Pre-historic Period also known as the Old Stone Age is the period in which stones were used as tools. The period displays no signs of development of script/writing. The only sources of this era are the archaeological excavations.
The Palaeolithic Period (Famous sites: Sohan River)
The Palaeolithic Period is the earliest period that developed in the Pleistocene period also known as the ice age. Due to the cold weather conditions human life ceased to exist except in the tropical regions.
During this period humans used unpolished tools such as hand axes, choppers, and blades made of quartzite. This period is divided into three phases based on the stone tools: Early Paleolithic (5,00,000- 50,000 BCE), Middle Paleolithic (3,00,000- 40,000 BCE), and Late Palaeolithic (40,000-10,000 BCE). In the late Paleolithic, the climate became comparatively warmer and homo sapiens first appeared on the planet at the end of this phase.
The Mesolithic Period (Famous sites: Bagor, Adamgarh)
The Mesolithic Period was a transitional period from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic. There was a shift in the pattern of economy, hunting & gathering, lifestyle, fishing, and the use of microlith that can be traced in the famous Bhimbetka paintings. The paintings of Bhimbetka provide information about fishing, dancing, community living, and animal domestication, and x-ray-style paintings are also evident in various paintings. They made paintings in proportionality, used red and green colors and the density of images also reflects their knowledge.
The Neolithic Period (Famous sites: Burzahom, Koldihawa, Paiyampalli, Chirand)
The Neolithic Period was the last phase of the Stone Age that saw a significant change in agriculture due to the changing environmental conditions. A few of its characteristics are:
Food Production: before this period men were hunters, food gatherers, and herders
Beginning of agriculture: wheat, barley, cotton, (evidence of rice husk- Kolidhwa, Bihar)
Invention, Innovation, and Development: Polished stone tools such as celts, and potter’s wheel. Development of language. Rectangular and circular Pit House
Changing patterns of occupation, religious beliefs, and cremation practices.
The Chalcolithic period (3000-500 BCE) marked the use of the first metal i.e. copper with stone tools. This culture was mainly seen in the Pre-Harappan phase, but in many places, it extended to the Post-Harappan phase too. Kayatha, Ahar, Jorwe, and Rangpur are some of the famous cultures of this period. Few Stone Age practices such as worshipping triangular stones are still practised by the Kol and Baiga tribes. Society, agricultural practices, art and culture, innovations, etc. are more developed in the present context but the time from where the Stone Age belongs was way ahead of its time.
A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India, Upinder Singh
Higher Secondary First Year, Tamil Nadu Board
Ancient And Medieval India, Poonam Dalal Dahiya