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History of South Asia
History of India
Stone Age before 3300 BCE
- Mehrgarh Culture 7000–3300 BCE
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The South Asian Stone Age covers the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods in South Asia. Evidence for the most ancient anatomically modern homo sapiens in South Asia has been found in the cave sites of Batadomba lena and Beli lena in Sri Lanka.[1]In Mehrgarh, in what is today western Pakistan, the Neolithic begins ca. 7000 and lasts until 3300 BCE and the first beginnings of the Bronze Age. In South India, the Mesolithic lasts until 3000 BCE, and the Neolithic until 1400 BCE, followed by a Megalithic transitional period mostly skipping the Bronze Age. The Iron Age begins roughly simultaneously in North and South India, around 1200 to 1000 BCE (Painted Grey Ware culture, Hallur).


Homo erectus

Homo erectus lived on the Pothohar Plateau, in upper Punjab, Pakistan along the Soan River (nearby Rawalpindi) during the Pleistocene Epoch. Biface handaxe and cleaver traditions may have originated in the middle Pleistocene.[2] The beginning of the use of Acheulian and chopper-chopping tools of lower paleolithic may be dated to approximately the middle Pleistocene.[3]

The coming of Homo sapiens

Analysis of mtDNA dates the immigration of Homo sapiens to South Asia to 70,000 to 50,000 years ago.[4] An analysis of Y chromosome haplogroups found one man in a village west of Madurai to be a direct descendant of these migrators.[5] These populations spread further to Southeast Asia, reaching Australia by 40,000 years ago. Cave sites in Sri Lanka have yielded the earliest record of modern homo sapiens in South Asia. They were dated to 34,000 years ago. (Kennedy 2000: 180). For finds from the Belan in southern Uttar Pradesh radio carbon data have indicated an age of 18-17kya. Palaeolithic rock art is also well-known.

At the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka humans lived throughout the Upper Paleolithic (10th to 8th millennia BC), revealing cave paintings dating to ca. 7000 BC; the Sivaliks and the Potwar (Pakistan) region also exhibit many vertebrate fossil remains and paleolithic tools. Chert, jasper and quartzite were often used by humans during this period.


The aceramic Neolithic (Mehrgarh I, Baluchistan, Pakistan, also dubbed "Early Food Producing Era") lasts ca. 7000 - 5500 BC. The ceramic Neolithic lasts up to 3300 BC, blending into the Early Harappan (Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age) period. One of the earliest Neolithic sites in India is Lahuradewa, at Middle Ganges region, C14 dated around 7th millennium BC.[6]. Recently another site near the confluence of Ganges and Yamuna rivers called Jhusi yielded a C14 dating of 7100 BC for its Neolithic levels.[7]

In South India the Neolithic began by 3000 BC and lasted until around 1400 BC.South Indian Neolithic is characterized by Ashmounds since 2500 BC in Karnataka region, expanded later to Tamil Nadu. Comparative excavations carried out in Adichanallur in Thirunelveli District and in Northern India have provided evidence of a southward migration of the Megalithic culture[8] The earliest clear evidence of the presence of the megalithic urn burials are those dating from around 1000 BC, which have been discovered at various places in Tamil Nadu, notably at Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli, where archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed 12 urns with Tamil Brahmi script on them containing human skulls, skeletons and bones, plus husks, grains of rice, charred rice and Neolithic celts, giving evidence confirming it of the Neolithic period 2800 years ago. This proved that Tirunelveli area has been the abode for human habituation since the Neolithic period about 3,000 years ago. Adhichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies.[9][10]


  1. ^ Upper pleistocene fossil hominids from Sri Lanka, Kenneth A. R. Kennedy 1, Siran U. Deraniyagala 4, William J. Roertgen, John Chiment, Todd Disotell, Section of Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, The Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts,Archaeological Department of the Government of Sri Lanka, Colombo 7
  2. ^ Kennedy 2000, p. 136.
  3. ^ Kennedy 2000, p. 160.
  4. ^ James & Petraglia 2005, S6.
  5. ^ Spencer Wells, The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey. Random House, ISBN 0-8129-7146-9
  6. ^ Fuller, Dorian 2006. "Agricultural Origins and Frontiers in South Asia: A Working Synthesis" in Journal of World Prehistory 20, p.42 "Ganges Neolithic"
  7. ^ Tewari, Rakesh et al. 2006. "Second Preliminary Report of the excavations at Lahuradewa,District Sant Kabir Nagar, UP 2002-2003-2004 & 2005-06" in Pragdhara No. 16 "Electronic Version p.28"
  8. ^ Sastri, Kallidaikurichi Aiyah Nilakanta. A History of South India. pp. 49–51. 
  9. ^ Subramanian, T. S. (2004-05-26). "Skeletons, script found at ancient burial site in Tamil Nadu". The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-07-31. 
  10. ^ Zvelebil, Kamil A. (1992). Companion Studies to the History of Tamil Literature. Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 21–22. ISBN 9004093656. "The most interesting pre-historic remains in Tamil India were discovered at Adichanallur.There is a series of urn burials. seem to be related to the megalithic complex." 


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