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Salient Features of the Neolithic Age in India and the World - UPSC Special
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Salient Features of the Neolithic Age in India and the World – UPSC Special

The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period of development of human technology that began in the Middle East around 9500 BC. which is traditionally considered the last part of the Stone Age. The Neolithic Age coincided with the introduction of agriculture after the borderline Holocene Epipaleolithic period and gave rise to the “Neolithic Revolution”; This ended with metal tools becoming ubiquitous in the Copper Age (Chalcolithic) or Bronze Age, or developing directly into the Iron Age, depending on the geographic region. The Neolithic is not a specific chronological period, but rather a set of practical and cultural features, including the use of wild and domesticated crops and the use of domesticated animals.

The term Neolithic is used for the period when man did not know about metals. But he had started permanent housing, animal husbandry, agriculture, and making utensils on chalk. The climate of this period was almost similar to today’s, so such plants developed which were almost similar to today’s wheat and barley.  Man took out the grains from them and started using them as food and also collected information about their ripening.

Thus began the permanent residence. Due to this animal husbandry and agriculture got encouragement. So we can say that both agriculture and animal husbandry are complementary to each other.

Technological Developments and Tools in the Neolithic Age

The Neolithic period reflects various changes in culture and society. Technically the main change was that the man of this period polished the tools by grinding them to make them shiny. Economically, the change was that the man of this period became a food producer from a food collector. Extensive signs of metallurgy are not found at the Neolithic level, the actual Neolithic period is considered to be metalless. Wherever a limited amount of metal was seen at the Neolithic level, that period has been termed by archaeologists as the Chalcolithic period.

The man of this period developed tools with new technology, which were made shiny by grinding and polishing. To make the tools, first, the stone slabs were removed, and in the second stage uneven protrusions were cleaned, this was called packing. In the third stage, the tool was cleaned by rubbing against a large stone or rock and its edges were sharpened by grinding.

In the final stage, they were polished and smoothed with animal fat or vegetable oil. In this way, smooth-shiny and curvy tools were made in Neolithic man. In which axes, chisels, hammers, hammers, etc. are prominent. Apart from this, there were ploughs, grain-separating tools (Girdi) and blades etc.

Apart from being suitable for agricultural work, these tools were also used for household chores. Many scholars such as Garden Child have termed these important changes in the life of humans during this period as the Neolithic Revolution. Because there were fundamental changes in the human of this period as compared to the human of the stone age. In earlier times he was a wanderer.

During this period stability came into his life. Earlier he depended on nature for food, in this period he started producing food himself. These changes in human life did not happen suddenly, but we can see the beginning of these changes between the Palaeolithic period and the Neolithic period.

Before this period, we do not get to see the same form of cultures from the Palaeolithic to Mesolithic period in different places in Africa, Europe and Asia. The process of development of Neolithic culture took place at different times in different regions. The first phase of this period was called the pottery-free Neolithic because pottery art did not start in this period.

We get evidence of pottery-less Neolithic from Jericho, Ain-Ghazal, Hasiliyar Mereybir, Bigha, Mehrgarh (Pakistan) and Gufkaral (Kashmir, India) etc. located in the Jordan Valley. This culture started around 8000 BC. The most important of these was Jericho, where this culture first developed. Apart from this, evidence of the Neolithic period including earthenware is also found in these areas; which are relatively earlier.

The evidence of the third stage is found in Sialk, Fayum and Merimde (which is located in Egypt near Cairo), Jarmon Mesopotamia) etc.

North of the Alps mountain range in Europe, evidence of Neolithic culture is of a later period and this culture is also of low level. Evidence of this culture has been obtained from Drevly in Central Europe to the Baltic and the region between the Danube and the Vistula. Remains of wheat and barley agriculture and stone tools and animal husbandry have been obtained from here. Ornaments made of conch shells have been found in Rhineland, Germany. Near Köln, Lindsthal evidence has been found of a large house that was probably intended for the whole community.

Evidence of painting is found on pottery obtained from the Danube. Similarly, in Switzerland, Belgium, and Britain there is also evidence of the production of fibrous plants and grains. Neolithic men in Switzerland used to build their abode by burying wooden poles in the lake.

Important sites of the Neolithic age

On the basis of archaeological evidence, evidence of the Neolithic economy is found in the caves of Mount Carmel and other places. These cave dwellers, called Natufians, used flint tools similar to those of Mesolithic Europeans for hunting. Many sickles used in agriculture have been obtained from here.

  •     Jericho
  •     Bidya
  •     Abu Hurethara
  •     En-ghazal
  •     Mariabit
  •     Mehrgarh
  •     Gufkral
  •     Shylak
  •     jerimon


Jericho – This site is located in the Jordan Valley. From here the remains of the Neolithic age without pottery have been obtained, which are from the period around 8000 BC. A ditch 27 feet wide and 5 feet deep was dug around the settlement of this site and a stone platform was also made. There is evidence of wheat cultivation and animal husbandries such as cow, bull, sheep, goat, and pig rearing. The cremation process started during this period. Axes, arrowheads, sickles, blades, and scrapers have been found in the tools obtained from here. After this, we also get the evidence of the Neolithic period including earthenware from this place.

Bidya – This area is located 100 km south of Jericho. Around 7200 BC, evidence of Neolithic without pottery is found at this site. Here the houses were built on platforms, but there was no arrangement like Jericho from the security point of view. In agriculture, there is evidence of pistachios, olives, fruits, and pulses. Animal husbandry had started here, besides hunting wild animals (gazelle, bear, jackal, hare). The remains of pottery start being found here from the last level.

Abu Hurethara – This area is located in northern Syria. The evidence of the early stage of the Neolithic period in this area dates back to around 7500 BC. Here there is evidence of human habitation in the pit house. A large number of bone tools have also been found here, in which Beghaks, needles, double-edged Beghaks, etc. are prominent. We get evidence of the cultivation of barley, wheat, and lentils from the earliest stage. Fish were also hunted. In the later period, the Neolithic man started living by building a house along with earthenware.

An-Ghajal – The early Neolithic phase began around 7250 BC at this site located in the northeast of Amman, the capital of Jordan. The evidence of pistachios, almonds, and figs in agriculture is found here, along with agriculture animals were also hunted. Animal husbandry and the art of making pottery started here in the second phase of the Neolithic period.

Meriabit – Evidence of the early Neolithic phase began to be found here around 8000 BC. The later man started animal husbandry along with agriculture and the Neolithic man of the second stage started living here by making settlements. Red paint is found on the walls of the houses, whose roofs were of wood. Evidence of agriculture and animal husbandry is also found here.

Mehrgarh – Located in the plains of Kanchi near the Bolan Pass in Pakistan, at this site, the first evidence of Neolithic without pottery is found, which is around 7000 BC. In the second phase of the Neolithic period, along with agricultural production, evidence of animal husbandry is also found. Plows, axes, and maces have also been found in stone tools from here.

Gufkral – This site is located near Pulwama in Kashmir, evidence of a pottery-free Neolithic period has been found at this site. There were human dens here. Apart from agriculture, man also used to hunt animals. In the second Neolithic phase, the earthenware obtained from here is yellow, pink, and dark colored, on which paintings have been done. There is evidence of wheat, barley, and peas in cultivation. Human beings of this period started living in houses, Gufkral, and its nearby place Burjhom, along with the dead, there is evidence of the burial of dogs in this period.

Shylak – Evidence of the second stage of the Neolithic period is found on this site. Like Jericho, this area also had a spring that attracted the wild animals and birds that humans of this period hunted for food. In agriculture, the system of artificial irrigation was also started here. Stone tools and bone tools were prevalent for agriculture, in which sickles, plows, stones for extracting grains, and bone borers have been found. They also did the work of spinning and weaving the fiber obtained from fibrous materials. During this period, the practice of pottery made of clay started.

Jerimo – This is the oldest site located in South-West Asia. Apart from agriculture, evidence of animal husbandry is also found here. In hunting, these people used to hunt boar, deer, and sheep. Apart from wheat, and barley, the evidence of cultivation of olive and pistachio is found around 5000 BC. Their tools were mainly made of blades, in which scrapers and blade tools predominated. This gives us information about his social life.

 Salient Features of the Neolithic Age

The main features of the Neolithic period, the main features of the Neolithic culture are-

  1.     Neolithic agriculture
  2.     Neolithic tool making techniques
  3.     Neolithic tools
  4.     Other Neolithic Tools
  5.     Neolithic weaving
  6.     Neolithic pottery making
  7.     Animal Husbandry in the Neolithic
  8.     Neolithic pottery making
  9.     Neolithic industries
  10.     Neolithic trade
  11.     Neolithic economic system
  12.     Division of labor in the Neolithic
  13.     Promotion of settled life in the Neolithic period
  14.     Neolithic social system
  15.     Neolithic religion
  16.     Neolithic art
  17.     knowledge science in the neolithic age

Neolithic agriculture

The most revolutionary change in the Neolithic period was the introduction of agriculture. During this period man started growing crops by putting seeds in the soil. Apart from the cultivation of wheat and barley, humans have found evidence of rice, millet, and maize during this period. Apart from this, evidence of fruits like pistachio, olive, fig, palm, and apple also started in this period. Evidence of cotton cultivation also started to be found during this period.

The irrigation system was also started during this period. In this period, not only the above-mentioned crops for agriculture and the methods of agriculture corresponding to them but special tools, utensils, and techniques were used for digging the land and for harvesting crops, collecting and grinding grains, and making food.

Tools made of bone were also used in this period like- fishing hooks etc. There is also evidence of storage of grains till the next crop ripens. Food was stored in pots. Chemical tests of pottery items obtained from some sites in Egypt and Mesopotamia show that here the human beings of this period also made a drink of barley in the form of beer. had learned

Neolithic tool-making techniques

The intellectual level of Neolithic man had developed a lot from the prehistoric level. A special technique was adopted in the making of the tools made at this time, they were made by grinding and polishing. First of all the stone slab was removed. Then the rough parts were fixed. After that it was ground, then it was polished by applying Animal-fat, etc. on it.

Neolithic tools

In this way, man invented the method of making smooth, shiny, and curvy weapons, in which the polished ax of hard stone is the main one. During this period hammers, chisel, Khurpa, hoe, plow, sickles,s, and Silker were used. These tools were used in agriculture and hunting. Evidence has been found from each site in lesser and greater quantities. To dig the land, a pointed stick with a hole at its end and a stone fixed on it was generally used. But most of the African tribes used plows to dig the land. European and Asian castes also used to do this.

Other Neolithic Tools

The Neolithic man invented more tools according to his convenience. He made ladders to climb up, and invented boats to cross lakes and rivers. For cutting crops, spindles, and spinning wheels for spinning yarn, looms were made for weaving cloth. The man of this period was also aware of the art of making stairs from reed branches.

The art of spinning or weaving in the Neolithic period –

The art of weaving cloth was also invented during this period. Now they started wearing clothes made of skins and leaves. The loom was invented in Asia during the Neolithic period. The remains of this invention are found in Egypt and Western Asia. The man of this era had started making cloth with the help of a spinning wheel, spindle, and loom. Remnants of some cloth, a piece of fishing net, and a basket have been found in Switzerland. Evidence of cotton has been found in Neolithic villages. Cotton farming and sheep rearing used to happen here. Therefore, the widespread use of clothes started in this period. Clothes were stitched with needles.

Neolithic pottery making

During this period man started making utensils according to his needs. Pottery was also made on chalk. Polished pottery of this period has also been found in the remains, which used to turn pale or pink when cooked. Its evidence has also been found in Mehrgarh in Pakistan. People in Jerimo used stone and wooden utensils. Such evidence has been found. The people of Sialk used to paint the background of the pot with dark colors.

Animal Husbandry in the Neolithic

In this period, along with agriculture, humans experienced the need for animal husbandry. Animals were not only helpful in agriculture, but they also used to get milk and meat from them. Dogs, cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, bullocks, etc. were domesticated during this period. These animals were helpful in meeting almost all the needs of the human beings of that time, that is, these animals also became the source of meat and milk, and the fibers obtained from sheep were used for sewing and weaving.

 As a result of the invention of the wheel, animals were first used to carry the burden or for movement. Probably the first domesticated animal of this period was the dog. During this period man had become very familiar with animals. He was starting to understand that if the animals lived near him, he would be able to hunt them whenever he wanted. That’s why he started giving them fodder produced from his fields. Gradually the number of animals kept on increasing according to the need and utility.

Neolithic pottery making

With the beginning of agriculture or animal husbandry, food items started gathering in abundance with humans. But there was a lack of vessels (utensils) to collect them. To overcome this difficulty man started making pottery. It is difficult to say when and how it started. As a result of the beginning of this period, man-made large earthen pots for the collection of food items. He used to dig a pit in the earth and cover it from all sides and store food material in that too. He used to make these utensils with his own hands from animal manure. Later, various sizes of utensils were made on chalk.

Evidence of pottery has been found in southern Jericho, Bigha, and other nearby places in Jordan. Evidence of this art has also been found in South-Eastern Europe around 7000 BC. Evidence around 4300 BC has been obtained from Mehargarh.

Neolithic industries

In this era, due to the invention of agriculture, man did not wander here and there in search of food. There was stability in his life and he started maintaining himself by staying in one place. Availability of time neither encouraged him to develop industries and businesses. In this era, chalk was invented, from which pottery was made. The invention of the wheel led to the development of means of transport. Man-made carts were pulled with the help of horses and oxen. With the development of agriculture, cotton was grown, due to which the textile manufacturing industry also developed. During this period nets were used for fishing. Evidence has been found for this, it is clear that fish production was started. Boats were built for transportation by waterways.

Neolithic trade

If seen, it seems that the Neolithic villages were self-sufficient. They used to fulfill their needs from the local areas only. But perhaps no Neolithic community was completely self-sufficient. Early Neolithic villages and graves contain materials that came from distant places such as oysters, which were brought from the Mediterranean or the Red Sea. Which Fayyam used to wear on his necklaces. Good quality cutting stones were used in necklaces. Good quality cutting stone, fine quality flint stone, etc. were brought from far and wide. The development of means of transport encouraged trade. Trade was based on the barter system. Thus we see that the self-sufficiency of the Neolithic community was not real.

Neolithic economic system

As a result of new inventions in the Neolithic period, the economic life of man had become very strong. Production increased due to a stable farming system. Now man’s attachment to wealth had started increasing. Cultivated a sense of personal wealth in the collection of utility articles for the use of his family. The barter trading economy was prevalent in the Neolithic period. In this period man had started the production of fibrous fruits. Evidence of this is found in Mesopotamia, Egypt, etc around 3000 BC. During this period man also started doing flinting and mining. Evidence of this has been found in places like Poland, France, Britain, etc. The people of this period also knew about spinning, weaving, etc.

Signs of specialization started in the Neolithic economy. Neolithic communities in Egypt, Sicily, Portugal, France, England, Belgium, Sweden, and Poland began to mine flint. These miners were really experts in digging mines.

Division of labor in the Neolithic

There was no industrial division of labor in these Neolithic societies. If there was a division of labor, only labor was between men and women. Women used to plow the fields. Used to grind grains and cook, used to prepare clothes by spinning and weaving. Used to make utensils and cook them. Men, on the other hand, may have cleaned the fields, built huts, reared animals, hunted, and made tools and weapons. Women had an important role in society and on the basis of the evidence obtained, it is inferred that the society was matriarchal.

  Promotion of settled life in the Neolithic period

In the pre-stone age, man used to roam here and there for his livelihood. But in the Neolithic period, due to agriculture, animal husbandry, and new inventions, they started living permanently. He felt the need for a house to live in permanently. In the beginning, he used to build a house of bushes, grass, and leaves. Evidence of pit houses and mudhouses has been found at almost all Neolithic sites. The population of Neolithic Europe and Asia lived in villages in the form of small communities. In the Neolithic period, settlements were built in high places for security.

There are widespread influences of pucca houses from the Netherlands. The regular row of houses found at Meriden is indicative of community life. The Neolithic period is particularly noteworthy. These were made by burying wooden poles in the water. There was an arrangement of stairs for coming and going in these.

Neolithic social system

New inventions also brought important changes in the social system of human life. Gathering in one place brought them a social organization in which all the members used to work together. It is estimated that the unit of social organization was the clan. Each clan had its own symbols. Who the members of the clan considered their ancestors. According to some scholars, the existence of the king started in this period. But it cannot be said with certainty. The regular system of marriage started in the social system. The practice of private property encouraged mutual conflict. The enemies were caught in mutual struggle and war. They were forced to work under pressure. In this way, the practice of slavery also started. In course of time, cities also started to be established.

Thus, the Neolithic social system was much more advanced than the Paleolithic system.

Religion in the Neolithic

According to historians, along with the spread of agriculture, the worship of goddesses became prominent. Mother Goddess was worshiped in Egypt. The mother goddess was worshiped in most societies. It is clear from the clay idols of Mother Goddess here and at some places bone and stone idols that such idols are also found in Egypt, Syria, Iran, South-East Europe around the Mediterranean Sea, and at some places in England. It is believed that in reality, these idols found in Mesopotamia, Greece, and Syria were the ancestors of the idols found in Mesopotamia, Greece, and Syria.

In England, the Balkans, and Anatolia, men were depicted with stone or clay Lingas.

In Neolithic societies, the dead were buried with greater pomp than in Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, in fixed burials, under or alongside houses. Some Neolithic communities believed that ritually burying the dead affected the yield of the land. The whole community used to get food from the earth. The people of that period believed that the dead whose dead bodies are buried under the ground. But the practice of burying the dead with customs or rituals was not prevalent in all Neolithic communities. Such rituals are not found in the Neolithic community of Europe.

Dead people needed weapons, pottery, and food items. Probably the importance of tombs in the Neolithic period was more than in the Palaeolithic period.

In the Neolithic period, magic was used to have more control over nature. Evidence of this is the amulets that were worn around the Mediterranean Sea and in Meriden made of small stone axes.

Neolithic art

There are very few works from the Neolithic period. Some female figures have been found in Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Eastern Europe. The artifacts of this time, which may be related to the Matrishakti sect, have the most important place in the large stones, which were erected as monuments to show respect to the dead. Pottery, weapons, and food items have been found in the cemeteries along with the dead received in this period, which were erected as monuments to show respect to the dead. Pottery, weapons, and food items were found in the cemeteries along with the dead received in this period, which is called Grave goods. Evidence of this is found in northern China and India.

Knowledge, science in the neolithic age

The knowledge science of the man of this period was very advanced from the knowledge science of the pre-stone age man. He had gained a lot of new information through centuries of experiments and experiences. Neolithic communities had new sciences such as pottery chemistry, beverage making or botany related to agriculture, and many other sciences that were unknown in the Palaeolithic. He was also aware that agriculture has a close relationship with climate.

The Neolithic period was indeed a revolutionary and epoch-making period. This is called the great era of progress, in this era many revolutionary inventions took place. It is believed that until the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, human society was based on these inventions. Man tried in this era to conquer nature, man learned to use natural resources in this period, due to which new hope, enthusiasm, and achievement were communicated in him. The basis of human civilization was actually established during this period.

For this reason, historians have considered this era as the first revolutionary phase of human civilization. Humanity and conscience had awakened in the human beings of this period. But till now he could not be considered completely civilized. The main elements of civilization did not develop during this period. The main elements of civilization did not develop during this period. In the Neolithic period, there was neither the development of states nor the rise of the power of the king. In this period, only metals had emerged. They were not put to use. This era has been considered as the first revolutionary step in the development of human civilization.

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