Prehistoric Phase in India_Notes on Ancient Indian History

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❖ The study of past events with the help of written documents, oral accounts, artefacts, coins, arts and pictography is called history.

❖ In broader sense here the study of the past means discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of these past events.

❖ The word ‘history’ derived from the Greek word ‘historia’.
❖ ‘historia’ means “inquiry, ‘knowledge from inquiry”, or “judge”.

Classification of History

❖ On the basis of the time period the History is divided into three parts. They are __
◘ 1. Ancient history (6000 BC – 650 AD)
◘ 2. Medieval history  (500 AD – 1500 AD)
◘ 3. Modern history  (500 AD – Present Day)

Division of history

❖ On the basis of discovery of writing and reading system the History is divided into three main categories. They are __
1. Prehistory
◘ 2. Protohistory
◘ 3. History

❖ Prehistory-

The time before the writing method was invented.
• It is represented by the three stone ages.

• British geologist and archaeologist, Robert Bruce Foote is considered to be the father of prehistory.

• He discovered the first Paleolithic tool, a handaxe.
• He found the tool at Pallavaram near Madras in southern India.

❖ Proto-history –

• Period between prehistory and history.
• The script / writing system has been found, but remains undecipherable.
• Example – Script of the Indus Valley Civilization (Pictographic Script), Vedic civilization (oral literary tradition)

❖ History –

• Events occurring after the invention of writing and reading systems (writing sources deciphered).
• Societies based on the written and archaeological sources.
• Example – Jainism, Buddhism, Medieval and Modern India to till date.

Classification of Stone Age

❖ 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 type ……
Old stone Age or Paleolithic Age (5,00,000 − 10,000 BCE)
Late Stone Age or Mesolithic Age (10,000 − 6000 BCE)
New Stone Age or Neolithic Age  (6,000 −1000 BCE)

❒ Paleolithic Age

➢ Paleolithic Age is the earliest period of the Stone Age.
➢ It is developed in the Pleistocene period or the Ice Age.

➢ On the based on the nature of stone tools, It is divided into three phases, They are__
◘ Early or lower Paleolithic

• It Covers the greater part of the Ice Age.
Fire was discovered in this age.

◘ Middle Paleolithic

• Established by Hasmukh Dhirajlal Sankalia and was named Nevasan industry after the site of Nevasa (Maharashtra).

• He excavated Pravara River valley located  at Nevasa.

◘ Late or Upper Paleolithic

Homo sapiens first appeared at the end of this phase.
• Coincided with the last phase of the Ice Age.

Important Tools of this age

Early or lower PaleolithicMiddle PaleolithicLate or Upper Paleolithic
Hand axes, Choppers, and CleaversStone tools made of flakes, scrapers, borers, points, and blade like toolsParallel-sided blades, burins, and some instances of bone tools.

Location of the three Paleolithic age

Early or lower PaleolithicMiddle PaleolithicLate or Upper Paleolithic
• Sohan river valley ( Pakistan)


•  Thar Desert (Didwana, Rajasthan)

• Hiran Valley (Gujarat)

• Rockshelters of Bhimbetka (MP)

• Belan Valley Mirzapur (UP)

• Soan, Narmada and Tungabhadra river valleys


Potwar plateau (between Indus and Jhelum)

• Sanghao Cave (near peshawar, Pakistan).

• Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,Maharashtra,  Southern UP and Chhotanagpur Plateau.


Bone tools found only at cave sites of Kurnool and Muchchatla Chintamani Gavi in Andhra Pradesh.

❒ Mesolithic Age

➢ Mesolithic Culture belong to the Holocene era.
➢ Key aspects of the Mesolithic Age was the reduction in size of well-established tool types.

➢ The Mesolithic people lived by hunting animals, fishing and gathering food.

➢ The main characteristic features of the Mesolithic age was use of microlithic tools.

➢ Features of Microlithic tools
◘ It is a miniature version of the well established tools in Palaeolithic age.
◘ These stone tools usually made up of cryptocrystalline silica, chalcedony, or chert.
◘ The materials can be geometrical and non-geometrical shapes.

➢ Major Tools in this Age – Composite tools, spearheads, arrowheads, and sickles after hafting them on wooden or bone handles.

➢ Major characteristic features of this age
◘ Evidence of Pottery found at Langhnaj in Gujarat, and Kaimur region at Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.

◘ The Mesolithic era initiated rock art in pre-history.
◘ In 1867, the first rock paintings discovered at Sohagighat (Kaimur Hills, Uttar Pradesh).

No snakes are depicted in Mesolithic Paintings.

➢ Important Mesolithic sites

• Madhya Pradesh (Bhimbetka Caves, Kharwar, Jaora, and Kathotia)
• Odisha (Sundargarh and Sambalpur)
• Kerala (Ezhuthu Guha)
• Central India (Chhotanagpur Region)
• Tamil Nadu (Tinnevelly)
• West Bengal (Birbhanpur)

Uttar Pradesh ( Sarai Nahar Rai near Allahabad , Mahadaha)
_ Bone artifacts including arrowheads and bone ornaments. are found in Mahadaha.

Rajasthan (Bagor ,on River Kothari) – One of the largest and best documented Mesolithic sites.

Both Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh and Bagor in Rajasthan provide the earliest evidence for the domestication of animals.

❒ Neolithic Age

➲ Major characteristic features of this age
◘ Neolithic Age also known as Food-Producing Stage.
◘ The people of the Neolithic age cultivated land and grew fruits & corn like ragi and horse gram.

◘ Neolithic man domesticated animals like cattle, sheep, and goats.

◘ They made the first hand made pottery with the help of the potter’s wheel.
◘ Their pottery included black burnished ware, grey ware, and mat-impressed ware.

◘ They mostly lived in circular and rectangular houses which is made up of mud and reed.

◘ They also knew how to make boats and could spin cotton and wool and weave cloth.

➲ Major tools of this age
Mostly Polished stone tools like pecked, ground stone tools and handaxes.
◘ Neolithic man uses polished stones and celts instead of quartzite for making tools.

➲ Three Important Neolithic Settlements
◘ North-Western Region
• Major tools – rectangular axes with curved cutting edge.

◘ North-Eastern Region
Polished stone axes with rectangular butt, has occasional shouldered hoes.

◘ Southern region
• Axes with oval sides and pointed butt.

➲ Important Excavated Sites
◘ Mehrgarh
• It is the earliest Neolithic site known as the Breadbasket of Baluchistan, a province of Pakistan.

◘ Burzahom
Evidence of unique rectangular chopper, domestic dogs (buried with their masters in graves) found here.

◘ Chopani Mando, Belan valley
Earliest evidence of use of pottery.

◘ Belan Valley (Northern side of Vindhyas, middle of the Narmada valley
Evidence of all the three phases of Paleolithic , Mesolithic and Neolithic settlements found here.

◘ Koldihwa, Belan valley
• Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Iron Age settlements.

◘ Koldihwa and Mahagara, south of Allahabad
Earliest evidence of rice cultivation in the world.

◘ Gufkraal in Jammu and Kashmir
Famous for pit dwelling, stone tools, and graveyards.

◘ Piklihal
Proof of cattle herding

◘ Budihal
Community food preparation and feasting.

◘ Chirand in Bihar
• Evidence of use of antlers made bone implements.

Division of History
Division of History

❒ Chalcolithic Age (3000 – 500 BCE)

Chalcolithic Age Also knew as Copper-Stone Age
➢ It is the transition phase between Stone age and Bronze age.

Greek word ‘Chalkos’ means “Copper.”

➢ From this phase the Chalcolithic people started using metal along with stone tools.

The first metal to be used was copper.

➢ The Chalcolithic age largely covers the late stone age or neolithic age or pre Harappans settlements and the  remaining part covers the bronze age or mature Harappan settlements .

➲ Major PreHarappan Chalcolithic site
◘ Ganeshwar, near the Khetri Mines of Rajasthan
◘ Kalibangan in Rajasthan
◘ Banawali in Haryana
◘ Kot Diji in Sindh (Pakistan)

➲ Domesticated animals of Chalcolithic people
◘ Cows
◘ Sheep
◘ Goats
◘ Pigs
◘ Buffaloes
◘ Deer

♦ They are not acquainted with horses.

➲ Common food of Chalcolithic people
◘ As a staple food the Chalcolithic people produces wheat and rice.

◘ Other food materials they produced are bajra, several pulses such as lentils, black gram, green gram, and grass pea etc.

◘ Besides agricultural products they also ate meat of all the domesticated animals except Pigs.

➲ Major features of Chalcolithic age
Chalcolithic people practiced jhum cultivation.
◘ But, neither the plough nor the hoe has been found at any site of this period.
They used mainly black and red pottery.

◘ Infant mortality was very high among Chalcolithic people.
◘ They were generally lived in thatched houses , made of mud bricks.
◘ They were not acquainted with burnt brick.
◘ Chalcolithic-era people did not know the use of writing.
Small clay images of earth goddesses have been found from Chalcolithic sites.

◘ The bull is considered to be the religious cult symbols of Chalcolithic people.

◘ The Chalcolithic people knew the art of copper-smelting , manufacturing of beads of semi-precious stones such as carnelian, steatite, and quartz crystal.

◘ They knew spinning and weaving.

➲ Major Chalcolithic sites
◘ Ahar, Rajasthan in Banas Valley
• Major evidence of Metallurgy like smelting of copper and stone houses

◘ Gilund, Rajasthan in Banas Valley
• Major evidence of occasional use of burnt bricks.

◘ Western Maharashtra
• Burial of a large number of children found here.

◘ Nevasa, Jorwe
• non-Harappan culture

◘ Navdatoli
• cultivated almost all food grains

◘ Daimabad
• Largest Jorwe culture site in the Godavari valley.
• Daimabad famous for the recovery of bronze goods.

◘ Songaon, Inamgaon
• large mud houses with ovens and circular pit house. and Nasik, Maharashtra.

◘ Kayatha
• Mud-plastered floors, pre-Harappan elements in pottery

◘ Malwa
• Richest Chalcolithic ceramics, spindle whors, non-Harappan culture.

◘ Eran, M.P
• Non- Harappan culture.

Pre History Phase Key Points

Division of History

Events before invention of writing systemWriting system developed but still undecipherableWriting system has been deciphered
Represent by 3 stone ageBronze age , Indus Valley civilizationJainism, Buddhism, Medieval and Modern India

Division of Stone age

Tools• Hand Axes
• Choppers
• Cleavers
• Scrapers
• Burins
• Composite tools
• Spearheads
• Arrowheads
• Polished stone tools.
• Pecked
• Ground stone tools
• Handaxes.
Location• Soham river valley (Pakistan)
• Hiran Valley (Gujarat)
• Belan Valley (UP)
• Sanghao cave
• Potwar plateau (Btw. Indus and Jhelum)
• Narmada and Tungabhadra valley
• Andhra Pradesh
• Madhya Pradesh (Bhimbetka Caves)
• Odisha (Sundargarh and Sambalpur)
• Kerala (Ezhuthu Guha)
• Central India (Chhotanagpur Region)
• Tamil Nadu (Tinnevelly)
• West Bengal (Birbhanpur)
• Mehrgarh
• Burzahom
• Chopani Mando, Koldihwa, Belan valley
• Gufkraal in Jammu and Kashmir
• Budihal
• Chirand in Bihar
Features• Hunters and Food Gatherers


◘ Three phase of Palaeolithic Age
• Early or lower Palaeolithic
• Middle Palaeolithic
• Late or Upper Palaeolithic

• Early Palaeolithic covers the greater part of ice age.
• Homo sapiens first appeared at the end of upper Palaeolithic phase.

• Belong to the Holocene era.
• Use of microlithic tools
• Mesolithic era initiated rock art in pre-history.
• First rock paintings discovered at Sohagighat (Kaimur Hills, Uttar Pradesh).
• Food-Producing Stage.
• Grew fruits & corn like ragi and horse gram.
• Domestic animals – cattle, sheep, and goats.
• First hand made pottery.
• Black , grey and mat impressed pottery
• Circular and rectangular houses
Major evidence• Bone tools – Kurnool and Muchchatla Chintamani Gavi caves , Andhra Pradesh.• Bone artifacts , bone ornaments – Mahadaha, Uttar Pradesh.
• Best documented Mesolithic sites – Bagor, Rajasthan.
• Earliest evidence of domestic animals – Adamgarh in MP and Bagor in Rajasthan
• Unique rectangular chopper – Burzaham, Srinagar Valley
• Dog burial with their masters in graves – Burzaham, Srinagar Valley
• Earliest evidence of use of pottery – Chopani Mando, Belan valley
• Pit dwelling, stone tools, and graveyards – Gufkraal , J & K
• Evidence of all the 3 (Paleolithic , Mesolithic and Neolithic) settlements – Belan Valley.

Most Important Points

◘ Invention of Potter’s Wheel
Potter’s Wheel discovered in late Neolithic age or Transition phase of Neolithic to Copper age or Chalcolithic age.◘ Discovery of Spoked wheel and Chariot
• Spoked wheel and Chariot discovered in middle Bronze age.◘ Discovery of Fire
• In the early or lower paleolithic age the fire was discovered by the earliest ancestor of man , Homo erectus◘ Usage of Microlithic tools
• Usage of this tool was one of the important features of Mesolithic people.
• Microlithic tools is the miniature version of early established tools of Paleolithic people.◘ Usage of Polished tools
• It is the major features of the Neolithic people.◘ Usage of Metal
The first metal to be used was copper.


Evolution of modern Human

• In India modern humans Homo sapiens first appeared at the end of Late or Upper Paleolithic age.

• Modern humans, Homo sapiens evolved from their most recent ancestor Homo erectus.

Modern humans (Homo sapiens) originated in Africa. 

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