3. Chalcolithic Age: Coming of Bronze Age in Indian History

Chalcolithic Age in India, various cultures associated with it and Bronze culture.
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What is the Chalcolithic Age?

It was the period in Indian history when people started using copper for making their weapons and tools. The use of stone continued as the availability of copper was limited; therefore, it was, in reality, a copper-stone period. Some areas like the Indus Valley even went ahead and made bronze by mixing copper with tin. The period attributed to this age differs from culture to culture, but it occurred between 3000 BC to 1000 BC. In some places, it was succeeded by the Bronze Culture, whereas in some other places, it was succeeded directly by the Iron Age.

Overall these were rural societies based on agriculture, hunting, and gathering, but agriculture had become quite advanced up to this stage; therefore, they were able to generate a surplus which then later gave way to the first urbanisation in the Indian Subcontinent in the form of the Indus Valley Civilization and rise of Janapadas during the Iron Age at other places.

Major Locations

  1. Maharashtra: Jorwe Culture (1400-700BC) – It includes places such as Jorwe, Nevasa, Daimabad, Chandoli, Songaon, Inamgaon, Prakash and Nasik.
  2. Madhya Pradesh: The Malwa Culture (1700-1200 BC) included the Malwa region, Kayatha, Eran, Ujjain, Maheshwar, Navdatoli etc.
  3. Rajasthan and Gujrat: The Ahar Culture (2100-1500BC) – It included Gilund, Ahar, Ganeshwar etc.
  4. Eastern India: The Chirand culture (1500-700BC) included Pandu Rajar, Dhibhi, Mahishadal and Chirand etc.
  5. Southern India: It included Piklihal, Maski, Ramapuram and Brahmgiri etc.
  6. Indus Valley Civilization
Chalcolithic Age locations in India
Chalcolithic Age locations in India

Societies of the Chalcolithic Age

  1. Chalcolithic societies were generally rural in nature, except for a few places that reached the Urban stage, such as Daimabad and Inamgaon of the Jorwe Culture.
  2. During this period, we observe the rise of inequalities and hierarchies in society. It can be seen in burials and cases of settlements. We see some children buried with copper artefacts, whereas others just with pots in Chandoli and Nevasa. Also, two-tier habitations with upper-class and lower-class sections are also observed.
  3. Houses: In this period, houses were generally made with mud bricks and also mudded walls were used for fortification. The use of stone is also evident in the Ahar Culture settlements. In the later periods, some places did manage to learn the art of burnt brick making, probably influenced by the Harappan Culture.
  4. Burials: In Maharashtra, we see urn burials in the north to south directions. Material objects were also buried along with the dead. People at that time used to believe in an afterlife. In South India, directions were east to west.
  5. Faith: Terracotta figurines of the mother goddess were recovered from many places. Maybe they used to worship her and use the terracotta figure during ceremonies.
  6. Diet: People at that time used to eat beef & pork, cereals & pulses, and fruits etc.
Mother Goddess - Picture Courtesy - http://www.nationalmuseumindia.gov.in/en/collections/index/6
Mother Goddess – Picture Courtesy – http://www.nationalmuseumindia.gov.in/en/collections/index/6

Technologies of the Period

  1. Use of Copper:  Characteristic feature of this period is the use of copper in weapons and tools. Although many cultures remained predominantly dependent on stone, they too used copper in making various tools and weapons. The Ahar culture gave up stone tools altogether, and they used copper for all their tools and weapons. They get the metal from nearby mines of Khetri and Jhunjhunu. They may have even supplied it to Indus Valley Culture. In Ganeshwar(located near mines), we see arrowheads, spearheads, fish hooks, colts, bangles, chisels, etc., all made of copper. Objects from Indus Valley Culture were also found, proving their contact.
  2. Tools and Weapons: People at that time used tiny tools and weapons made of stones in which the stone blade and bladelets were an essential element. Ahar culture even practised smelting and metallurgy at a very early stage. There were expert coppersmiths and also skilful workers in stone.
  3. The use of wheels for making pottery and maybe even for transportation happened at that time.
  4. Pottery: People of the chalcolithic period used different types of pottery:
Pottery of Chalcolithic Age
Pottery of Chalcolithic Age
  • Black and Red ware with white line pottery.
  • Ochre coloured pottery.
  1. Clothing: They knew the art of spinning and weaving. Also, cotton was cultivated at that time. Therefore, they were experts in cloth making.

Agriculture and Food Production

  1. Crops: Various crops such as wheat, rice, barley, pearl millet, pulses such as lentil, green peas, and cotton were cultivated in this period.
  2. Animal Husbandry: They domesticated a large number of animals such as cows, sheep, goats, pigs, buffaloes, and even camels, etc.
  3. The use of Stone Disc for field preparation.
  4. They also relied upon hunting for food.
Importance of Chalcolithic PeriodLimitations of the Chalcolithic Period
Discovered art of copper smeltingThey couldn’t figure out the technique to make bronze by mixing copper and tin, which had already been done in contemporary cultures.
Made use of the wheel for pottery2. High Infant mortality
Established the first large villages3. Could not urbanise
They cultivated a large number of crops.4. Mainly, subsistence farming did not produce much surplus.
Domesticated a variety of animals5. Domestication for slaughtering of animals for food instead of dairying.
Use of Lota and Thali, done even today.6. No Writing
Importance and limitations of Chalcolithic age

Disappearance

  1. In Central and Western India, the chalcolithic age disappeared around 1200 BC. We see a 5-6 century gap between the Chalcolithic and the Iron Age.
  2. Jorwe culture disappeared around 700 BC.

In Eastern and Southern India, it was directly succeeded by the Iron phase.

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