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Lower Palaeolithic ( c. 350,000 BP- 1,50,000BP)

Earliest in stone age cultures in India. Establishes in India after the discovery of the handaxe in Pallavaram by Robert Bruce Foote in 1863. The sites belong to an early, middle and late Acheulian tradition. (Acheulian are the standardized tradition of tool making associated with Homo Erectus). Dominated by core tools; such as Hand axe and cleavers. Lower Palaeolithic is found in different geographic situations like arid to semi-arid regions of western Rajasthan. Forested and hilly regions of Central India, Rock shelters and caves, coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Konkon.

Sites: The important sites are Chirki, Nevasa, Bori, Morgaon, Gangapur (Maharashtra); Anagwadi, and Hunsgi-Baichbal valley in Karnataka; Paisara in Bihar, Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh; Attirampakkam, Gudiyam and Vadamadurai in Tamil Nadu; Son Valley in Madhya Pradesh; Didwana in Rajasthan.

Tool types: Handaxes, cleavers, choppers, Chopping tools, Pick, Spheroid cores and retouched and unretouched flakes.

Middle Palaeolithic ( chronology 150,000 BP – 20,000 BP) 

Middle palaeolithic culture comes in between lower palaeolithic and upper Palaeolithic cultures. It was established in India after H D Sankalia discovered a flake industry comprising scrapers, points and borers made in Chert, Chalcedony, Jasper and Agate from the deposits of Pravara river at Nevasa in 1954. Middle palaeolithic artefacts are characterized by flake industry. Artefacts are found from Samnapur, Budha pushkar, Bhimbetka, Didwana and valleys of river Narmada, Tungabhadra, Belan and Son

Upper Palaeolithic ( chronology 30000 BP – 10000 BP) 

The Upper Palaeolithic period shows diversified and specialized tools made on blades by the replacement of hand axes and flake tools of earlier cultures. In the upper Palaeolithic phase, we found 566 sites from India. In India, we can notice the use of blades and burins which have been found in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Central Madhya Pradesh, southern Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. The upper Palaeolithic assemblage is characterized by comparatively large flakes, blades, burins and scrapers.

Tool types displayed 

Handaxes: They are the oldest and longest-used working tools- created by humans. They are core tools roughly worked on both sides ( bifacial flaking ) into a round or an oval or triangular shape. They are manufactured for a utilitarian purpose. Handaxes are distinguished according to shape and technique such as pear-shaped, lanceolate or almond-shaped, triangular, cordates and ovate and Micoquin.

Illustration of hand axe (courtesy:

Scrapers: Scrapers are unifacially retouched tools usually based on a flake with a steep, wide-angled edge that is suitable for, scraping hides, preparation of animal skins, to remove meat and muscle residue from the skin. Based on their working edge and shape it is classified into side scraper, End scraper, convex sided scraper and concave side scraper.

Scraper from paleolithic period

Cleaver: Cleaver is a tool made on a broad rectangular or convex side or end flake. The outside is the primary flaking surface and the upper retains the cortex or the pebble surface. The two longitudinal sides are trimmed to facilitate holding or hafting. They were helpful in skinning and breaking bones.  They resemble hand axes, but unlike hand axes, they have a wide, straight cutting edge.

Cleaver from paleolithic period (courtesy: wikipedia)

Mesolithic period  (10,000 BP to 2000 BP)

The Mesolithic period has seen significant growth in the human population in the country probably due to a more favourable climate. The lithic tradition of this period is characterized by highly developed blade and bladelet technology. The major component of the tool kit of this period is tiny tools from less than 1-5cm.  These micro-blades were then converted by retouching or blunting the edges.  Important sites are Langhanaj in Gujrat, Bagor in Rajasthan, Sarai Nahar Rai, Chopani Mando, Mahdaha, and Damdama in Uttar Pradesh, Bhimbetka and Azamgarh in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh

Neolithic Period

The neolithic period or new stone age is a stage of cultural evolution or technological development characterized by the use of stone tools. The tools became more polished and ground. There was a shift from food gathering to food production. The existence of settled villages was largely dependent on domesticated plants and animals, and the presence of such crafts as pottery and weaving. It extends from the 3rd millennium BCE to the 1st millennium BCE. The displayed items are Neolithic celt used by the primitive human for a variety of uses such as chopping down the trees, woodworking etc.