In this article on Prehistoric Era we will look at the Paleolithic Period specifically. This article can be used as a helpful resource for preparation of IBPS PO, banking exams, SSC CGL, SSC JE and other government exams.
Generally, the prehistoric era (until c. 1750 BCE) of South Asia is divided into three major parts. These parts are Stone Age, Indus Valley Civilization & Dravidian Origins. So, in this article we focus on Stone Age.
Stone Age was a prehistoric cultural phase or level of human development which is known for the creation and use of stone tools. The origin of Stone Age coincides with the discovery of the oldest known stone tools. Which is about 3.3 million (33 Lakhs) years old. Further based on the advancement and use of tools this era is divided into three separate periods – Paleolithic Period, Mesolithic Period and Neolithic Period. So, before considering these different periods, take a quick look on the chart given below: -
So, let’s observe all these periods in detail.
Paleolithic Period (2 million BC – 10,000 BC)
Paleolithic is basically concerned with the origins and development of early human culture. In this period, the first appearance of man is found as a tool-using mammal. During this period man was a food gatherer, largely depends upon hunting wild animals and birds, fishing & collecting wild fruits, nuts and berries.
During this period human developed four important traditions of manufacturing stone tools. These are as follows: -
- Bifacial tool, or hand-ax tool
So, these different types of tools were used by ancient humans. Now let’s see the important points related with Paleolithic Culture: -
- As per research it is found that in India first human occupation was started in the middle Paleolithic period.
- During Paleolithic period, large portion of earth was covered by ice sheets.
- Paleolithic sites are mainly found in hilly area, why? As we all know during this period human use tools made up of stone and they easily get stones which are suitable for making their tools in these areas.
- Fire, tools made up of lime stone etc. were also invented in this period.
- Important Paleolithic sites are :
- Narmada Valley (Hathnora, M.P)
The Paleolithic age in India is further divided into three stages. These are: -
- Lower Paleolithic or early stone age (5 lakh- 50,000 years back) – This era was largely covered by ice age. The Early Old Stone age have begun in Africa around 20 lakh years ago, but as per archeological survey of India the stone age in India is not older than 6 lakh years. In this era people use tools like hand axes, cleavers & choppers. The stone tools were mainly used for chopping, skinning and digging. Important site of lower Paleolithic age in India are: -
- Lidder river Pahalgam, (Kashmir)
- Sohan valley, Punjab (Pakistan)
- Thar Desert
- Banks of River Beas, Banganga, Haryana
- Chittorgarh and Kota, Rajasthan
- Belan valley Mirzapur, UP
- Bhimbetka, MP
- River Sabarmati and Mahi Basins (Rajasthan & Gujarat)
- Middle Paleolithic: - Till the 1960s the Middle Paleolithic age was not recognized. It was established only in the 1960s and was named as Nevasan after the type-site of Nevasa in Maharashtra. The major tools were blades, points, bores and scrapers which were generally made of flakes. In assessment to the lower Paleolithic era, the tools in middle Paleolithic era became smaller, thinner and lighter. Due to this, middle Paleolithic period is also known as Flake took industry.
Important Middle Paleolithic Sites in India are: -
- Budha Pushkar in Rajasthan
- Narmada river and their tributaries in central India which also include Bhimbetka.
- Chota Nagpur plateau
- Deccan plateau
- Eastern Ghats
- Upper Paleolithic – This is the last phase of stone age as well as ice age. There were very important changes happened in the climate which had its impact on the distribution and living ways of the humans. The occurrence of modern human who are well known as Homo sapiens is also noted in this era. Some important changes in this era are as follows: -
- Climate was extremely cold and dry in the high altitude and northern latitudes.
- Deserts are formed in North west India.
- Coastal areas of south-eastern Tamil Nadu, Saurashtra and Kutch developed quartz and carbonated dunes because of the lowering of the sea level.
- Due to the harsh and dry environmental condition, the vegetation was scant though the faunal fossils show occurrence of grasslands.
Important archaeological sites of this age are:
- Balan valley
- Son valley
- Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh
- Chota Nagpur plateau in Bihar
So, this was all about Paleolithic period. As we have already mentioned in the tree diagram, there are two more stages in which stone age is divided, one is Mesolithic and another is Neolithic. We will look at these two stages in the next article.