Mesolithic Era (8000 B.C.–6000 B.C)

With the end of the Ice Age and the Upper Paleolithic Age around 9000 B.C., the climate became warm and dry. Climatic changes brought about changes in flora and fauna and made it possible for human beings to move to new areas.

In 9000 B.C. began an intermediate stage in Stone Age culture, which is called the Mesolithic Age. It intervened as a transitional phase between the Paleolithic Age and the Neolithic or New Stone Age. The Mesolithic People lived on hunting, fishing and food gather­ing; at a later stage they also domesticated animals and practiced some sort of primitive agriculture.

The characteristic tools of the Mesolithic Age are microliths. A number of Mesolithic sites have been excavated in Western and Central India i.e., Langhnaj (Gujarat), Adamgarh (MP.), Bagor, Tilwara (Rajasthan), southern Uttar Pradesh, eastern India and also south of the river Krishna. The earliest evidence of domestication of animals comes from Adamgarh (M.P.) and Bagor in Rajasthan dated 5500 B.C. and 4500 B.C. respectively.

The cultivation of plants around 7000-6000 B.C. is suggested in Rajasthan from a study of the deposits of the former salt lake, Sambhar and Lunkaransar. The Mesolithic culture continued to be important roughly from 9000 B.C. to 4000 B.C.

The people of Paleolithic and Mesolithic age practiced painting. Prehistoric art appears at several places, but Bhimbetka in M.P. is a striking site. Situated in the Vindhyan range, 45 km south of Bhopal, it has more than 500 painted rock shelters. Many birds, animals and human beings are painted. Other sites with Palaeolithic paintings are at Singanpur near Raigarh (M.P.) in Kaimur ranges and also in the Mirzapur district (U.P.).

Important Points

  • Although major changes began to appear around 10,000 B.C. the Mesolithic era seem to have started around 9000 B.C. and 8000 B.C. with the folding up of the Ice Age and continued at certain places till 4000 B.C.
  • In this age, climate changes brought about changes in the fauna and flora and made it possible for human beings to move to new areas. Since then there haven’t been major changes in the climate.
  • The Mesolithic era is characterized by the reduction in the size of well established tool types from the archaeological point of view with a decrease in size of some artifacts and the presence of a higher proportion of ‘geometric’ microliths.
  • Microliths, first discovered from the Vindhyan rock shelters by C.L. Carlyle in 1867; are the characteristic tools of the era comprising of pointed, cresconic blades, scrapers, etc. all made of stone. These are very small in size with their length varying from 1-8 cm. Blackened blade, core, point, triangle; lunate and trapeze are the main Mesolithic tools. However some tools used earlier like choppers, burins and scrapers continue.
  • 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 to demonstrate the development of a Mesolithic culture.
  • The site of Chopani Mando in Allahabad provides a continuous sequence from late upper Palaeolithic to late Mesolithic stage with crude handmade pottery. Here round hut floors were found.
  • In Peninsular India the Mesolithic industry is based on milky quartz. A new feature in the tool industry is the appearance of ‘D’ shaped, transverse arrowhead.
  • A large number of animal bones were found in the rock-shelters of Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh which indicate domestication of animals only, not a pastoral economy.
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