Pre-history or Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic)

History is divided into pre-history, proto-history, and history.

Events that occurred before the invention of writing are considered part of pre-history, which is generally represented by the "stone age".

The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used to make tools with an edge, a point, or a percussion surface.

The credit for doing an early extensive study of Indian pre-history goes to Robert Bruce Foote, who discovered the first palaeolithic tool in India - the "Pallavaram handaxe".

The present archaeological system of the three main ages - stone, bronze and iron - originates with the Danish archaeologist Christian Jurgensen Thomsen.

The first evidence of man was found in India in western Narmada region of Madhya Pradesh.

Name Time period
Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) 500,000 - 10,000 BCE
Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) 10,000 - 6000 BCE
Neolithic (New Stone Age) 6000 - 1000 BCE
Chalcolithic 3000 - 500 BCE


The Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) is a period in pre-history distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers 99% of the period of human technological prehistory.

On the basis of geological age, the type and technology of stone tools, and subsistence base, the Indian stone age is classified primarily into three types:

Chronological sequence Time period
Lower Palaeolithic 5,00,000 − 50,000 BCE
Middle Palaeolithic 3,85,000 - 40,000 BCE
Upper Palaeolithic 40,000 − 10,000 BCE


The first attempts at domestication of animals and plants were made during the Mesolithic Period.

The first animal to be domesticated was the dog which started in Central Asia .

The earliest evidence of domestication of animals comes from Adamgarh (M.P.) and Bagor in Rajasthan dated 5500 BC and 4500 BC respectively.

A large number of bone tools and ornaments has been found at Sarai Nahar Rai (UP), Mahadaha (UP) and Damadama (UP).

Bone tools comprise arrowheads, points, blades, knives, scrapers, a chisel and a saw

Among the bone ornaments, mention may be made of circular bone rings, pendants and beads.

During the excavation in Damdama, a total of 41 human graves were found.

Out of the graves that were found 4 were double burial.

In these double burials, 2 burials included male-female, 1 burial included 2 female bodies and 4th burial included 2 male and 1 female body.

One triple burial grave was also found there.

A grave with 4 human skeletons buried together has been found at Sarai Nahar Rai.


Grains (cereals) were first ever produced in Neolithic Age.

Barley is widely accepted as the first cereal to have been cultivated by humans around 8000 BC.

However, the excavations carried out at Lahuradewa (Sant Kabirnagar, UP) reported the earliest evidence of agriculture (rice cultivation) in Indian subcontinent between 9000-8000 BC.

Koldihwa (UP) and Mehrgarh (7000 BC, Pakistan) were the two Neolithic villages from where clear evidence of rice and wheat have been found.

The earliest evidence of settled life were found from Mehrgarh.

During Neolithic culture, various Ash mounds came into existence, the first ash mounds were found around Sanganakallu village, Bellary district in Karnataka.

The evidence of pit-dwelling and burying the dog with human body is found in Burzahom (Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir).


The Chalcolithic or Copper Age is the transitional period between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age.

The Ochre Coloured Pottery (OCP) culture is a Bronze Age culture of the Indo-Gangetic Plain "generally dated 2000–1500 BCE," extending from eastern Punjab to northeastern Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.

Artefacts of this culture show similarities with both the Late Harappan culture and the Vedic culture.

Major sites: Ahichchhatra, Hastinapur, Hulas, Jhinjhana & Sinauli.

Maheshwar and Navdatoli are chalcolithic era settlements located on the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh.

The sites were jointly excavated by H.D. Sankalia, S.B. Deo and Z.D. Ansari.

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