The Prehistoric Period

• The prehistoric period in the history of mankind can roughly be dated from 2,00,0000 BC to about 3500-2500 BC, when the first civilizations began to take shape.

• The first modern human beings or the Homo Sapiens set foot on the Indian subcontinent somewhere between 50000 BC and 40,000 BC and they soon spread through a large part of the subcontinent, including peninsular India.

• They continuously flooded the Indian subcontinent in waves of migration from what is present-day Iran.

• These primitive people moved in groups of few families and lived mainly on hunting and gathering.

Stone Age

• The age when the prehistoric man began to use stones for utilitarian purpose is called as the Stone Age.

• Stone Age is divided into three broad divisions – Paleolithic Age or Old Stone Age (from Unknown till 8000 BC), Mesolithic Age or Middle Stone Age (8000 BC – 4000 BC) and Neolithic Age or New Stone Age (4000 BC – 2500 BC) on the basis of the specialization of stone tools, which were made during that time.

Paleolithic Age

• The human beings living in the Paleolithic Age were essentially food gatherers and depended on nature of food.

• The art of hunting and stalking wild animals individually and later in groups led to these people making stone weapons and tools.

• These kind of tools were generally used to kill small animals and for tearing flesh from the carcass of the hunted animals.

• These tools are characteristic of the Paleolithic Age and were very rough.

Mesolithic Age

• In the Mesolithic Age, the stone tools began to be made more pointed and sharp.

• To ensure a life that had abundance of food and clothing, the stone tools began to appear in increasingly specialized way.

• Apart from hand axes, they also produced crude, stone-tipped wooden spears, borers, and burins.

• This period also saw the domestication of animals and cultivation of wild varieties of crops.

• Because of farming, small settlements began to take shape.

• Fire was started to be produced.

Neolithic Age

• Neolithic Age (4000 BC – 2500 BC) or New Stone Age was the last phase of stone Age and is Characterized by very finely flaked small stone tools, also known as blades and burins.

• Neolithic Age also saw the domestication of cattle, horses, and other farm animals.

• An important invention of this time was the wheel.

• Fire was started to be produced.

Chalcolithic Phase

• Towards the end of Neolithic period, metals like bronze and copper began to be used.

• This was the Chalcolithic phase (1800 BC to 1000 BC).

• Some of the sites of this era are Brahmgiri (near Mysore) and Navada Toli (on River Narmada).