The word ‘Neolithic’ was first coined by Sir John Lubbock in 1865. Miles Burkit enumerated four characteristics of the Neolithic culture:
- Animal domestication
- Agricultural practice
- Grained and Polished stone tools
- Pottery manufacture
The discovery of the tools and implements of the Neolithic age was first made in India by Mesurier in Uttar Pradesh in 1860. Later on, Frasher discovered such objects in Bellary in South India. The people of this age used tools and implements of polished stone.
The civilisation and culture of the Neolithic age shows distinct traces of progress.
The Neolithic men had a settled life. They practised agriculture and grew fruits and corn. Animals, such as the cow, dog, ox, goat etc. were domesticated. The art of producing fire by the friction of bamboos or pieces of stones was known to them. Instead of eating the uncooked flesh of various animals, they now started roasting it.
Rude drawings in red pigment are found in cave walls in the Bellary and Wynad Districts and other localities.
Besides this, bows and arrows were invented and were used for the purpose of hunting. They also learnt pottery, at first by hand and then with the potter’s wheel. They painted and decorated their pots.
The people started living in caves, the walls of which were polished and painted with the scenes of hunting and dancing. They also learnt the art of spinning and weaving clothes. They used to bury their dead and construct tombs over them, which were known as Dolmens, Menhirs etc.
The stone tools of the Neolithic age bear unmistakeable signs of polish either all over the tools or at the working-end. They fashioned their tools out of fine-grained dark-green trap, though there are examples of the use of diorite, basalt, slate, chlorite, schist, indurate shale, gneiss, sand stone and quartzite.
Neolithic settlers were cattle-herders and agriculturists. They produced ragi, wheat, barley, rice, masoor, moong, kulthi etc.
Hand-made pottery is also found in the early stage. Elephant, rhino, buffalo, ox, stag remains are also found in plenty. But there is no specification of these domesticated. The pottery were well made but were coarse in nature, not that much polished.
The evidences of domestication of plants and animals are altogether lacking in India. The useful Neolithic art of spinning and weaving could not be traced in the Indian Neolithic sites.
Fire was made by friction. People constructed boats and spun and wove cotton and wool.
At Gungeria in Madhya Pradesh, a hoard of over four hundred objects was discovered, including shouldered axes, harpoons, barbed spears and swords and silver laminae.