Neolithic Age in India: Features, Tools and Sites

Neolithic Age in India: Features, Tools and Sites
Sagankullu, Karnataka
In India, the Neolithic age emerged around c.10000-6000 BCE. However, at some places in south and eastern India, it emerged as late as 1000 BCE. It was the age of polished tools. They have started agriculture and animal husbandry. They began to make pottery. The significance of Neolithic age can be understood by the fact that V. Gordon Childe, the first exponent of Marxist Archaeology, termed this phase as Neolithic Revolution. It introduced a lot of innovations such as:

1. Agriculture: They grew crops like rice, ragi and horse gram (kulathi). At Mahagara, south of Allahabad, researchers have found earliest evidence of rice cultivation in the world.
2. Domestication: They domesticated cattle, sheep, goats, cats, and dogs. In Burzahom, dogs are buried with their masters.
3. Technology: They made a huge improvement in their tools. They produced implements such as polished, pecked, and ground stone tools. Based on the types of tools, the Neolithic Settlements can be classified age:
(i)    North-Western: Rectangular axes with a curved edge
(ii)    North-Eastern: Polished stone axes with rectangular butt and shouldered hoes.
(iii)    Southern: Axes with oval sides and pointed butt.
However, the most important discovery of this time is the wheels.
4. Pottery: They knew the art of pottery making. In the earlier stage, they used to made pottery by hand, but in the later stage, they made pottery with the help of the potter’s wheel. Their pottery included black burnished ware, grey ware, and mat-impressed ware. The earliest examples of potteries are found in Chopani Mando, Belan Valley.
5. Communities: In the later phases, they led a more settled life. They lived in circular and rectangular houses made of mud and reed. There are signs of community feasting (Budihal, Karnataka)
6. Boat building: They knew how to make boats.
7. Clothing: They also knew how to spin cotton and wool and weave cloth.
8. Division of labour: As societies matured, there seems to be a division of the work on the basis of age and gender.
9. Burials: They offered honourable burial for the dead and constructed tombs for them. These tombs were called Dolmens.

Neolithic Sites in India:

Burzahom and Gufkraal (Jammu and Kashmir)
Maski, Brahmagiri, Piklihal, Budihal and Tekkalakota (Karnataka)
Paiyampalli (Tamil Nadu)
Utnur and Nagarjunakonda (Andhra Pradesh)
Garo Hills (Meghalaya)
Chirand and Chechar (Bihar)
Taradih and Singhbhumi (West Bengal)
Koldihwa and Chopani Mando in Belan valley and Mahagara, south of Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh)

Belan Valley and Narmada valley are two important sites in India which have seen all three phases of stone age viz Paleolithic age, followed by Mesolithic age and Neolithic age.

Image Credit: Megalithic Portal