The Earliest People
You will be surprised to know that a major part of the Stone Age was during the Ice Age. Ice was all around and there was negligible vegetation on the earth.
After global warming, the Ice Age came to an end about 12,000 years ago. End of the Ice Age meant clearance of a vast tract of land. This also meant an ambient temperature for the growth of plants.
More green plants resulted in better availability of food for animals and humans. This was the period when many modern day mammals must have proliferated. More animals meant better availability of meat.
After the Ice Age, the plants of the grass family began to grow in most parts of the world. You must be aware that rice, wheat and corn belong to the grass family. It means that a major portion of our food comes from the grass family. This was the period when people may have started using cereals and grains.
Where Did People Live?
Fig: Palaeolithic Sites on Map of India
This map of India shows some important sites where people lived during the Stone Age. Some major places where people lived during the Old Stone Age are:
- Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh)
- Hunsgi (Karnataka)
- Kurnool Caves (Andhra Pradesh)
Two common factors for these sites are as follows:
- These places are near a river: The presence of a river means that availability of water was not an issue.
- These places are somewhere in the Deccan Plateau: The Deccan Plateau has plenty of stones. Thus, the materials for making stone tools were available in plenty.
Places where people could get plenty of stones for making tools were used as sites for making the tools. Such places are called factory sites. At some places, people also lived at such factory sites. Such sites are called habitation-cum-factory sites.
Proofs for Factory Sites
Historians have found many proofs at factory sites. They have found much larger stones and some unfinished tools. These proofs show that these were the locations of factory sites.
Making Stone Tools:
REF: NCERT Book Class 6
Historians have made guesses about the possible methods of making stone tools. There were two possible methods of making stone tools. They are as follows:
- Stone on stone: In this method, a stone was taken in one hand and was hit with another stone to make a particular shape. The stone which was made into a tool was called the core.
- Pressure Flaking: In this method, the core was kept on a hard surface. It was then hammered with a bigger stone to make a particular shape.
Discovery of Fire
The discovery of fire was a major revolution for the human beings. It changed the human life dramatically. People may have learnt to use fire after seeing the effects of forest fire. A person may have accidentally dropped a piece of meat in fire and may have tasted the cooked meat for the first time. People may have learnt to produce fire by rubbing two stones together.
Historians have found traces of ash from Kurnool caves. This suggests that fire was used by the people who lived in these caves.
Fire could be used for many purposes. Fire can be used for clearing forest. It can be used for cooking. Fire could be used for keeping the wild animals away from human dwellings.
The people of the Stone Age were very good artists as well. Many cave paintings have been found in the cave dwellings of the Stone Age. For example; the caves in Bhimbetka show beautiful paintings. Most the paintings show animals and hunting scenes.
Historians believe that these paintings may have been made as a part of a ritual. People may have made those drawings before going for hunting. Another possibility is that people must have got enough spare time to think about the beautiful nature around them.
These paintings also show that people used to live as a community. Living with the herd has many benefits. A large group provided better protection against predators. A group could easily kill a big animal. This ensured the supply of plenty of food. Historians guess that usually men went for hunting, while women lived in caves to take care of children. Women may have focused on collecting fruits, roots and berries.