6 History

The Early Farmers

Learning Goals:

  • Neolithic Age
  • Beginning of Farming
  • Invention of Wheel

Neolithic Age: The last phase of the Stone Age is called the Neolithic Age. This phase began about 10,000 years ago. This phase marks a significant change in the life of humans because this is the period when man began farming.

Tools of the Neolithic Age: The tools of the Neolithic Age were much smaller and more refined. Stone was given better shape and some tools were fitted with handles, e.g. spears, axe, sickles, arrows, etc.

Sites of The Neolithic Age

This map shows various Neolithic Age sites in India. They are as follows:

neolithic sites on map of India
REF: NCERT Textbook
  • Burzahom and Gufkral in Jammu & Kashmir
  • Mehrgarh in Pakistan
  • Chirand in Bihar
  • Daojali Hading in the north east
  • Koldihwa in Uttar Pradesh
  • Haldur and Paiyampalli in south India
Archaeological Proofs of Farming
SitesGrains and bones
Mehrgarh (present day Pakistan)Wheat, barley, sheep, goat, cattle
Koldihwa (Uttar Pradesh)Rice, fragmentary animal bones
Mahagara (Uttar Pradesh)Rice, cattle (hoof marks on clay surface)
Gufkral (Kashmir)Wheat and lentil
Burzahom (Kashmir)Wheat and lentil, dog, cattle, sheep, goat, buffalo
Chirand (Bihar)Wheat, green gram, barley, buffalo, ox
Hallur (Andhra Pradesh)Millet, cattle, sheep, goat, pig
Paiyampalli (Andhra Pradesh)Black gram, millet, cattle, sheep, pig

Beginning of Agriculture

The beginning of farming was the most revolutionary development in the human history. This marked the beginning of progress towards a settled life.

Historians guess that farming was first discovered by women. This was possible because women had to live at a place for a longer duration during pregnancy and raising children. While staying at a place for a long duration; women and children may have observed that seeds develop into plants. They may have learnt growing plants after that observation.

Benefits of Farming:

  • Farming meant there was better supply of food. Additionally, there was less reliance on hunting and gathering.
  • We know that a plant takes many months to bear fruits and seeds. So people needed to stay at a place for longer duration to take care of the crop. This helped humans to live a settled life.
  • Once food was surplus, people could focus intellectual development during their spare time. This helped in developing scientific, linguistic and artistic skills.
  • After the beginning of settled life; communities became bigger and eventually took the form of villages. It is important to remember that a village is a place where agriculture is the main occupation of people.

Life of Tribe: People who live close to the nature and follow the primitive ways of life are called tribal. Some of the characteristics of a tribe are as follows:

  • Members of a tribe live together as small groups.
  • Tribes usually live near a forest. They depend on forest produce for most of their needs.
  • People of a tribe worship trees and animals and never exploit natural resources.
  • A tribe has a rich cultural heritage. They have their own music, sculpture and paintings.

Invention of Wheels:

This was the period when another major discovery took place, i.e. the invention of wheel. You may be thinking that an intelligent scientist may have invented the wheel but this was not the case. It must have taken hundreds of years before humans could perfect the design of wheel. People may have observed wooden logs and rocks rolling down the slopes. People may have started with using cylindrical logs to move heavy objects. With gradual passage of time; they may have perfected the design of the wheel.

Wheel gave many benefits to human beings. Carts could be easily pulled using human power or animal power. Long distance travels could become much easier. The craft of pottery also flourished because of potter’s wheel. Now-a-days; we cannot imagine of a life without wheels. Almost all machines have wheels of different sizes to move different parts.

Life at Mehrgarh:

Mehrgarh is a prehistoric site; near the Bolan Pass in a small fertile plain. Remains of houses, potteries, animal bones and burial sites have been found from this site.

house at mehrgarh
Fig: House at Mehrgarh (REF: NCERT Textbook)

Houses were rectangular in shape. They were made of stone slabs. A house in Mehrgarh was usually made up of four chambers. One of the chambers could have been used for storing grains.

burial site
Fig: Burial Site (REF: NCERT Textbook)

Burial Sites: Remains of burial sites indicate that people practiced the last rites of a dead person. Many interesting information have come from burial sites. In one of the burial sites; archaeologists have found skeletons of goats, along with the skeleton of a man. This shows that people believed in life after death. People believed that a person would need some comforts even in the afterlife.

Daojali Hading: Daojali Hading is in the hills of the Brahmaputra valley. Archaeologists have found mortar and pestles from this site. This shows that people practiced grinding of food items. Archaeologists have also found jadeite from this site. Jadeite is a greenish rock which was used for making tools. Historians guess that this may have come from China. This shows that there was people to people interaction from other parts of the world.