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Chapter: 11th History : Early India: From the Beginnings to the Indus Civilisation

Hunter and gatherers of the Historical Period

Characteristics of the Mesolithic Cultures

Hunter and gatherers of the Historical Period


The hunter and gatherers using microlithic tools continued to live in the later period, even after the development of Neolithic, Iron Age and historical periods. Perhaps they became part of the marginalised communities, when the people who lived in the cities acquired more wealth. Some of the people who live in the forests even today in some remote areas and also in the Andaman region could be considered as those people who prefer to live by hunting and gathering. Many such groups lived in the 19th and 20th century, as recorded in the Edgar Thurston’s Castes and Tribes of Southern India. Describing them as primitive is incorrect. They should be considered as people who preferred to live by hunting and gathering. When the Indus Civilisation was in its peak, Tamil Nadu had microlithic hunter-gatherers. The Andhra–Karnataka region had the agro-pastoralists of the Neolithic period.


Characteristics of the Mesolithic Cultures


  • The Mesolithic people lived in semi-permanent and temporary settlements.


  • They occupied caves and open grounds.


  • They buried the dead.


  • They had artistic skill.


  • They were spread over wider geographical regions.


  • Cultural continuity is noticed in many parts of India from this period.


  • Their microlithic tools enabled them to hunt smaller animals and birds.


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