In previous section, we learnt about some important facts about Palaeolithic Age. Let us have a look on some important of Mesolithic age. The era between 10,000 and 6,000 BC is called as Mesolithic age. Sometimes it is also called as Late Stone Age. The transition from Palaeolithic period to Mesolithic period is marked by transition from Pleistocene period to Holocene and favorable changes in the climate.
Climate played an important role in this era as Ice age initiated in Palaeolithic age seems to be ended as the climate became much warmer and humid and there was expansion of flora and fauna contributed by increased rainfall. This warmer climate led to availability of new resources to humans.
Tools of Mesolithic Era
- The Mesolithic tools smaller in size and better in finishing than the Palaeolithic age and are called as Microliths. These microliths are tiny tools of one to five centimeters length, made by blunting one or more sides with steep retouch.
- The main tool types of this era were backed blades, obliquely truncated blades, points, crescents, triangles and trapezes. Some of microliths were used as components of spearheads, arrowheads, knives, sickles, harpoons and daggers.
- 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 period.
- Shallow querns and grinding stones also found at several sites. These new technological elements lead to enhanced efficiency in hunting, collection and processing of wild plant foods.
Domestication of Plants and Animals: The economy in early period of Mesolithic age was based on hunting, fishing and food gathering. The earliest evidence of domestication of animals has been found in Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh and Bagor in Rajasthan. Earliest examples 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 only prototype of domestication of crops and animals.
The first animals to be domesticated were dog, cattle, sheep and goat. The first plants which were cultivated were wheat and barley. In the humid lands, extending from middle Ganga valley to China and Southeast Asia, rice cultivation and domestication of pig was accomplished probably around same time because rice and pig existed in wild form in this region. Domesticated animals proved to be useful in many purposes such as for meat, for milk, hide, agricultural operations and transport.
The favorable climate, better rainfalls, warm atmosphere and increased food security led to reduction in nomadism to seasonally sedentary settlement and increased population. They moved to new areas such as nearby rivers which provided water for their settlements. First human colonization in the Ganga plains took place during this period.
Burying of dead bodies
The first evidence of deliberate disposal of the dead comes from 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 extended and crouched position. In some cases two individuals were buried in a single grave. The dead were occasionally provided with the grave offerings which include chunks of meat, grinding stones, stone, bone and antler ornaments, and pieces of haematite.
The Mesolithic man was evident lover of art which can be concluded through from the painting (found in found 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 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 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.