Early History

Goa - Early Recorded History

Goan history dates back to antiquity. Rock carvings and rock engravings founds at various places in Goa, indicate that Stone Age people had settled in this ancient land around 10000 - 8000 BC. These people were hunters and gatherers.

In modern recorded history, the first written mention of the land of Goa is on the cuneiform writings of the Sumerian era around 2200 BC. Goa is referred to as Gubio, by the King Gudea, the ruler of the kingdom of Lagash. In support of this theory, interestingly, the agricultural fields in Goa follow the Sumerian measure of 12 cubits to a pole or 0.495 of a metre to a cubit. This is different from the 0.46 unit found in most areas of India.

There is also some evidence to suggest that around 1775 BC, the Phoenicians, who were expert seafarers settled in the areas around Goa.


The Vedic Period

Goa is then referred to as Gomantak (in Sanskrit meaning the fertile land with plentiful water) around the period 1000 - 500 BC. This is considered to be the time when the epics of Mahabharat were written.

In this epic of Hindu mythology, the migration of Saraswat Brahmins from the north to the present day area of Goa is woven around the legend of Parashuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Goa finds its first mention as Gomantak in the Harivamsha part of the epic Mahabharat.

In this southward migration, the Saraswat Brahmins who first went to Bengal, are supposed to have settled in the Konkan area around the year 1000 BC. The indigenous locals of the area, the Kunbi tribals, worked together with the Brahmin families to create a fertile stretch of land between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats.


The Aryan Conquest

The oldest archaeological evidence of Goa's ancient history date back from this period. Excavations have unearthed copper plates, stone inscriptions, coins, manuscripts and temple inscriptions which throw some light on the history of this period. The Girnar rock-edict of the Mauryan King Ashok mentions the people of Goa as Peitinikas, Rashtrikas and Bhojas.

The history of the mighty Mauryan dynasty finds the next instance of a historical reference to Goa. At this time during the period between 321 to 184 BC, Goa was under an administrative region by the name Kuntala. However with the death of the legendary Ashoka the Great in 232 BC, the Maurya empire fell into a rapid decline and Goa soon changed hands.

Incidentally, Buddhism is thought to have reached Goa around this period under the Mauryas, as did Jainism as evidenced by the ruins of Jain temples which have been discovered at Kudnem.

The Marathas from the neighbouring areas took control of Goa from the Mauryas, only to be shortly ousted by the strong Anand Chuttus who ruled for a short while themselves. Then came the rule of the Satavahanas, who already controlled a large area on the western coast of India.

They administered the Konkan areas directly and appointed the Bhojas, related to them matrimonially, as their feudatories in the Goa. Goa flourished during the Satavahana period, becoming an international business trading centre having relations with Africa, the Middle East and even the Roman empire.

An important book entitled Geography, from the era of Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BC -14 AD), written by Strabo the Greek geographer, makes a reference to Konkan with the name of Komkvi describing it as a unique province of India.