Salient Features of Palaeolithic Age – India and world History
The palaeolithic period is the time of the prehistoric period when primitive man first started making stone tools in his life. This period is believed to be from 25-20 million years ago to 12,000 years ago. 99% of human history has evolved during this period. This period was followed by the Mesolithic Age when humans started hunting and farming with microtools.
In India, shackled remains from the Palaeolithic period are also found at Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh, Hunsangi in Karnataka, Kuliana in Odisha, near Shringi Talab in Didwana in Rajasthan and Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh and Singhanpur in Raigad district of Chhattisgarh. The number of these remains is much less than the remains obtained from the Mesolithic period.
This period has been divided into the following three parts on the basis of climate change and the types of stone-made weapons and tools of that time:-
(1) Lower Paleolithic Age
(2) Middle Paleolithic Age
(3) Upper Paleolithic Age
1- Lower Palaeolithic – This is a long period of the Paleolithic. At this time humans used tools made of stone.
Like- Hastkuthar, Khandak, Vidarani. Most of the Palaeolithic Age passed through the Ice Age.
The Lower Palaeolithic sites are found in almost all the regions of the Indian continent. Assam Valley, Indus Valley, Belan Valley and Narmada Valley are prominent.
2. Middle Palaeolithic period- The use of flake tools increased in the Middle Palaeolithic period. Various types of flails, borers, chisels and scrapers made of stone flakes are found as the main tools. We have found a large number of flails and flail-like weapons.
3. Upper Palaeolithic: – In the Upper Palaeolithic period the humidity had decreased and it was the last stage of the Ice Age. Modern humans, Homo sapiens, emerged at this time. The tools of this period were much sharp and much shiny. We have found these tools in the plateau of Andhra, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, southern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Chilcolith was discovered in the Chalcolithic period.
1. Lower Palaeolithic
During this period humans used to hunt for food. Humans made choppers and chapping tools in the Middle and Holocene, in which the chopper made tools by flaring one side. With these tools later hand axes were made and later beautiful hand axes were made from these.
1. Tools in Lower Palaeolithic Age – The man of this period used core-made tools, the stone flakes of which the tools were made were removed and thrown away and only the middle part of the tool was made. Chopper/chopping tools, hand axes, Vidarani, scrapers, etc. were prominent in the tools made during this period. Humans used to use them for cutting, cleaning the skin, etc. and for extracting roots and tubers from the soil.
2. Expansion area of the Lower Palaeolithic period – We first received the tools of humans from Africa during this period. Here these tools have been found from the first level of the Olduvai Gorge in Central-East Africa. Apart from this, they have also been received from Morocco. These tools have been found in almost all countries of Europe, including Abbeville in the Somme Valley in France, where hand axes were obtained. Swanscombe is located on the Thames River in England, Amiens in France, Steinheim in Germany, and Vertizolus cave head in Hungary. In Asia, these instruments have been received from all regions except Siberia.
Evidence of human tools and fire of that period has been found in the Zhou-Ten cave near Beijing in China. In the Indian subcontinent, such instruments have been found from Sohanghati in Pakistan, Tamil Nadu in South India as well as from all over India. Java is important in South-East Asia, where human remains of this period have been found.
3. Humans of Lower Palaeolithic Age – From these places, we have also got the remains of humans of this period, who were also the founders of this culture. Evidence of Australopithecus human from the first level of Olduvai Gorge, Sinauthropithicus from Au-Cau Ten cave in China and similarly Pithicanthropus species from Java, Sterkfontein from South Africa also has evidence of Australopithecus human. The cranial capacity of the human of this period was 750 cubic cm and in some places even more.
4. Life in the Lower Palaeolithic Age – The places of residence of human beings of this period were river valleys, rock shelters and caves etc. According to Stuart Piggott, the basis of human life of this era was hunting and food gathering, their life was temporary and full of dangers and varied. The humans of this period used to hunt wild animals with the help of tools. Their meat was raw as food, there is also evidence of cooking at many places. Apart from this, tuber, wild fruits and edible roots were also included in his food. The man of this period used to hunt elephants, rhinoceros, horses, water buffalo, antelope, turtles, fish, birds, frogs, many types of crocodiles, etc.
5. Origin and date of the Lower Palaeolithic Age – According to the date, the remains of human beings can be placed in the Mesozoic period. These remains belong to the second interglacial period or even earlier. Which we can determine between at least five lakh years to 1,25000 lakh years.
The beginning of prehistoric culture can be seen in Africa from Olduvai Gorge and Morocco, from here the humans of this period developed this culture by going to different areas. Some scholars are of the opinion that Africa was connected to India during this period, so the human beings of this period reached India by land route. But the continents had separated long before this period. In this way, one branch went northwards in Europe via Mount Carmel via North Africa and the other went eastwards towards India and South East Asia and developed this culture there.
2. Middle Palaeolithic
(Medium Paleolithic Period) In this period, the remains of the Meadersthal humans started to be found and they developed their culture. The tools of the early Palaeolithic period were core made, in which the blades were not used in the tools. But the Meander site humans of this period started making their tools on blades, which were relatively small in size and well made. Borers scraper tools were widely used in manufactured tools. Apart from these, handaxes, borers, axes and cleavers were prominent among the blade-made tools.
1. Technique of making tools in the Middle Palaeolithic period – The blade tools of this period were made by two techniques. The instruments of the first method were first obtained from a place called Clacton-on-sea in England. In this method, a blade was first removed from the stone, then the blade was sharpened again (retouching) to make a tool of the required size. The second method was named Lowallosi-on-technique. Tools made by this method were first obtained from a place called Tavalva in France, hence it was named the Lavalava technique. The plank that was separated from the stone by this method could be used in the same way.
In this method, the type of tool that was to be made with a sharp tool was given an outline on the stone which was planned. In the second stage, its inner part was peeled from the top, it was called Tortoise Ore. In the third stage, a small platform was prepared. Where a sharp thing was kept and it was hit with a hammer. In this way, a device of any desired shape could be made.
2. Expansion area of Middle Palaeolithic period- Firstly the evidence of this culture is obtained from Le Moustier, a site in France in 1869, hence it was named as Moustarian (Mousterian) culture. Here the first Ascheulian type of Mousterian tools was found, in which handaxes, scrapers and perforated knives are prominent. In course of time, the number of hand axes decreased and the number of scrapers and Lavalava-type tools increased. In which End Scrapers, Side Scrapers, burins, borers etc. are prominent.
The spread of this culture is found in all those areas where the tools of the Palaeolithic period have been received. Apart from this, humans first entered Siberia but started living in this period.
3. Middle Palaeolithic period – The Middle Palaeolithic period is the culture of the lower part of the Upper-Pleistocene period, i.e. the lower part of the Wurm glacial (boom ice age) when there was a very cold period. That’s why we have got most of the human remains of this period from the caves.
4. Residences of the Middle Palaeolithic Period – The residences of human beings of this period have been obtained more from rock shelters and caves than from river valleys. The Villefranche type of animals found in the past disappeared in this period and all other types of animals and birds were the basis of human hunting of this period. The man of this period started hunting with arrows and fishing hooks. Sugarcane, charcoal and charred bones have been obtained from the human habitation of this period. Human remains of this period have been obtained from various countries in Europe and various countries of Asia, apart from Pushkar Lake and Didwana region in India.
5. Beginning of religion in the Middle Palaeolithic period – In this period information about the religious beliefs of human beings begins to be found. In this period there was a belief in reincarnation, so humans buried the dead under their caves. Evidence of the burial of 2 adults and a child has been found at a place called La Ferrassie (La Fressie) in Dordogne. Stones were placed to protect the head of the dead bodies. Evidence of pressing the dead body by lying vertically has also been obtained from the place named Ki-Koba in Crimea and Mount Karmal in Palestine. Teshik Tash, a cave in eastern Uzbekistan, contains the body of a child with six pairs of goat horns near its head. This evidence suggests that humans used to live together socially and affection had developed among themselves.
6. Emergence in the Middle Palaeolithic period – The emergence of this culture also first took place in the Oldwai gorge of Africa. From here the Miandadsthal man developed this culture by going to different regions of Europe and Asia via Mount Carmel.
7. Dating of the Middle Palaeolithic period – This culture belongs to the Upper Pleistocene period and its date can be determined in the lower period of the Boom Ice Age, that is, this period can be considered between 1,25,000 BC to 40,000 BC.
The Pleistocene ended about 10,000 years ago and the climate became similar to today. During the Ice Age, the frozen ice sheet started melting and most of the low-lying areas were filled with water. The beginning of this period can be placed at 7900 BC in Scandinavia by counting the layers of frozen soil with the deposition of water, while the end of the ice age period can be determined by radiocarbon dating at 8300 BC. The melting of ice increased the water level of the sea, due to which more water spread into the lower sea.
The change in climate also affected the flora and fauna. Broad-leaved trees and plants began to grow in Europe, and at the same time, deer, wild boar, reindeer, etc. were found more in place of red deer, horses, bison, etc. Plants of this type of vegetation were found in areas of western Asia, which were the wild types of present-day wheat and barley. In order to use this type of vegetation and kill animals in hunting, the humans of that period had to change their tools as well.
Very fine stone tools were made during this period. These tools were so subtle that they could not be used alone, but forest tools could be used only by combining them with something else. The point, arrowhead, micro burin, scrapers, hand axes, triangular, trope, crescent, semi-circular, etc. are prominent in these tools. These devices can be divided into two parts. Both types of tools are divided on the basis of type.
1. Technique of making tools in the Mesolithic period – The pressure Technique was used to extract very fine tools from small slabs of stone. In this technique, a specially shaped blade was separated by placing a sharp instrument on the stone and applying pressure on it from above. Point arrows were made by placing these instruments in front of some wood. Sickles could be made by fitting some points or blades into the bone or wood of an animal. It is only from the use of their tools that it is known that during this period man had learned to separate the seeds of wild plants by cutting them. In many places, even cobwebs have been found, such as from the El-wad cave, which is indicative of this evidence.
2. Spread and Life of Mesolithic Period – The spread of this culture was mostly in Western Asia, Europe, Indian Peninsula, Asia, and Africa. We get the remains of this period from Mount Carmel Cowes in Palestine, West Asia. Apart from this, its evidence has also been found in Syria, Lebanon, etc. Here this culture was called Natufian. Because it was first obtained from Wadyen-Natuf, a site in Palestine. They used to show their daily routine through paintings on the walls of the caves. Which shows his love for art. Generally, they used to do the natural painting.
The tools of this culture also included fine stone tools and flint blades and burins. Apart from this, they buried their dead along with shells, animal teeth, and jewelry in the funeral rites. A pendant has also been found at a site called El-wad. They used Arrowhead and Fish-took for fishing. He had also started taking care of the dog.
The human beings of this period had started extracting grains from wild plants and using them in food. This is confirmed by the cobwebs received from many areas. Among these the el-wad site is prominent. Wild wheat and barley were eaten in the Muraybit region of Syria. In Europe, this culture is known as Aegilian culture. Which is obtained from France, Belgium, and Switzerland. Apart from this, in some places, the Mesolithic culture developed from it is also called Asturian and Maglamosean culture. Those who hunted red deer, fallow deer, wild boar, etc. They used to catch fish, keep dogs and eat fruits and flowers, etc. by collecting them. Their other tools included bone needles, fish hooks, and other tools used for leatherwork.
The expansion period of this type of culture in Western Europe was called Kitchen-Midden around the Baltic and North seas. In which axes are generally obtained. Sometimes their instruments had more arrowheads, basses, tropes, etc. During this period, the man of this period lived by digging pits in Belgium. Their culture is given the name of Campignian.
The evidence of this culture is found in almost all regions of India. But mainly Teri sites in Tamil Nadu, Leghnaj in Gujarat, Bismanpur in eastern India, Azadgarh and Bhimmeka caves in central India, Bagore in Rajasthan, Lekhadian in Uttar Pradesh, Sarai Nahar, etc. were prominent.
3. Residence of the Mesolithic period – Due to climate change, there was a lot of change in the residence of human beings during this period. During this period he did not need to live in deep caves, now he started living at the mouth of the caves and in the outer areas. He also coated his floors with Ocher colors in many areas. As seen in the caves of Eynam and el-wad. In South India, he started living on the seashore, and in Europe on the banks of lakes, mountains, and plains. He also started living by digging pits in many places in Belgium.
4. Date of Mesolithic period – The date of the Mesolithic period has been determined differently at different places. In many places, it has been fixed till 8000 BC and in some places till 2000 BC. The Nastafian culture dates back to around 8000 BC and lasted from 7500 BC to 2000 BC in Europe and India. The Mesolithic industry of South India has been estimated to be 4000 BC. While the date order of Adamgarh (Madhya Pradesh) is 5500 BC, Sarai Nahar Rai located in Uttar Pradesh started this period around 7300 BC. In addition, the Mesolithic culture of Eastern India has been estimated around 2000 BC.