Indian History - Study Material 1 - Ancient history & Periodization - Civils Tapasya portal


Our Earth is a marvel 450 crore years old. We trace its journey though the ages, and the first footsteps of mankind. Ancient history unravels its secrets


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    • ##info-circle## Indian History - Study Material Civils Tapasya portal presented by PT's IAS Academy
      • Contents of this Study Material  ##chevron-right## A. Age of Earth and mankind's presence ##chevron-right## B. Paleo- Meso- Neo-lithic ages ##chevron-right## C. Chalcolithic Farming Cultures  ##chevron-right## D. Theories of human evolution

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The Earth is nearly 4500 million years (4.5 billion / 450 crore years) old. The evolution of its crust shows four stages.

The fourth stage is called the Quaternary, which is divided into Pleistocene (most recent) and Holocene (present); the former lasted between 10,00,000 and 10,000 years before the present and the latter began about 10,000 years ago. Man is said to have appeared on the earth in the early Pleistocene, when true ox, true elephant and true horse also originated. But now this event seems to have occurred in Africa about 2.6 million years back.

The fossils of the early humans have not been found in India. A hint of the earliest human presence is indicated by stone tools obtained from the deposits ascribable to the Second Glaciation, which could be dated around 2,50,000 B.C. However, recently reported artefacts from Bori in Maharashtra take the appearance of man as early as 1.4 million years ago. At present it appears that India was settled later than Africa, although the lithic technology of the subcontinent broadly evolved in the same manner as it did in Africa. The early man in India used tools of stone roughly dressed by crude chipping, which have been discovered throughout the country except the alluvial plains of Indus, Ganga and Yamuna Rivers. The chipped stone tools and chopped pebbles were used for hunting, cutting and other purposes. In this period man barely managed to gather his food and lived on hunting. He had no knowledge of cultivation and house building. This phase generally continued till 9000 B.C.
Palaeolithic tools, which could be as old as 1,00,000 B.C., have been found in the Chhotanagpur plateau. Such tools belonging to 20,000 B.C.- 10,000 B.C. have been found in Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh. In assoctation with them bone implements and animal remains have also been discovered. Animal remains found in the Belan Valley in Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh show that goats, sheep and cattle were exploited. However, in the earliest Palaeolithic phase man lived on hunting and food gathering. The puranas speak of people who lived on roots and fruits; some of these people have been living in the old way in the hills and caves till modern times.,,

The old Stone Age or the Palaeolithic culture of India developed in the Pleistocene period of the Ice Age. Although human remains associated with stone tools found in Africa are considered 2.6 million years old, in India the first human occupations, as clearly suggested by stone tools, are not earlier than the Middle Pleistocene. In the Pleistocene period ice sheets covered a great portion of the earth's surface, particularly in the higher altitudes and their peripheries. But the tropical regions, excepting the mountains, were free from ice. On the other hand, they underwent a period of great rainfall.  This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

The long history of planet Earth - 450 crore years in one diagram!

B.1 Phases in the Paleolithic Age

The Palaeolithic Age in India is divided into three phases according to the nature of the stone tools used by the people and also according to the nature of change in the climate. The first phase is called Early or Lower Palaeolithic, the Second, Middle Palaeolithic and the third Upper Palaeolithic. Unless adequate information is available about Bori artefacts, the first phase may be placed broadly between 2,50,000 B.C. and 1,00,000 B.C.; the second between 1,00,000 B.C. and 40,000 B.C.; and the third between 40,000 B.C. and 10,000 B.C. on the basis of scientific datings available so far.  This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

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    • The Lower Palaeolithic or the Early Old Stone Age covers the greater part of the Ice Age. Its characteristic feature is the use of hand-axes, cleavers and choppers. The axes found in India are more or less similar to those of Western Asia, Europe and Africa. Stone tools were used mainly for chopping, digging and skinning. The Early Old Stone Age sites are found in the valley of River Soan or Sohan in Punjab, now in Pakistan. Several sites have been found in Kashmir and the Thar Desert. 
    • The Lower Palaeolithic tools have also been found in the Belan valley in Mirzapur District in Uttar Pradesh. Those found in the desert area of Didwana in Rajasthan, in the valleys of the Belam and the Narinada, and in the caves and rock shelters of Bhimbetka near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh roughly belong to 1,00,000 B.C. The rockshelters may have served as seasonal camps for human beings. Hand-axes have been found in a deposit of the time of the second Himalayan interglaciation. In this period climate became less humid.

The Middle Palaeolithic industries are mainly based upon flakes. These flakes are found in different parts of India and show regional variations. The principal tools are varieties of blades, points, borers and scrapers made of flakes. We also find a large number of borers and blade-like tools. The geographical horizon of the Middle Palaeolithic sites coincides roughly with that of the Lower Palaeolithic sites. Here we notice a crude pebble industry in strata contemporary with the third Himalayan glaciation. The artefacts of this age are also found at several places on the River Narmada, and also at several places, south of the Tungabhadra River.

The Upper Palaeolithic phase was less humid. It coincided with the last phase of the Ice Age when climate became comparatively warm. In the world context it marks the appearance of new flint industries and of humans of the modern type (Homo sapiens). In India, we notice the use of blades and burins, which have been found in Andhra, Karnataka Maharashtra, central Madhya Pradesh, Southern Uttar Pradesh, south Bihar plateau and the adjoining areas. Caves and rockshelters for use by human beings in the Upper Palaeolithic phase have been discovered at Bhimbetka, 45 km south of Bhopal. An Upper Palaeolithic assemblage, characterised by comparatively larger flakes, blades burins and scrapers has also been found in the upper levels of the Gujarat dunes.

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It would thus appear that Palaeolithic sites are found in many hilly slopes and River valleys of the country; they are absent in the alluvial plains of the Indus and the Ganga.,,

B.2 The Mesolithic Age : Hunters and Herders

The Upper Palaeolithic Age came to an end with the end of the Ice Age around 9000 B.C., and the climate became warm and dry. Climatic changes brought about changes in fauna and flora and made it possible for human beings to move to new areas. Since then there have not been any major changes in climatic conditions. In 9000 B.C. began an intermediate stage in Stone Age culture, which is called the Mesolithic Age. It intervened as a transitional phase between the Palaeolithic Age and the Neolithic or New Stone Age. The Mesolithic people lived on hunting, fishing and food gathering. At a later stage they also domesticated animals. The first three occupations continued the Palaeolithic practice, while the last was interrelated with the Neolithic culture. This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

The characteristic tools of the Mesolithic Age are microliths. The Mesolithic sites are found in good numbers in Rajasthan, Southern Uttar Pradesh, central and eastern India and also south of the River Krishna. Of them Bagor in Rajasthan is very well excavated. It had a distinctive microlithic industry, and its inhabitants subsisted on hunting and pastoralism. The site remained occupied for 5000 years from the fifth millennium B.C. onwards. Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh and Bagor in Rajasthan provide the earliest evidence for the domestication of anlmals; this could be around 5000 B.C. The cultivation of plants around 7000-6000 B.C. is suggested in Rajasthan from a study of the deposits of the former Salt Lake, Sambhar.
So far only a few finds of the Mesolithic Age have been dated scientifically. The Mesolithic culture continued to be important roughly from 9000 B.C. to 4000 B.C. There is no doubt that it paved the way for the rise of the Neolithic culture.

B.3 Hunters, herders and painters

The people of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic ages practised painting. Prehistoric art appears at several places, but Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh is a striking site. Situated in the Vindhyan range, 45 km south of Bhopal, it has more than 500 painted rock shelters, distributed in an area of 10 sq km. The rock paintings extend from the Palaeolithic to the Mesolithic period and in some series even up to recent times. But a good many rock shelters are associated with the Mesolithic occupation. Many birds, animals and human beings are painted. Obviously most of the birds and animals that appear in painting were hunted for the sake of subsistence. Perching birds, which live upon grain, are absent in the earliest group of paintings, which evidently belongs to the hunting/gathering economy.  This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education
It is interesting to note that on the northern spurs of the Vindhyas in the Belan valley all the three phases of the Palaeolithic followed by the Mesolithic and then by the Neolithic have been found in sequence, and so is the case with the middle part of the Narmada valley. But in several areas the Neolithic culture succeeded the Mesolithic tradition, which continued right to the beginning of the Iron Age, i.e. 1000 B.C.,,

B.4 The Neolithic Age : Food producers

In the world context the New Stone Age began in 9000 B.C. The only Neolithic settlement in the Indian subcontinent attributed to 7000 B.C. lies in Mehrgarh, which is situated in Baluchistan, a province of Pakistan. In the initial stage, before 5000 B.C., the people of this place did not use any pottery. Some Neolithic sites found on the Northern spurs of the Vindhyas are considered as old as 5000 B.C. But generally Neolithic settlements found in south India are not older than 2500 B.C.; in some parts of Southern and eastern India they are as late as 1000 B.C.

The people of this age used tools and implements of polished stone. They particularly used stone axes, which have been found in large numbers in a good part of the hilly-tracts of the country. This cutting tool was put to various uses by the people, and in ancient legends the Hindu sage Parashurama (an avatar of Vishnu, and disciple of Shiv) became an important axe-wielding hero.

Based on the types of axes used by Neolithic settlers, we notice three different and important areas of Neolithic settlements - North-Western, North-eastern and Southern. The north-western group of Neolithic tools represents rectangular axes with curved cutting edge. The north-eastern group shows polished stone axes with rectangular butt and has occasional shouldered hoes. The southern group is distinguished by axes with oval sides and pointed butt.

In the north-west, the Kashmiri Neolithic culture was distinguished by its dwelling pits, the range of ceramics, the variety of stone and bone tools, and the complete absence of the microliths. An important site is that of Burzahom, which means 'the place of birth' and is situated 16 km north-west of Srinagar. The Neolithic people lived there on a lake-side in pits, and probably had a hunting and fishing economy. They seem to have been acquainted with agriculture. The people of Gufkral (literally the 'cave of the potter'), a Neolithic site 41 km south-west of Srinagar, practised both agriculture and domestication of animals. The Neolithic people in Kashmir used not only polished tools of stone, but what is more interesting - they used numerous tools and weapons made of bone. The only other place which has yielded considerable bone implements in India is Chirand, which is 40 km west of Patna on the northern side of the Ganga. Made of antlers (horns of deer), these implements have been found in a late Neolithic set-up in an area with about 100 cm rainfall. The settlement became possible because of the open land available on account of the joining together of the four rivers - Ganga, Sone, Gandak and Ghaghra at this place. It is marked by the paucity of stone tools.

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    • The people of Burzahom used coarse grey pottery. It is interesting that the Burzahom domestic dogs were buried with their masters in their graves. Pit dwelling and the placing of domestic dogs in the graves of the masters do not seem to be the practice with Neolithic people in any other part of India. The earliest date for Burzahom is about 2400 B.C., but the bones recovered from Chirand cannot be dated earlier than 1600 B.C. and they possibly belong to a stone-copper phase.
    • The second group of Neolithic people lived in south India, south of the Godavari River. They usually settled on the tops of hills or on plateaus near the river banks. They used stone axes and also some kind of stone blades. Firebaked earthen figurines suggest that they kept a large number of cattle. They possessed cattle, sheep and goats. They used rubbing stone querns, which shows that they were acquainted with the art of producing cereals.
    • The third area from which Neolithic tools have been recovered is in the hills of Assam. Neolithic tools are also found in the Garo hills in Meghalaya on the north-eastern frontier of India. In addition to this, we also find a number of Neolithic settlements on the northern spurs of the Vindhyas in Mirzapur and Allahabad districts of Uttar Pradesh. Neolithic sites in Allahabad district are noted for the cultivation of rice in the sixth millennium B.C.
    • Some of the important Neolithic sites or those with Neolithic layers that have been excavated include Maski, Brahmagiri, Hallur, Kodekal, Sanganakallu, Narsipur and Takkalakota in Karnataka, and Paiyampalli in Tamil Nadu. Piklihal and Utnur are important Neolithic sites in Andhra Pradesh. The Neolithic phase in south India seems to have covered the period from about 2000 B.C. to 1000 B.C.
    • The Neolithic settlers in Piklihal were cattle-herders. They domesticated cattle, sheep, goats, etc. They set up seasonal camps surrounded by cowpens made with posts and stakes. In these enclosure they accumulated dung. Then the entire camping ground was put to fire and cleared for camping in the next session. Both ash mounds and habitation sites have been discovered in Brahmagiri, Hallur, Kodekal, Piklihal, Sanganakallu, T.Narsipur and Takkalakota in Karnataka, and Paiyampalli in Tamil Nadu.
    • The Neolithic settlers were the earliest farming communities. They broke the ground with stone hoes and digging sticks at the end of which ring stones weighing one to half a kilogram were fixed. Besides polished tools of stone, they used microlith blades. They lived in circular or rectangular houses made of mud and reed. It is held that the primitive people living in circular houses owned property in common. In any case these Neolithic people led a settled life. They produced ragi and horsegram (kulathi).
    • The Neolithic people of Mehrgarh were more advanced. They produced wheat, cotton, and lived in mud-brick houses.

Since in the Neolithic phase several settlements came to be acquainted with the cultivation of cereals and the domestication of animals, they needed pots in which they could store their foodgrains. They further needed pots for cooking, eating and drinking. Hence pottery first appears in this phase. Hand-made pottery is found in the early stage. Later the Neolithic people used footwheels to turn up pots. Their pottery included black burnished ware, grey ware, and mat-impressed ware.

Neolithic celts, axes, adzes, chisels, etc., have also been found in the Orissa and Chotanagpur hill areas. But traces of Neolithic settlements are generally few in parts of Madhya Pradesh and the tracts of the upper Deccan, because of the lack of those types of stone which lend themselves easily to grinding and polishing.

The period between 9000 B.C. and 3000 B.C. saw a remarkable progress of technology in Western Asia because the people developed the arts of cultivation, weaving, pot-making, house building, domestication of animals, etc. But the Neolithic Age in the Indian subcontinent began around the sixth millennium B.C. Some of the important crops, including rice, wheat and barley, came to be cultivated in the subcontinent in this period and a few villages appeared in this part of the world. It appears that the people were now on the threshold of civilization. This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

The people of the Stone Age suffered from one great limitation. Since they had to depend entirely on tools and weapons made of stone, they could not found settlements far away from the hilly areas. They could settle down only on the slopes of the hills, in rockshelters and the hilly River valleys. Further, even with great effort they could not produce more than what they needed for their bare subsistence.


C.1 Chalcolithic settlements

The end of the Neolithic period saw the use of metals. The metal to be used first was copper, and several cultures were based on the use of stone and copper implements. Such a culture is called Chalcolithic which means the stone-copper phase. Technologically, Chalcolithic stage applied to the pre-Harappans. The Chalcolithic people mostly used stone and copper objects, but they also occasionally used low-grade bronze. They were primarily rural communities spread over a wide area in those parts of the country where hilly land and Rivers were available. On the other hand, the Harappans used bronze and had attained urbanisation on the basis of the produce from the flood plains in the Indus valley. In India, settlements belonging to the Chalcolithic phase are found in south-eastern Rajasthan, the Western part of Madhya Pradesh, Western Maharashtra and also in Southern and eastern India. In south-Eastern Rajasthan two sites, one at Ahar and the other at Gilund have been excavated. They lie in the dry zones of the Banas valley. In Western Madhya Pradesh, Malwa, Kayatha and Eran have been exposed. The Malwaware typical of the Malwa Chalcolithic culture of central and Western India is considered the richest among the Chalcolithic ceramics. Some of its pottery and other cultural elements are also found in Maharashtra.

But the most extensive excavations have taken place in western Maharashtra. Several Chalcolithic sites, such as Jorwe, Nevasa, Daimabad in Ahmadnagar district, Chandoli, Songaon and Inamgaon in Pune district, have been excavated. They all belong to the Jorwe culture named after Jorwe, the type-site situated on the left bank of the Pravara River, a tributary of the Godavari, in Ahmadnagar district. The Jorwe culture owed much to the Malwa culture but it also contained elements of the south Neolithic culture.

The Jorwe culture, 1400 B.C. to 700 B.C., covered modern Maharashtra except parts of Vidarbha and the coastal region of Konkan. Although the Jorwe culture was rural, some of its settlements such as Daimabad and Inamgaon had almost reached the urban stage. All these Maharashtra sites were located in semi-arid areas mostly on brown-black soil which had ber and babul vegetation but fell in the Riverine tracts. In addition to these, we have Navdatoli situated on the Narmada. Most Chalcolithic ingredients intruded into the Neolithic sites in south India.

Several Chalcolithic sites have been found in the Vindhyan region of Allahabad district.

In eastern India, besides Chirand on the Ganga, mention may be made of Pandu Rajar Dhibi in Burdwan district and Mahishdal in Birbhum district in West Bengal. Some more sites have been excavated, notable among these are Senwar, Sonpur, and Taradih in Bihar, and Khaitadih and Narhan in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The people belonging to this culture used tiny tools and weapons made of stone in which the stone-blades and bladelets occupied an important position. In many places, particularly in south India, the stone-blade industry flourished and stone axes continued to be used. It is obvious that such areas were not situated far from the hills. In certain settlements copper objects are found in good numbers. This seems to be the case with Ahar and Gilund, which lay more or less in the dry zones of the Banas River valley in Rajasthan. Unlike the other contemporary Chalcolithic, farming cultures like Ahar practically neither made nor used microlithic tools; stone axes or blades are almost absent here. Its objects include several flat axes, bangles, several sheets, all made of copper, although a bronze sheet also occurs. Copper was locally available. The people of Ahar practised smelting and metallurgy from the very beginning. The old name of Ahar is Tambavati or a place possessing copper. The Ahar culture is placed between c. 2100 and 1500 B.C. and Gilund is considered a regional centre of the Ahar culture. In Gilund only fragments of copper appear. Here, we find a stone-blade industry. Flat, rectangular copper axes are found in Jorwe and Chandoli in Maharashtra, and copper chisels appear at Chandoli.

The people of the Chalcolithic phase used different types of pottery, one of which is called black-and-red and seems to have been widely prevalent from nearly 2000 B.C. onwards. It was thrown on wheel and occasionally painted with white linear designs. This is true not only of settlements in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra but also of habitations found in Bihar and West Bengal. People living in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar produced channel-spouted pots, dishes-on-stand and bowls-on-stand. It would be wrong to think that all the people who used black-and-red pottery possessed the same culture. We can notice differences in their forms of pottery and implements.

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    • The people living in the Chalcolithic age in south-eastern Rajasthan, Western Madhya Pradesh, Western Maharashtra and elsewhere domesticated animals and practised agriculture. They kept cows, sheep, goats, pigs and buffaloes, and hunted deer. Remains of dead camel have also been found. It is not clear whether they were acquainted with the horse. Some animal remains are identified as belonging either to the horse or donkey or wild ass. People certainly ate beef, but they did not take pork on any considerable scale.
    • What is remarkable is that these people produced wheat and rice. In addition to these staple crops, they also cutivated bajra. They produced several pulses such as the lentil, (masur), black gram, green gram, and grass pea. Almost all these foodgrains have been found at Navdatoli situated on the bank of the Nannada in Maharashtra. Perhaps at no other place in India so many cereals have been discovered as a result of digging. The people of Navdatoli also produced ber-and linseed.
    • Cotton was produced in the black cotton soil of the Deccan, and ragi, bajra and several millets were cultivated in the lower Deccan. In eastern India, fish hooks have been found in Bihar and West Bengal, where we also find rice. This suggests that the Chalcolithic people in the eastern regions lived on fish and rice, which is still a popular diet in that part of the country. Most settlements in the Banas valley in Rajasthan are small but Ahar and Gilund spread over an area of nearly four hectares.

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    • The Chalcolithic people were generally not acquainted with burnt bricks, which were seldom used, as in Gilund around 1500 B.C. Occasionally their houses were made of mud bricks, but mostly these were constructed with wattle and daub, and seem to have been thatched houses. However, the people in Ahar lived in stone-built houses. Of the 200 Jorwe sites discovered so far, the largest is Daimabad in the Godavari valley. It is about 20 hectares in extent which could contain around 4000 people. It also seems to have been fortified with a mud wall having storie, rubble bastions. Daimabad is famous for the recovery of a large number of bronze goods, some of which were influenced by the Harappan culture.
    • At Inamgaon, in the earlier Chalcolithic phase in Western Maharashtra, large mud houses with ovens and circular pit houses have been discovered. In the later phase (1300-1000 B.C.) there’s a house with five rooms, four rectangular and one circular. This was located in the centre of the settlements, and may have been the house of a chief. The granary lying close to it may have been used for storing tributes in kind. Inamgaon was a large Chalcolithic settlement. It shows more than hundred houses and numerous burials. This settlement was also fortified and surrounded by a moat.
    • We know a good deal about the Chalcolithic arts and crafts. They were clearly expert copper smiths and also good workers in stone. We get tools, weapons and bangles of copper. They manufactured beads of semi-precious stones such as carnelian, steatite, and quartz crystal. People knew the art of spinning and weaving because spindle whorls have been discovered in Malwa. Cotton, flax and silk threads made of cotton silk of semal /silk (Cotton tree) have been found in Maharashtra. This shows that these people were well acquainted with the manufacture of cloth. In addition to the artisans who practised these crafts at various sites we find potters, smiths, ivory carvers, lime makers and terracotta artisans at Inamgaon.

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    • Regional differences in regard to cereals, structure pottery etc., appear in the stonecopper phase. Eastern India produced rice; Western India cultivated barley and wheat. Chronologically certain settlements in Malwa and central India such as those in Kayatha and Eran, appeared early; those of Western Maharashtra and eastern India were of a much later date.
    • We can form some idea about the burial practices and religious cults of these people. In Maharashtra people buried their dead in urns under the floor of their house in the North-to-south position. They did not use separate cemeteries for this purpose, as was the case with the Harappans. Pots and some copper objects were desposited in the graves obviously for the use of the dead in the next world.
    • Terracotta figures of women suggest that the Chalcolithic people venerated the mother Goddess. Some unbaked nude clay figurines were also used for worship. A figure of the mother goddess similar to that found in Western Asia has been found in Inamgaon. In Malwa and Rajasthan stylized bull terracottas show that the bull was the symbol of a religious cult.

Both the settlement pattern and burial practices suggest beginnings of social inequalities. A kind of settlement hierarchy appears in several Jorwe settlements found in Maharashtra. Some of them are as large as twenty hectares, but others are only five hectares and even less in size. This would imply two-tier habitations. The difference in the size of settlements shows that larger settlements dominated the smaller ones. However, in both large and small settlements the chief and his kinsmen who lived in rectangular houses dominated others who lived in round huts. In Inamgaon the craftsmen lived on the western fringes, and the chief probably in the centre; this suggests social distance between the inhabitants. In the graves at Chandoli and Nevasa in western Maharashtra some children were buried along with copper-based necklaces around their necks; other children had grave goods consisting only of pots. At Inamgaon an adult was buried with pottery and some copper. In one house in Kayatha 29 copper bangles and two unique axes were found. At the same place necklaces of semi-precious stones such as steatite and carnelian beads were found in pots. It is evident that those who possessed these objects were affluent. This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

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    • Chronologically, a special note may be taken of a site at Ganeshwar which is located close to the rich copper mines of the Sikar-Jhunjhunu area of the Khetri copper belt in Rajasthan. The copper objects excavated from this area include arrowheads, spearheads, fish books, colts, bangles, chisels, etc. Some of their shapes are similar to those discovered at Indus sites; a terracotta cake resembling the Indus type has been also found. It also shows many microliths which are typical of the Chalcolithic culture. We also find the OCP ware which is a red-slipped ware often painted in black and mainly represented in vase forms.
    • Since the Ganeshwar deposits are ascribed to 2800-2200 B.C. they largely predate the mature Harappan culture. Ganeshwar mainly supplied copper objects to Harappa and did not receive much from it. The Ganeshwar people partly lived on agriculture and largely on hunting. Although their principal craft was the manufacture of copper objects they could not develop urban elements of the Harappan economy, which was based on the produce from the wide flood plains. The Ganeshwar assemblage, therefore, cannot be regarded as a proper OCP/Copper Hoard culture. With its microliths and other stone tools much of the Ganeshwar culture can be regarded as a preHarappan Chalcolithic culture, which contributed to the making of the mature Harappan culture.

Chronologically there are several series of Chalcolithic settlements in India. Some are pre-Harappan, others are contemporaries of the Harappan culture and still others are post-Harappan. Pre-Harappan strata on some sites in the Harappan zone are also called early Harappan in order to distinguish them from the mature urban Indus civilization. Thus the pre-Harappan phase at Kalibangan in Rajasthan and Banawali in Haryana is distinctly Chalcolithic. So is the case with Kot Diji in Sindh in Pakistan. Pre-Harappan, post-Harappan Chalcolithic cultures and those co-existing with the Harappan are found in Northern, Western and central India. An example is the Kayatha culture c.2000-1880 B.C., which is a junior contemporary of the Harappa Culture. It has some Pre-Harappan elements in pottery, but it also shows Harappan influence. Several Post-Harappan Chalcolithic cultures in these areas are influenced by the post-urban phase of the Harappan Culture.

Several other Chalcolithic cultures, though younger in age than the mature Harappan culture, are not connected with the Indus civilization. The Malwa culture (1700-1200 B.C.) found in Navdatoli, Bran and Nagda is considered to be non-Harappan. So is the case with the Jorwe culture (1400-700 B.C.) which covers the whole of Maharashtra except parts of Vidarbha and Konkan. In the southern and eastern parts of the country, Chalcolithic settlements existed independently of the Harappan culture. In south India they are found invariably in continuation of the Neolithic settlements. The Chalcolithic settlement of the Vindhya region, Bihar and West Bengal are also not related to the Harappan culture.,,

Evidently various types of pre-Harappan Chalcolithic cultures promoted the spread of farming communities in Sindh, Baluchistan, Rajasthan, etc., and created conditions for the rise of the urban civilization of Harappa. Mention may be made of Amri and Kot Diji in Sindh, Kalibangan and even Ganeshwar in Rajasthan. It appears that some Chalcolithic farming communities moved to the flood plains of the Indus learnt bronze technology and succeeded in setting up cities.   This c This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT educationontent prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

Out of all the Chalcolithic cultures in central and western India only the Jorwe culture continued until 700 B.C. However, in several parts of the country the Chalcolithic black-and-red ware continued into historical times till the second century B.C. But by and large a gap of about four to six centuries appears between the Chalcolithic culture and the early historic culture at Kayatha, Prabhas, Prakash, Nasik andNevasa in central and Western India. The eclipse of the Chalcolithic habitations is attributed to a decline in rainfall f rom about 1200 B.C. onwards. It seems the Chalcolithic people could not continue for long with digging the stick in the black clayey soil area which is difficult to break in the dry season. In the red soil areas, especially in eastern India, however, the Chalcolithic phase was immediately followed, without any gap, by the iron phase which gradually transformed the people into full fledged agriculturists. Similarly, at several sites in Southern India Chalcolithic culture was transformed into megalithic culture using iron.

C.2 Importance of the Chalcolithic phase

Except for the alluvial plains and the thickly forested areas, traces of Chalcolithic cultures have been discovered almost all over the country. In this phase people mostly founded rural settlements on river banks not far removed from the hills. As stated earlier, they used microliths and other stone tools supplemented by some use of copper tools. It seems that most of them knew the art of copper smelting. Almost all Chalcolithic communities used wheel turned black-and-red pots. Considering their pre-Bronze phase of development, we find that they were the first to use painted pottery. Their pots were meant for cooking, eating, drinking and storing. They used both lota and thali. In south India, the Neolithic phase imperceptibly faded into the Chalcolithic phase, and so these cultures are called Neolithic-Chalcolithic. In other parts, especially in western Maharashtra and Rajasthan, the Chalcolithic people seem to have been colonisers. Their earliest settlements appear in Malwa and central India, such as those in Kayatha and Eran; those in western Maharashtra appeared later; and those in West Bengal emerged much later.
The Chalcolithic communities founded the first large villages in peninsular India and cultivated far more cereals than is known in the case of the Neolithic communities. In particular they cultivated barley, wheat and lentil in Western India, and rice in Southern and eastern India.

Their cereal food was, supplemented by non-vegetarian food. In western India we have more of animal food, but fish and rice formed important elements in the diet of eastern India. More remains of structures have been found in western Maharashtra, western Madhya Pradesh and south-eastern Rajasthan. The settlements at Kayatha and Eran in Madhya Pradesh and at Inamgaon in western Maharashtra were fortified. On the other hand, the remains of structures in Chirand and Pandu Rajar Dliibi in eastern India were poor, indicating post holes and round houses. The burial practices were different. In Maharashtra the dead body was placed in the north-south position, but in south India in the east-west position. Almost complete extended burial prevailed in western India, but fractional burial prevailed in eastern India.   This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

C.3 Limitations of Chalcolithic cultures

The Chalcolithic people domesticated cattle -sheep/goats - which were tethered in the courtyard. Probably the domesticated animals were slaughtered for food and not milked for drink and dairy products. The tribals such as the Gonds of Bastar think that milk is meant only to feed the young animals and therefore, they do not milk their cattle. Because of this the Chalcolithic people could not make full use of the animals. Further, the Chalcolithic people living on the black cotton soil area of central and western India did not practise cultivation on any intensive or extensive scale. Neither plough nor hoe has been found at Chalcolithic sites. Only perforated stone discs were tied as weights to the digging sticks which could be used in the slash-bum or jhum cultivation. It was possible to sow in the ashes with the help of such a digging stick. Intensive and extensive cultivation on the black soil required the use of iron implements which had no place in the Chalcolithic culture. The Chalcolithic people living in the red soil areas of eastern India also faced the same difficulty. This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

The general weakness of Chalcolithic cultures is evident from the burial of a large number of children in western Maharashtra. In spite of a food-producing economy the rate of infant mortality was very high. It might be attributed to lack of nutrition, absence of medical knowledge or outbreak of epidemics. At any rate the Chalcolithic social and economic pattern did not promote longevity.   This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education,,

The stone-copper culture had an essentially rural background. During its phase the supply of copper was limited and as a metal, copper had its limitations. By itself a tool made of copper was pliant. People did not know the art of mixing iron with copper and thus forging the much stronger and useful metal called bronze. Bronze tools facilitated the rise of earliest civilizations in Crete, Egypt and Mesopotamia and also in the Indus valley. This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

The people of the Stone-Copper Age did not know the art of writing; nor did they live in cities as the people of the Bronze Age did. We notice all these elements of civilization for the first time in the Indus region of the Indian subcontinent. Although most Chalcolithic cultures existing in the major part of the country were younger than the Indus valley civilization, they did not derive any substantial benefit from the advanced technological knowledge of the Indus people.

C.4 The Copper Hoards and Ochre Coloured Pottery phase

More than forty copper hoards consisting of rings, celts, hatchets, swords, harpoons, spearheads and human-like figures have been found in a wide area ranging from West Bengal and Orissa in the east to Gujarat and Haryana in the west, and from Andhra Pradesh in the south to Uttar Pradesh in the North. The largest hoard comes from Gungeria in Madhya Pradesh; it contains 424 copper tools and weapons and 102 thin sheets of silver objects. But nearly half of the copper hoards are concentrated in the Ganga-Yamuna doab; in other areas we encounter stray finds of copper harpoons, antennae swords and anthropomorphic figures. These artefacts served several purposes. They were meant not only for fishing, hunting and fighting but also for artisanal and agricultural use. They presuppose good technological skill and knowledge on the part of the coppersmith, and cannot be the handiwork of nomadic people or primitive artisans. In excavations at two places in the Western Uttar Pradesh some of these objects have been discovered in association with ochre-coloured Pots and some mud structures. At one place stray baked brick fragments are also found. Stone tools have also been found in excavations. All this suggests that the people who used the implements of the copper hoards supplemented by stone tools led a settled life, and were one of the earliest Chalcolithic agriculturists and artisans to settle in a good portion of the doab. Most ochre-coloured pottery sites are found in the upper portion of the doab, but stray copper hoards are found in the plateau areas of Bihar and the other regions. Many copper celts have been found in the Khetri Zone of Rajasthan.

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    • The period covered by the ochre-coloured pottery culture may roughly be placed between 2000 B.C. and 1500 B.C., on the basis of a series of eight scientific datings. When the ochre-coloured settlements disappeared, the doab does not show much habitation until about 1000 B.C. We learn of some habitation by people using black-and-red ware, but their habitational deposits are so thin and antiquities so poor that we cannot form a clear and distinct idea of their cultural equipment. In any case, in the upper portion of the doab, the settlement begins with the advent of the ochre-coloured pottery people.   This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education
    • Jodhpura on the border of Haryana and Rajasthan shows the thickest OCP deposits accounting for 1.1 metre. It seems, however, that at no place did these settlements last for more than a century or so; nor were they considerable in size and spread over a very wide territory. Why and how these settlements came to an end is not clear. A suggestion has been made, that inundation followed by water-logging in one extensive area may have rendered the area unfit for human settlements. The present soft texture of the ochre-coloured pottery is, according to some scholars, the result of its association with water for a considerable period of time.

The OCP people were junior contemporaries of the Harappans, and the ochre coloured pottery area in which they lived was not far removed from that of the Harappans. We may, therefore, expect some give-and-take between the OCP people and the bronze using Harappans.

D. THEORIES OF HUMAN EVOLUTION,, https://pteducation.comFor the past few decades, scientists have debated 3 main models to explain the origin of modern humans: the Recent African Origin or Out of Africa model, the Multiregional model, and the Assimilation model. Accumulating fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence meant that, by the beginning of this century, the Recent African Origin model had become the dominant view.

Recent African Origin model: The Recent African Origin model was given a huge boost in 1987, when a paper published in the scientific journal Nature, ‘Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution’, rocked the palaeoanthropology world. It showed that part of our genome, inherited only through mothers and daughters, derived from an African ancestor about 2,00,000 years ago. This female ancestor became known as Mitochondrial Eve.   This content pre pared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

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    • Although the paper was contested, the results strongly supported the views that the Natural History Museum’s human origins expert Chris Stringer and others had been developing that we had a recent African origin.
    • In the following decade, more genetic data both from recent human people and Neanderthal fossils were collected supporting the Recent African Origin model. The idea gained momentum and with it the view that when modern humans began to leave Africa around 60,000 years ago they largely or entirely replaced other archaic human species outside the continent.

Multiregional model: The Multiregional model, by contrast, put forward parallel lines of evolution in each inhabited region of Africa, Europe, Asia and Australasia, glued together by interbreeding across the human range.

Reconstructed skull of a modern human, Homo sapiens: Under this model, there was no real ‘origin’ for the modern form of Homo sapiens. A feature like a chin might have evolved in a region such as Africa and spread through interbreeding, followed by selection if it was an advantageous characteristic. Another feature, like our high forehead, might have evolved elsewhere and then spread through interbreeding.

Assimilation model: Another group of scientists embraced a third theory – the Assimilation model. Like the recent African origin model, this gave Africa a key role as the place where modern human features evolved, but it imagined a much more gradual spread of those features. Under this view, Neanderthals and archaic people like them were assimilated through widespread interbreeding. This meant that the establishment of modern human features occurred via a blending of populations rather than a rapid replacement.

New insights from DNA evidence: In recent years, enormous advances in techniques for the recovery and analysis of ancient DNA have unlocked new secrets about our human evolutionary family tree. Two studies in particular have had a dramatic impact on our thinking about where our species evolved.

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Neanderthal genome: In 2010, about 60% of the entire genetic code of several Neanderthal fossils was revealed for the first time and led to surprising insights into the evolution of our own species. When the Neanderthal genome was compared with those of modern humans from different continents, it showed that modern populations from Europe, Asia and New Guinea shared more genetic information with Neanderthals than present-day Africans do, with around 2.5% Neanderthal DNA in their genetic make-up.

The most likely explanation is that a small number of Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of today’s Europeans, Asians and New Guineans soon after they left Africa around 60,000 years ago. DNA recovered from an ancient molar tooth found in Denisova Cave, Siberia, revealed a connection to some present-day human populations. This content prepared by Civils Tapasya portal, PT education

In the same year, a fossil finger and molar tooth found in Denisova Cave, Siberia, yielded some remarkable findings. Genomic data revealed that they belong to a previously unrecognised Asian offshoot of the Neanderthal line. However, the data also showed something that was even more startling. It revealed that present-day Melanesians in southeast Asia are related to the Denisovans, as they have become known, sharing about 5% of their genetic code, and this finding has now been extended to native Australians. This provides further evidence of interbreeding.

The Neanderthal and Denisovan genetic studies have given our understanding of our ancient past an exciting twist. Both indicate that modern humans did not completely replace other human species, as had once been suggested. Instead there was some interbreeding. This model has become known as replacement-hybridisation, ‘leaky replacement’, or ‘mostly out of Africa.’

The Bhimbetka prehistoric treasure trove (central India) has yielded remains serially from the Lower Palaeolithic Age to the Early medieval Ages,,

Green paintings at Bhoranwali, Bhimbetka, MP, India,,

Mythical Boar, Bhoranwali, Bhimbetka,,

Rock paintings at Zoo-rock, Bhimbetka

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PT's IAS Academy: Indian History - Study Material 1 - Ancient history & Periodization - Civils Tapasya portal
Indian History - Study Material 1 - Ancient history & Periodization - Civils Tapasya portal
Our Earth is a marvel 450 crore years old. We trace its journey though the ages, and the first footsteps of mankind. Ancient history unravels its secrets
PT's IAS Academy
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