Prehistory - Neolithic Age

February 14, 2018

 Neolithic Age:

 

Neolithic Age marks the beginning of the life as we know it and subsequent developments over centuries has led to creation of 21st century modern man. However, the seeds of our civilisation are found in the neolithic age when humans started domestication of animals, food production and a settled life. We started making our life easier by subjugating nature to the wishes of humans. 

 

From exam point of view, questions from this age are asked in UPSC Civil service examinations in both prelims and mains. This is also one of the most important topic for other examinations such as SSC, Bank, RBI Grade B, ACIO etc. These easy to grasp points can help you in understanding as well as remembering the features and discoveries of neolithic age in India. The topic should not be seen as something to ponder but to be looked with fascination at the kind of lives our ancestors used to live.

Neolithic Age Features:

  1. Domesticated animals

  2. Food Production

  3. Polished stone tools

  4. Sedentary living

  5. Emergence of small and relatively self-sufficient village communities.

  6. Division of labour based on sex.

  7. Pottery

  8. Continued to hunt and forage for food.

Note: Earliest Village Settlements in the Indian subcontinent, 7000 to 3000 BCE.

 

Neolithic Sites:

Mehrgarh, Baluchistan:

 

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    Settled Agriculture.

  • Houses made of handmade mud-bricks with small, rectangular rooms. Mud bricks were of a standardized size with round ends and finger impressions on their upper surface.

  • Grinding stone found which indicate food processing.

  • Microliths, Hand axes, Sickles found.

  • Burial:

    • Oval pits.

    • Grave goods.

    • At two burials we found that young goats were placed near the feet of the body.

    • Double burial and secondary burial also found.

  • Turquoise and Lapis lazuli found, showing distant exchanges.

  • Grain storage.

  • Pottery: Wheel made and handmade.

  • One collective burial with two wheel made painted pots as grave goods. Pots are not found in any other burial.

  • Grains: Barley, Wheat, Ber, Dates, Oats and Cotton. People ate coarse grains.

  • Animals: Deer, Nilgai, Goat, Onager (Wild Ass), Water buffalo, Cattle, Pig and Elephant.

  • Art: Terracotta female figurines with a tubular body, pinched nose, joined legs, elaborate hairstyle, Heavy breast.

Burzahom, Kashmir Valley:

  • Mud-plastered pit dwelling found at Burzahom.

  • Pits were round or oval, narrower at the top and widening out towards the base.

  • Well-developed bone tool industry.

  • Pottery in grey, red, brown and buff colours.

  • Two engraved stones found  with engraved pattern showing a hut with a thatched conical roof to the right of which is the hind portion of some sort of animal whose tail can be seen.

  • Cultivated Wheat, Barley and lentils.

Bala Kot:

  • Houses were made of mud-bricks.

  • Microliths, terracotta figurines of humped bull, beads, terracotta, shell and bone artefacts.

  • Barley was cultivated.

Vindhya Ranges:

  • Domestication of cattle.

  • Cultivation of Rice.

Koldihwa in Allahabad, UP on the Belan river:

  1. Rice and rice husk found.

  2. Stone blades, polished stone celts, microliths, querns, mullers and bone tools.

Mahagra in Allahabad UP also on the Belan river:

  1. Reed or Bamboo impressions.

  2. Hut walls were made of wattle and daub.

  3. Pottery, Bone arrowheads, terracotta beads and animal bones found.

  4. Cattle Pen also found. Sheep, Goat, Horses, Deer and Wild boar animal bones found.

South India: Raichur Doab and Shorapur Doab

  • Sites: Utnur, Pallavoy, Kodekal and Watgal

  • Ash mounds found at some places.

  • Ash mounds are excessively burnt cow dung.

  • At Budihal, Community feasting and butchering floor is found.

 

Life of Early Farmers:

  1. On Lifestyle:

    • Shift to sedentary living led to increased intake of carbohydrate and less of protein thus unbalanced diet in early period. Hunter gatherers were having more protein rich diet and more balanced diet. Thus early farmers were more vulnerable to infectious diseases as compared to hunter gatherers.

  2. Demography

    • Sedentary living led to reduced stress on women and child during pregnancy and also stable conditions post-delivery. This led to increased birth rate. Also sedentary living must have been easier for children and old people leading to reduction in death rate. This caused a change in age profile and increase in population.

  3. Labour Force:

    • Food production required new tool kits and equipment accompanied with planning and scheduling of subsistence activities led to shift in the contributions of men and women, children and aged folk.

  4. Women:

    • It is generally believed by experts that women were at the forefront of agriculture and pottery making. Women were gatherers in previous ages and thus they must have been the initiators of agriculture. Also as agriculture required storage so they must have started Pottery. Pottery being a complex process require more than two hands. So, probably children helped women in making pottery.

       

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