History Optional Paper- 1 Solution – 2014: Q.3 (a)
Q3 (a) In what ways can the Megalithic culture be considered a foundational phase of the history of peninsular India?
The word ”megalith” comes from two Greek words, megas meaning great or big and lithos meaning stone. Megaliths include different kinds of monuments that have one thing in common- they are made of large, roughly dressed slabs of stone.
Megalithic culture can be considered a foundational phase of the history of peninsular India in the following ways:
(1) Beginning of the sedentary life
Megalithic communities lived on a combination of agriculture, hunting, fishing, and animal husbandry. There is also evidence of craft traditions. These features, along with the megalithic monuments themselves, suggest sedentary living.
(2) Widespread use of iron
Iron objects generally outnumber objects made of other metals. The large volume and variety of iron artefacts include utensils, weapons (arrowheads, spearheads, swords, knives, etc.), carpentry tools (axes, chisels, adzes, etc.), and agricultural implements (sickles,hoes, coulters).
(3) Well-developed traditions of specialized crafts
(a) Different kinds of pottery have been found, including BRW.
(b) There is also evidence of bead making. Grave goods include etched carnelian beads and beads of other materials as well.
(c) There are copper and bronze artefacts such as utensils, bowls, and bangles; a few silver and gold ornaments also occur.
(4) Development of metallurgy
Different sorts of metallurgical techniques were used in the manufacture of metal artefacts. Some of the copper and bronze objects were evidently cast in moulds, others were hammered into shape. Some communities knew how to alloy metals. There is also evidence of local smelting of iron at Paiyampalli (karnataka).
(5) Beginning of trade
Some megalithic sites were centres of craft production linked to networks of exchange. This is suggested by the location of several large megalithic settlements on the trade routes of the early historical period.Inter-regional trade is also suggested by the distribution of non-local items of precious metals and semi-precious metals.
(6) Rock paintings
Paintings found at the megalithic sites show fighting scenes, cattle raids, hunting scenes, scenes of people dancing in groups, horse raiders, flora, birds, sunmotifs etc.
(7) Community work
The construction of the megaliths must have involved community endeavour. These monuments must have been sites of rituals that formed an important part of the social and cultural lives of people. The practice of making megaliths continues among certain tribal communities of India.