The Paleolithic Age in India

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  • 0:04 Early Humans
  • 0:44 The Stone Age
  • 1:46 Lower Paleolithic
  • 2:40 Middle Paleolithic Age
  • 3:29 Upper Paleolithic Age
  • 4:33 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

Travel with me if you will throughout prehistoric time, to the first part of the Stone Age, called the Paleolithic Age, to see what life was like on the subcontinent of India.

Early Humans

The history of mankind is a very interesting story in terms of the way humans developed into what we are now. The earth is roughly 4.6 million years old, however, the earliest hominid (human-like) fossils that have been found in Africa date back to 4.2 million years old.

The first hominids were short, covered in hair, and had smaller brains than we do today - more ape-like than human. Nevertheless, these early humans contributed greatly to what we are now, and we would likely be nowhere without their early evolutionary struggles to survive. Some 50,000 years ago, the first homo sapiens who were more akin to what we look like in the modern day appeared.

The Stone Age

The use of stone to create tools and weapons marks an important stage in our own human development and begins the era of prehistoric times we call the Stone Age, which consists of three distinct periods.

The earliest part of the Stone Age was the Paleolithic Age (Old Stone) when mankind first began to use stone to create tools and weapons. This part of the Stone Age occurred at different times across the world. In China, stone tools have been found that date back to 1.7 million years ago, but in Indonesia, there were tools that date back 1.6 million years.

During these years, humans were hunter gatherers who roamed from location to location in the pursuit of animals used for food and clothing. As these people lived nomadic lives, the sites that would characterize the era by the stone tools that have been found are liberally distributed throughout the world.

In places like India, the beginning of the Paleolithic Age is harder to determine, especially in their southern region where stone wasn't plentiful. To look at this era in India, we need to dig a little deeper to see what life was like on the subcontinent.

Lower Paleolithic Age

The Indian Paleolithic Age has been broken down into three eras. The first, called the Lower Paleolithic Age, occurred during the years 600,000 through 60,000 BCE. Indians who lived during this period used very basic hand tools made of stone and wood, like axes and cleavers.

Indians also used minerals like quartzite and basalt to make their tools due to the scarcity of stone. Most of the homes Indians lived in during the period were also made of rock-like material and included industrial locations where raw materials would have been obtained and distributed.


Important sites of the period that have been excavated are located throughout the subcontinent. In the Punjab region there is the Shivalik site, and in the Uttar Pradesh region there was the Belan Valley site. There have also been areas of Upper Paleolithic activity found in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and around Maharashtra.

Middle Paleolithic Age

The Middle Paleolithic Age occurred from around 150,000 BCE to around 40,000 BCE. It was during these years that the tools and weapons used became a bit more advanced. Tools were made from flakes which were thin pieces of stone that had been sheared away from material using a striking method, probably with another piece of stone.

More hand tools have been found, like moderately sized hand axes, but there have also been weapons like knives and scraper tools as well. Again, materials like quartzite and basalt would have been used as well as stone being that they were more easily located.

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