- It is known as the period before history i.e. it is the time period before the emergence of writing.
- The prehistoric period is divided into three ages:
- Stone age
- Bronze age
- Iron age
- In India, the prehistoric period is divided into:
- Paleolithic (Old Stone Age)
- Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age)
- Neolithic (New Stone Age)
- Metal Age
- This age was developed in the Pleistocene period.
- The term Palaeolithic is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘ old stone’.
- Palaeolithic men lead a savage life, using stone weapon for hunting. There was no agriculture, people use to hunt animal and gather edible plants and tubers.
- There was no family life, people use to live in caves or wander in jungle.
- Palaeolithic age has been divided into three phases on the basis of the nature of stone tools made by human beings
- Lower Palaeolithic – tools included were hand axes, cleavers, choppers.
- Middle Palaeolithic – tools largely included flakes.
- Upper Palaeolithic – tools included were burns and scrapers.
- This age was developed in the Holocene period.
- This period witnessed a rise in temperature and the climate became warm and dry, which in turn affected human life and brought about changes in flora and fauna.
- The beginning of the art of making clay pot is significant development of Mesolithic age.
- The man was hunting and gathering food and domesticated dog.
- In this period bones were used as tools and the use of bones along the stone marked the biggest change in the life of man from Palaeolithic period to Mesolithic period.
- The technology of producing tools also underwent a change, now small stone tools were being used.
- The Mesolithic man started using special kind of weapons known as microliths or pygmy tools made of jasper chalk or bloodstone.
- The main tools included blade, core, point, scrapper, burin, chopper.
- This is the age when people instead of depending entirely on resources of nature, they started producing their own food by cultivating cereals and started domesticating some species of animals.
- Domestication of plants and animals led to emergence of village communities based on sedentary life.
- The beginning of this stage of culture in India is revealed by a new types of stone tools called Neolithic tools or the tools of Neolithic age. The term Neolithic is derived from Greek word meaning ‘new stone’
- The tools of Neolithic age were well shaped, sharp and polished and therefore more effective as compared to earlier period.
Chacolithic or metal age
- At the end of the Neolithic Period, use of metals like copper along with stone started.
- In this way, it is named as Chalcolithic which means the stone-copper phase.
- Smelting of metal ore and creation of metal artefacts is the important development during this period.
- Cultures during Chalcolithic phase grew in river valleys.
- Probably, Gold was discovered earliest but it was used for ornaments only.
- Some of the important sites of this phase are in:
- West Bengal
- Farming communities settled along the river valleys of Godavari, Krishna, Tungabhadra, Pennar and Kaveri in South India.
- Black and red pottery is the most popular among the different types of pottery, used by the Chalcolithic people.
- People generally lived in thatched houses as they were not acquainted with burnt bricks.
- Iron age follows the Chalcolithic age.
- There is a frequent reference of iron in the Vedas.
- Megaliths of this age are spread across the Indian subcontinent.
- Bulk of them are found in peninsular India, concentrated in the states of Maharashtra (mainly in Vidarbha), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Section : History & Culture