In the second half of the first millennium BC, eastern Deccan was occupied by iron-using communities in large village settlements, the abode of a large number of tribes. The Puranas and the epics mention a large number of tribes such as Andhras, Shabaras, Pulindas, etc., living in the Deccan.
Many of these tribes are referred to in Asoka’s inscriptions. However, these descriptions are of a general nature and do not define the region of the Deccan where they lived. The Mauryan expansion in the Deccan perhaps introduced a process of change.
The Mauryas were interested mainly in taking gold, diamond and gems from the Andhra and Karnataka regions by land and coastal routes. Market centres like Dharanikota in Andhra and Karad in Maharashtra came up along these routes.
Many chiefs known as maharathis became important in several areas, and the Satavahanas related by marriage to the maharathis formed the first state in the Deccan.
The Satavahana kings were also known as the Andhras. The Puranas provide a list of the kings of this dynasty though these sources can be confusing as they give different names to the same king at different places. The other literary sources are the Aitareya Brahmana and Kathasaritasagara written by Somadeva. Numismatic evidence is provided by the
Archaeological Sources for Satavahana Period
(i) Nanaghat inscription of Naganika in the Poona district of Maharashtra
(ii) Two cave inscriptions found in Nasik of Gautamiputra Satakarni
(iii) Nasik cave inscription of Gautami Balashri
(iv) Nasik cave inscription of Vashishthiputra Pulumavi
(v) Karle cave inscription of Vashishthiputra Pulumavi
(vi) Nasik cave inscription of Yajnashri Satakarni.
Coins minted by the Satavahanas in silver, lead and an alloy of copper. The portrait of the king and his name are inscribed on the silver coins. Inscriptions include the Hathigumpha Inscription of Kharavela (which refers to a Satavahana king), the Nasik Inscription of Gautami Balaxri (who was the mother of Gautamiputra Satakarni) and the Nanaghat Inscription of Nayanika or Nagarnika (wife of the Satavahana king, Sri Satakarni).