TNPSC Study Materials Ancient India

TNPSC Study Materials Ancient India

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Topic:  Ancient India


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  3. Notes Taken Tamilnadu New Syllabus
  • The prehistoric period in the history of mankind can roughly be dated from 200000 BC to about 3500-2500 BC, when the first civilisations began to take shape.
  • The history of India is no exception. The first modern human beings or the Homo sapiens set foot on the Indian subcontinent anywhere between 200000 BC and 40000 BC and they soon spread throughout a large part of the subcontinent, including peninsular India.
  • They continuously flooded the Indian subcontinent in waves after waves of migration from what is present-day Iran. These primitive people moved in groups of few ‘families’ and lived mainly on hunting and gathering.
  • The earliest age in history is called Old Stone Age or Palaeolithic. This period is divided into Lower Palaeolithic culture, MiddlePalaeolithic culture, Upper Palaeolithic culture.
  • The period after the Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic) is called the Mesolithic Age. The period that followed the Mesolithic is called the Neolithic Age. This is the age in which animal and plant domestication developed, leading to food production. The classification of these cultures is done on the basis of stratigraphic, chronological and lithic (stone tool) evidence.

Lower Palaeolithic Culture

  • The earliest lithic arte facts come from different parts of the Indian subcontinent. During the Lower Palaeolithic cultural phase, human ancestor species of Homo erectus
    is believed to have lived in India.
  • The first Palaeolithic tools were identified at the site of Pallavaram near Chennai by Robert Bruce Foote in 1863.
  • He found many pre-historic sites when he extensively surveyed different parts of South India. Since then, numerous Palaeolithic sites have been identified and excavated all over India.

Lithic Tools

  • The study of pre-history mainly depends upon lithic tools.
  • Pre-historic sites are identifiable based on the presence of stone tools.
  • Human ancestors made large stone blocks and pebbles and chipped tools out of them,using another strong stone.
  • Hand axes, cleavers, choppers and the like were designed in this way by flaking off the chips. The tools show well thought-out design and physical symmetry, and convey high-quality cognitive (perception) skills and capabilities of pre-historic humans.
  • They used the tools for hunting, butchering and skinning the animals, breaking the bones for bone marrow and to recover tubers and plant foods, and for processing food.
  • Lower Palaeolithic tools are found in most parts of India, except in a few regions
    of the Ganges valley, southern Tamil Nadu and in the hilly areas of the Western Ghats. Athirampakkam, Pallavaram and Gudiyam near Chennai, Hunsgi valley and Isampur in Karnataka, and Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh are some important Palaeolithic sites where the Acheulian tools are found.

Hominin and Animal Fossils

  • There is a report of a fossil fragment discovered by Robert Bruce Foote from Athirampakkam.The only well-known hominin fossil of India was found at Hathnora near Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh. The cranium is named Narmada human. It is considered to represent the Archaic Homo sapiens. It is the only existing fossil find of human ancestors in India.
  • Animal fossils are useful to understand the palaeo-environmental context in which people lived. In the Narmada valley, animal fossils of Elephas namadicus (giant tusked pre-historic elephant), Stegodon ganesa (a giant pre-historic elephant), Bos namadicus (wild cattle) and Equus namadicus (extinct great horse like animal) have been recovered.
  • Teeth of Equus, evidence of water buffalo have been uncovered at Athirampakkam. They suggest an open, wet landscape near the Chennai region in the pre- historic period.
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