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Early India: Upper Palaeolithic Culture

Upper Palaeolithic Culture

  • The cultural phase that followed the Middle Palaeolithic is called Upper Palaeolithic.
  • This period is marked by innovation in tool technology and increased cognitive capability of humans.
  • The modern humans, who first evolved in sub-Saharan Africa, sometime before 300,000 years ago, migrated to and occupied various parts of Asia around 60,000 years ago.
  • They probably replaced the earlier populations.
  • There is a possibility that these new groups were responsible for the Upper Palaeolithic culture of India.

Lithic Tools and Industries

  • The lithic industry of the Upper Palaeolithic period is based on blade and bone tool technologies.
  • Microliths (tiny stone tools) were introduced in the Upper Palaeolithic Period and these tools were made using different varieties of silica-rich raw materials.
  • Bone tools and faunal remains have been found in Kurnool caves in Andhra Pradesh.


  • The Upper Palaeolithic culture is represented in India at several sites.
  • A time bracket of c. 40,000 years to 10,000 years BP is suggested for this period.
Ostrich Egg ShellsEvidence of ostrich has been found in some pre-historic sites of India.The egg shell of this bird had been used as beads and those from Patne have been dated to 25,000 BP.They are found in Bhimbetka and Patne.


  • The people of this period used caves as well as the open air space for living.
  • Meralbhavi in Karnataka, Kurnool caves in Andhra Pradesh, Godavarikhani in Telangana, Baghor I and Baghor III of Son Valley in Madhya Pradesh and Patne in Maharashtra are some of the Upper Palaeolithic sites of India.
  • Sri Lanka has evidence of microliths and hominin fossils.
  • Incised ostrich eggshell, and shell and stone beads have been found at Jwalapuram in Andhra Pradesh, Patne in Maharashtra and BatadombaLena and Fa Hien Cave in Sri Lanka.
An Upper Palaeolithic ShrineAn interesting find is of a possible shrine, indicated by a block of sandstone surrounded by a rubble circle, similar to the contemporary shrines.Found at Baghor in Uttar Pradesh, it is the earliest known evidence of a shrine in India.

Ways of Life and Main Characteristics

  • Evidence of art in the Upper Palaeolithic period appears in the form of paintings.
  • Beads and ornaments of this period have also been found.
  • The lithic blade industry advanced in this period.
  • Some of the green colour paintings of Bhimbetka are dated to Upper Palaeolithic period based on style and archaeological evidence.

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