Around 7,000 B.C., the Neolithic phase started in India. It was the Stone Age’s third and last phase. The Paleolithic Age and Mesolithic Age were the other two parts. Sir John Lubbock coined the word Neolithic in his publication Prehistoric Times in 1865 to describe an era in which stone tools were more diversified, skillfully crafted, and frequently polished. Following the first two periods, the Neolithic or New Stone Age is characterised by the use of polished stone implements, the development of permanent dwellings. There was much progress seen in the Neolithic age, such as pottery making, animal husbandry of animals and plants, grain and fruit tree farming, and weaving. Piklihal, Brahmanagari was one of the places where the Neolithic phase took place in South India, along with Maski, Takkalakota as well as Hallur, Karnataka.
Origin of the Neolithic Age
The Neolithic period in south India’s Deccan plateau appears to have begun around the third millennium BC. As a result, it is not one of the first Neolithic transitions around the globe, nor is it the earliest Neolithic civilisation in South Asia. Nonetheless, the Southern Neolithic, as it is known in India, is of great interest to Neolithic scholars all over the world since it appears to be a largely indigenous transition in many aspects. The Neolithic age in India majorly took place in
- Piklihal, Brahmagiri
- Maski, Takkalakota
- Hallur, Karnataka
Neolithic settlements in India
India’s Neolithic-agriculture-based regions can be divided into four categories:
- The Indus system and its western outskirts
- Valley of the Ganga
- Western India and the Deccan Plateau
- The Deccan of the South
Southern India’s Neolithic Age lasted between 2,600 and 800 B.C. It is subdivided into three sections as follows:
Phase I: No metal tool
Phase II: It is marked with copper and bronze tools in limited quantities in Phase-II. Domesticated cattle, such as cows, bulls, sheep, and goats, have been bred, and gramme, millet, and ragi have been cultivated. Handmade and wheel-made pottery were both used.
Phase III: is distinguished by the use of iron.
South Indian Ash mounds
Neolithic ash mounds are man-made landscape features that have been dated to the Neolithic period and can be found in some places in southern India (3000 to 1200 BC). They are thought to have ritual significance and were created by the burning of wood, dung, and animal debris by early pastoral and agricultural cultures. Hundreds of ash mound sites have been discovered, many of which have a low perimeter embankment and holes that may have once housed posts.
South India’s Neolithic period is noted for its ash mounds, which were eventually supplanted (in its Iron Age) by megalith builders with artisan specialisations. A few generations of people have built the ash mounds, which are made of cattle dung that has been burned. The mounds are frequently followed by villages, for which they may have served as establishing rites. The new, meticulously dated sequence also details the cultivation of specific crops, some of which are native to the area and others that were imported from Africa.
The Neolithic period in South India began approximately 3000 BCE and continued until around 1400 BCE. Since 2500 BCE, Ashmounds have been found in the Andhra-Karnataka region of South India, which later spread into Tamil Nadu. Comparative excavations in Adichanallur, Tirunelveli District, and Northern India have shown evidence of the Megalithic culture’s southerly movement.
Humans lived in the Piklihal settlement from the stone age to the early mediaeval period. Pieces of handcrafted containers, clay dolls, broken terracotta bangles, and stone grinding machinery can all be discovered in Piklihal village. According to historians, the area, which is surrounded by nine rocky hills, was initially chosen by hunters and gatherers in 2700 BC, during the lower neolithic period. In the Lingasugur taluk, the village is 5 kilometres from Mudgal.
Maski, Takkalakota is a well-known Neolithic site in India, located south of the Godavari River on the crest of granite hills. Sheep, goats, and cattle were all domesticated. Archaeologists have discovered ash mounds.
Hallur, located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the Haveri district, is famous for its prehistoric ash-mound. Nagaraja Rao discovered Hallur’s ash mound in 1962 and excavated it in 1965. The excavations showed two periods of human occupation: Neolithic-Chalcolithic and a Neolithic-Chalcolithic-early Iron Age overlapping phase. Several artefacts were discovered during the excavations, including iron arrowheads, daggers and knives, and ceramics. Black-and-red pottery with lines and patterns was discovered.
Timeline of Neolithic settlement in South India
- The first village was constructed by dividing the houses with trash dumps and passageways.
- Houses were usually divided into four or more internal compartments, some of which were utilised for storage.
- Early settlers relied mostly on hunting and gathering for sustenance, with some cultivation and animal husbandry thrown in for good measure.
- Wheat and barley were among the domesticated cereals, and sheep, goats, and cattle were among the domesticated animals.
- The usage of pottery by humans dates back to the 6th millennium B.C. when it was originally handcrafted and then wheel-made.
- The presence of shell bangles and pendants made of mother of pearl suggests that the people were primarily engaged in long-distance trading.
Neolithic sites in South India
The major sites in southern India are listed below.
- Andhra Pradesh’s Kodekal, Utnur, Nagarjunakonda, and Palavoy
- Karnataka’s Tekkalkolta, Maski, Narsipur, Sangankallu, Hallur, and Brahmagiri
- Tamil Nadu’s Paiyampalli
The Neolithic Revolution resulted in many changes that made a mark in history. There was much progress as well as limitations seen in the Neolithic phase. There were changes like large groups of people establishing permanent communities based on agriculture and farming. It prepared the phase for the successive Bronze Age and Iron Age breakthroughs, when progress in farming implements and art swept the world, bringing civilizations together through commerce. Copper metallurgy was introduced around the end of the Neolithic era, signalling the start of the Bronze Age, also known as the Chalcolithic Era.