to know the history of the pre-historic period. Material remains
belonging to the pre-historic period have also been unearthed in
many places of Tamil Nadu.
The pre-historic period in Tamil Nadu may be classified into
1. Old Stone Age
2. New Stone Age
UNIT - I
3. Metal Age
1. PRE - HISTORIC AGE IN TAMIL NADU
4. Megalithic Age
Old Stone Age :
The first stage of human life is called the Old Stone Age.
The people of this period used crude and rough stone implements
1. To know the classification of pre-historic period.
for hunting the animals. These implements were made of quartzite
2. To know the life of the people in the Old Stone Age
or hard rock. Therefore, this period is named as the Old Stone
in Tamil Nadu.
Age. The implements of this period are found in several parts of
Tamil Nadu. Robert Bruce Foote had first discovered the Old
3. To understand the Old Stone Age technologies such
Stone Age implements at Pallavaram near Chennai. Later, similar
as the use of wheel and making of fire.
discoveries were made in the districts of Kanchipuram, Vellore
4. To know the beginning of agriculture in Tamil Nadu.
5. To know that the human life had improved during
the Metal Age.
6. To know about the Megalithic Culture prevalent
The origin of human race on the planet earth took place
several thousands of years ago. The early history of human beings
is called the pre-historic age. Written records are not available for
the pre-historic period. However, the pre-historic people had left
many things such as pieces of pottery, stone and metal tools, simple
drawings, bones and skeletons. These materials provide some clue
Fig. 1. Old Stone Age Implements
Simple hand axes and pieces of stone tools were found in the
The Old Stone Age people produced fire by rubbing two
valley of river Koratalayar near Chennai and in Vada Madurai. Thus
flint stones. They used fire to scare away animals and also to roast
it is clearly evident that the Old Stone Age people lived in different
the flesh of animals to eat. They also used fire to warm themselves
parts of Tamil Nadu. It is generally believed that the Old Stone Age
during the cold weather.
lasted up to B.C. 10,000.
We find paintings in the caves in which the Old Stone Age
The Old Stone Age people led a nomadic life wandering in search
people lived. The most popular among them are the paintings,
of food. Therefore, they are called as food gatherers. Fruits, vegetables,
which portray the hunting of animals like elephant, bear, and deer.
roots and animal flesh constitute their chief food. They had no idea of
cultivation. They did not know the art of making pottery. They took
shelter in caves in order to protect themselves from wild animals as
The Old Stone Age people had no idea of God or religion.
well as from harsh climates.
They did not know how to dispose off the dead and therefore, they
left the dead bodies as a prey to animals and birds.
New Stone Age:
In the beginning, the Old Stone Age people did not wear any
dress. Subsequently, they began to use animal skins, leaves and
The New Stone Age followed the Old Stone Age. It is to be
barks to cover their bodies. In this way they protected themselves
noted that the transition from Old Stone Age to New Stone Age
from bitter cold and burning heat.
was only gradual. The New Stone Age people had improved their
life in all respects. The life in the New Stone Age was not only
Fig. 3. New Stone Age Implements
Fig. 2. Making fire by using flint stones
more progressive than that of the Old Stone Age but also varied.
Wheel and Pottery:
The New Stone Age people used trap rock instead of hard rock to
make their stone implements. Their stone weapons and tools were
also more polished and sharpened. They began to lead a settled
life instead of wandering from place to place. These people
abandoned caves and began to build clay huts and thatched houses
for living. The New Stone Age people lived and worked in groups.
It is important to know that this kind of group-life had subsequently
led to the formation of villages.
The most important features of the New Stone Age include
the beginning of agriculture, domestication of animals and pottery
making. In short, the New Stone Age witnessed an all round
Fig. 4. Using the wheel for making pottery
development in the human life. This development indicates the
gradual evolution of human life in different stages. It had also
The discovery of wheel was a remarkable event in the life of
resulted in enormous changes in human life. It took a long period
man. The New Stone Age people used wheels to carry goods from
for these changes to happen.
one place to another. They also used the wheel for making pottery.
In Tamil Nadu, the New Stone Age potteries have been discovered
in the districts of Tirunelveli, Salem, Pudukottai and
Tiruchirappalli. Burial urn, water pots, lamps and other vessels of
In the New Stone Age, people had learnt the art of cultivation.
this period have also been found in these places.
Therefore, they began to live in the river valleys since agriculture
had become their primary occupation. They produced rice, millet,
Try to make wheel and other toys using clay
vegetable and fruits. It is to be noted that the food gatherers of the
Old Stone Age had become the food producers in the New Stone
Dress and Ornaments:
The New Stone Age people knew the art of weaving. In Tamil
Domestication of Animals:
Nadu, cotton was grown in plenty and it was used for weaving
clothes. Cotton clothes were widely used by the New Stone Age
During the New Stone Age, people started domesticating
people. Later, they developed the art of dyeing the clothes and
animals such as dog, sheep, cow and buffalo. Dog was helpful to
wore coloured clothes. The New Stone Age people used ornaments
them while going for hunting. Other animals such as cattle were
like necklace, beads and bangles. These ornaments were made of
used for transportation and also as food.
shells and bones.
megalith. Such megaliths have been found in the districts of
Kanchipuram, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Cuddalore, Tiruchirappalli
The custom of burial developed during the New Stone Age.
Burial urns have been unearthed in several parts of Tamil Nadu.
The dead bodies were kept in huge pots along with food and other
Another system of burial was known as urn burials. Urns
items. Then, these pots were buried in pits. The New Stone Age
without circular megalithic tombs have been discovered at
people worshipped the dead. Subsequently, religious rituals had
Adhichanallur in Tirunelveli district. Bronze articles and iron
implements are found in these urns. The discovery of trident or
Vel in some of these urns suggests that these people worshipped
Compare and contrast between the Old Stone Age
Lord Muruga, the famous God of the Tamil people.
and the New Stone Age
Several utensils made of bronze have been found in
Adhichanallur. The hook or alagu, which is still used in religious
ceremonies, has been found here. Hence, it may be said that the
Copper was the first known metal to man. In North India,
use of hooks in religious ceremonies was prevalent right from the
the Copper Age followed the Stone Age. In the South, iron was
discovered and used by man. Iron implements have been found
along with stone implements in Perumbudur near Chennai. So, it
may be said that the Iron Age followed the Stone Age in Tamil
1. Pupil understands the life of the primitive people
and grasps the idea of the evolution of human life.
During the Metal Age, agriculture had improved much. Iron
2. Learnt about the ancient technologies such as the
implements were efficiently used for cultivation. Paddy was
uses of wheel and making of fire and develops a
extensively cultivated. Later, irrigation system had also improved.
passion for innovation.
There was a general progress and development in the life of the
3. Realised the importance of social life, particularly
people during the Metal Age.
village life and the protection of environment.
4. Understands the primitive agriculture and other
The word megalith refers to the burial monument. The people
occupations and realised the importance of food
who lived during the last stages of the New Stone Age began to
and other basic necessities required for human life.
follow the megalithic system of burial. According to this system,
5. Learnt the beliefs such as worshipping the dead,
the dead body was put in a black and red pot along with iron
which has become part of our culture and realized
implements and the pot was buried. A circular tomb using big
that such values must be sustained.
stone slabs was built upon the place of burial. This is called
V. Answer Briefly:
SELF - EVALUATION
Mention the important places where the Old Stone Age implements
Say True or False:
have been found.
There are no written records for the study of the pre-historic
What is the food of the Old Stone Age people?
How did the Old Stone Age man use the fire?
Old Stone Age people lived in huts.
Write about the Old Stone Age paintings.
Agriculture was the chief occupation in the New Stone Age.
The custom of burial was practised during the New Stone Age.
How did agriculture develop during the New Stone Age?
How the domestic animals were used in the Old Stone Age?
II. Choose the Correct Answer:
Write about the Dress and Ornaments during the Old Stone Age?
The Old Stone Age man used --------------- for dressing
(a) Cotton clothes (b) Woolen clothes
(c) Barks and leaves
Write a note on Iron Age in Tamil Nadu.
Old Stone Age implements were made of
How was a megalith built?
VI. Answer in Detail:
Name the animal used by the New Stone Age man for
Write about the life of the Old Stone Age people.
Explain how the New Stone Age differs from the Old Stone Age.
The first known metal to man
Describe the life and beliefs of the Old Stone Age people.
Bring out the importance of the megalithic culture in Tamil Nadu.
III. Fill in the Blanks:
For the first time ------------discovered the Old Stone Age
Visit the Museum in the district headquarters and see the Stone
implements at Pallavaram.
The Old Stone Age lasted up to---------.
Draw the pictures of the Stone Age implements in your notebook.
Group life led to the formation of --------------.
Have a discussion in your class about the use of wheel in human
Metal Age in Tamil Nadu is called as-------------- Age.
life. Think about the fact that so far no other suitable alternative
IV. Match the Following:
has been found to replace the wheel.
Old Stone Age
Identify the sites of the Old and New Stone Ages in the map of
(b). Burial urns
New Stone Age
(c) . Food-gathering life
Learn from your teacher and the elders about the urn burial.
(d) . Wheel