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Anicent Indian History - Stone Age

Sep 24, 2021 By Careericons

The age when pre-historic man began to use stones for utilitarian purposes is termed the Stone Age.

The Stone Age is divided into three broad divisions:

  1. Palaeolithic Age (Old Stone, Hunters and Food Gatherers 5,00,000–10,000 BCE)
    • Lower Palaeolithic Age (5,00,000-1,00,000 B.C.),
    • Middle Palaeolithic Age (1,00,000 - 40,000 B. C.), and
    • Upper Palaeolithic Age (40,000 - 10,000 B.C.)
  2. Mesolithic Age (Hunters and Herders 10,000–6,000 BCE)
  3. Neolithic Age  (Food Producers 6,000–1,800 BCE) 
pre-historic-period-time-line

A. PALAEOLITHIC AGE [Hunters and Food Gatherers] (5,00,000–10,000 BCE in India)

Palaeolithic (Old Stone) Age In 1930, Gabriel de montillet, a french investigator, started naming the cultural divisions in the manner of compartments or stages. In this context, the Palaeolithic age (old stone age) comes first.

It was an age of hunting and food gathering culture. Palaeo means ‘old’ and ‘lithic’ means ‘stone’.

Important characteristic features of the Palaeolithic Age of Ancient Indian History:

  • The term Palaeolithic was coined by archaeologist John Lubbock in 1865 and refers to a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of the first stone tools made of quartzite. Hence, Palaeolithic men are also called Quartzite Men.
  • Homo sapiens first appeared towards the end of this phase.
  • Humans used the skins of animals, the bark of trees and large leaves as clothes. Humans organized themselves in small wandering groups consisting of a few men, women and children.

Palaeolithic Age is divided into three periods on the basis of the nature of stone tools made by human beings as well as due to the changes in the climate:

  1. Lower Palaeolithic,
  2. Middle Palaeolithic and
  3. Upper Palaeolithic.

1. Lower Palaeolithic Age (5,00,000-1,00,000 B.C.)

  • It covers the greater part of the Ice Age. The people were wanderers.
  • They did not know how to grow food.
  • They used to eat fruits, birds and raw animal flesh, etc.
  • The tools were usually made of hard rock, ‘Quartzite’ and therefore the man of Palaeolithic age is called ‘Quartzite Man’.
  • For hunting, they used hand-axe, cleavers, flaxes and choppers of irregular shapes.
  • Fossil of “Homo Erectus”, from Hathnaura (Narmada basin), of this age, has been found.
  • This age is represented by Sohan culture (Now in Pakistan).

Important Lower Palaeolithic Age Sites:

S. No. Sites States
1. Belan Valley Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh
2. Bhimbetka, Jogdaha, Narmada Valley Madhya Pradesh
3. Bagor, Budha Pushkar, Didwani Rajasthan
4. Patne Maharashtra
5. Renigunta, Kurnool Caves Andhra Pradesh
6. Singhbhum, Chhotanagpur  Jharkhand
7. Sohan Valley

West Punjab (Pakistan) 

8. Belan Valley Mirzapur
9. Singrauli basin Uttar Pradesh

2. Middle Palaeolithic Age (1,00,000 - 40,000 B. C.)

  • It was an age of flakes.
  • A bit change in the shape of tools made of stones or bones is remarked. Now they started using blades, points and scrapers made of flakes.
  • Still, they had no house to live in. They lived under the rocks in caves and hollow tree trunks.
  • They were afraid of wild creatures.
  • Neanderthal man dominated this stage of human evolution.

Important Middle Palaeolithic Age Sites:

S. No. Sites States
1. Nevasa, Nodur Madhmeshwar, Suregaon Maharashtra
2. Bhimbetka, Narmada Valley Madhya Pradesh
3. Bagor, Karmali Valley, Didwana Rajasthan
4. Bankura and Purulia West Bengal
5. Malprabha and Ghatprabha basin Karnataka

In Bhimbetka (M.P) 200 rock shelters, caves and thousands of paintings have been traced which are of the middle Palaeolithic age, i.e scrapper and borer culture.

3. Upper Palaeolithic Age (40,000 - 10,000 B.C.)

  1. In this period, humans lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers.
  2. The traces of Homo sapiens have been discovered.
  3. Rock paintings and carvings have been found in Bhimbetka that reflect the art and rituals of this period.
  4. The animals depicted in these are mostly bisons, elephants, tigers, boars, rhinoceros, etc.
  5. The upper Palaeolithic art is characterised by red and green colours.

Important Upper Palaeolithic Age Sites:

S. No. Sites States
1. Kurnool Caves, Kichler Andhra Pradesh
2. Belan Valley Uttar Pradesh
3. Nevasa  Maharashtra
4. Sabarmati Valley  Gujarat
5. Hathnora, Narmada Valley, Bhimbetka, Adamgarh  Madhya Pradesh
6. Attirampakkam, Kortallayar Valley Tamil Nadu
7. Pahalgam Kashmir

B. MESOLITHIC AGE (Hunters and Herders 10,000–6,000 BCE in India)

  • The Mesolithic period is technologically characterized by the use of microliths or small pointed and sharp stone tools.
  • Domestication of animals began in this Age.
  • Bhimbetka (in Raisen district) in Madhya Pradesh is known for ancient caves depicting pictures of birds, animals and humans.
  • It was an intermediate stage in the stone age ended with the introduction of agriculture. It is also known as the late stone age or the Microlithic age.
  • The domestication of animals has been witnessed by M.P and Rajasthan. Men were still savage but pottery making (Tilwara) and permanent habitation were in existence.

Tools found around Mesolithic sites:

Microliths (tools) were very small in size and length varies from 1 to 8 cm.

  • Backed blade, core, point, triangle, lunate and trapeze were the main tools. Some of the earlier used were continued like a scraper, burin, choppers, etc.

The earliest evidence for the domestication of animals has been founded in Bagor. It has provided stone-paved habitational floors, human burials besides some tiny pieces of handmade potsherds. Langhnaj has three cultural phases.

The first produced microliths, burials and animal bones, the second phase has two ground axes and a ring stone and the third phase is remarkable for potsherds.

In central and North India we have Bhimbetka (M.P) where many rock shelters with microliths on the floor and paintings on walls have been found.

In Azamgarh, we have got signs of animals domestication. Sarai Nahar Rai Morhana Pahar and Lekhani are some important sites. Burnt clay lumps and fire hearths have been discovered from these sites.

Coming towards the eastern part of India we have so many places from where microliths (fairly large and prepared on block chlorite stone)) have been discovered.

Burdwan, Purulia Bankura (West Bengal); Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundergarh and Kuchai in Orissa and Chhota Nagpur in Jharkhand and Sehargigi in Meghalaya are the important sites of this location.

In the South, 11 sites of microlithic clusters have been found in the Tinnevelly or Thirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, 25 microlithic sites are reported in the area between Krishna and Bhima rivers in Shorapur doab.

Important Mesolithic Age Sites:

S. No. Sites States
1. Langhnaj Gujarat
2. Tilwara, Bagor Rajasthan
3. Patne, Hathkhamba Maharashtra
4. Damdama, Chopani Mando Uttar Pradesh

C. NEOLITHIC AGE (Food Producers 6,000–1,800 BCE in India)

The Neolithic Age or the New Stone Age was the last phase of the Stone Age.

  • It is characterized by the use of polished stone tools culture and the beginning of cultivation of crops.
  • This period also saw the invention of the wheel and the controlled use of fire.
  • Men started living a settled life. Agriculture and domestication of animals were started.
  • They discovered the art of producing fire by the friction of stones and got the taste of cooked flesh.
  • For hunting, bows and arrows were invented. They learnt the art of pottery.
  • Their pots were well made and decorated with paintings.
  • They had the knowledge of boat making for the journey.
  • They also learnt the art of spinning and weaving clothes.
  • Toolmaking became an important profession and a variety of polished tools were manufactured. Picks, scrapers, bodkins, chisels, mortars, eyed needles and pierced batons were the important tools.
  • Neolithic men started respecting their ancestors.
  • They offered honourable burial for the dead and constructed tombs for them. These tombs were called Dolmens. It was an age of revolution, i.e neolithic revolution of the stone age. The wheel was an important discovery of this age.

The four major characteristics—traits that represent the Neolithic culture are:

  1. Beginning of the practice of agriculture. (Evidence of 1st farming)
  2. Use of polished stone tools.
  3. The manufacturing of pottery.
  4. First controlled use of fire.

Important Neolithic Age Sites:

S. No. Sites States
1. Burzahom, Gufkral Kashmir
2. Mehrgarh, Kili Gul Muhammad Baluchistan
3. Daojali Hading Assam
4. Chopani Mando, Mahagarha Uttar Pradesh
5. Chirand, Chechar Bihar
6. Tekkalakota, Sangangakallu, Narsipur,
Hallur, Kupgal, Kodekal, Brahmagiri
Karnataka
7. Nagarjunakonda, Piklihal, Utnur

Andhra Pradesh

8. Paiyampalli Mirzapur
9. Singrauli basin Tamil Nadu
10. Kuchai – Mayurbhanj Orissa
11. Taradih & Singhbhumi West Bengal

M.H. Krishnan has found some polished tools in Mysore. Burzahom is remarkable for pit-jewelling houses.


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