The Neolithic age
The Neolithic Age ranges from 6000 BC to 1000 BC and is better known as the New Stone Age. In 1865, Sir John Lubbock first coined the term Neolithic. It is from the word ‘neos’ in Greek meaning new and lithos or stone that the term Neolithic has been derived.
It was in 1860 in Uttar Pradesh State, India that Le Mesurier discovered implements and tools used during the Neolithic Age. In Bellary, southern India, implements and tools made from polished stone, were discovered by Frasher.
On the basis of skeletons discovered, it has been seen that there have been significant changes in the height and body of people in the Neolithic period. Geographical and environmental factors have played a significant role in the changes in the bodies of the people.
Males indulged in hunting, and provided food to the family while women did the gathering and storing of food stuff. Men and women both enjoyed equality.
It has been argued by many of the archaeologists that during the Neolithic period there were long cycles of blood feuds and violence. To secure women, the neighboring tribes were ready kill male rivals. Women were spared from execution.
Way Of Life
Manufacturing pottery, polishing and grinding stone tools, practicing agriculture and domesticating animals have been enumerated as the four main activities prevailing in the Neolithic culture, by Miles Burkit.
People lived in tribes consisting of 150 to 2000 people. While some societies were egalitarian and simple, others comprised family groups or multiple bands and complex chiefdoms. They had more hierarchy as compared to the Paleolithic culture. There was competition for owning live stock resulting in wealth, economical and social inequality.
People did engage in constructing large projects by working together even if there were households and families that were economically largely independent. The general thought is that they lived peaceful lives but evidences of them using clubs, spears arrow heads, stone axes etc to injure others violently are also seen. Fortification of some villages began during the Neolithic era. Tree trunks were used to make walls surrounded by a moat or ditch for protection. Warfare prevailed amongst the tribes.
Traces of distinct progress are seen in the culture and civilization of the Neolithic Age. People lived a settled life, grew corn and fruits, practiced agriculture, domesticated goats, ox, dogs, cows, etc and produced fire by the friction of stones and bamboos. Kulthi, massoor, rice, moong, barley, wheat and ragi were mainly produced by tribes in India. Roasted meat was eaten instead of uncooked meat. For hunting, arrows and bows were invented. A variety of pierced batons, bodkins, picks, eyed needles and scrapers were tools made during the Neolithic era.
At first, pots were made by hand and then the potter’s wheel was invented to make unpolished pots. Pots were decorated and painted. Walls of the caves that they lived in were polished and scenes of dancing and hunting were painted. Clothes were spun and woven. Tombs known as menhirs, dolmens etc were constructed to bury the dead. Quartzite, gneiss, chlorite, sand stone, indurated shale, slate, schist, basalt, diorite and fine grained dark green trap were used for fashioning various Neolithic tools.
A significant change in the human style was seen after the rising of an agrarian society during the Neolithic period. Settlements and subsistence farming activities developed. Social systems started forming gradually to enable better human interaction. This period can be termed as the Neolithic Revolution, a term used by Vere Gordon Chile, archeologist from Australia in the 1920s.