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DISCUSS THE SITE DISTRIBUTION AND SETTLEMENT/SUBSISTENCE PATTERN OF MESOLITHIC AGE IN INDIA
The Mesolithic Age represent a phase of transition from the preceding hunting and food gathering stage of the Palaeolithic period to that of farming and herding in the succeeding Neolithic period. It coincides with the beginning of the Holocene age, around 10,000 BP or 8,000 BC. This age witnessed a change in climate from cold and arid to warm and wet on account of the gradual recession of the glaciers. This change led to the melting of snow and the formation of rivers resulting in the growth of forests and vegetation. The technology of producing tools also underwent change; now small stone tools were being used increasingly. Although the Mesolithic man was still in hunting and gathering stage of subsistence, there was shift in pattern of hunting from big game to small game hunting, fishing, and fowling. The use of animal bones, along with stones, marked the biggest change in the life of man from the Palaeolithic age to the Mesolithic age. The beginning of the art of making clay pots is also a significant development of the Mesolithic age. There was a significant growth in population and the change in demographic profile. Microlithic or small stone tools (their length ranging from 1 to 8 cm) comprised of tools made on blades and include burins, lunettes, crescents, triangles, points, trapeze, etc.
The Pachpadra basin and the Sojat area in Rajasthan are rich in Microliths with Tilwara and Bagor being the most important sites. Bagor on the river Kothari is the largest Mesolithic site in India where geometric Microliths are found along with shells and animal bones. Being located at the juncture of arable and fertile lands and being rich in quartz Bagor was an ideal location for the Mesolithic man whose subsistence pattern relied on his surroundings. Rock shelters excavated at Lekhakia (in Mirzapur district of southern UP) have yielded blade tools and Microliths. Burials and pottery was also found. Baghai Khor is another rock shelter site in the same area where two extended burials were identified.
In Eastern India, Microliths generally occur on the surface of laterite plains and forests in Orissa, Bengal, and the Chota Nagpur Plateau and on the rocky (sandstone) hillocks of Mirzapur. The tools were generally made of milky quartz, though crystal,
hare. black buck. mongoose. and animal bones. SUBSISTENCE PATTERN Floral and Faunal remains gives us ideas about the subsistence pattern whereas the burials and rock paintings gives us ideas about the development of religious practices. flakes.chert. and Rushikonda. At Bagor. According to Allchin. Narmada. bone objects. Mishra as a place for butchering animals or a slaughter house. Mayurbhanj. In peninsular India. Microliths. sheep. At Bagor and Adamgarh. and plant food collection in the contemporary rock paintings. They have been found at Jalahalli and Kibbanhali near Bangalore in Karnataka. The early Mesolithic sites have yielded the faunal remains of cattle. The remains of fish. There were hearths. tortoise. Kuchai and Sundergarh in Orissa. porcupine. querns and mullers. points and crescents. and Sabarmati. Sebalgiri in the Garo hills of Meghalaya have also yielded Microliths. and hammer stones have been discovered. N. the Microliths are mostly made out of milky quartz. stone tablets and ring stones have been found at sites such as Chandrampalem. cheetah. hippo. Further south. On the Vishakapatnam coast. chalcedony. elephant. sheep or goats were domesticated in this period. This direct evidence is supplemented by the depiction of scenes of hunting. wolf. and nilgai have been found from different Mesolithic sites like Langhanaj and Tilwara and it seems these were consumed as food. buffalo. quartzite and fossil wood tools have also been found. Birbhanpur located on the river Damodar in West Bengal seems to have been both a habitation and a factory site. sheep. a paved floor littered with bones has been identified by V. Keonjhar. tiny stone tools. trapping of mice. The animal bones and stone tools found at various sites form the chief evidence of the subsistence pattern of the Mesolithic people. At Damdama near Sai River. in Goa. and fish. there is evidence of domestication of cattle. fishing. Meoslithic tools like blades and geometric Microliths made of chalcedony have been found at Bhimbetka. Microlithic sites found in the vicinity of Mumbai seem to represent coastal Mesolithic communities who exploited marine resources for food. patches of burnt floor plaster. The appearance and disappearance of the animals has to be understood in the context of changing climatic and environmental conditions. The diet of the people during Mesolithic Age included both meat and vegetal food. Paradesipalem. pig. and goat. charred wild grains. Mahi. mostly of quartz and chert. bison. deer. . In the south of Chennai. anvils. and at Nagarjunakonda (in southern Andhra Pradesh). have been found on teris (old sand dunes). Microliths have been found in the valleys of Tapi. Microliths have been reported from the Kurnool area and Renigunta in Andhra Pradesh. Sagan Kullu in Karnataka has yielded cores.
and Adamgarh. having only a few bones. the dead were buried in a flexed position with arms and legs folded as if in sleeping position. This period reveals the earliest use of ornaments and sheds enough light on the craft activity and aesthetic sensibility of the Mesolithic people. and the most common form of burial was the extended burial. rearing of child. and these constituted important elements in the overall dietary pattern. Pratapgarh and Mirzapur are rich in Mesolithic art and painting and they reflect Hunting. At Sarai Nahar Rai. social organization had become more stable as the paintings and engravings depict activities like sexual union.The Mesolithic people also collected wild roots. Beads of semi precious stones such as jasper and agate have been reported from Bagor. The economy was primarily based on hunting and gathering. Bhimbetka. It can be suggested that hunting provided significant portion of the food resource. CONCLUSION The Mesolithic phase of prehistory was characterized by the introduction of new technology in the form of material and composite tools as well as by some progress towards the domestication of animals and plant collection. There is also evidence of secondary or fractional burials. Some areas seem to have been rich in grass. which the Mesolithic people used. childbirth. Men lived along the banks of the rivers and foothills where raw material was easily available. Adamgarh. At Mahadaha. The meticulous way in which the burials were made and the way in which the dead bodies and grave goods were placed clearly indicate the performance of some ritual at the time of death and the emergence of belief in life after death. edible roots. and Sarai Nahar Rai. a grave contains 4 individuals in 2 pairs of a male and a female each. It could also be said that during the Mesolithic period. honey etc. The paintings and engravings found at the rock shelters. The dead were buried inside the habitation area. food gathering. There is evidence of human burials in India at various sites such as Langhanj. The grave goods (like microliths and bone ornaments) obtained from the graves gives us an important insight into the material culture of the Mesolithic people. and people would have used them as food resources. Bagor. a body lying on the back with face upward. and burial ceremonies. seeds. nuts and fruits. the male being placed on the right of the female. give us considerable idea about their social life and economic activities. one skeleton is wearing an earring along with a necklace of beads made of antler bone. It is difficult to establish co-relation between the animal meat and vegetal food in the context of Mesolithic age because the plant remains are perishable in nature. hits. Sites like Bhimbetka. fishing and other human activities. tubers. . Sometimes.
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