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PRE-HISTORIC INDIA

No written records are available for the prehistoric period
  • However, plenty of archaeological remains are found in different parts of India to reconstruct the history of this period.
  • In India, the prehistoric period is divided into the
    • Paleolithic (Old Stone Age),
    • Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age),
    • Neolithic (New Stone Age) and the Metal Age.
  • Paleolithic or Old Stone Age

    • found in various parts of the Indian subcontinent.
    • located near water sources.
    • rock shelters and caves
    • also lived rarely in huts made of leaves
    • famous sites of Old Stone Age
      • The Soan valley and Potwar Plateau on the northwest India.
      • The Siwalik hills on the north India
      • Bhimpetka in Madhya Pradesh.
      • Adamgarh hill in Narmada valley
      • Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh and
      • Attirampakkam near Chennai
    • food was obtained by hunting animals and gathering edible plants and tubers.--hunter-gatherers
    • used stone tools, hand-sized and flaked-off large pebbles for hunting animals
      • Stone implements are made of a hard rock known as quartzite
    • A few Old Stone Age paintings found on rocks at Bhimbetka and other places.
  • Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age

    • Mesolithic remains are found in Langhanj in Gujarat, Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh and also in some places of Rajasthan, Utter Pradesh and Bihar
    • paintings and engravings found at the rock shelters give an idea about the social life and economic activities of Mesolithic people.
    • sites of Mesolithic Age, a different type of stone tools is found. These are tiny stone artifacts, often not more than five centimeters in size, and therefore called microliths
    • a shift from big animal hunting to small animal hunting and fishing.
    • use of bow and arrow also began during this period
    • a tendency to settle for longer periods in an area
    • domestication of animals, horticulture and primitive cultivation started
      • Animal bones are found in these sites and these include dog, deer, boar and ostrich.
    • Occasionally, burials of the dead along with some microliths and shells seem to have been practiced.
  • Neolithic Age

    • 6000 B.C to 4000 B.C.
    • found in various parts of India. These include the Kashmir valley, Chirand in Bihar, Belan valley inUttar Pradesh and in several places of the Deccan
    • The important Neolithic sites excavated in south India are Maski, Brahmagiri, Hallur and Kodekal in Karnataka, Paiyampalli in Tamil Nadu and Utnur in Andhra Pradesh
    • characteristic features
      • practice of agriculture
      • domestication of animal
      • polishing of stone tools
      • manufacture of pottery
      • Mud brick houses were built instead of grass huts.
      • Wheels were used to make pottery.
      • cultivation of plants and domestication of animals led to the emergence of village communities based on sedentary life.
      • Pottery was used for cooking as well as storage of food grains
      • Large urns were used as coffins for the burial of the dead
      • There was also improvement in agriculture. Wheat, barely, rice, millet were cultivated in different areas at different points of time.
      • Rice cultivation was extensive in eastern India.
      • Domestication of sheep, goats and cattle
      • Cattle were used for cultivation and for transport
      • The people of Neolithic Age used clothes made of cotton and wool
  • Metal Age

    • Neolithic period is followed by Chalcolithic (copper-stone) period when copper and bronze came to be used.
    • technology of smelting metal ore and crafting metal artifacts
    • But the use of stone tools was not given up
    • micro-lithic tools continued to be essential items.
    • People began to travel for a long distance to obtain metal ores
    • This led to a network of Chalcolithic cultures
    • Generally, Chalcolithic cultures had grown in river valleys.
    • the Harappan culture is considered as a part of Chalcolithic culture
    • In South India the river valleys of the Godavari, Krishna, Tungabhadra, Pennar and Kaveri were settled by farming communities during this period.
    • Several bronze and copper objects, beads, terracotta figurines and pottery were found at Paiyampalli in Tamil Nadu.
    • Chalcolithic age is followed by Iron Age
    • Iron is frequently referred to in the Vedas.
    • Iron Age of the southern peninsula is often related to Megalithic Burials
    • burial pits were covered with these stones
      • Such graves are extensively found in South India.
    • Some of the important megalithic sites are Hallur and Maski in Karnataka, Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh and Adichchanallur in Tamil Nadu
      • Black and red pottery, iron artifacts such as hoes and sickles and small weapons were found in the burial pits