Chapter 2: PRE HISTORIC CULTURE
The Indian history is divided into following
Old Stone Age [Paleolithic]
Middle stone age [Mesolithic]
New stone age [Neolithic] and Metal
The dates of these periods are overlapping. They
are arrived at by using scientific calculation like carbon
dating and dendro chronology
[counting tree rings in wood].
Paleolithic age: Before 10000BC
- Located in rock shelters and caves.
- Found close to water bodies.
- Hunting and gathering edible foods, tubers.
The earliest traces of human civilization are traced to the period around 400000 to 200000 BC. This is suggested by the presence of primitive stone tools found in the Soan valley and in south India in and around Chennai. In the Indian subcontinent primitive humans in the old stone age which lasted till 8000 BC used primitive instruments of stone found throughout the country except in the alluvial plains of the indus, ganga and jamuna rivers.
Flint is commonly used as it is hard but flakes easily. Tools serve a variety of purposes such as skinning of dead animals, cutting their flesh and splitting bones etc.
Humans were food gatherers and were totally dependent on nature for their supply of game animals and edible plants. Then they learnt to control fire which taught them to improve their lives in many ways.
It was towards the end of this age that the Homo sapiens appeared.
Mesolithic age: 10000 BC to 6000 BC
From the end of Ice age in 8000 BC began an intermediate stage in stone culture. It is referred to as late stone age and continued in India well upto 4000 BC.
A characteristic tools of this period are Microliths which are pointed or crescendic blades. Some of these were used for killing fast moving animals. Some were stuck on handles of wood or bone to make tools such as saw or pickles.
This period reveals a more specialised and increasingly advanced food collection leading o a beginning of plant cultivation.
- Lived in rock shelters and caves.
- Settled for long periods in a place so
cultivation and agriculture is practiced.
- Domesticated animals found.
- Bow and arrow was used in hunting – gathering
- Burial of dead started.
- Microlithic artifacts.
Neolithic age: 6000BC to 4000 BC
- Agriculture, domestication of animals, polishing
tools and manufacturing pottery.
- Mud brick houses, polished tools, cultivation
- Transportation using animals and burial using
- Advancements in agriculture and clothes of wool
This was the food producing stage where humans completely changed their ways of life
Neolithic settlements in the subcontinent are not older than 4000 BC. Traces of these commuities have survived in the regions of Vindhya hills, Sulaiman and Kirtar hills and Garo hills in the Northeast.
Humans also began to domesticate animals such as dogs, goats and sheeps. Among plants wheat and barley cultivation was the first that was started.
The tools that were needed also changed and sickle was used along with axe, quern and mortar. Pottery also started around these phase and wheel became an important invention. Towards the end of the Neolithic period the use of metals began and Chacolithic phase started around 6000 BC.
- Copper and bronze were used.
- Smelting and crafting metal artifacts were
- Implements were used in agriculture.