Pre – Historic Period

Prehistoric cultures in India

First evidence/earliest evidence of human skeleton

  • Sarai Nahar Rai (near Allahabad)

  • Bagaikhor and Lekhania (both in Mirzapur)

  • Also from Bagor (Bhil-wara, Rajasthan)

The prehistoric period dates back from 2,00,000 BC to about 3,500 - 2,500 B.C., which was the first manifestation of human civilization on the surface of the earth.

Homo sapiens first appeared in the Indian subcontinent somewhere between 2,00,0 00 B.C. and 40,000 B.C. and spread across Indian subcontinent.

The period when these people were using stones for utilitarian purpose is known as the Stone Age, which is further divided into three broad divisions - Paleolithic Age or the Old Stone Age (up to 8,000 B.C.), Mesolithic or the Middle Stone Age (8,000 to 4,000 B.C.) and the Neolithic Age, or the New Stone Age (4,000 BC to 2,500 B.C.).

Paleolithic Age

This period can further be divided into Lower, Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods.

(a) Lower: The Lower Paleolithic period flourished from around 5,00, 000 to 10,000 B.C. known for chopping culture and the tool were block on block, cylinder-hammer, Clactonian and direct percussion etc. and their typology included pebble tools, scrappers and hand axes.

  • Sohan valley

  • Narsinghapur (Narmada valley)

  • Bhimbetka (Raisen, M.P., near Narmada)

  • Nevasa (Maharashtra)

  • Giddilur and Karimpudi in Andhra Pradesh

  • Vadamdurai.Attirpakkam, and Manajan Karan in Madras.

(b) Middle: The Middle Paleolithic period had the scraper/borer culture and flourished from 5,00,000 to 10,000 B.C. This period used the Mousterian technique tools and their typology included points, borers and scrappers.

  • Nevasa (Maharahstra)

(c) Upper: The Upper Paleolithic period had blade/burin culture and it existed from 10, 000 to 8, 000 B.C. It was characterized by blade manufacture through percussion and pressure techniques and the typology included Burins, Blades, Lunates, Knifepoints and Blunted-Back arrowheads.

  • Belan valley (Allahabad)

  • Renigunta (A.P)

  • Shorapur and Bijapur in Karnataka.

Mesolithic Age

It flourished between 8,000 to 4,000 B.C. called as 'Microliths' culture

  • Grinding and polishing technique characterized it.

  • Tools were polished axes, chisel, ring stone, saddle quern and mullers.

  • Stone tools were pointed and sharp.

  • The domestication of animals and growing of wild varieties of crops.

Archaeological excavations have unearthed Mesolithic period sites in the Chotanagpur area of Central India and the areas south of the Krishna River. The Bhimbetka caves near Bhopal belong to the Mesolithic Age and these are famous for their cave paintings.

They are said to be 12, 000 years old. Artists during the pre-historic age used white and red pigments for depicting things.

  • Verbhanpur (West Bengal)

  • Langhanaj (Gujarat)

  • Teri Group (T.N)

  • Adamgarh (M.P.near Hoshangabad)

  • Nagor (Rajasthan)

  • Bagor (Bhiwara, Raj.)

  • Sarai Nahar Rai and Mahadaha (Pratapgarh, UP)

  • Sarai Nahar Rai and Mahadaha the first sites which has shown pitches on the floor, so that pillars can be erected which in turn can support roof.

  • Sarai Nahar Rai has shown evidence of some human attack or some form of war.

  • Both Adamgarh and Bagor show evidence of domestication of sheeps and coat.

Neolithic Age

The Neolithic Age (4,000 BC to 2,500 BC) or the New Stone age was characterized by polished tool culture. The grinding and polishing technique were used.

  • Tool typology included polished axes, chisel, ring stone, saddle quern and mullers. This period saw the domestication of cattle, horses and other farm animals.

  • Major invention of this period was die wheel.

  • The sites of the age are found in Chotanagpur region, the upper Gangetic basin, Karnataka and near the banks of river Narmada.

  • Mehrgarh (Sind-Balu-chistan border, Pakistan) has shown the earliest evidence of agriculture from where cultivable wheat and barley's varieties have been found.

  • Burzahom ('the place of birth') in Srinagar, J & K.

  • Dog were buried along with humans.

  • Koldihawa (Belan valley) the first evidence (6th & 5th century BC) of cultivable rice.

Chalcolithic Age:

  • Chalcolithic phase appeared towards the end of the Neolithic period.

  • These people used bronze and copper tools.

  • Found in areas from the Chotanagpur plateau to the upper Gangetic basin, Brahmagiri (near Mysore) and Navada Toli on the Narmada River.