Stone Age: History, Meaning and types of Stone Age (Paleolithic age, Mesolithic age, Neolithic age)
Posted on : 30-11-2018 Posted by : Admin

What is Stone age?

Prehistoric period is that part of our ancient past for which we do not have written records. So the only way to know about this period is through the materials found in archaeological excavations. Prehistoric man used tools and implements made of stones. He used these tools to hunt and gather food. Since earliest tools used by humans were made of stones, this phase of human development is known as Stone Age. During this period pre-historic man began to use the stones for practical purposes. The evolution of human civilization started during Stone Age.

Depending on different types of stone tools and techniques used stone age can be divided into the following types,

  • Paleolithic age (5,00,000 to 10,000 BC)
  • Mesolithic age (10,000 to 8000 BC)
  • Neolithic age (8000 to 4000 BC)

Paleolithic age

(Paleo=old; lithic=stone)

  • Also called as old stone age
  • Began in Pleistocene period about 2 million years ago & continued till 8000 to 10000BC
  • Pleistocene period is the period when Earth’s surface was completely covered with ice and the weather was so cold for humans and plants to survive. However, in tropics ice melted and men started to exist.
  • Term Paleolithic was coined by archeologist John Lubbock in 1865.
  • It refers to a pre historic era in which first stone tools were used.
  • This period is characterized by simple groups of hunters.
  • They moved from place to place and led a nomadic life.
  • People during his time were Hunters and gatherers. They depended on nature for their food.
  • People covered their bodies with the skin of animals.
  • They did not know how to grow crops or animals (No farming and no domestication). They did not even build houses.
  • These people had the knowledge of painting pictures about their experiences.
  • Climate during this period was comparably cooler.
  • Based on the nature of the tools, this period is further divided into following 3 periods,

a) Lower Paleolithic period

b) Middle Paleolithic period

c) Upper Paleolithic period

Sites of Paleolithic age

These sites are widely distributed across Indian sub continent generally near water bodies,

  1. Throughout country except Alluvial plains of Indus, Ganga and Yamuna
  2. Soan Valley and Potwar valley on NW India
  3. Shiwalik hills in North India
  4. Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh
  5. Adamgarh hills in Narmada Valley
  6. Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh
  7. Attirapakkam in Chennai

Mesolithic age

(Meso=middle; lithic=stone)

  • Also called as middle stone age
  • It was a transitional phase between Paleolithic age and Neolithic age
  • It is roughly dated between 10,000 to 8000 BC.
  • This age was characterized by microliths or small stone tools.
  • The tools during this age were pointed and sharp.
  • Climatic conditions became warmer.
  • People came to know the use of fire.
  • They started to live at a place in small communities. This resulted in social relationship among people. Consequently community rulers came into existence.

Sites of Mesolithic age

Mesolithic sites are widely distributed across Indian sub continent,

  1. Langhanj in Gujarat
  2. Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh
  3. Some places in Rajasthan and Bihar
  4. Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh
  5. Chopani Mando in Uttar Pradesh (Allahabad)
  6. Birhanpur inWest Bengal (Burdwan)
  7. Sanganakallu in Karnataka (Bellary)
  8. Tuticorin in South Tamil Nadu
  9. Chota Nagpur Plateau south of River Krishna


Neolithic age

(Neo=new; lithic=stone)

  • Also called as new Stone Age.
  • It is the last stage of the Stone Age.
  • It is roughly dated between 8000 to 4000 BC
  • This age was characterized by polished stone tools.
  • People started agriculture. Cultivation of the crops like Barley, Wheat and Rice transformed the nomadic hunters into a sedentary farmer and village settlements.
  • People during this age started domestication of animals like cows, horses, poultry and other farm animals
  • The most important even of this age is discovery of wheel and pottery.
  • The Neolithic age paved way for the beginning of number of small cultures. The people of these cultures used copper and bronze to make tools. This phase is called as chalcolithic age. A number of such sites have been found at Nagpur plateau, Upper Gangetic basin, on the banks of river Narmada.

Sites of Neolithic age

Neolithic sites are widely distributed across Indian sub continent,

  1. Baluchistan
  2. Sulaiman-Kirtar hills
  3. Kashmir valley
  4. Chirand in Bihar
  5. Belan Valley in Uttar Pardesh
  6. Garo hills NE India
  7. Maski, Bramhagiri, Hullur, Kodekal in Marnataka
  8. Paiyampalli in Tamil Nadu
  9. Utnur in Andhra Pradesh

Seeds of future scientific development which started in Neolithic age
  • Baking of clay pots- beginning of the crude CHEMISTRY
  • Art of weaving- foundation for PHYSICS
  • Art of growing cotton- beginning of BOTANICAL SCIENCE
  • Barter system- encouraged future TRADE and COMMERCE

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