastra', the Principles of Government, evolved by one of the greatest geniuses of political administration, Kautilya during the days of the Mauryas in the third century BC, prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for the purpose of taxation.


Censuses in Egypt are said to have been taken during the early Pharaonic period in 3340 BC and in 3050 BC.


The world's oldest extant census data comes from China sometime before the Xia Dynasty, over 4,000 years ago, counting some 13 million people. The second oldest extant data in the world comes from the Han Dynasty, in what is perhaps China's most well-known ancient census taken in the fall of 2 CE. This is considered by scholars to be quite accurate. By that time, there were 57.67 million people registered in 12.36 million households living in China. The third oldest data in the world is also from the Han Dynasty, dating back to 144 CE, when only 49.73 million people living in 9.94 million households were counted. Mass migrations into what is today Southern China are believed to be behind this massive demographic decline. Numerous other census data survive from Imperial China.

compiled by Prime Point Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, PreSense