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Mesolithic Age or Middle Stone Age| Tools, Sites, Artefacts, Paintings

Time Period: 8000 B.C.–6000 B.C.

Mesolithic Age or Middle Stone Age

Major changes started happening around 10,000 B.C. The Mesolithic age seems to have started around 9000 B.C. and 8000 B.C. From this, Holocene period started. It was the phase between the Paleolithic Age and Neolithic Age.

• The period witnessed a rise in temperature and the climate became warm and dry.

• During this period, Men became hunters and herders (at later stages domestication of animals started).

• The last phase of this age saw the beginning of plant cultivation

• Microliths, first discovered from the Vindhyan rock shelters by C.L. Carlyle in 1867.

Tools

Mesolithic Age Tools

The tool of this period were very small in size with their length varying from 1-8 cm. Backed blade, core, point, triangle, lunate and trapeze were the main tools. Some of earlier used were continued like scraper, burin, choppers, etc. Blade, core, point, triangle, lunate and trapeze are main Mesolithic tool.

→ Blade: A specialized flake with parallel to sub-parallel to lateral edge. Used for cutting purposes.

→ Core: Usually cylindrical in shape with fluting marks along its length and a flat striking platform at the distal horizontal end.

→ Point: A broken blade in a triangular form which is retouched along one or both the slopping borders and the border can be rectilinear or curvilinear. Used as arrowheads and spearheads.

→ Triangle: Usually one border and the base, and the border is retouched. Used for cutting purposes or as arrowheads.

→ Lunate: A blade and one of the borders is prepared by semi-circular retouching. Used to obtain concave cutting edge or two of these could be halved back to back to form an arrowhead.

→ Trapeze: Looks like blade and usually more than one border is retouched. Used as arrowheads.

Sites

Bagor, Tilwara, etc. (Rajasthan), Akhaj, Valasana, Langhnaj, Hirpur (Gujarat), Sarai Nahar Rai, Morhana Pahar, Lekhahia etc. (Uttar Pradesh), Bimbetka, Adamgarh (Madhya Pradesh) Kuchai in Orissa, Birbhanpur in West Bengal, Sebalgiri-2 in Garo hills (Meghalaya) Sangankallu, Renigunta etc.( South of the river Krishna).

• Bagor on the river Kothari, a Mesolithic site in Rajasthan  is the largest Mesolithic site in India from where systematic burials of skeletons have been found.

• Tapti, Narmada, Mahi and Sabarmati river basins in Gujarat have yielded many Mesolithic sites.

• Langhnaj in Gujarat is the first discovered site in the arid zone.

• A large number of animal bones were found in the rock-shelters of Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh which indicate domestication of animals.

Artefacts

Pottery is absent at most Mesolithic sites, but it is present at Langhnaj in Gujarat and in the Kaimur region of Mirzapur (U.P.).

• The site of Chopani Mando in Allahabad provides a continuous sequence from late upper Palaeolithic to late Mesolithic stage with crude handmade pottery.

Paintings

• In 1867, the first rock paintings in India were discovered at Sohagighat (Kaimur Hills, UP).

• Bhimbetka, Adamgarh, Pratapgarh and Mirzapur are famous for their rich art and paintings.

Bhimbetka Rock Painting

• Kharwar, Jaora, and Kathotia (M.P.), Sundargarh and Sambalpur (Orissa), Ezhuthu Guha (Kerala) are also important sites.

• Animals are the most frequent subjects of all these paintings.

• Animal headed human figures also appear in which deer or antelope were most frequent whereas paintings of tigers and monkeys are rare.

Religious Beliefs

Burials and rock paintings give us ideas about the development of religious practices.

• The Mesolithic people buried their dead in large stone-lined pits and covered them with even larger slabs.

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