Palaeolithic Age or Old Stone Age

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Palaeolithic Age or Old Stone Age| Lower Palaeolithic Age, Middle Palaeolithic Age and Upper Palaeolithic Age

Stone Age can be divided into three types:

• Palaeolithic Age or Old Stone Age

• Mesolithic Age or Later Stone Age

• Neolithic Age or New Stone Age

Palaeolithic Age or Old Stone Age

Palaeolithic Age or Old Stone Age

Palaeo means ‘old’ and lithic means ‘stone’.

Time Period: 5,00,000 B.C.–10,000 B.C.

In the Old and Middle Stone Age, people did not know how to grow food and thus barely eat fruits and hunts animals to meet their food requirements. They invented farming and pastoralism in Neolithic period.

• In India, the Palaeolithic Age developed in the Pleistocene period or the Ice Age.

• It was spread in practically all parts of India except the alluvial parts of Ganga and Indus.

• Men used tools of unpolished, undressed rough, hard stones and lived in caves and rock shelters.

• They mainly used hand axes, cleavers, choppers, blades, flaxes, scrapers and burins which were of irregular shapes. Their tools were made of a hard rock called ‘quartzite’ and hence Palaeolithic men are also called ‘Quartzite Men’.

• The Palaeolithic man belonged to the Negrito race and Homo sapiens first appeared in the last of this

• Sir Robert Bruce Foot discovered the fi rst Palaeolithic stone tool in the Indian sub-continent near Madras in 1863 A.D.

• With the coming of Yale Cambridge Expedition in 1935, led by Deterra and Paterson the research for the Palaeolithic got a new height in India.

The Palaeolithic period is divided into three phases:

→ Lower Palaeolithic age

→ Middle Palaeolithic age

→ Upper Palaeolithic age

Lower Palaeolithic Age (250,000-100,000 B.C.)

It covers the greater part of the Ice Age. During this period, the people were wanderers.


Hand axes, cleavers, choppers and chopping tool.

→ Handaxes: It handle is broader and the working end is narrower. Used for cutting and digging purposes

→ Cleavers: It has a biface edge and is more or less transversal. Used for clearing and splitting objects.

→ Chopper: The working edge is prepared by unifacial flanking. Used for chopping purposes.

→ Chopping tool: Like Chopper but the working edge is bifacially prepared by alternate flanking. Used for similar purpose as the chopper but more effective as its edge was sharper.


Sohan Valley (Punjab, now in Pakistan), Belan Valley, Mirzapur (Uttar Pradesh), Narmada Valley (Madhya Pradesh), Didwani (Rajasthan), and Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh), Singrauli basin (Uttar Pradesh), Chhotanagpur (Jharkhand), Bori and Chirki-Nevasa (Maharashtra), (Hungsi Valley) Karnataka, Didwana (Rajasthan), Attiranmpakkam and Gudiyam (Tamilnadu), Nagarjunakonda (Andhra Pradesh).


Tapti, Godavari, Bhima and Krishna have provided a large number of Palaeolithic sites.

• The rivers Palar, Penniyar and Kaveri in Tamil Nadu are rich in Palaeolithic tools.

Middle Palaeolithic Age (100,000-40,000 B.C.)

It was an age of flakes. They lived under the rocks in caves and hollow tree trunks. Pithecanthropus
or Homo erectus evolved. But this cultural stage was dominated by Neanderthal man. Established only in 1960 by H.D. Sankalia and was named Nevasan industry after the site of Nevasa (Maharastra).


Palaeolithic Age ToolsPalaeolithic Age Tools

Blades, points, borers, and scrapers, all made of flakes.

→ Flakes: A desired crude shape tool produced by applying force on the stone. Tools are made through many Flaking Techniques such as Free Flaking Technique, Step Flaking Technique, Block on Block Technique, Bipolar Technique etc.


Sanghao cave (Modern Pakistan), Bankura and Purulia (West Bengal), Nevasa, Nodur Madhmeshwar, Suregaon and Nevasa (Maharastra), Malprabha and Ghatprabha basin (Karnataka).

• The Chambal, Narmada, Son and Kortallayar river valleys.

• In Bhimbetka (M.P) 200 rock shelters, caves and thousands of paintings have been traced which are of middle Palaeolithic age.


The Wagaon and Kadamali rivers in Mewar are rich in Middle Palaeolithic sites.

• South of the Tungabhadra river.

Upper Palaeolithic age

Human lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers. The traces of Homo sapiens have been discovered. The art is characterised by red and green colours. It coincided with the last phase of the Ice Age when the climate became comparatively warm and less humid. Marked by the appearance of new flint industries


Parallel-sided blades (used crypto crystaline rock), burins, and some instances of bone tools.

→ Burin: It is like flake or blade and the working border is produced by the meeting of two planes. The burins working border does not exceed 2-3 cm. in length. It was used for engraving on soft stones, bones or walls of rock shelters and cores.


There are 566 sites in India in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharastra, Bhimbetka and Chhotanagpur (Jharkhand), Uttar Pradesh.

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