The prehistoric archaeology of South Asia, specific of the Indian subcontinent. Has two distinct periods. The south Asian stone age; and, the Neolithic age.

Paleolithic was the stone age and there are signs of Homo erectus
In the region, the south Asian stone age is one of the earliest periods. It was in the paleolithic Age. This period dates back to around 2.6 million years ago and lasted until around 12,000 years ago. During this time, early humans in the area were natural explorers. They were hunter-gatherers, relying on widespread use of microliths or, specialized stone tools. Natural instincts too. There tools were often attached to wooden or bone handles for accuracy and safety. They spent the long days learning, building, prepping tools and food, searching and exploring around.
It is believed homo erectus lived on the Pothohar Plateau, in upper Punjab. Bordering mountainous regions along the Soan River (nearby modern-day Pakistan). In what was a time period known as pre-pleistocene epoch.

Sivilik hills is the name of the region below giant mountains

Soanian, (named by Helmut de Terra and Thomas Thomson Peterson), sites are found in the Sivalik region across what are now North India, Pakistan and Nepal. In or next to the mountains. Biface handaxes and cleaver traditions may have originated, or were passed down. Right thru the middle Pleistocene here. Some say the area is as old as Africa. It was quite mountainous and must have been beautiful time for the region.

In the north of Inda, Pinjore, overlooking the Sivalik hills. Quartzite tools were excevated. A bunch of tools and studies have been done in the region. Do you think people lived here 200-300 thousands years ago or more?

At the sandstone rock shelters of Bhimbetka humans lived throughout the upper Paleolithic. In this area, some say ancient cave paintings were revealed. Dating to 30,000 BC. One area, the Auditorium rock shelter, has cup like depressions, similar to frezcoes. Dated to nearly 100,000 years.

The Sivaliks and the Pothohar region also exhibit many vertebrate fossil remains and paleolithic tools from this area. Chert, jasper and quartzite were often used during this period. No doubt with all those hills, and gigantic mountains nearby. There must have been some critters.

More south, pre-historic sites of middle India. The Krishna-Tungabhadra river area. May have some paleolithic cultural evidence. Though, this area must have deteriorated faster, being less mountainous, it having higher temperatures and flooding.

The coming of Homo sapiens
In generals, the most ancient homo sapiens, have been found at sites in Batadombalena and Belilena Caves in Sri Lanka (near Columbo). And, Cudappah caves, in Andhra Pradesh state, about 400 miles from Sri Lanka in India.

Batadombalena cave

The neolithic, or new stone age, is the more modern age from south Asia. In modern day Pakistans Mehrgarh, it is believed that the neolithic era. Production of food, pottery, and agriculture. Began 9000 years ago. It lasted until about 5300 years ago (3300 BC). In south India, the neolithic age may have finished a little earlier.

Neolithic south Asia is generally associated with the advent of agriculture, domestication of animals, and the development of settled farming communities.
During new stone, people in South Asia transitioned from a nomadic lifestyle to settled agricultural communities. They began cultivating crops such as wheat, barley, rice, and lentils, and domesticating animals like cattle, sheep, and goats. The shift from hunting and gathering to farming brought significant changes to society, including the establishment of permanent settlements, the development of pottery, the use of polished stone tools. Eventually it was the emergence of more complex social structures.

The food producing neolithic was big
One of the earliest sites is Lahuradewa in the middle Ganges region. Another is Jhusi. Near the confluence of both the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. A big area for food, water and the production of clay and materials. Both have some of the earliest signs of ceramics in the south Asian region. From around 9,000 years ago. This area even has the earliest signs of the domestication of rice.

Another site is along the ancient riverine Saraswati system. It is called Bhirrana. There are many other sites on the map above. Posing questions and challenges to researchers.

Southward migration of megaliths
Giant ash mounds have characerized South India neolithic. Especially in the Andhra-Karnatka (middle) region. It later expanded into Tamil Nadu, and the south. Scientists believe, a megalithic culture may have spread from the north. From excavations carried out, and at Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu, south India). There is evidence of a southward migration of the Megalithic culture. 10,000 years ago. Would you have been a hunter, fisherman, or both?

tamil nadu

The south Asian Neolithic period is marked by the presence of distinctive archaeological sites. Such as, the well preserved Mehrgarh, in present-day Pakistan. It and some of the others places outlined. Provides valuable insights into both the pleistocene, stone and new stone (neolithic) ags, and the early development of civilization and agriculture. As well as, the cultural, and metallurgicial developments in and thru the region. In both north and south India, many skipped the bronze age. And, it mostly went directly into the iron age.

Overall, the south Asian stone age and neolithic age represents one of the most significant periods. Thousands of years highlight technological and societal advancements. Leading up to the emergence of early agricultural and its civilizations.

Bibliography: Kennedy, K. A. R.; Deraniyagala, S. U.; Roertgen, W. J.; Chiment, J.; Disotell, T. (April 1987). “Upper Pleistocene Fossil Hominids From Sri Lanka”. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 72 (4): 441–461. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330720405 ( PMID 3111269 (

Early Pleistocene Presence of Acheulian Hominins in South India (

Kennedy, K. A. R.; Deraniyagala, S. U.; Roertgen, W.J.; Chiment, J.; Disotell, T. (April 1987). “Upper Pleistocene Fossil Hominids From Sri Lanka”. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 72 (4): 441–461. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330720405 ( PMID 3111269 (

Mark M. Jarzombek (2014-05-27). Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective ( John Wiley & Sons. p. 62. ISBN 9781118421055.

Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India. “World Heritage Sites – Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka” ( Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India. Retrieved 4 March 2014.

Tewari, Rakesh et al. 2006. “Second Preliminary Report of the excavations at Lahuradewa, District Sant Kabir Nagar, UP 2002-2003-2004 & 2005-06” in Pragdhara No. 16 “Electronic Version p.28” ( Archived ( at the Wayback Machine

Sastri, Kallidaikurichi Aiyah Nilakanta (1976). A History of South India. Oxford University Press. pp. 49–51. ISBN 978-0-19-560686-7.

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