Stone Age

Introduction

History is divided into parts; pre-history, proto-history and history.  Events occurring before the invention of writing are considered the domain of pre-history. It is generally represented by three Stone Ages.

Period between pre-history and history, during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing but are mentioned in the written records of a contemporary literate civilization. For example, the script of the Harrappan civilization remains undeciphered; however, since its existence is noted in Mesopotamian writings, it is considered a part of proto-history.

The study of the past after the invention of writing and the study of literate societies based on the written and archaeological sources constitutes The history and identity of human settlements in India go back to pre-historic times.

The credit for doing an early extensive study of Indian pre-history got to Robert Bruce Foote, who discovered what was probably the first Paleolithic tool discovered in India – the Pallavaram hand axe. On the basis of geological age, the type and technology of stone tools, and subsistence base, the Indian Stone age is classified primarily into three types:

  1.  Old Stone Age, Paleolithic Age: 5,00,000-10,000 BCE
  2. Late Stone Age, Mesolithic Age: 10,000-6000 BCE
  3. New Stone Age, Neolithic Age: 6,000-100 BCE

Paleolithic Age (Hunters and Food Gatherers)

During Lower Paleolithic Age, tools based on technology of core. In this technology, bigger stone peace was hit by other stone piece & outer layer was removed & inner part used as tool.

During Middle Paleolithic Age, “Flake Technology” was used for making tools. In this technology outer layer removed from a bigger stone piece were used as tool.

During Upper Paleolithic Age, tools were based on Blade Technology. These tools are sharp edged. One edge of stone was sharpened by hitting it by other stone. Tools made up of wood were also used. For 1st time during Upper Paleolithic Age bone tools were also used. Antter’s borne was used as tool. A large number of bone tool having found from Belum Cave located in Kurnool district Andhra Pradesh.

Pattern of living & Geographical Area Occupied

During Paleolithic Age, man lived in foothills of mountain. The Northern Plains were not occupied. Rivers were narrow in foothills of mountain that could be easily crossed. In plains, rivers were extremely wild.

Stone was easily available in foothills it was not there in plains. Caves were available in foothills of mountain for taking shelter. Forest was less dense in foothills when compared with plains. Foothills were safe from flood where in plains floods were frequent. Paleolithic Age man didn’t build artificial home for residential purposes. Natural caves were used for residential use. Bhimbetka caves (Raisen-Madhya Pradesh) provide best example.

Economic Life: The earliest man survived on routes & fruits. The earliest man was vegetarian because anatomically man was evolved enough to digest meat. As human being evolved, man started consuming meat. Hunting began to be practices. In this way the Paleolithic man survived in hunting & food gathering activity.

Economic was subsistence surplus was absent. There was no concept of properly. During Paleolithic Age, the population size was very small the hunting & food gathering act were quite sufficient to sustain human life.

Religious Life: During lower & middle Paleolithic period, there was no idea of religion in any form. The religious life commence during upper Paleolithic Age this is indicated by the use of Burial practice.

The dead bodies were no longer thrown away. They begin to be buried in grave. Earliest of the grave have been found at Kumar (Andhra Pradesh). These belong to upper Paleolithic Age.

Cultural Life: The Paleolithic man took interest in art of painting. Once emerged the painting continued to be practiced. About 500 painting were found on walls of Bhimbetka Caves. The earliest of painting are about 1 lac years old. (lower Paleolithic Age) Most of these painting belong to Mesolithic.

Painters used red & white colors most commonly. At time yellow & green colors also used. These colors were mineral in nature & some extracted from plants. These painting depict hunting. Fighting scene, birds, animals & other day to day activity.

Some of the paintings found in Bhimbetka depict scenes of communal dance (group dance). This indicates that stone-age man practice dancing. Since dance is generally not possible without music, it appears that stone-age man was aware of music as well. Long being to be used by man by upper Paleolithic Age because brain was developed enough to procure complex sentences.

Mesolithic

During this age better variety of Quartz stone such as Chert, Jasper and Flint were used for making tools. The tools of this age were very small in size. The characteristic tools of this age were about 3 centimeters in size. They are known as “microlithics”. These tools used as arrowhead sphere head. During this period, man lived into Northern Plains.

Earliest evidence was found at Kalpi (Jalaun district-Uttar Pradesh). Evidences have also found from Mahadaha & Sarai Nahar Rai (Pratap Garh district-Uttar Pradesh). The man had started constructing artificial home. Huts were built by using bamboo & grass etc. Evidence of such type of living having found at Bagore (Rajasthan) Adamgarh (Madhya Pradesh), Langnaz (Gujarat), Virbhanpur (West Bengal).

Economic Life: By 8000 BC, the climate was quite warm. Temperature had increased quite bit. Researchers have brought to light that fast dry wind blew on earth around this age. Because of these dry winds temperature increased quite significantly. Water got dried up from many parts of Earth & land got cleared for vegetation (Grass).

Due to improvement in climate, the population size of human size increased. This climate was far more suitable for human life. The increase in population in formation of groups & form the 1st time community life began (Number of families started living together). Due to increase in population, the hunting and food gathering act were no longer in a position to ensure the availability of food material.

Under these circumstances man started domestication of animals & as result of this pastoral life commenced. Animals were domesticated for meats. Animals like goat & sleep were most common domesticated animals.

Domestication of animals was facilitated by the availability of vegetation. Economy was still subsistent no surplus. Hunting & food gathering were practiced or continued.

Neolithic

Igneous stone was used for making the tools. Because of these tools, Neolithic age is much stronger than earlier period. For the 1st time, man used Celt (tool with handle). Use of handle made tool much more efficient & effective. This indicates that Neolithic man was aware of principle of torque.

Tools of Neolithic age were based on technology of grinding & polishing. As result of this tools of this age are highly refined. During this age, man occupied entire Indian subcontinent. Houses were built by using sun dried bricks for residential purposes. In Kashmir valley, Pit dwelling was practices because these were women.

Economic Life

By 5000 BC, the climate had improved further and as result of this population increased quite significantly. The pastoral economy was not in position meet the growing food needs of people. Under these circumstances man took to agriculture. Beginning of agriculture was a revolutionary development in many ways. Because for the first time, man became producer of his own food man was no long dependent on other living for survival (parasitic).

Beginning of agriculture resulted in sedentary life (settled life). Man was no longer required to move from place to place in search of food. The nomadic life came to end. For the first time villages emerged. Mehargarh (located in valley of river Bolan in Baluchistan) was the earliest village in Indian subcontinent.

The need to store food grains compelled man to make pottery. Initially the ports were handmade but later on wheel was invented to turn (make the) ports. The invention of wheels was also revolutionary development because it paved the way for invention of card. The carts the greatly expanded the scope of socio-cultural economic interaction because the first time man got a vehicle.