The Paleolithic Age, or Old Stone Age in India spanned from 500,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C in the Pleistocene Period of the Ice Age. It was the first part of the Stone Age. During this period, man relied on hunting and had no knowledge of cultivation and house building. According to the nature of tools and the change in the climate, the Paleolithic Age in India is divided into three phases; Lower Paleolithic (500,000 BC to 50,000 BC), Middle Paleolithic (50,000 BC to 40,000 BC), and Upper Paleolithic (40,000 BC to 10,000 BC).
The Mesolithic Age, also known as Middle Stone Age, was the second part of the Stone Age. In India, it spanned from 9,000 B.C. to 4,000 B.C. This age is characterized by the appearance of Microliths (small bladed stone tools). The Mesolithic Age was a transitional phase between the Paleolithic Age and the Neolithic Age. The people of this age lived on hunting, fishing, and food gathering; later on they also domesticated animals.
The Neolithic Age, which means New Stone Age, was the last and third part of the Stone Age. In India, it spanned from around 7,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C. The Neolithic Age is mainly characterized by the development of settled agriculture and the use of tools and weapons made of polished stones. The major crops grown during this period were ragi, horse gram, cotton, rice, wheat, and barley. Pottery first appeared in this age.
With the end of the Neolithic Age, several cultures started using metal, mostly copper and low grade bronze. The culture based on the use of copper and stone was termed as Chalcolithic meaning stone-copper Phase. In India, it spanned around 2000 BC to 700 BC. This culture was mainly seen in Pre-Harappan phase but at many places it extended to Post-Harappan phase too. The people were mostly rural and lived near hills and rivers. The Chalcolithic culture corresponds to the farming communities, namely Kayatha, Ahar or Banas, Malwa, and Jorwe.