Paleolithic Age in India | Characteristics of Old Stone Age

Palaeolithic age also called Old Stone Age. Palaeolithic age was the time when humans behaved like animals and were barbaric and uncivilized. His behaviour depended on two basic factors of hunger and security. He used to spend his major time in finding food and protecting himself from wild animals. He was violent and used to eat animals after killing them. As per historians, this period would have started around 10 Lac years ago and would have ended around 10,000 BC. We can further divide this long Old Stone Age into three parts, which is based on the structure of weapons and cores of that period:

  1. Early Old Stone Age
  2. Middle Old Stone Age
  3. Later Old Stone Age

1. Early Old Stone Age: Probably, this time major part used to be covered under snow. Humans were totally dependent on nature. He normally behaved like animals. But to have an active mind, he made some stone cores. These helped him in killing animals and saving himself from wild animals. The main feature of these period cores is that they were made by rubbing and filing and were handmade and was used by removing one layer of stone. The shape of these cores found at different places is like choppers, which would have been used for cutting. Evidence of early old stone ages has been found in Punjab. Besides, we also find them near Narmada and Godavari river banks and in Sone river valley.

2. Middle Old Stone Age: During period, there seems to be an improvement in Cores. These Flake cores were made by removing one layer of a big stone and by sculpting them. Such cores are found in different parts of India. These remains have been mainly found in Sone river valley. They are also found to the right side of the Tungabhadra river valley.

3. Later Old Stone Age: In the last phase of Old Stone Age, humans climbed one more step of development. This can be known from the shape of Cores of this period. Now the climate too changed and it was less humid. In this period, humans used sharp-edged weapons. Remains of such weapons have been found in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, hilly regions of Chhotanagpur and Karnataka.

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Characteristics of Paleolithic Age

Historians have reached many conclusions on the basis of studies of weapons and cores of this period, which throw light on its characteristics, which are as below:

(1) Tools: Human of this age was uncivilized and behaved like animals. He didn’t have knowledge of animal husbandry nor of agriculture. His main food was the flesh of small animals. To kill such small animals and protect him from wild animals, he had made some tools and weapons. All such tools and weapons were made up of hard stone called, Quartzite which was easily available on paths here and there. These tools were of two types — Core and Flake. For making Core, two parts of stone were rubbed or broken to remove one layer of it in such a way, that rest of the stone can be used as a useful tool or core. Flake scores were little refined because a layer was removed from one big stone and then by rubbing and sculpting it, it was made sharp-edged and used as a tool. Their weapons had an axe, blade, spear, arrow point and tools of cutting and peeling. All these were bad shaped. It appears that humans used animal bones also to make some tools. This is also possible that branches of trees were used, as he used to live on and under the trees.

(2) Centre of Civilization: In India, the centre of Paleolithic age civilization were available in many places. Archaeologists have found these centres. On the basis of tools being used by them, it can be said that their centres were mostly concentrated at -— Madurai, Trichnapalli, Dharwad, Gujarat, Riva, Thanjavur, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Due to no remains being found in eastern and northern India, we can say that those humans did not live in those regions. Another possibility can be that those remains might have been washed away by rivers or they drowned in the sea. On this very basis, some scholars speculate that Paleolithic humans started their lives from central and southern India and gradually moved towards the north and north-west regions.

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(3) Place of Living: In this period, primitive humans used to wander like animals. They did not use clothes. They did not have any permanent place to live nor had they imagined about the house. Normally, he lived under the trees and in case of need, used to climb the trees. Actually, his place of living changed as per the climate. To protect himself from rain, sunlight and cold, he used to live in caverns. He also used to live near the river and lakes. Many remains of humans and pictures of animals have been found at these places, hence we can assume that humans used to live there.

(4) Sources of Subsistence: That time, humans were natural species totally dependent on nature. Being unknown of agriculture and ranching, he used to get his food from nature only in the form of fruits, bulbs, roots etc. besides, he also used to kill small animals and eat their flesh. Probably, unknown of fire, he must be eating flesh raw only.

(5) Clothes and Ornaments: Initially, humans used to be nude, but need for collective life and to be protected against cold and heat; they started using tree skins, leaves and animal skins. Till this time, human reach was only up to stones and bones. Hence, he used to sport Ornaments made up of feather, shell cover, animal teeth and stones. Both men and women used to sport these ornaments. After living in groups, they would have felt blushed and started covering their private parts.

(6) Art and Music: Somes samples of arts have also been found from living places of Paleolithic humans. They used to make animals and birds picture from clay and coal. These pictures are there on their tools as well. In the excavation, some vocal instruments made of bones have been found, which depicts that they had an interest in music.

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(7) Simple Social Life: Humans of this period were forced by their needs to live together. It would have become essential to live in groups to be protected against wild animals and also collectively, arranging foodstuff would have become easier. This is how they started living in small groups. Feeling blushed living in groups, they started using tree skins, leaves and animal skins to cover their private parts. Hence, the social life of that period was very simple.

(8) Lack of Religion: There is no proof of religious sentiment for primitive humans, Perhaps, he did not have time for the metaphysical world. Due to toughness and busyness of daily routine, he did not have the opportunity to think and concentrate. Neither have we got any trance nor any signs, which indicate that they used to worship god/goddess. Probably, dead bodies were left in open to be eaten by animals/ birds.