Chapters :

  • MEDIEVEL – 08


Economically man was still a savage, a hunter-fisher. However, in some areas as elsewhere in the world there appeared the next great step – pottery – making with its concomitant of permanent habitation and food production.

In Eastern India, microliths generally occur on the surface of laterite plains and forests in Orissa, Bengal and Chota Nagpur plateau, and on rocky (sandstone) hillocks in Mirzapur. The few, small-scale excavations in these regions indicate their probable antiquity and the prevailing climatic conditions.

Typologically the microliths are non-geometric; that is, such forms as the triangle and trapeze are absent. No pottery is found associated with the microliths. 

Hence, it is thought that man in this region was still a hunter-fisher and had not taken to incipient cultivation. Since the microlithic habitation layer is covered with two-thirds metre of sandy light brown earth, one can assign fairly great antiquity to this Late Stone Culture.

THE KAIMUR RANGE, at the junction of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, continues the story begun at Birbhanpur. These sandstone formations had provided and ideal shelter as temporary or permanent camps for men of different periods, the earliest of which seems to go back to the advanced food-gathering stage. Small-scale excavations of open air sites and rock-shelters at Morahana Pahar and Bhaghaikhor near Bhainsaur and at Lekhania, 65 km. from Mirzapur yielded first non-geometric microliths and later geometric ones with an ill-baked ochre-red pottery. At Bhahaikhor, only one skeleton was found. But at Lekhania, the occurrence of about 14 human skeletons in a deposit not more than 42 cm. in thickness suggests that owing to some calamity all these were buried in the same habitation; or that this was the preferred burial area in the rock-shelter-whenever a person died, he or she was buried there. The orientation of the body was west-east and in all cases it was laid in an extended fashion. 

Later, a people, who buried the dead in large stone-lined pits and covered them with still larger slabs, sometimes only one, and deserve the name megalithic, occupied the area.

The Vindhyan Sandstone Formations which extend westwards into Madhya Pradesh have also a large number of caves and rock-shelters, many of which were inhabited.

Excavations at Adamgarh, near Hoshangabad, brought to light a layer containing palaeoliths at the bottom, and microliths both geometric and non-geometric, associated with a pottery, were found in the 

uppermost layer of black or brown soil. A few specimens of chalcolithic pottery were found on the surface. Here too, the microliths seem to antedate the chalcolithic phase and appear at a much later date then the Early Stone Age. However, their association with pottery domesticated animals and rock-shelters undoubtedly shown settled life.

In the extreme south of India, in the Tirunelveli district, microliths again occur in a context which suggests fairly good antiquity but a dry climate. The coastal area to the south and north of the River Tamraparni is strewn with fossil sand-dunes locally Called Teris.

Man lived on the Teris and made microliths of chert, silicified wood and limpid quartz, material which is not available in the region. The industry includes both geometric and non-geometric elements and it is probable that the latter belongs to an older phase of the teris.

Slightly better data is available in Central and Northern Gujarat where FIRST LANGHNAJ AND THE AKHAJ in the Sabarmati basin. Are not solitary sites, but representative of the hundreds which dot the sandy alluvial plains of Northern and Central Gujarat. The topography is quite different from what one sees in Eastern and Southern India.

Nodules of Chert And Quartz And Quartzite and chlorite schist which they occasionally used for heavy tools had to be imported from some distance Microliths include blades (retouched and simple), lunates, trapezes, triangles, scrapers and points and a few burins. The occurrence of one ring-stone or mace-head of quartzite among heavy tools and two small ground or polished. 

No animals would seem to have been domesticated, for among  the masses of large and mall animal remains, occur at least three species of deer – the Sported Deer, Hog Deer, Swamp Deer – Nilgai, The Black Buck And One-Horned Rhinoceros, but no sheep or goat.

The presence of rhinoceros implies that the environment provided by lakes and surrounding areas of scrub forests was congenial enough for such animals to flourish, or that the rhinoceros lived on the river banks, where they were hunted by men, and their carcasses brought up to the mound. Fishing also provided food, as the occurrence of pieces of carapace of tortoise and fish vertebrae show.

The dead were buried in a highly crouched posture, preferably in north – south direction, though there are instances of other orientations as well. No definite idea of the race to which the Stone Age man belonged can be formed, since a study of the 13 or 14 skeletons shows traits which are not only characteristic of the Mediterranid and the Veddid, but also of other racial groups.

A clear developmental history of the succeeding stages is not yet available from any one area. The picture has to be reconstructed or pieced together from scenes here and there.

The tread of the story interrupted at Langhnaj may be picked up in Baluchistan. This is a transitional zone lying between the higher inland plateau of Central Asia and the low flat plains of Sind. Not only was the Quetta valley extensively inhabited in pre-historic times, but at a site like Kili Ghul Mohammed near Quetta, a cultural development is found. 

During the earliest period dating back to about the middle of the 4th millennium B.C., the people lived in mud-brick houses, used chert and bone tools and domesticated sheep or goat. Some kind of crop production also existed. In the next period, a basket-impressed, hand-made ware came into use. In the third, however, we see two distinctive elements which seem to form, along with the above-mentioned chert tools, the diagnostic traits of the succeeding cultures for quite a long time. They were wheel-turned, painted pottery, and copper which with the addition of tin, was not long after hardened into bronze.

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