Neolithic or the New Stone Age:
The main period of the Neolithic Age in the Indian subcontinent was 4000-1800 BC. This was the food producing age when man completely changed his way of life. Traces of Neolithic communities have survived mostly in the north-western region and the Deccan. Neolithic settlements in Baluchistan seem to be oldest around 3500 BC. In the new way of life man began to domesticate animals and cultivate plants. The dog, sheep and goat were probably the first to be domesticated.
Among plants, wheat and barley were the earliest cereals grown. As a result man began to settle down in certain selected areas. This led to the growth of villages and farming communities. The tools he needed also changed. All these developments took place first in north western India and culminated in the rise and growth of great Indus Civilization while the rest of the Indian subcontinent was late in undergoing the transition from Mesolithic to the Neolithic and then to the Chalcolithic periods.
Neolithic Phase The Neolithic transition involved less a technological revolution than one in land use. After millennia of success as hunters and food gatherers people settled down to village life as farmers or stockbreeders. It cannot be coincidental that this process of settling down and tending to wheat, barley, cattle, sheep and goat species is first found in South Asia at a site in a frontier region, Mehrgarh. There was no particular period in South Asia when hunters and gatherers took to agriculture and animal rearing. The Neolithic stage appeared in different regions at different times in each case with a unique stone and ceramic technology and range of domesticates.
Neolithic cultures in the Jhelum valley and in the Garo and North Cachar hills exhibit a frontier character with artefactual links with cultures outside the subcontinent. On the other hand in Orissa we may have mingling of traditions from the northeast and the Deccan plateau. Like the Kachhi plain the region comprising the Belan valley at the edge of the Vindhya plateau and the adjoining Ganga plain around Allahabad is an important zone.
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