Chapter 2. From Hunting-Gathering To Growing Food

Earliest People and Why did they use to travel from one place to another?
• In early period, people used to gather food by hunting and gathering. These were called Hunter-Gatherers. They hunted animals, caught fish and gathered plants to fulfil their food requirement.
• If they had stayed at one place for a long time, they would have eaten up all available plant and animal resources.
• Animals move from place to place so these people had to follow their movements to hunt them.
• Plant and trees are dependent on seasons, so people had to move season to season in search of different kinds of plants.
• People used to travel in search of water, because water was very important for plants, people & animals to survive.

How do we know about earliest people?
• Archaeologists have found some of things huntergatherers made and used. They made various tools used for hunting and gathering from stones, woods & bones.
• Some of stone tools were used to cut down wood. Wood was used to light a fire, create huts.

Choosing a place to live in
• They lived near to sources of water, such as rivers, lakes & streams. They tried to find places where sufficient availability of stones, wood & food was present.

Bhimbhetka Caves
• Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site in MP that spans prehistoric Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods.
• Palaeolithic comes from two greek words ‘Palaeo’ means ‘Old’ and ‘Lithos’ means ‘Stone’. Hence, this period is known as Old Stone Age.
• Mesolithic is time period from about 12,000 years ago to about 10,000 years ago when we see changes in environment [middle stone]. Most of stone tools from this time are very small and are called microliths. It shows earliest signs of people living in India. This is a part of UNESCO World Heritage List.
• Bhimbetka rock shelters were discovered by V S Wakankar in 1957.

Rock Paintings
• Earliest people used to draw images and symbols on rock surfaces. first prehistoric paintings were uncovered in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhimbetka caves.
• Many of caves in which these early people lived have paintings on walls.
• Some of best examples are from Madhya Pradesh and southern Uttar Pradesh.
• Traces of ash show that people at that time have invented fire. It could have been used for many things:
(1) A source of light, (2) To roast meat and
(3) To scare away animals

Beginning of Farming and Herding
• Around 12,000 years ago, there were major changes in climate of world, which led to development of grasslands in many areas. number of animals like deer, goat, sheep & cattle increased due to increase in grasslands.
• People start thinking about herding and rearing these animals themselves. Fishing became important.
• After development of grasslands, people came to know about growing wheat, rice & barley.
• People have started taming animals and first animal to be tamed was wild ancestor of dog. Later they started domestication of sheep, goats & cattle as well. In this way, men started herding.

Note: Herding is act of bringing individual animals together into a group [herd], maintaining group and moving group from place to place—or any combination of those.

Beginning of a New Era
• People started living in same place for a longer period of time to look after plants – till grains ripened. They used to store grains in large clay pots, wove baskets or dug pits into ground for food and seeds.
• Animals were nurtured better now because they were source of milk, meat. as per requirement. In other words, animals that are reared can be used as a ‘store’ of food.
• Earliest farmers and herders discovered all over subcontinent, most important sites discovered in north-west, in present-day Kashmir and in east and south India.

A settled life
• Traces of huts, houses were found by archaeologists in different parts of subcontinent. People built pit houses in Kashmir.
• Stone tools have been found from many sites. stone tools belonging to Neolithic age were different from that of tools of Palaeolithic age.
• tools of Neolithic age were polished and given an accurate cutting edge. Some tools were made of bones that belonged to Palaeolithic age.
• Many kinds of earthen pots have been found. People used to store things, cook food in these pots.
• People began weaving cloth, using different kinds of materials. For example cotton.

Living and dying in Mehrgarh
• Mehrgarh is a Neolithic archaeological site situated in Balochistan, Pakistan. This is located near Bolan Pass, which is one of most important routes for Iran.
• Mehrgarh was one of places where people learned to grow barley and wheat and rear sheep and goats for first time in this area. In this village, many animal bones were found.
• When people die, he/she was buried with goats, which were probably meant to serve as food in next world. So we can say that they used to believe that there is some form of life after death.

Names and Dates Period Time Period

Palaeolithic Period – 2 million years ago to 12,000 years ago

Mesolithic Period – 12,000 years ago till about 10,000 years ago

Neolithic Period – 10,000 years ago till 4500 years ago

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