CHAPTER-7 : Human Evolution: The Old Stone Age

Ancient History of India
Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Early Human Evolution (Africa)

Geological Timeline

  • Earth: 4.6 billion years old
  • Quaternary Period:
    • Pleistocene Epoch (Ice Age): 2 million BCE – 12,000 BCE
    • Holocene Epoch (Post-Ice Age): 12,000 BCE – Present

Hominid Species

  • Australopithecus:
    • First major step in human evolution
    • Bipedal, small braincase (400 cc)
    • Lived in Africa (2 million BCE – 12,000 BCE)
  • Homo habilis (“Handy Man”):
    • Early human species (2-1.5 million BCE)
    • Found in Africa with stone tools
    • Larger braincase (500-700 cc)
  • Homo erectus (“Erect Man”):
    • Appeared 1.8-1.6 million BCE
    • Larger braincase (800-1200 cc)
    • Used hand axes
    • Found in Africa, Asia (including South Asia)
  • Homo sapiens (“Wise Man”):
    • Ancestor of modern humans
    • Resembles Neanderthals (230,000-30,000 BCE)
    • Large braincase (1200-1800 cc)
    • Possibly originated in Europe

Modern Humans

  • Homo sapiens sapiens (“Fully Modern Man”):
    • Emerged in Africa (115,000 BCE)
    • Large braincase (1200-2000 cc)


Early Humans in India

Siwalik Hills (India & Pakistan)

  • Ramapithecus and Sivapithecus skull fossils found (hominid features, but ape-like)
  • Possible dead end in hominid evolution

Narmada Valley, Madhya Pradesh

  • 1982 discovery of near-complete hominid skull (Homo erectus, now considered archaic Homo sapiens)

Sri Lanka (Fa Hien Cave)

  • Homo sapiens sapiens fossils found (34,000 years old)


The Paleolithic Age in India (3 Phases)

Lower Paleolithic (Early Old Stone Age – 600,000 – 150,000 BCE)

  • Tools: Hand axes, cleavers, choppers (similar to Africa, Europe, Asia)
  • Use: Chopping, digging, skinning
  • Sites: Bori (Maharashtra – earliest), Sohan Valley (Punjab, Pakistan), Kashmir, Thar desert, Belan Valley (UP), Didwana (Rajasthan), Chirki-Nevasa (Maharashtra), Nagarjunakonda (Andhra Pradesh), Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Climate: Ice age

Middle Paleolithic (150,000 – 35,000 BCE)

  • Tools: Flakes (blades, points, borers, scrapers)
  • Sites: Narmada Valley, South India (beyond Tungabhadra river), Belan Valley (UP)
  • Climate: Less humid

Upper Paleolithic (35,000 – 10,000 BCE)

  • Tools: Blades, burins (found in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand)
  • Sites: Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh), Gujarat sand dunes
  • Climate: Less humid, warming trend (last phase of ice age)
  • Number of Sites: 566

Additional Notes:

  • Bhimbetka caves show evidence of habitation and tool production.
  • Evidence suggests early people were gatherers along the Narmada river.


The Mesolithic Age

Transitional Period

  • Between Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages
  • Hunting, fishing, gathering (Paleolithic practices)
  • Early animal domestication (Neolithic practice)

Mesolithic Tools

  • Microliths (tiny tools)


  • Rajasthan, South Uttar Pradesh, Central/Eastern India, South India (beyond Krishna River)
  • Bagor (Rajasthan): Hunting, pastoralism, microliths (5th millennium BCE onwards)
  • Adamgarh (Madhya Pradesh): Early animal domestication (around 5000 BCE)

Possible Plant Cultivation

  • Rajasthan (around 7000-6000 BCE)


Art and Society in Prehistory


  • Paleolithic & Mesolithic eras
  • Bhimbetka rock shelters (Madhya Pradesh): 500+ paintings (Upper Paleolithic – Mesolithic)

Social Organization

  • Hunting bands
  • Possible alliances between bands
  • Bands evolving into exogamous clans (Neolithic)


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