In this article we will discuss about the village civilizations found in interior parts of India, existing after the Harappa Civilization and belonging to Chalcolithic age but sparingly using Iron as well.
Even after the destruction of Indus Valley civilization village-civilizations in different parts of India continued to flourish. Most of them belonged to the later Chalcolithic age because they used stone as well as copper for making their tools and arms. Besides, iron also became known to some of them at a later stage. Several village-civilizations flourished in the territory where once the Harappa civilization existed.
Remnants of these civilizations have been discovered from several places in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and western Uttar Pradesh. The primary source of recognising these civilizations is clay-pottery found at various places. However, it has not been made clear whether these civilizations had any relation with the Harappa-civilization or not and. if there was any, what sort of relation these had with each other.
Besides these village-settlements or civilizations in the north-west, many civilizations flourished at different places in south-east Rajasthan, Madhya Bharat, south India, east India, Ganges Valley and the Ganga-Yamuna Doab. Remnants of these civilizations discovered at different places are proofs of their existence.
In Rajasthan remnants of Chalcolithic age have been discovered at different places particularly at Ahara and Gulunda near Udaipur. The civilization of these places dates back to 2000 B.C. Copper was profusely used there. Rings, bangles, knives and axes made of copper have been excavated from there. The people there produced rice and, probably, millet. Domestication of animals was also one of their primary professions.
Bones of fish, she-goat, cock, cow, she-buffalo, stag and pig have been recovered from there. At Ahara, stone was used in laying down foundations of houses while bamboos and Gara was used for raising the walls. Floors were made of black mud and yellow Gad. At Gulunda, baked bricks w ere used for construction of houses. There the people constructed Tandoors (ovens for baking breads).
Several instruments were made of stone there and clay-pottery was prepared of different variety. Most of the clay-pottery was of black and red colour which was decorated by white dots. This civilization of Ahara and Gulunda has been named as Ahara-civilization.
In Madhya Bharat remnants of Chalcolithic age have been discovered from many places prominent being Kayatha and Navadatoli. The first stage of development of the civilization at these places has been accepted that of the period between 2200 to 2000 B.C. The civilization of the first stage has been called the Kayatha-civilization.
Among the remnants of this place the prominent ones are three pots of clay, prepared by potter’s wheel, bangles, axes of copper and stone called Gomeda. Its remnants of the second stage of development are similar to remnants found at Ahara in Rajasthan. Its third stage of development has been called ‘Malwa-Chalcolithic- civilization’ and its period has been accepted that of between 1600-1300 B.C. By this stage, the people there had progressed much.
The remnants of this stage have been found primarily at Navadatoli. Rings, bangles, axes, chisels and fishing angles made of copper have been discovered from there. There, mud and bamboos were used for constructing houses which were kept near to each other, yet, a lane was always left between them. The people there produced clay-pottery of different sizes and coloured them red or black. They produced wheat, gram and lentil from agriculture.
Later on, rice was also produced and used by them but sparingly. Navadatoli covered largest area of village-Chalcolithic-civilization in India. In Maharashtra, the prominent places of Chalcolithic-civilization were Nasik, Nevasa, Daimabada, Sonegaon, Inanigaon, Chamoli and Zorve.
There too, there were several stages of development. In its initial stage, the civilization there was, probably, influenced by the Harappa-civilization; at its second stage it was similar to the Ahara-civilization of Rajasthan; at its third stage it was similar to the Malwa-civilization of Madhya Bharat; and, at its fourth stage it was called the ‘Zorve-civilization’ and was regarded civilization of Maharashtra purely.
Ordinarily its period has been accepted that of between 1400 to 1000 B.C. though, at certain places like Inamgaon, it continued to survive by 700 B.C. There the houses were built up by mud, bamboos and Gara. The people used potter’s wheel for making clay-pottery which was coloured black or red. They produced wheat, barley and lentil and somewhere rice as well by agriculture.
Cow, ox, she-goat, sheep, she-buffalo and pig were their favourite domesticated animals. They worshipped mother-goddess in some form. They made their tools both of stone and copper. Small utensils, bangles, chisels, knives and axes made of copper have been discovered from there. Four figures of solid copper weighing several kilograms have been found at Daimabada.
One is that of man driving a chariot, the second is that of a bull, the third is that of a rhinoceros and the fourth is that of an elephant. However, neither these have been accepted findings of excavations nor there is unanimity among scholars about the period of their production. In south India, remnants of Chalcolithic age have been found at several places in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Raichur-Doab.
The period of civilization there has been regarded that of between 2300 to 900 B.C. There too, the civilization passed through several stages of development. Initially, the people there did not know the use of copper and they made their pottery by their hands. But at their second stage of development copper and potter’s wheel became known to them. They built their houses by mud, bamboos and wood-logs.
They produced gram and millet by agriculture while sheep, she-goat and several other animals were domesticated by them. In Orissa too remnants of Chalcolithic-age have been found at several places but their number is small and their period has not been assessed properly.
In Bengal, remnants of Chalcolithic age have been excavated at Virbhuma, Bardwan, Nlidnapur, Bankura,Pandu, etc. and it is believed that, nearly 1500 B.C. back, village-civilization based on the production of rice existed in an extensive area there.
Remnants of Chalcolithic age have been discovered from several places in Bihar, prominent being Ciranda and Sonpur. There the people produced mostly rice and kidney-bean, made clay- pottery of red and black colour and built their houses by bamboos and gara.
Remnants found at several places in the Ganga-Valley and Ganga-Yamuna Doab have been assessed as those of even 3000 B.C. back, In its ancient period, the civilization there was contemporary one of the Harappa-civilization.
It was called the Geru-coloured-clay-pottery civilization”. Proofs of its existence have been primarily excavated at Hastinapur and Atranji-khera. There, the people knew copper and produced rice by agriculture. Clay-pottery of red and black colour of a later period of this civilization have been found at Atranji-khera.
All these remnants found at different places in India prove that before the end of the Chalcolithic age, the Indians had developed village-civilizations practically all over India.
Besides, as iron also came in use at many places, it has also been opined that the Indians discovered iron by themselves. Remnants have been found at places like Alamgirpur, Allahpur, Hastinapur, Atranji-khera, Rohtak. Mathura, Sravasti. Jakhera etc. which prove that iron was known to the people at these places.
For example, javelins, arrows, axes, etc., made of iron have been discovered at Jakhera. The same way, knives, tongs, iron-rods, etc. made of iron have been found at Atranji-khera. The people there made clay-pottery by potter’s wheel and coloured them black and red, produced wheat, barley and, to some extent, rice by agriculture and domesticated she-buffalo, sheep and pig.
At Hastinapur, bones of horses have also been found. In Madhya Bharat, iron- articles have been discovered at Nagda and Ragun. At Nagda, rings, knives, forehead of a javelin, axes, spoons, nails, et., made of iron have been discovered.
Proofs have been made available that the people of Ahara-civilization in Rajasthan too had come to know the use of iron. In eastern India, in the lower part of the Ganga-valley too, certain articles of iron have been discovered and so is the case with Hallur and several other places in south India.
Therefore, largely it has been agreed that during the later period of Chalcolithic age, the Indians had started using iron for making their tools along with copper. However, when iron became known to them is not clear. Scholars have expressed varied opinions concerning it.
Ordinarily, this period has been accepted that of between 1100 to 800 B.C. Thus, it is possible that iron became known to people at certain places earlier and to people at certain other places later on. Therefore, some scholars have opined that iron was known to the Indians prior to the entry of the Aryans in interior parts of India.
However, there might be differences concerning the period of use of iron in India but this is certain that the Indian civilization had not finished with the destruction of the Harappa or Indus valley civilization. Instead, before the entry of the Aryans in India, many varied village-civilizations flourished in India in its different regions.