NCERT Notes for UPSC Exams – Prehistoric age in India

->Evidence of Homo Erectus in the Indian subcontinent about 2 million years ago.
->Evidence of Homo Sapiens from 70,000 years ago as hunter-gatherers.
Ancient history can be divided into different periods according to the tools used by people then.
  1. Palaeolithic Period: 2 million BC – 10,000 BC
  2. Mesolithic Period: 10,000 BC – 8000 BC
  3. Neolithic Period: 8000 BC – 4000 BC
  4. Chalcolithic Period: 4000 BC – 1500 BC
  5. Iron Age: 1500 BC – 200 BC
Palaeolithic Period (Old Stone Age)

This is further divided into three:

  1. Lower Palaeolithic Age: up to 100,000 BC
  2. Middle Palaeolithic Age: 100,000 BC – 40,000 BC
  3. Upper Palaeolithic Age: 40,000 BC – 10,000 BC

Lower Palaeolithic age

  • Hunters and food gatherers; tools used were axes, choppers and cleavers.
  • Earliest lower Palaeolithic site is Bori in Maharashtra.
  • Limestone was also used to make tools
  • Major sites of lower Palaeolithic age
    • Soan valley (in present Pakistan)
    • sites in the Thar Desert
    • Kashmir
    • Mewar plains
    • Saurashtra
    • Gujarat
    • Central India
    • Deccan Plateau
    • Chotanagpur plateau
    • North of the Cauvery River
    • Belan valley in UP
  • There are habitation sites including caves and rock shelters
  • It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003
  • An important place is Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh

Middle Palaeolithic age

  • Tools used were blades, pointers, scrapers and borers.
  • The tools were smaller, lighter and thinner
  • Important middle Palaeolithic age sites
    • Belan valley in UP
    • Luni valley (Rajasthan)
    • Son and Narmada rivers
    • Bhimbetka

Upper Palaeolithic age

  • Emergence of Homo sapiens
  • Lot of bone tools, including needles, harpoons, blades, fishing tools and burin tools.
  • Major sites of Upper Palaeolithic age
    • Belan
    • Son
    • Chota Nagpur plateau (Bihar)
    • Maharashtra
    • Orissa and
    • Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh
  • Paintings at Bhimbetka site belong to this age.
  • Upper Palaeolithic age-Paintings at Bhimbetka

Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age)
  • Major climate change happened.
  • Climate became warmer and more humid.
  • Rainfall increased and so more availability of flora and fauna.
  • Domestication of animals and plants were seen for the first time.
  • Started 12000 years ago.
  • First animal to be domesticated was the wild ancestor of the dog.
  • Sheep and goats were the most common domesticated animals.
  • Hunting and food gathering continued.
  • First human colonization of the Ganga plains.
  • Microliths have been excavated.
  • They are small stone tools that were probably stuck to stones to be used as saws and sickles.
  • Major sites:
    • Brahmagiri (Mysore)
    • Narmada
    • Vindhya
    • Gujarat
    • UP
    • Sojat (Rajasthan)
    • Bhimbetka
    • Godavari Basin
    • Sarai Nahar Rai
  • Tools used were blades, crescents, triangles, trapezes, spearheads, knives, arrowheads, sickles, harpoons and daggers.
Neolithic Period (New Stone Age)
  • Starting of agriculture
  • Moving from nomadic to settled life
  • Wheel discovered. Ragi, wheat and horse gram were cultivated
  • They knew to make fire
  • Knew pottery
  • Art was seen in cave paintings of dance
  • Also show first intentional disposal of the dead
  • Important sites:
    • Inamgaon
    • Burzahom (Kashmir)
    • Mehrgarh (Pakistan)
    • Daojali Hading (Tripura/Assam)
    • Hallur (AP)
    • Paiyampalli (AP)
    • Chirand (Bihar)
    • Evidence of houses
Chalcolithic Period (Copper Age/Bronze Age)

Indus Valley Civilization (2700 BC – 1900 BC)

  • Other settlements at
  • Brahmagiri Navada Toli (Narmada region)
  • Chirand (Ganga region) and
  • Mahishadal (West Bengal)
Iron Age
  • Arrival of the Aryans: Vedic Period
  • Jainism, Buddhism
  • Mahajanapadas: the first major civilisation on the banks of the river Ganga after the Indus Valley.

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