The last phase of prehistory is termed as Neolithic. The term Neolithic is derived from Greek ‘neo’ which means new, and ‘lithic’ meaning stone. Thus, the term ‘neolithic Age’ refers to the ‘New Stone Age’ of human culture.
In Indian subcontinent it is dated back to around 8000 BC. The term ‘Neolithic’ was coined by Jonn Lubbock. The chief characteristic of this age was the new type of ground and polished stone tools.
This period also marked the beginning of cultivation of plants and the domestication of animals. It led to the beginning of settled life and the growth of village settlements.
The Neolithic culture had following characteristics:
Some times this period is termed as the ‘Neolithic Revolution’ on the basis of important changes in man’s socio-economic life. The use of the sharp and polished neolithic tools made it easier to cultivate the soil. It was accompanied by the practice of domestication of animals. These changes in turn resulted in the emergence of settled agricultural communities.
The Neolithic people also produced pottery for the purpose of storing grains. As the redevelopment in the Neolithic phase greatly affected the human life, some scholars have used the term “the Neolithic Revolution” to signify those changes. But most of the scholars believe that these changes though significant, should be viewed in the context of earlier progress during Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages, and thus, should be considered as ‘evolution’ rather than ‘revolution’.
The Neolithic tools consist of the ground tools having smooth surfaces, and well-rounded and symmetrical shapes. The grinding made the tools sharper, polished and more effective than those in the earlier period. The ground stone tools of the Neolithic period included different types of axes called ‘celt’. Besides the stone tools, the sites of this period have also yielded various types of bone objects such as needles, scrapers, borers, arrowheads, pendants, bangles and earrings.