Mesolithic Period



  • Mesolithic, also called Middle Stone Age, is an ancient cultural stage that existed between the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), with its chipped stone tools, and the Neolithic (New Stone Age), with its polished stone tools.
  • Mesolithic material culture is characterized by greater innovation and diversity than is found in the Paleolithic.
  • In India, this age spanned from 9,000 B.C. to 4,000 B.C., and is characterized by the appearance of Microliths (small bladed stone tools).
  • Mesolithic period in human cultural history is defined as the earliest Holocene culture that occurs before agriculture was started.


Tool Types and Technology

  • Microliths are the predominating and the most common tool types of this cultural phase
    • Microliths are described in terms of geometric and non-geometric shapes.

Geometric ones are types such as trapeze, triangle, lunate or crescent. The nongeometric types are named by the nature of blunting of the back, such as partly, fully or obliquely blunted blades or after their functions such as scraper, point, knife, blade, awl, burin and borer

  • These were used as composite tools for plant gathering and harvesting, slicing, grating, plant-fibre processing
  • Another type of tool used by the Mesolithic people is called the Macrolith
    • These were bigger than Microliths, and were a continuation of the Upper Palaeolithic types such as scrapers
    • These are considered as heavy-duty tools
  • Bone and antler tools are yet another category of tools used by the Mesolithic people


 Indian Mesolithic Culture

  • Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age was of a much shorter period than Palaeolithic.
    • It lasted from over thirty thousand years in Sri Lanka and parts of Africa to only about ten thousand years in India and West Asia.
  • Besides the use of microliths, the Mesolithic people made a number of technological innovations like the bow and arrow for hunting, querns, grinders and hammer stones for grinding and pulverising plant foods like roots, tubers etc.
  • They created a large volume of art in the form of several thousand paintings and engravings, which not only tell us about their aesthetic taste but also their capability for innovating new technological elements, modes of subsistence economy, items of material culture, social organization and religion


Indian Mesolithic sites

  • The earliest discovery of microliths and other Mesolithic tools were discovered in the rock-shelters of Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Major excavated sites in India include:
    • Tilwara, Bagor , Ganeshwar in Rajasthan
    • Langhnaj, Akhaj, Valasana, Hirpura, Amrapur, Devnimori, Dhekvadlo,
    • Tarsang in Gujarat
    • Patne, Pachad, Hatkhamba in Maharashtra
    • Morkhana, Lekhahia, Baghai Khor, Sarai Nahar Rai, Mahadaha, Damdama,
    • Chopani Mando, Baidha Putpurihwa in Uttar Pradesh
    • Pachmarhi, Adamgarh, Putli Karar, Bhimbetka, Baghor II, Baghor III,
    • Ghagharia in Madhya Pradesh
    • Paisra in Bihar
    • Kuchai in Odisha
    • Birbhanpur in West Bengal
    • Muchatla Chintamanu Gavi, Gauri Gundam in Andhra Pradesh
    • Sanganakallu in Karnataka
    • Tenmalai in Kerala.
  • The above excavated sites have provided us with a vast amount of information regarding technology, material remains, burial practices, anatomical remains, customs associated with burial, art and charcoal for dating of the sites.