Neolithic Age, origin of Agriculture and Domestication of Animals

Neolithic Age : –

  • Domestication of plants and animals has been considered as one of the main characteristic features of the Neolithic stage of culture. The tern Neolithic was coined by Sir John Lubbock in his book Prehistoric Times (first published in 1865). He used this term to denote an Age in which the stone implements were more skillfully made, more varied in form and often polished.
  • Characteristic traits should be considered to represent the Neolithic Culture :
    »Practice of agriculture
    »Domestication of animals
    »Grinding and polishing of stone tools, and also
    »The manufacture of pottery
  • Domestication of plants and animals led to:the emergence of village communities based on sedentary life,the beginnings of agriculture technology, and greater control over nature by exploitation of natural resources.
  • Wheat and Barley in Nile valley was domesticated before Rice in Bellan valley of Uttar Pradesh
  • Before it was believed that domestication of plants and animals took place in Western Asia, however recent survey put it in Nile valley (Sites:-Wadi Kubbaaniya,Wadi Tuska)
  • As there is no evidence of animals, domestication at the Egyptian sites it may be concluded that the cultivation of cereals preceded the domestication of animals in this region.Domestication of plants and domestication of animals are thus not necessarily inter-related.

Neolithic Age and Indian Subcontinent :-

  • The subsistence pattern of the Neolithic period is characterized by a mixed economy based on early farming and domestication of animals supplemented by hunting. The inhabitants lived in rectangular houses of mud-bricks. Some of the structures were divided into small square compartments and used for storage.
  • Sites:-
    • Afghanistan and Pakistan
    • Punjab, Kashmir,Tajikistan,Uzbekistan
    • Baluchistan
    • Mehrgarh
    • Bellan Valley
  • Village settlements appeared in the Kashmir valley by about 2500 B.C. Excavations at Burzahom and Gufkral throw significant light on the Neolithic culture of this region
  • The Neofithic culture of Kashmir valley is characterised by pit-dwellings with well made floors smeared with red-ochre as well as dwellings in the open. The presence of a large number of unique bone tools suggests that the economy was predominantly a hunting economy.
  • Harappans inherited the knowledge of wheat, barley, and cotton  cultivation from their early ancestors at Mehrgarh

Neolithic Culture  of Uttar Pradesh :-

  • Sites – Bellan Valley, Koldhiwa, Mahagara,Chopani-Mando
  • Bellan Valley The river Belan flows down from east to west along the edge of the Vindhyan plateau outcrop. It is a tributary of the Tons which joins the Ganga near Allahabad. This region is part of the monsoon belt. The entire area is covered with thick forest of teak, bomboo and dhak.
  • The relevant excavated sites of the Belan Valley which indicate transition from the food-gathering stage to the food producing stage are Chopani-Mando, Koldihawa and Mahagara ( All in Uttar Pradesh region)
  • The excavations at Koldihwa revealed a three-fold cultural sequence (Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Iron Age). Mahagara is a single culture (Neolithic) site. The combined evidence from the two sites indicates sedentary life, domestication of rice (oriza sativa) and of cattle and sheep/goat.
  • The Neolithic culture of the Belan Valley shows a developed and advanced sedentary life with:-
    defined family units
      standardizationof pottery forms
    portable size of food-processing units like querns and mullers
      specializedtools like chisels, Celts and adzes;
    cultivation of domesticated rice,
    domestication of cattle, sheep/and goat and horse
  • Chopni-Mando provides the earliest evidence of the use of pottery in the world.

Neolithic Culture  of  Bihar :-

  • Sites- Chirand, Chechar,Senuwar and Taradib
  • The lower central Gangetic valley with all its flora and faunal resources was occupied by sedentary village settlements much later (2000-1 600 B.C.).

Neolithic Culture  of  Eastern India :-

  • The area comprises the hills of Assam including north Cachar, the Garo and the Naga hills.Ecologically the area falls in the monsoon zone with heavy rainfall
  • Sites – Deojali Hading in north Cachar hills
  • These objects discovered here have extensive distribution in China and South-East Asia with a long ancestry there
  • The Assam  Neolithic Culture has been tentatively dated around 2000 B.C.

Neolithic Culture  of  South India :-

  • The Neolithic settlements are found on the hilly and dry Deccan plateau drained  by the Bhima, Krishna, Tungabhadra and Kaveri rivers.
  • These settlements flourished particularly in those areas where the normal rainfall is below 25 cm per annum
  • Sites – Sangankallu, Nagarjunakonda, Maski, Brahmagiri,Tekkalakota, Piklihal, Kupgal, Hallur, Palavoy, Hemmige ,Utnur,Kodekal,and T. Narsipur
  • South Indian Neolithic culture has been classified into three phases by archaeologists. The Phase I is represented at Sangankallu and Nagarjunakonda. The faint traces of dwellings, crude handmade pale reddish brown pottery with slipped outer surface, blade tools of chert and ground stone tools found at Nagajunakonda, demonstrate that the people had only rudimentary knowledge of cultivation. Probably they did not domesticate animals. This phase can be dated to 2500 B.C. or earlier.
  • In Phase II besides the continuation of the features of Phase I, the pottery is mainly of red ware fabric. However, Lapidary art and domestication of animals are the pew features. Now the microliths were made of quartz crystals.
  • In Phase III(datable to around 1500 B.C.) grey ware pottery, is predominant.
  • Millet (Ragi) was one of the earliest crops cultivated by the Neolithic farmers of South India.
  • Other crops cultivated by the Neolithic farmers of south India were wheat, horsegram,and moong (green gram).
  • Terrace farming seems to have been an important feature of the method of cultivation during this period
  • It is clear from the excavations at Nagarjunakonda that domestication of plants preceded the domestication of animals.

Neolithic Culture of  Maharashtra   region :-

  • Evidence from Chandoli on the Bhima, a tributary of the Krishna and from Nevasa and Daimabad, sites on the Pravara, a tributary of the Godavari, suggests that Neolithic farmers in this region had moved into the Chalcolithic phase.


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