Q. The emergence of Non-Harappan Chalcolithic cultures in Central India and the Deccan mark a change not only in the subsistence pattern of people but an overall transition from pre to proto historic period. Critically analyze. [15 Marks]
By the second millennium B.C, several regional cultures sprang up in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. These were non-urban, non-Harappan and were characterized by the use of stone and copper tools. These cultures are termed as Chalcolithic cultures.
The Non-Harappan Chalcolithic cultures of Central India and Deccan Kayatha culture, Savalda culture, Malwa culture, and Jorwe culture (Maharashtra).
How these cultures marked a change in the subsistence pattern of people –
- The Chalcolithic people domesticated animals and cultivated food grains rather than solely relying on hunting and gathering. They kept cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and buffaloes and hunted deer.
- They produced wheat and rice. In addition to these staple crops, they also cultivated bajra and several pulses like lentil, black gram, green gram and grass pea. All these food grains have been found at Navdatoli. Their cereal food was supplemented by non-vegetarian food. Cotton was produced in the black cotton soil of the Deccan and ragi, bajra and several millets were cultivated in the lower Deccan.
- Agriculture was quite advanced as people were aware of irrigation and crop rotation.
How these cultures marked a transition from pre to protohistoric period
- Beginning of settled life – Chalcolithic People founded the first large rural settlements on the river banks and near the hills rather than living a nomadic life.
- Beginning of the use of metal like Copper tools along with microliths and other stone tools. In addition, they knew the art of copper smelting and copper metallurgy.
- Chalcolithic communities were well acquainted with the art of pottery making. Considering the pre-bronze phase of their development, they were the first to use painted pottery. They made both wheels turned pottery as well as handmade pottery. Their pots were meant for cooking, eating, drinking and storing.
- Paintings drawn on Pottery include those of Sun and mother goddess and birds like peacocks and animals like bulls, antelopes, etc along with bows, arrows provide evidence of hunting and painting of fish indicate the prevalence of fishery for subsistence.
- Paintings of the boat may reflect its use as a mode of transport or use for long-distance trade.
- Fortified settlements – The settlements at Kayatha and Eran in Madhya Pradesh and at Inamgaon in Western Maharashtra were fortified which marks a new beginning.
However, there were also a number of limitations associated with the Chalcolithic cultures which are as follows-
- The general weakness of these Chalcolithic cultures is evident from the burial of a large number of children in western Maharashtra which indicates high infant mortality. This shows that the chalcolithic social and economic pattern did not promote longevity.
- The Chalcolithic culture had an essentially rural background.
- During this period, the supply of copper was limited and as a metal copper had its limitations. In addition, people did not know the art of mixing tin with copper to form bronze which formed the basis for rise of the earliest civilizations in Egypt, Crete and Mesopotamia.
- The Chalcolithic people did not know the art of writing nor did they live in the cities.
- Although most chalcolithic cultures were younger than the Indus valley civilization, they did not derive any substantial benefits from the advanced technological knowledge of the Indua people.
Thus it can be concluded that although the Chalcolithic culture marked an overall transition from prehistoric to protohistoric but it also had a number of limitations.
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