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Early India: Middle Palaeolithic Culture

Middle Palaeolithic Culture

  • After about 4,00,000 years BP (Before Present), changes took place in the lithic technology and the species of human ancestors diverged.
  • The species of Homo erectus existed in this period.
  • Some of the Middle Palaeolithic tools are attributed to behavioural modernity.
  • Anatomically modern humans are said to have emerged around 3,00,000 years ago.
  • In India, the Middle Palaeolithic phase was first identified by H.D. Sankalia on the Pravara River at Nevasa.
  • After this discovery, several sites of this period have been identified.
  • Recently, the Middle Palaeolithic of Athirampakkam is dated to be around 3.85-1.72 lakh years BP.
  • Indian Middle Palaeolithics probably may be as old as the African Middle Palaeolithic culture.

Industries and Tool Types

  • The tool types of the Middle Palaeolithic period are hand axes, cleavers, choppers, chopping tools, scrapers, borers and points, projectile points or shouldered points, and knives on flakes.
  • Flake industry was predominant in the Middle Palaeolithic period and tools such as scrapers, points and borers were made. Scrapers were used for wood and skin working.


  • The Middle Palaeolithic culture in India is dated between 3,85,000 and 40,000 BCE (BC).
  • While the African Middle Stone Age is associated with the Homo sapiens, it is associated with the Neanderthals in Europe.
  • No hominin fossil bones of this species have been found in India.


  • The Middle Palaeolithic sites are found in Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Yamuna and other river valleys.

Ways of Life and Main Characteristics

  • The Middle Palaeolithic people occupied open-air, cave and rock shelter sites.
  • They were hunter-gatherers.
  • The main features of the Indian Middle Palaeolithic period include the following:
    • The tools became smaller.
    • The decrease in the use of hand axes in relation to other tools.
    • Use of core preparation techniques in stone tool production.
    • Use of chert, jasper, chalcedony and quartz as raw materials.

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