Neolithic Sites in India and Their Culture
The Neolithic Age means the New Stone Age and the last part of the Stone Age. It spanned around 7000 BC. There are four main groups of sites found in India. The Neolithic settlement was found in northwest India, South India, and North-Eastern India.
The important sites were found in Kashmir, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Bihar, and Odisha. The earliest Neolithic settlements were developed in the west of the Indus River. Example: Mehrgarh’s neolithic culture started around 8000 BC.
The Neolithic culture of North-Western Indian is the earliest to have animals and plant domestication. The Neolithic sites in ancient India are Mehrgarh, Rana Ghundai, Sarai Kala, and Jalilipur.
Currently, these sites are in Pakistan. The neolithic site in Mehrgarh has evidence dating to 7000 BCE.
Plants and Animals
Domesticated animals are Sheep, goats, etc. The cultivated crops found in these Neolithic sites are einkorn Wheat, six-row Barley, emmer, jujube, ilanthai, and dates.
This Neolithic culture is the one that is previous to the Indus Valley Civilisation. The neolithic culture at Mehrgarh Period-I date from 7000 to 5000 BC. The people of this did not use pottery. The neolithic people were semi-nomadic, pastoral groups.
Art and Culture
People of this age built their houses with mud and buried the dead. The ornaments used by them are made of seashell, limestone, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and sandstone. The period-II dates from 5500 to 4800 BC.
Period-III dates to 4800 to 3500 BC. There is evidence of pottery in Period-I and Period-II. We found terracotta figurines and glazed faience beads. We also found women ornaments.
From Lapis Lazuli that is available only in Basakshan, we come to know that long-distance trade was practiced. After the rise of the mature phase of Indus Valley Civilisation, they abandoned these towns.
Neolithic culture in the Kashmir region was contemporary to the Harappan civilization. Burzahom, an important site of this culture, provides evidence for the Megalithic and Early Historic Periods.
In this place, people lived in pit houses (about four meters in depth) in order to escape the cold weather. The houses were oval, wide at the bottom, and narrow on the top.
Plants and Animals
The Neolithic period of Kashmir had domestic sheep, goats, and cultivated plants. The Neolithic people of Burzahom traded with the people of the Harappan Civilisation.
Art and Culture
We found post holes used for constructing a thatched structure around the pit houses. They used handmade pottery. They use tools such as stone axes, chisels, adzes, pounders, mace-heads, points, and picks. We used awls for stitching skins into clothes to beat the weather. We used scrapers for working the skins.
We have identified two phases of Neolithic culture. We term them aceramic and ceramic phases. The aceramic phase did not have evidence of ceramics.
The ceramic phase shows evidence for the existence of pottery. In the ceramic phase, people built mud houses. They used copper arrowheads.
They also used blackware pottery, beads of agate and carnelian, and painted pottery. A burial at this site produced wild dog bone and antler horn. An engraving of a hunting scene is depicted on a stone here with a dog and sun.
Seeds of wheat, barley, common pea, and lentil have been recovered from the excavations. People, domesticated animals include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, and fowl. Bones of wild animals such as red deer, Kashmir stag, ibex, bear, and wolf suggest they hunted animals.
There is evidence of menhirs and the use of redware pottery and metal objects in the megalithic culture. Using lentils suggests they had established contacts with Central Asia. These people had interactions with Harappan Civilisation.
Ganges Valley and Central India
In the Ganges Valley, and in Central India Neolithic sites are found at Lehuradeva, and Chopani Munda. The site of Lehuradeva has produced ancient evidence of rice cultivation dated to c. 6500 BCE.
These sites are characterized by cord-marked pottery. Koldiwa, Chirand, Senuwar, and Mahagara are important Neolithic sites in this region.
These sites also have evidence of pottery and plant and animal domestication. Evidence for the cultivation of hulled and six-rowed barley, several types of wheat, rice, pea, green gram, and gram/chicken, pea, mustard, flax/linseed, and jackfruit have been found at the sites of Central India.
Sheep, goat, and cattle bones have been found besides bones of wild animals. The Neolithic people used a type of pottery with cord impression on the surfaces. They used microliths, bone and antler tools, and terracotta objects.
These sites perhaps flourished till about the middle of the second millennium BCE.
We find the Neolithic sites at many sites in Bihar and West Bengal. Birbhanpur and Chirand are some prominent Neolithic sites in this region along with Kuchai, Golbaisasan, and Sankarjang.
These cultures show similarities with the Neolithic complexes of east and Southeast Asia. Pointed butt celts, chisel, and shouldered axes have been found in the region from the Neolithic era.
The Neolithic cultures of South India are found mainly in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and the north-western part of Tamil Nadu. These sites have ash mounds in the centre with settlements around them.
We have identified over 200 Neolithic sites as part of the Neolithic complex. We find these sites near the granite hills with water sources.
There are sites in the river valleys of Godavari, Krishna, Pennaru, Tungabhadra, and Kaveri. Sanganakallu,Tekkalakota, Brahmagiri, Maski, Piklihal, Watkal, Hemmige and Hallur in Karnataka, Nagarjunakonda, Ramapuram and Veerapuram in Andhra Pradesh and Paiyyampalli in Tamil Nadu are the major Neolithic sites in South India.
Some early Neolithic sites have ash mounds. Utnur and Palvoy in Andhra Pradesh and Kodekal, Kupgal, and Budihal in Karnataka feature ash mound sites. We also find soft ash and decomposed cow dung layers at this site. We find evidence of habitation as houses and burials around the ash mounds.
This article discussed the important neolithic site in India, and their life and culture.