The Neolithic Age in India/ Food producing Stage:
The Neolithic Age in India, a significant phase in human history, witnessed the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles to settled farming communities. This period, marked by advancements in agriculture, animal domestication, and pottery-making, laid the foundation for future civilizations. In this article, we explore the key features of the Neolithic Age and provide detailed descriptions of prominent Neolithic sites in India. These sites, such as Mehrgarh, Burzahom, Chirand, Hallur, and Brahmagiri, offer insights into the agricultural practices, technological innovations, and cultural aspects of the era, revealing a fascinating glimpse into India’s ancient past.
Features of the Neolithic Age:
The Neolithic Age, also known as the New Stone Age, was characterized by significant advancements that transformed human societies. The following features define this era in India:
- Agriculture and Domestication:
The most prominent feature of the Neolithic Age was the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Communities began cultivating crops like wheat, barley, lentils, rice, ragi, horse gram and millets, leading to settled agricultural lifestyles. Animal domestication also emerged, with cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs becoming integral to agricultural practices and providing a steady source of food and materials. The use of sharp and polished Neolithic tools made it easier to cultivate the soil and harvesting the crops.
2. Sedentary Lifestyle:
Emergence of self sufficient community. As agriculture became the primary means of subsistence, communities started to settle in one place, forming permanent villages and towns. The shift from nomadic to sedentary lifestyles allowed for the development of complex social structures, increased specialization of labor, and the growth of trade and exchange networks.
The Neolithic Age witnessed significant advancements in pottery production. Communities developed techniques for shaping and firing clay, resulting in the creation of various types of pottery vessels. Pottery made-up with hands and potter’s wheel both found in neolithic age. Their pottery included black burnished ware, grey ware and mat-impressed ware. Pottery served practical purposes such as storage, cooking, and transportation, while also having cultural and artistic significance, with decorative patterns and motifs reflecting the beliefs and customs of the Neolithic people.
4. Technological Innovations:
The Neolithic Age saw remarkable progress in tool-making. Stone tools, such as polished axes, adzes, and blades, were crafted with greater precision and efficiency, aiding in agricultural activities, construction, and other daily tasks. The development of grinding stones and querns revolutionized food processing by facilitating the grinding and milling of grains. The use of Celts was especially important for ground and polished handaxes.
5. Rituals and Burials:
Neolithic communities displayed a belief in the afterlife and practiced elaborate burial rituals. Megalithic burials, characterized by the construction of large stone structures or mounds, were common during this period. These burials, often accompanied by grave goods, indicate the significance placed on the deceased and their journey into the next world.
Important neolithic site in India:
Mehrgarh: Situated in present-day Balochistan, Pakistan, Mehrgarh is a key archaeological site that provides crucial insights into the Neolithic period in the Indian subcontinent. The site’s excavation unearthed evidence of early farming practices dating back to around 7000 BCE. Mehrgarh boasted an advanced agricultural system, with evidence of the cultivation of wheat, barley, peas, and lentils. The discovery of domesticated animals, including cattle, sheep, and goats, also points to the Neolithic people’s shift towards a sedentary lifestyle.
Chirand: Nestled along the banks of the Ganges River in Bihar, India, Chirand is an excavated Neolithic site that provides valuable information about the early agricultural practices in the region. The site dates back to around 2500 BCE and showcases evidence of rice cultivation, suggesting the importance of paddy agriculture during the Neolithic period. Excavations at Chirand have also uncovered a range of pottery artifacts, stone tools, and human burials, shedding light on the cultural and social aspects of Neolithic communities.
Hallur: Located in Karnataka, India, Hallur is a Neolithic site that offers a unique glimpse into the cultural practices and technological advancements of the period. Excavations at Hallur have revealed a significant pottery industry, with pottery kilns and a wide range of pottery artifacts. The site also showcases evidence of early iron smelting, indicating the gradual transition from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. The presence of megalithic burials at Hallur further highlights the evolving funerary practices during this time.
Brahmagiri: Situated in Karnataka, India, Brahmagiri is a Neolithic site dating back to around 2500 BCE. The site’s excavation has revealed the remnants of ancient stone tools, pottery, and evidence of early agriculture. The people of Brahmagiri engaged in cattle rearing, practiced agriculture, and had a sophisticated knowledge of plant cultivation. The site also boasts megalithic burials, emphasizing the importance of rituals and beliefs in Neolithic communities.
Burzahom: Located in the Kashmir Valley of India, Burzahom is an important Neolithic site dating back to around 3000 BCE. The site offers a glimpse into the early agricultural practices and settlement patterns of the region. Excavations at Burzahom have revealed evidence of pit dwellings, indicating the transition from temporary shelters to more permanent settlements. The site also provides insights into the Neolithic people’s use of tools, pottery-making techniques, and their reliance on agriculture for sustenance.
Here is a list of Neolithic sites in India, along with their respective states and notable features:
|Jammu and Kashmir
|evidence of early agriculture, pottery-making techniques
|Pit dwellings, graveyard in house
|Early farming practices, evidence of wheat, barley, pea, and lentil cultivation, domestication of cattle, sheep, and goats.
|Rock art, evidence of early agriculture, microlithic tools.
|Rice cultivation, pottery artifacts, stone tools, human burials. Bone implements made of antlers, i.e. horns of deer
|Three fold cultured sequence of Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Iron age
|Earliest evidence of use of pottery.
|Hallur,Mhaski, Brahmagiri, Piklihal, Takkalakota
|Pottery industry, pottery kilns, early iron smelting, megalithic burials.
|Paiyampalli, Utnur, Nagarjundakonda
|Megalithic burials, evidence of iron smelting, pottery.
|Garo hills, Daojali Hading
These Neolithic sites in India showcase various aspects of early human settlements, agriculture, pottery-making, tool manufacturing, and cultural practices during the Neolithic period. They provide valuable insights into the development of human civilization and the transition from hunting-gathering to settled agricultural communities.