CHAPTER-9 : Chalcolithic Cultures

Ancient History of India
Short Notes or Revision Notes 


Chalcolithic Cultures (Copper-Stone Age)

Emergence and Spread

  • Successor to Neolithic period
  • Marked by introduction of copper tools (alongside stone)

Sites and Regions

  • Southeastern Rajasthan:Ahar & Gilund (Banas Valley)
  • Western Madhya Pradesh (Malwa):Kayatha & Eran
  • Western Maharashtra (Jorwe Culture):Most extensive excavations
    • Jorwe (type-site), Nevasa, Daimabad, Chandoli, Songaon, Inamgaon, Prakash, Nasik
    • Dates: c. 1400 to 700 BC
    • Rural settlements, some near urban (Daimabad, Inamgaon)
    • Semi-arid areas with brown-black soil and ber/babul vegetation
  • Other Sites:
    • Navdatoli (Narmada River)
    • Vindhyan region (Allahabad district)
    • Eastern India (Ganges & tributaries): Chirand, Pandu Rajar Dhibi, Mahishdal
    • Bihar: Senuar, Sonpur, Taradih
    • Eastern Uttar Pradesh: Khairadih, Narhan

Tools and Technology

  • Stone tools:Used alongside copper implements
  • Ahar Culture (Rajasthan):No microliths, focus on copper (flat axes, bangles, sheets, bronze sheet)
  • Jorwe Culture (Maharashtra):Flat copper axes, chisels
  • Pottery:Black-and-red ware (common after 2000 BC)
    • Painted pottery in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan
    • Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar: Channel-spouted pots, dishes/bowls on stands

Lifestyle and Subsistence

  • Domesticated animals:Cows, sheep, goats, pigs, buffaloes
  • Agriculture:Crops grown varied by region
    • Rajasthan: Millets
    • Deccan: Cotton, ber, linseed, rai, bajra
    • Eastern India: Rice
  • Settlements:
    • Mostly small, except Ahar & Gilund (Rajasthan) – 4 hectares
    • Houses: Stone (Ahar), mud (Maharashtra), some with ovens and pits
    • Inamgaon (Maharashtra): Largest settlement, fortified with moat
    • Social stratification suggested by house location and burial practices (e.g., grave goods)

Arts and Crafts

  • Bead manufacture (carnelian, steatite, quartz crystal)
  • Spinning and weaving (spindle whorls found in Malwa)
  • Textiles: Cotton, flax, silk (cotton, silk, semal)

Religion and Burial Practices

  • Mother goddess figurines (Maharashtra)
  • Bull figurines (Malwa, Rajasthan) – symbol of religious cult
  • Burial in urns (Maharashtra) with grave goods (copper objects)
  • Unearthed nude clay figurines (Maharashtra)

Social Organization

  • Settlement patterns and burials suggest emerging social inequalities
  • Inamgaon (Maharashtra): Craftsmen on fringes, possible “chief” at center
  • Differential burial goods (e.g., children’s necklaces) hint at social status

Harappan Connections and Chronology

  • Ganeshwar (Rajasthan):Pre-Harappan Chalcolithic culture (2800-2200 BC)
    • Copper objects (arrowheads, spearheads, bangles, etc.)
    • Terracotta cake resembling Indus type
    • Microliths and Ochre Colored Pottery (OCP)
    • Supplied copper to Harappa
    • Partly agricultural, largely hunting

Regional Variations

  • Pre-Harappan & Coexistent Chalcolithic Cultures:Found in North, West, Central India
    • Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Banawali (Haryana), Kot Diji (Sindh, Pakistan)
  • Kayatha Culture (Rajasthan): 2000-1800 BC, with some Harappan elements
  • Malwa Culture (Madhya Pradesh):1700-1200 BC, non-Harappan (Navdatoli, Eran, Nagda)
  • Jorwe Culture (Maharashtra):1400-700 BC, independent of Harappan (except for Vidarbha, Konkan)
  • Southern & Eastern India:Independent Chalcolithic cultures (Vindhya region, Bihar, West Bengal)

Significance of Chalcolithic Cultures

  • Precursors to Indus Valley Civilization
  • Promoted spread of farming communities (Sindh, Baluchistan, Rajasthan)
  • Examples:Amri & Kot Diji (Sindh), Kalibangan & Ganeshwar (Rajasthan)

Chalcolithic Cultures in Eastern India

  • 138 sites identified, only 14 excavated (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar)
  • Less copper use compared to central/western India (mostly stone tools)
  • Mid-Gangetic valley & West Bengal: c. 1500-700 BC (Pandu Rajar Dhibi, Mahishdal)
  • Disappearance by 1200 BC (except Jorwe culture until 700 BC)


Megaliths in India

  • Function:

 Burial markers (3000 years ago)

  • Location:Deccan, South India, Northeast, Kashmir

Burial Practices

  • Brahmagiri (South India):Varied grave goods (gold beads, bangles, conch shells)
  • Inamgaon (Maharashtra):3600-2700 years ago
    • Adults buried extended (north facing)
    • Some burials within houses
    • Food/water vessels placed with dead
    • Unique burial: large clay jar, courtyard of central settlement house (with granary), body in cross-legged position


Significance of the Chalcolithic Phase

  • Pioneered Painted Pottery:First culture to use painted pottery in India.
  • Regional Variations:
    • South India:Neolithic transitioned smoothly into Chalcolithic (“Neolithic-Chalcolithic”).
    • Western Maharashtra & Rajasthan:Chalcolithic cultures emerged later, possibly from colonizers.
  • Settlements:
    • Central India (Malwa):Early settlements (Kayatha, Eran).
    • Western Maharashtra:Later settlements.
    • Eastern India (Bihar, WB):Much later settlements (Chirand, Pandu Rajar Dhibi).
    • Fortifications:Seen in Kayatha, Eran (MP), Inamgaon (Maharashtra).
    • Eastern settlements:Simpler structures (post-holes, round houses).
  • Burial Practices:
    • Maharashtra:North-south body placement.
    • South India:East-west body placement.
    • Western India:Extended burial.
    • Eastern India:Fractional burial.


Limitations of Chalcolithic Cultures

  • Agriculture:
    • Limited tools: Perforated stone discs only (not ideal for large-scale farming)
    • Iron implements needed for intensive cultivation (absent in Chalcolithic cultures)
  • High infant mortality rate

Copper Hoards and Ochre-Coloured Pottery Phase

  • Copper hoards:Found across a wide area (West Bengal to Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh).
    • Contain various objects (rings, celts, hatchets, swords, harpoons, spearheads, human figures).
    • Largest hoard: Gungeria (Madhya Pradesh).
    • Concentrated in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab.
  • Ochre-Coloured Pottery:Found in the upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab.
  • Stray finds:Copper hoards in Jharkhand plateau and Rajasthan (Khetri zone).




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