Mesolithic Age

In the previous section, we learned some important facts about the Palaeolithic Age. Let us have a look at some important of the Mesolithic age. The era between 10,000 and 6,000 BC is called the Mesolithic age. Sometimes it is also called as Late Stone Age. The transition from the Palaeolithic period to the Mesolithic age is marked by the transition from the Pleistocene period to Holocene and favorable changes in the climate.

Climate played an important role in this era as the Ice age initiated in the Palaeolithic age seems to be ended as the climate became much warmer and humid and there was the expansion of flora and fauna contributed by increased rainfall. This warmer climate led to the availability of new resources to humans.

Tools of the Mesolithic Era 

The Mesolithic age tools are smaller in size and better in finishing than the Palaeolithic age and are called Microliths. These microliths are tiny tools of one to five centimeters in length, made by blunting one or more sides with a steep retouch. The main tool types of this era were backed blades, obliquely truncated blades, points, crescents, triangles, and trapezes. Some microliths were used as components of spearheads, arrowheads, knives, sickles, harpoons, and daggers.

Mesolithic Age Tools
Mesolithic Age Tools

Microliths were fitted into grooves in bone, wood, and reed shafts and joined together by natural adhesives like gum and resin. The Bored stones, which had already appeared during the upper Palaeolithic, became common during this, and the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods. Shallow querns and grinding stones are also found at several sites. These new technological elements lead to enhanced efficiency in hunting, collection, and processing of wild plant foods.

Microliths| Image Source: Wikipedia
Microliths| Image Source: Wikipedia

Domestication of Plants and Animals: The economy in the early period of the Mesolithic age was based on hunting, fishing, and food gathering. The earliest evidence of the domestication of animals has been found in Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh and Bagor in Rajasthan. The earliest examples of cultivation of crops around 7000-6000 years back have been found near Sambhar Lake in Ajmer Rajasthan, Mehargarh in Pakistan, etc. Agriculture had not fully developed by was the only prototype of the domestication of crops and animals.

The first animals to be domesticated were dogs, cattle, sheep, and goats. The first plants which were cultivated were wheat and barley. In the humid lands, extending from the middle Ganga valley to China and Southeast Asia, rice cultivation and domestication of the pig were accomplished probably around the same time because rice and pig existed in the wild form in this region. Domesticated animals proved to be useful for many purposes such as meat, milk, hide, agricultural operations, and transport.

Sedentary settlements

The favorable climate, better rainfalls, warm atmosphere, and increased food security led to a reduction in nomadism to seasonally sedentary settlements and increased population. They moved to new areas such as nearby rivers which provided water for their settlements. The first human colonization of the Ganga plains took place during this period.

Burying of dead bodies

The first evidence of deliberate disposal of the dead comes from the Mesolithic Era. Mesolithic human burials have been found at Bagor in Rajasthan, Langhnaj in Gujarat, and Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. The dead were buried in graves both in an extended and crouched position. In some cases, two individuals were buried in a single grave. The dead were occasionally provided with grave offerings which include chunks of meat, grinding stones, stone, bone and antler ornaments, and pieces of haematite.

Mesolithic Age Art

Mesolithic age Art: Bundi, Rajasthan
Mesolithic age Art: Bundi, Rajasthan

The Mesolithic man was an evident lover of art which can be concluded from the painting (found in founding inhabited and uninhabited shelters) in several thousand rock shelters in the Vindhyan sandstone hills in central India. The paintings are made in red and white pigments which were made from the nodules found in rocks and earth. The matters of the painting are mostly wild animals and hunting scenes. These Rock arts are paintings and engravings done in rock shelters or natural caves.

Important Mesolithic Sites: Bagor (Rajasthan) is almost the largest Mesolithic site in India. Tilwara, Pachpadra basin, and Sojat Area are other major Mesolithic sites in Rajasthan. Sarai Nahar Rai, Morhana Pahar, and Lekkahia (UP) are important Mesolithic sites. Bhimbetka along with Adamgarh, Chaturbhujnath Nala are major Mesolithic sites in Madhya Pradesh. 

Previous Year Questions for UPSC Prelims

Ques 1: Consider the following statements regarding the characteristics of the tools of the Mesolithic period:

I. The Microlithic tools are characterized by parallel-sided blades taken out from prepared cores of such fine material as chert, chalcedony, crystal, jasper, carnelian, agate, etc.
II. These tools are generally 1 to 5 cm. long and the types include a smaller version of upper Palaeolithic types such as points, scrappers, burins, awls, etc.
III. Some new tool types like lunates, trapezes, triangles, and arrowheads, are of various shapes and sizes.
Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

a. Only I
b. I and II
c. II and III
d. All of the above

Answer: Option D


In India, the Mesolithic era is variously referred to as the Late Stone Age, Mesolithic, or Microlithic period. Parallel-sided blades cut from prepared cores of fine materials like chert, chalcedony, crystal, jasper, carnelian, agate, etc. are what distinguish the Microlithic tools from other prehistoric tools.

These tools typically range in length from 1 to 5 cm, and they include new tool types such lunates, trapezes, triangles, and arrowheads in addition to smaller versions of upper Palaeolithic types like points, scrappers, burins, and awls. Because of their size, it is quite clear that they were composite tools that were hafted in wood, bones, etc.

Ques 2: The finding of artifacts from which the following Mesolithic sites shows that the Mesolithic communities were in touch with the people of Harappan Civilisation:

a. Bagor
b. Langhnaj
c. Both a and b
d. Neither a nor b

Answer: Option C

Explanation: We learned that these Mesolithic populations interacted with individuals from the Harappan and other Chalcolithic cultures and traded a variety of goods with them from the sites of Bagor in Rajasthan and Langhnaj in Gujarat. Three copper arrowheads that are indicative of the Harappan Civilization have been discovered in Bagor.

Ques 3: Which of the following Mesolithic site(s) is/are among the most important and extensively studied sites of Mesolithic culture:

a. Sarai Nahar Rai
b. Chopani Mando
c. Damdama
d. All of the above

Answer: Option D

Explanation: Bagor in Rajasthan, Langhnaj in Gujarat, Sarai Nahar Rai, Chopani Mando, Mahdaha, and Damdama in Uttar Pradesh, and Bhimbetka and Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh are some of the most significant and intensively studied Mesolithic cultural sites.

Ques 4: From which of the following Mesolithic sites has the evidence of association of sheep and goats with the Mesolithic people recovered?

a. Sarai Nahar Rai
b. Adamgarh
c. Chopani Mando
d. Damdama

Answer: Option B

Explanation:  We have proof that sheep and goats were raised by the Mesolithic people in the sixth millennium B.C. from Bagor and Adamgarh. This implies that they may have embraced the settled way of life in part.

Quick Questions on Mesolithic Age for UPSC Preparation

For instance, in northwest Europe, the Mesolithic period lasted from around 8000 bce to about 2700 bce, following the end of the Pleistocene Epoch (i.e., between 2,600,000 and 11,700 years ago). The dates of the Mesolithic vary slightly in other places.

For instance, in northwest Europe, the Mesolithic period lasted from around 8000 bce to about 2700 bce, following the end of the Pleistocene Epoch (i.e., between 2,600,000 and 11,700 years ago). The dates of the Mesolithic vary slightly in other places.

Between the Paleolithic Period, which is characterised by its chipped stone tools, and the Neolithic Period, which is characterised by its polished stone tools, was the Mesolithic Age, a prehistoric cultural stage. The tools were chipped stone tools, or microliths, hence the name “Microlithic Age.”

Carlyle made the initial discovery of microliths in India in 1867 from Vindhyan rock shelters. Mesolithic age is sometimes referred to as Microlithic Age due to the predominance of microliths. The typical length of the tools is between one and five centimetres, and they are formed of materials such chert, crystal, chalcedony, jasper, carnelian, agate, etc.

Although the concept had been used before, Hodder Westrop coined the term “Mesolithic” in 1877. Before V. Gordon Childe popularised it in his book The birth of Europe, it was not widely used (1947).

Bagor (Rajasthan) on the river Kothari is the largest Mesolithic site in India and has been horizontally excavated.

The Mesolithic Age saw improvements in food harvesting as one of the primary changes. Along with developing new strategies for hunting and gathering, man also discovered how to domesticate animals like goats, sheep, pigs, and other species.

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