DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

The Paleolithic Age: Characteristics and list of Sites

Paleolithic Period or Old Stone Age; the earliest period of human development, last until approx 8000 BC. The Paleolithic Period is divided into two eras: the Lower Paleolithic (to 40,000 BC) and the Upper Paleolithic (40,000–8000 BC).

Chronology of Paleolithic Age in India

Paleolithic Age in India can be studied into three 

1. Lower Paleolithic extended to  B. C. In India its sites were discovered in Punjab, Kashmir, UP, Rajasthan etc.

 2. Upper Paleolithic extended from Upper Paleolithic (40,000–8000 BC). In India its sites were discovered in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Central Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, southern Uttar Pradesh, and South Bihar Plateau.

Characteristics of Paleolithic Age

During the Paleolithic period the man was a hunter and food gatherer. The human being used to use simple chipped and chopped type stone tools for hunting and other purposes. 

The people were not aware of neither agriculture nor home construction hence the life was not properly settled.It has been traced that people survived consumed roots of trees and fruits and lived in caves and hills. The 
 Paleolithic man was a hunter and food gatherer. 

1. 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)

2. 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.

3. 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 1/10th 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 of Paleolithic Age

Tools have been discovered from Chhota Nagpur Plateau, Kurnool, and Andhra Pradesh and are nearly 100,000 B.C. old.

1. 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.).

2. The Middle Paleolithic Period: Tools of this age 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.

3. Upper Paleolithic Age: Tools of this age was 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.

Indian sites of Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic Age)

Lower Palaeolithic

1. Valley of Sohan in Punjab (now in Pakistan)

2. Kashmir and Thar Desert

3. Belan Valley in Mirzapur district, UP

4. Bidwana in Rajasthan

5. Narmada Valley

Middle Palaeolithic

1. Narmada River Valley

2. Tungabhadra River Valley

Upper Palaeolithic

1. Andra Pradesh

2. Karnataka

3. Central MP

4. Maharashtra

5. Southern UP

6. South Bihar Plateau

The Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age was the era of human evolution. In this era human learnt to make arms from animal bones.So Paleolithic period is the backbone of the modern human civilisation.

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