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).
In India Paleolithic Age was divided into three phases:
- Lower Paleolithic extended from 500,000 B.C. to 50,000 B. C. In India its sites were discovered in Punjab, Kashmir, UP, Rajasthan etc.
- Middle Paleolithic extended from 50,000 B.C. to 40,000 B. C. In India its sites were found around Tungabhadra River Valley and Narmada River Valley
- Upper Paleolithic extended from 40,000 B.C. to 10,000 B. C. In India its sites were discovered in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Central Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, southern Uttar Pradesh, and South Bihar Plateau
Summary- Paleolithic man was a hunter and food gatherer. He used simple chipped and chopped type stone tools for hunting and other purposes. There was no trace of knowledge of agriculture and building houses, hence no settled life. With the change in climate the humidity from Lower Paleolithic decreased to a reasonable amount till the Upper Paleolithic Period, which could have probably led to the settled lifestyle. It has been found that people survived consumed on roots of trees and fruits and lived in hills and caves.
Body-Paleolithic man was a hunter and food gatherer. He used simple chipped and chopped type stone tools for hunting and other purposes. There was no trace of knowledge of agriculture and building houses, hence no settled life. With the change in climate the humidity from Lower Paleolithic decreased to a reasonable amount till the Upper Paleolithic Period, which could have probably led to the settled lifestyle. It has been found that people survived consumed on roots of trees and fruits and lived in hills and caves.
- Lower Paleolithic Age mainly spread in Western Europe and Africa and early human lived a nomadic lifestyle. No specific human group was the carrier of Lower Paleolithic period, but many scholars believe that this era was a contribution of Neanderthal-like Palaenthropic men (Third stage of hominid evolution)
- Middle Paleolithic Age was mainly associated with early form of man, Neanderthal, whose remains are often found in caves with evidence of the use of fire. He got his name from the valley of Neander (Germany). Neanderthal was hunter of prehistoric time. The Middle Paleolithic man was scavenger but few evidences of hunting and gathering were traced. The dead were painted before burial
- Upper Paleolithic Age was characterized by the appearance of new flint industries and Homo Sapiens (Modern type men) in world context. This was the last part of the Paleolithic Age which gave rise to the Upper Paleolithic culture. This period covered approximately one-tenth time of the total Paleolithic Period but in short span of time, the primitive man made greatest cultural progress. The culture has been referred as the Osteodontokeratic culture, i.e. tools made up of bone, teeth, and horns
Tools have been discovered from Chhota Nagpur Plateau, Kurnool, and Andhra Pradesh and are nearly 100,000 B.C. old.
- Lower Paleolithic population preferred to live near the water source because the stone tools are abundant near the river valleys. In this era, the first stone tool fabrication started (including the earliest stone tools found today) and was called Oldowan tradition which refers to a pattern of stone-tool manufacturing by Hominid (Homo habilis). Splintered stones called eoliths have been considered the earliest tools. These tools were made from large and small scrapers, hammer stones, choppers, awls, etc. Hand axes and cleavers were the typical tools of these early hunters and food-gatherers. Tools used in Lower Paleolithic era were mainly cleavers, choppers, and hand axes. These tools were mainly used for cutting, digging, and skinning the prey. These tools were found from Belan Valley of Mirzapur (U.P.), Didwana in Rajasthan, Narmada Valley, and from Bhimbetka (near Bhopal, M.P.)
- The Middle Paleolithic Period was majorly dependent on flakes which were used to make bores, points, and scrapers etc. A crude pebble industry is also noticed in this period. Stones found were very small and were called microliths. Stone tools of this period are of the flake tradition. For example, use of needles to sew furs and skins which were used as body coverings
- Tools used in Upper Paleolithic Age were majorly large flake blades, scrapers, and burins. The lifestyle of this man was not different from that of Neanderthal and Homo erectus; the tools used were still crude and unsophisticated during early period of this age. There are evidences of appearance of bone artifacts and the first form of art for the first time in Africa. From artifacts, the first evidence of fishing is also seen in places such as Blombos Cave in South Africa. The use of polished fine cutting edge tools and mortars and pestles used for grinding grain also came into existence.
- Weapons: The Paleolithic people primarily used hand-axes as weapons which were used for hunting as well as for protection. This contained the core tool culture including the tools made by chipping the stone to form a cutting edge.
- Community Life: The early Stone Age man was a nomad and had no knowledge of house building and agriculture. Hence he had no community life and lived in hills and caves.
The Paleolithic people were entirely dependent on weapons and tools made from stone as they lived close to the hilly areas, caves, rivers, and rock shelters.
The important Indian sites of Old Stone Age are:
- Valley of Sohan in Punjab (now in Pakistan)
- Kashmir and Thar Desert
- Belan Valley in Mirzapur district, UP
- Bidwana in Rajasthan
- Narmada Valley
- Narmada River Valley
- Tungabhadra River Valley
- Andra Pradesh
- Central MP
- Southern UP
- South Bihar Plateau