Tuesday, 6 September 2011

To what extent archaeological materials are useful in understanding the progress of Neolithic man in India?

The Neolithic Age is mainly characterized by shifting cultivation, animal husbandry and settled life. A large number of neolithic sites have been discovered in the Indian sub-continent. Ex Bolan valley, Belan valley. Kashmir valley, Brahmaputra valley and Peninsular India. The archaeological evidence is of utmost importance to us as Neolithic age is pre-historic in nature. Such findings prove to be helpful in understanding the social and cultural patterns of the Neolithic culture.

Existence of mud-brick huts and stone pit-dwellings at various sites indicate the emergence of villages. Highly sophisticated microliths, grinding stones, blades etc., highlight the advancement in tool-making and food processing technology. The remains of food grains and animal bone certify the cultivation of rice, wheat, barley, cotton etc., and domestication of cattle, sheep, goat, and ass. However the discovery of huge ash mounds in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh indicated that animal husbandry was primary occupation instead of plant agriculture. The prevalence of slash and burn type of cultivation practiced by the Neolithic man is further substantiated by the discovery of charcoal in most of the neolithic sites.

Emergence of religion and growth of beliefs can be visualized by the finding of terracotta figurines of Mother Goddess, serpent etc., and the grave goods found along with the dead indicate their belief in the ‘life after death’. Barter system was supposedly in existence and the external contacts of the neolithic man with chalcolithic culture and possibly Harappan civilization also is evident from the discovery of turquoise, lapis lazuli, conch shells etc., in Kashmir valley and the bronze and copper implements in Karnataka. Different varieties of pottery found at various sites indicate the artistic taste of the neolithic man. A series of rock brushings and rock paintings in Karnataka are also found.

In conclusion, looking at the material similarities in a behavioral perspective, we can definitely say that the present day tribal population inherited aspects of the early farming population. Therefore, a corroboration of the archaeological data with ethnographic analogy can gives us solid base for the understanding of the various adaptation strategies and the man-land relationship.

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