There are basically two important methods to peep into the pre-historic period: Historical method and Archaeological method.
The two methods adopted for the study of pre-historic period are: (i) the study of the type and form of the tools & implements used during that period and (ii) the stages of scientific development.
The stone-age man used the tools, chipped and crude in forms, carved out of stones to meet his elementary needs.
The methods for the study of the primitive history mainly consist of ‘Absolute Dating’, ‘Relative Dating’ and ‘Calibrated Dating’ methods.
Various scholars have different views as to the evolution of man. These scholars can be divided into four categories: (i) Religious scholars, (ii) Ethnologists, (iii) Geologists and (iv) Biologists.
The Cenozoic era has been the most significant era in the evolution of the man. Development of the creatures resembling man, the Homolids, took place during this era, from which developed the Homo Sapiens who are considered to be the ancestors of the man. The first man-like creature, thus evolved approximately in between 12 million years to 9 million years ago.
The development of the primitive man to a modern man underwent the evolution of various species Primate, Ramapithecus, Australopithecus, Africans, Homo Erectus, Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens.
Based on the implements & tools and weapons unearthed from various sites, the human civilization had first been divided into four ages: (i) Stone Age (ii) Copper Age (iii) Bronze Age and (iv) Iron Age.
Pre-Historic Cultures : At a Glance
5,00,000-10,000 B. C. (Early & Middle Pleistocene)
Flakes, chooper & Chooping culture
(i) Pebble tools (ii) Scrappers (iii) Hand axes
Middle Palaeolithic Age
5,00,000-10,000 B.C. (Late Pleistocene)
(i) Points (ii) Scrappers (iii) Borer
Upper Palaeolithic Age
Blade & Burin culture
(i) Blades (ii) Burins (iii) Lunates (iv) Knife-points
8,000-4,000 B.C. (Holocene)
(i) Geometric (ii) Non-geometric
Mullers, polished axes , Adze saddle Quern
Among the important evidences pertaining to The Pre-Paleolithic age collected by the archaeologists, the important ones include cores, flakes, chopping tools and hand-axes. These implements and weapons were of crude form and shape.
The man of the Middle Paleolithic age had invented fire. The fire was built with the friction of stones and the man of this age had learnt to cook animal food on fire.
The important cultural centers of the Pre-Paleolithic age are: Krishna Valley (Karnataka), Ghasan and Betwa Valley (M.P.), Belan Valley (U.P.), Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Nevasa Valley (Maharashtra).
According to ‘Vayu Puran’-“The nation (Varsha) to the North of the Sea and to the South of the Himalayas is known as ‘Bharat’, because it is inhabited by the progeny of Bharat.”
Ancient India was known as ‘Bharatvarsha’. According to Vedvyas the Author of the epic ‘Mahabharata’, the name ‘Bharatvarsha’ was derived from the name of the Bharat, the son of emperor Dushyanta. ‘Bharatvarsha’ signifies ‘the Nation of Bharat’.
According to the old Testament, Noah created the Universe by saving it from the terrible inundation.
According to the modern Science, sequential development of fish-frog-reptiles resulted in the form of humans.
According to the Pre-Historic Almanac, the geologists consider the earth as 48 million years old. The geological time had been divided into eras as under-
Archaeozoic, (ii) Proterozoic, (iii) Paleozoic, (iv) Mesozoic, (v) Cenozoic.
The Man of the Upper Paleolithic age started living in groups marking the beginning of the concept of family life. Apart from the original dwelling in caves, he started making shelters. The males and females devised clear lines for labour; Males’ job was mainly hunting and gathering of food and females took care of the dwellings.
Man of the Mesolithic age had developed socially and economically. He had built settlements, started leading a settled life in small native groups and had learnt to tame animals and started some kind of crop production or cultivation.
Major Sites of Chalcolithical Age
Oven, Ornaments, Copper Tools beads, Seal
Axes made of copper, Clay-pots, Micro-weapons, Bangles, Beads
Rearing evidences of Horse, Cow, Sheep, goat and Buffallo, Ornaments, Agricultural evidences of Millet & wheat
Jorve, Daimabad , Chandoli, Songaon, Inamgaon
Tools made of Copper, Micro-Stone tools, Agriculture and Cattle rearing
424 Copper made tools
Based on various facts and evidences the middle Paleolithic age lasted for approximately four thousand years till eight thousand years B.C. The Man of this age had divided into classes; each class having distinct traditions & customs and lifestyle marked by characteristic taboos and inhibitions, which in the long run gave birth to varna or the caste system. Sense of family kinship took stronger roots during this age. Domestic cattle-breeding and agricultural cultivation called for joint family system and a sense of being father-mother, brother-sister, and father-son developed strongly giving birth to love & affection and kinship.
The stratification analysis clearly present the evidences of crop production approximately 7000 B.C. in Mehargarh (now in Pakistan). Among the other discoveries, evidences suggest wheat and barley cultivation approximately 5000 B.C.
The man of the Neolithic age had developed strong religious faith and devotion. Worship of natural forces was in vogue. Evidences show that man of this age worshipped mother goddess; and he believed in appeasing the deity with various offerings, worship and adoration. He believed in karma and re-birth. The tradition of burial of the dead bodies of members of a tribe had also started.
The invention of metal helped the pre-historic man to build weapons and gain strength and power. Metal was also used for making handles for weapons and other articles; those handles bore the markings or the symbols of Cross or Swastika. Gold was the first metal to be known.
Man’s quest to improve living conditions led to the discovery of other metals; copper was discovered in the northern India and iron in the south. The discovery of bronze was most wonderful and unprecedented. This way, since the man had invented metals and known their use, the Age that followed the Chalcolithic Age was called the Metalic Age. The Metal Age has been divided into three stages: (a) the Copper Age, (b) the Bronze Age and (c) the Iron Age.
The Copper Age was the shortest stage of the Metal Age. Copper had completely replaced stone during this stage. Setting the periodicity of this Age would be logically between 2000 and 1800 B.C. because this culture emerged after the decline of the Indus Civilization.
The Copper Age was followed by the Bronze Age, approximately 3000 B.C. Because of the extensive use of bronze, this Age is known as the Bronze Age. The emergence of the Indus Valley Civilization and Harappan Civilization also took place during this age. Urban culture, in place of rural culture, also developed during this Age. The men had gained economic stability and they had become skilled professionals. Painting and arts & crafts had also made marked progress. With the establishment of towns and cities, the life in general had become organized.
The end of Bronze Age gave way to the Iron Age. Geologists have established the emergence of the Iron Age approximately 1400 B.C. Discovery of iron brought revolutionary changes in the lifestyle of the contemporary men. The emergence of Magadha kingdom took place during the Iron Age civilization .