Indian history is divided into the following phases:
Old Stone Age [Paleolithic]
Middle stone age [Mesolithic]
New stone age [Neolithic] and Metal age.
The dates of these periods are overlapping. They are arrived at by using scientific calculations like carbon dating and dendrochronology [counting tree rings in wood].
Paleolithic age: Before 10000BC
- Located in rock shelters and caves.
- Found close to water bodies.
- Hunting and gathering edible foods, and tubers.
- The earliest traces of human civilization are traced to the period around 400000 to 200000 BC. This is suggested by the presence of primitive stone tools found in the Soan Valley and in south India in and around Chennai. In the Indian subcontinent primitive humans in the old stone age which lasted till 8000 BC used primitive instruments of stone found throughout the country except in the alluvial plains of the Indus, Ganga, and Jamuna rivers.
- Flint is commonly used as it is hard but flakes easily. Tools serve a variety of purposes such as skinning dead animals, cutting their flesh and splitting bones, etc.
- Humans were food gatherers and were totally dependent on nature for their supply of game animals and edible plants. Then they learned to control fire which taught them to improve their lives in many ways.
- It was towards the end of this age that the Homo sapiens appeared.
Mesolithic age: 10000 BC to 6000 BC
- From the end of the Ice age in 8000 BC began an intermediate stage in stone culture. It is referred to as the late stone age and continued in India well up to 4000 BC.
- Characteristic tools of this period are Microliths which are pointed or crescentic blades. Some of these were used for killing fast-moving animals. Some were stuck on handles of wood or bone to make tools such as saws or pickles.
- This period reveals a more specialized and increasingly advanced food collection leading o the beginning of plant cultivation.
- Lived in rock shelters and caves.
- Settled for long periods in a place where cultivation and agriculture are practiced.
- Domesticated animals found.
- Bow and arrow were used in hunting-gathering
- The burial of the dead started.
- Microlithic artifacts.
Neolithic age: 6000BC to 4000 BC
- Agriculture, domestication of animals, polishing tools, and manufacturing pottery.
- Mudbrick houses, polished tools, cultivation using animals.
- Transportation using animals and burial using urns.
- Advancements in agriculture and clothes of wool and cotton.
- This was the food-producing stage where humans completely changed their ways of life
- Neolithic settlements in the subcontinent are not older than 4000 BC. Traces of these communities have survived in the regions of Vindhya hills, Sulaiman and Kirtar hills, and Garo Hills in the Northeast.
- Humans also began to domesticate animals such as dogs, goats, and sheep. Among plants, wheat and barley cultivation was the first that was started.
- The tools that were needed also changed and the sickle was used along with axe, quern, and mortar. Pottery also started around these phases and the wheel became an important invention. Towards the end of the Neolithic period, the use of metals began and the Chalcolithic phase started around 6000 BC.
- Copper and bronze were used.
- Smelting and crafting metal artifacts were started.
- Implements were used in agriculture.