The Mesolithic Age in India

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  • 0:04 The Mesolithic Age
  • 1:17 Mesolithic Age in India
  • 2:14 Mesolithic Sites
  • 3:25 Rock Art Cave Painting
  • 4:17 Mesolithic Tools
  • 5:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joanna Harris

Joanna has taught high school social studies both online and in a traditional classroom since 2009, and has a doctorate in Educational Leadership

The Mesolithic Age in India was a time of innovation and creation. To learn more about what early humans in India were up to during prehistoric times on the subcontinent, continue on with this lesson.

The Mesolithic Age

The period of the earth's history called the Stone Age was filled with remarkable achievements made by early humans who roamed the globe following large animals around for food and for clothing. These early nomadic humans called hunter-gatherers needed tools and weapons that would be strong enough to take down animals much larger than what our minds can imagine today.

We call this time the Stone Age because of the tools that early humans used during the period that were crafted from stone. The period began in different places around the world, earlier in places like Africa (2.5 million years ago), and later in places like China (1.7 million years ago).

The first part of the Stone Age was called the Paleolithic Age, also known as the Old Stone Age when the world was particularly cold. You could also call this period the Ice Age, when most of the world was covered in ice. Early humans would have needed large animals for their fur in order to make clothing to keep warm and survive.

By the next period of the Stone Age, the world warmed considerably and the Ice Age came to an end. This middle part of the Stone Age was known as the Mesolithic Age. In Europe, the Mesolithic Age began around 8,000 BCE. In India, the period began about 12,000 BCE and lasted until 2,000 BCE.

Mesolithic Age in India

During these years in India, early humans were still hunter-gatherers, but the tools they used were much more advanced. Although tools and weapons were made from stone, they were used for more technologically advanced purposes, like constructing large structures.

In India during the Paleolithic Age, early humans lived in cave-like dwellings. By the Mesolithic Period, Indians were creating structures to express their religion and culture. Caves were still used as dwellings, but by the time the period was over, they had progressed into much more sophisticated constructions.

Some archaeologists classify parts of the Mesolithic Age along with the last part of the Paleolithic Age in India called the Upper Paleolithic Age, which ended in 8,000 BCE. This overlap is due to the fact that the sites that have been excavated from both periods are very similar. Nonetheless, by the time India moved into the Mesolithic Age, their world was not only warmer but more advanced - as can be seen in the different sites that mark the period.

Mesolithic Sites

One distinction between Mesolithic Age sites in India from those in some other parts of the world is that there is evidence that the Neolithic Age had already begun. This New Stone Age would see the world introduced to agriculture and the domestication of animals, which allowed mankind to stop their hunting and gathering.

In India, Mesolithic sites show evidence that Indians were already beginning the first stages of farming and animal husbandry of sheep as early as 6,000 BCE. The Mesolithic sites of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan show that Indians were still hunting for food and fishing, but they also show some crude forms of farming as they slowly but surely figured out how to work the land.

One famous civilization in India was called Harappa, and there's evidence that there may have been a trade network or some form of established communication between this major population hub and other areas like Bagor and Rajasthan. These were not the only areas that were being populated during the Mesolithic Age in India, as the subcontinent was a hotbed of life even during prehistoric times.

Here are some of the other Mesolithic sites that have been found in India:

  • Sarai Nahar
  • Bhimbetka
  • Orissa, and
  • Andhra Pradesh

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