Periodical Division of Indian Ancient History NCERT
  • Palaeolithic Period: 2 million BC – 10,000 BC
  • Mesolithic Period: 10,000 BC – 8000 BC
  • Neolithic Period: 8000 BC – 4000 BC
  • Chalcolithic Period: 4000 BC – 1500 BC
  • Iron Age: 1500 BC – 200 BC
Palaeolithic Period (Old Stone Age)
  • This is further divided into three:
  1. Lower Palaeolithic Age: up to 100,000 BC
  2. Middle Palaeolithic Age: 100,000 BC – 40,000 BC
  3. Upper Palaeolithic Age: 40,000 BC – 10,000 BC

Lower Palaeolithic age

  • Hunters and food gatherers; tools used were axes, choppers and cleavers.
  • Earliest lower Palaeolithic site is Bori in Maharashtra.
  • Limestone was also used to make tools

Major sites of lower Palaeolithic age

  • Soan valley (in present Pakistan)
  • sites in the Thar Desert
  • Kashmir
  • Mewar plains
  • Saurashtra
  • Gujarat
  • Central India
  • Deccan Plateau
  • Chotanagpur plateau
  • North of the Cauvery River
  • Belan valley in UP

There are habitation sites including caves and rock shelters

It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003

An important place is Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh

Middle Palaeolithic age

  • Tools used were blades, pointers, scrapers and borers.
  • The tools were smaller, lighter and thinner
  • Important middle Palaeolithic age sites
  • Belan valley in UP
  • Luni valley (Rajasthan)
  • Son and Narmada rivers
  • Bhimbetka

Upper Palaeolithic age

  • The emergence of Homo sapiens
  • Lot of bone tools, including needles, harpoons, blades, fishing tools and burin tools.

Major sites of Upper Palaeolithic age

  • Belan
  • Son
  • Chota Nagpur plateau (Bihar)
  • Maharashtra
  • Orissa and
  • Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh
  • Paintings at Bhimbetka site belong to this age.
Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age)
  • Major climate change happened.
  • Climate became warmer and more humid.
  • Rainfall increased and so more availability of flora and fauna.
  • Domestication of animals and plants were seen for the first time.
  • Started 12000 years ago.
  • The first animal to be domesticated was the wild ancestor of the dog.
  • Sheep and goats were the most common domesticated animals.
  • Hunting and food gathering continued.
  • First human colonization of the Ganga plains.
  • Microliths have been excavated.
  • They are small stone tools that were probably stuck to stones to be used as saws and sickles.

Major sites:

–Brahmagiri (Mysore)





–Sojat (Rajasthan)


–Godavari Basin

–Sarai Nahar Rai

–Tools used were blades, crescents, triangles, trapezes, spearheads, knives, arrowheads, sickles, harpoons and daggers.

The Neolithic Period (New Stone Age) In the world context, the New Stone age or the Neolithic age began in 9000 BC which is when agriculture was developed in Southwest Asia.

  • The Neolithic settlers were the earliest farming communities.
  • They domesticated cattle, sheep and goats in the initial stage.
  • Subsequently, agriculture and other activities were started with the help of both stone and bone tools.
  • People lived in circular or rectangular houses made of mud and reed. 
  • It is held that the primitive people living in circular houses owned property in common.
  • The Neolithic pottery included black-furnished ware, grey ware and mat-impressed ware.
  • The Neolithic people led a settled life and produced ragi and kulathi and even rice.
Important Neo-lithic sites in the Indian Sub-continent
  • Mehrgarh is a famous Neolithic settlement in the Indian subcontinent which is attributed to 7000 BC. It is situated in Baluchistan province, Pakistan.
  • It is one of the largest Neolithic settlements between the Indus River and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • It is located on the bank of the Bolan River in the Kacchi plain which is called the breadbasket of Baluchistan.
  • The Neolithic people of Mehrgarh were more advanced. They produced wheat and barley and lived in mud-brick houses.


Indus Valley Civilization

Facts for Prelims

  • The Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and the Indus Valley Civilisation, the four great civilisations of the ancient world, the first three (Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China) have been broadly studied and well-known to everyone. But the fourth and of equal importance, the much more sophisticated Indus Valley Civilisation that flourished along the flood plains of Indus and Gaggar-Hakra is lost to human memory and till date remains puzzling.
  • It was in the 20th century, the lost and forgotten Indus Valley Civilisation was rediscovered and acknowledged and given equal importance with the other three civilisations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China).
Indus Valley Civilisation was the largest among the other four civilisations of the world (Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China)
  • The Indus Valley Civilisation was spread over an area of 1,260,000 sq. km over modern-India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
  • The civilisation extended from Ghaggar-Hakra Valley in the east to Markran coast of Baluchistan in the west, from Afghanistan in the northeastern to Daimabad in Maharashtra in the south.
  1. The Population of Indus Valley Civilisation was over 5 million
  • The civilisation had over 5 million inhabitants.
  • Most of the inhabitants of the civilisation were artisans and traders.
  1. Nearly 1056 cities have been discovered
  • 1056 Harappan cities and settlements have been foundof which 96 have been excavated
  • Most of the settlements are mostly located in the broad region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra Rivers and their tributaries.
  • The major urban centres are: Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Dholaviral, Ganeriawala and Rakhigarhi.
  1. Majority of the population lived in villages and it is not evident
  • Majority of the population of Indus Valley Civilisation lived in villages
  • It is not evident as the villages may have been constructed of destructible materials like mud or timber.
  • Hence, it is difficult to find out the lifestyle and culture in these villages which have been lost over a period of time without any trace.
  1. Scholars and archaeologists are uncertain about the naming
  • Since the first settlement was discovered along the banks of river Indus, the archaeologists named the civilisation as Indus Valley Civilisation. But on contrary only around 100 sites have been found in the Indus Valley, while over 500 sites are found along the Gaggar-Hakra River (The present-day Saraswati River).
  • Most of the archaeologists prefer to call them as ‘Indus-Saraswati Civilisation’ based on the two river systems, while other prefer to name them as Harappan Civilisation as the first settlement was discovered in this city (Harappa).
  • And, according to some archaeologists, the sites along the Gaggar-Hakra River are preserved as they lie in the uninhabited desert.

Buddhist Councils And Important Texts From ANCIENT INDIA HISTORY NECRT 

Buddhist Councils Four Buddhist Councils were held under different kings.
First Buddhist Council
  • Conducted under the patronage of King Ajatasatru of Haryanka dynasty.
  • It was held in 483 BC just after Buddha’s demise.
  • It was held at Sattapani caves (Sattaparnaguha) in Rajagriha.
  • The monk who presided over the first council was Mahakassapa.
  • Main objective was to preserve the Buddha’s teachings.
  • At this council, Ananda composed the Suttapitaka (Buddha’s Teachings) and Mahakassapa composed the Vinaypitaka (monastic code).
Second Buddhist Council
  • Conducted under the patronage of King Kalasoka of Sisunaga dynasty.
  • It was held in 383 BC, i.e., hundred years after the Buddha’s death.
  • It was held at Vaishali.
  • Sabakami presided over the council.
  • Main objective was to discuss ten disputed points under the Vinaypitaka.
  • The first major split happened here – two groups that would later evolve into Theravada and Mahayana. The first group was called Thera (meaning Elder in Pali). They wanted to preserve the teachings of Buddha in the original spirit. The other group called Mahasanghika (Great Community) interpreted the Buddha’s teachings more liberally.
Third Buddhist Council
  • Conducted under the patronage of Emperor Ashoka of Maurya dynasty.
  • It was held in 250 BC at Pataliputra.
  • The council was presided over by Mogaliputta Tissa.
  • The main objective was to purify Buddhism from opportunistic factions and corruption in the Sangha.
  • The Abhidhamma Pitaka was composed here making the almost completion of the modern Pali Tipitaka.
  • Buddhist missionaries were sent to other countries.
  • Buddhism preached by Emperor Ashoka was Hinayana.
Fourth Buddhist Council
  • Conducted under the patronage of King Kanishka of Kushan dynasty.
  • It was held in the 1st century AD at Kundalvana in Kashmir.
  • Vasumitra and Ashvaghosha presided over this council
  • All deliberations were conducted in Sanskrit.
  • Here, Abhidhamma texts were translated from Prakrit to Sanskrit.
  • This council resulted in the division of Buddhism into two sects namely, Mahayana (the Greater Vehicle) and Hinayana (the Lesser Vehicle).
  • Mahayana sect believed in idol worship, rituals and Boddhisattvas. They regarded the Buddha as God
  • Hinayanacontinued the original teachings and practices of the Buddha. They adhere to the scriptures written in Pali while the Mahayana includes Sanskrit scriptures as well.
Buddhist Texts IN ANCIENT INDIA HISTORY NECRT The most important sources of Buddhism are the Tripitakas / Tipitakas written in Pali language. They are:

  1. Sutta Pitaka
  2. Vinaya Pitaka
  3. Abhidhamma Pitaka
  • Dhammapada: a part of the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka. It contains a collection of the sayings of the Buddha in verse form.
  • Milinda Panha: Literal meaning in Pali – Questions of Milinda. It was written around 100 BC. It contains a dialogue between the Indo-Greek King Menander I or Milinda of Bactria and sage Nagasena where Milinda asks questions on Buddhism to the sage.
  • Buddhacharita: it is an epic poem composed in Sanskrit by Ashvaghosha in early 2nd century AD. It is about the life of the Buddha.
Causes of the Spread of Buddhism
  • Buddha’s magnetic personality.
  • He taught in Pali which the masses understood as opposed to Sanskrit.
  • He admitted people into the Sangha irrespective of caste distinctions.
  • Initial Sanghas were democratic and disciplined organisations.
  • The monks travelled to different places preaching the teachings of Buddha.
  • It received royal patronage including from Bimbisara, Ajatasatru, Ashoka, Kanisha and Harshavardhana.
Causes of the Decline of Buddhism in India
  • Split into Mahayana and Hinayana weakened the religion.
  • There was corruption among the latter monks. They gave up austerity and indulged in luxuries. Moral standards deteriorated.
  • Royal patronage for Buddhism declined after the end of the Gupta dynasty around 650 AD.
  • Orthodox Hinduism became more popular especially due to the works of Kumarila Bhatt and Adi Shankara.
  • The invasions by the Huns and later by the Islamic armies further declined the influence of Buddhism in the subcontinent.


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