Ancient Indian History - Stone Age Cultures


  • On the basis of the scientific study, geologists fix age of the earth as 4,600 million years.

  • The fossils of the earliest humans found in Africa were about 4.2 million years old.

  • The earliest human beings were shorter in height and had a smaller brain.

  • About 42-lakhs years ago, Human being evolves and the present form reached about 50,000 years ago.

  • The fossils found in Africa, China, Java, Sumatra, and southern Europe portray the various stages and periods of human development.

  • In India, the only hominid fossil found from ‘Hathnaura’ in the Narmada Valley.

Earliest Palaeolithic Tools

  • The stage of human development started at the time when people begin the use of tools for their aid. It was the time that laid the foundation of science and the uses of machines.

  • About 2.6 million years ago, human beings started the regular use of tools in east Africa.

  • In Indonesia, several hominid fossils have recently been dated between 1.8 and 1.6 million years.

  • In China, the early stone tools are associated with human fossils dated between 1.7 and 1.9 million years.

  • In India, no human fossils have been found associated with Stone Age tools.

  • The various strata of the Sivalik hills containing stone tools have been dated between 2 to 1.2 million years.

  • The archaeological site of Bori in Pune district of Maharashtra is about 1.38 million years old. It gives the scientific record for the early stone tools in India.

  • The early human settlement in India is contemporary to the Asian countries, but it is of the later period than that in the African region.

Palaeolithic Cultures

  • Based on tool technology, the Palaeolithic Age in India is divided into the following three phases −

    • Lower Palaeolithic Hand-axe and cleaver industries;

    • Middle Palaeolithic Tools made on flakes; and

    • Upper Palaeolithic Tools made on flakes and blades.

Palaeolithic sites

Lower Palaeolithic Culture

  • The time period of Lower Palaeolithic culture was marked between 600,000 and 60,000 B.C.

  • The main tool types of this era were hand axes and cleavers, along with chopper-chopping tools. These were made on cores as well as flakes.

  • The raw materials used for making the stone tools were largely of different kinds of stones, including quartzite, chert, and sometimes even quartz and basalt, etc.

  • Following are the major types of sites of the Lower Palaeolithic culture −

    • Habitation sites (either under rock-shelters or in the open);

    • Factory sites associated with sources of raw materials;

    • Sites that combine elements of both these functions; and

    • Open-air sites (any of the above categories).

  • The Lower Palaeolithic tools have been abundantly found throughout the Indian subcontinent, except the plains of the Indus, Saraswati, Brahmaputra, and Ganga where raw material in the form of stone is not available.

  • Following are the important sites of Lower Palaeolithic cultures −

    • Pahalgam in Kashmir,

    • Belan valley in Allahabad district (Uttar Pradesh),

    • Bhimbetka and Adamgarh in Hoshangabad district (Madhya Pradesh),

    • 16 R and Singi Talav in Nagaur district (Rajasthan),

    • Nevasa in Ahmadnagar district (Maharashtra),

    • Hunsgi in Gulburga district (in Kanlataka), and

    • Attirampakkam (Tamil Nadu).

  • Some other sites also have been found in −

    • Shivalik range of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab;

    • Belan valley in Uttar Pradesh;

    • Berach basin and the hilly area of Rajasthan; and

    • Narmada and Sone valleys in Madhya Pradesh;

    • Malprabha and Ghatprabha basins in Karnataka;

    • Chhota Nagpur plateau and several areas of Maharashtra;

    • Some areas near Chennai in Tamil Nadu; and

    • Some areas of Orissa, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh.

Middle Paleolithic Culture

  • The period between 150,000 B.C. and 40,000 B.C. is marked as the middle Palaeolithic culture.

  • The tools of middle Palaeolithic were characterized as −

    • The flake tools those are made on flakes obtained by striking them out from pebbles or cobbles.

    • These tool types include small and medium-sized hand-axes, cleavers, and various kinds of scrapers, borers, and knives.

  • The Middle Palaeolithic tools were found in Central India, Deccan, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Orissa.

  • The most important sites of Middle Palaeolithic period were −

    • Bhimbetka

    • Nevasa

    • Pushkar

    • Rohiri hills of upper Sind

    • Samnapur on Narmada

Upper Palaeolithic Culture

  • The period between 9,000 and 8,000 B.C. is marked as Upper Palaeolithic culture.

  • The tools of Upper Palaeolithic culture were characterized by basic technological innovation in the method of producing parallel sided blades from a carefully prepared core and in the development of the composite tools.

  • The main tool types of Palaeolithic period were −

    • Scrapers

    • Points

    • Awls

    • Burins

    • Borers

    • Knives etc.

  • During the Upper Palaeolithic period, the concept of composite tools developed.

  • The most noteworthy discovery of the Upper Palaeolithic period is the rubble-made platforms and the Mother Goddess who was worshiped as female principle or Sakti in the countryside.

  • The rubble platform with its unique stone was made by a group of final upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers. A piece of natural stone in the center of the platform is found on the top of the Kaimur escarpment.

  • The upper Palaeolithic tools were found in −

    • Rajasthan,

    • Central and Western India,

    • Parts of the Ganga and Belan valleys,

    • Gujarat,

    • Andhra Pradesh, and

    • Karnataka.

  • The various sites in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra were of the upper Palaeolithic period lasted from about 45,000 to 10,000 B.C.