Chapter 2 Notes
From Hunting – Gathering to Growing Food
Class 6 – Social Science
|From Hunting – Gathering to Growing Food
|Class 6 History Notes
Question 1 Why two million years ago, people were called as hunter-gatherers?
Question 2 Why hunter-gatherers moved from place to place?
Question 3 How do archaeologists know about these hunter-gatherers?
Question 4 Why do people use stone tools?
Question 5 Define the term Sites.
Question 6 Where do people used to live in early times?
Question 7 Describe the three periods of Stone Age.
Question 8 What are microliths?
Question 9 Define the term Domestication.
Question 10 What major changes in the climate of the world led to?
Question 11 On what basis people select different plants?
Question 12 On what basis people select different animals?
Question 13 Name the earliest plants and animals to be domesticated.
Question 14 How people became farmers?
Question 15 How people became herders?
Question 16 How the new way of life begins?
Question 17 Name few evidence that archaeologists have found about early farmers and herders.
Question 18 Write a short note on Mehrgarh.
Question 19 Why do archaeologists think that many people who lived in Mehrgarh were hunters to start with and that herding became more important later?
The Earliest People: Why Were They on the Move?
Around two million years ago, people who lived in the subcontinent used to hunt and gather food. They were called hunter-gatherers because they hunted wild animals, caught fish and birds, and gathered fruits, roots, nuts, seeds, leaves, stalks and eggs for their food.
Hunter-gatherers moved from place to place because :
(1) If they had stayed at one place for a long time, they would have eaten up all the available plant and animal resources. Therefore, they would have had to go elsewhere in search of food.
(2) Animals move from place to place – either in search of smaller prey or, in the case of deer and wild cattle, in search of grass and leaves. That is why those who hunted them had to follow their movements.
(3) Plants and trees bear fruit in different seasons. So, people may have moved from season to season in search of different kinds of plants.
(4) People, plants and animals need water to survive. Water is found in lakes, streams and rivers. While many rivers and lakes are perennial (with water throughout the year), others are seasonal. People living on their banks would have had to go in search of water during the dry seasons (winter and summer).
How Do We Know About These People?
Archaeologists have found things that resemble weapons and tools used by hunters and gatherers. The people made and used tools of stone, wood and bone, of which stone tools were best.
These stone tools were used to
(a) cut meat and bone, scrape bark (from trees) and hides (animal skins), and chop fruit and roots.
(b) Some may have been attached to handles of bone or wood, to make spears and arrows for hunting.
(c) Other tools were used to chop wood, which was used as firewood. Wood was also used to make huts and tools.
Choosing a place to live in
Archaeological evidence shows that human beings at that time used to live near the banks of rivers, lakes and streams. They used to search for a place where sufficient availability of stones, wood and food was present.
Bhimbetka (in present day Madhya Pradesh). This is an old site with caves and rock shelters. People chose these natural caves because they provided shelter from the rain, heat and wind. These rock shelters are close to the Narmada Valley.
Sites are places where the remains of things (tools, pots, buildings, etc.) were found. These were made, used and left behind by people. These may be found on the surface of the earth, buried under the earth, or sometimes even under water.
Archaeologists call the earliest period the Palaeolithic. This comes from two Greek words, ‘palaeo’, meaning old, and ‘lithos’, meaning stone. The Palaeolithic period extends from 2 million years ago to about 12,000 years ago. This long stretch of time is divided into the Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. In this period stone tools were used.
The period when we find environmental changes, beginning about 12,000 years ago till about 10,000 years ago is called the Mesolithic (middle stone). Stone tools found during this period are generally tiny and are called microliths. Microliths were probably stuck onto handles of bone or wood to make tools such as saws and sickles.
The next stage, from about 10,000 years ago, is known as the Neolithic period. The tools were much sharper than the ones used in Mesolithic period. They were also polished to spark. A large number of axes, sickles, spears and arrowheads have been found.
A changing Environment
Around 12,000 years ago, there were major changes in the climate of the world, which led to
(1) the development of grasslands in many areas.
(2) an increase in the number of animals that survived feeding on the grass. So, people start thinking about herding and rearing these animals.
(3) Fishing also became important for people.
The beginning of farming and herding
Domestication is the name given to the process in which people grow plants and look after animals.
Domestication was a gradual process that took place in many parts of the world about 12,000 years ago. All the plants and animals produce that we use as food today is a result of domestication.
Some of the earliest plants to be domesticated were wheat and barley.
The earliest domesticated animals include sheep and goat.
Plants and animals that are tended by people become different from wild plants and animals because people select plants and animals for domestication.
Selection of Plants
(1) They select those plants and animals that are not prone to disease.
(2) They also select plants that yield large-size grain.
(3) They have strong stalks, capable of bearing the weight of the ripe grain.
(4) Seeds from selected plants are preserved and sown to ensure that new plants (and seeds) will have the same qualities.
Selection of Animals
(1) Those that are relatively gentle are selected for breeding.
Domesticated animals and plants become different from wild animals and plants.For example, the teeth and horns of wild animals are usually much larger than those of domesticated animals.
The way people became farmers: When several grain bearing grasses, including wheat, barley and rice grew naturally in different parts of the subcontinent. Men, women and children probably collected these grains as food, and learnt where they grew, and when they ripened. This may have led them to think about growing plants on their own. In this way people became farmers.
How people became herders: People could also attract and then tame animals by leaving food for them near their shelters. The first animal to be tamed was the wild ancestor of the dog. Later, people encouraged animals that were relatively gentle to come near the camps where they lived. These animals such as sheep, goat, cattle and also the pig lived in herds, and most of them ate grass. Often, people protected these animals from attacks by other wild animals. This is how they became herders.
A new way of life
When people began growing plants, they had to stay in the same place for a long time looking after the plants, watering, weeding, driving away animals and birds – till the grain ripened. Then they start thinking of storing the grain for food and seeds. They began making large clay pots, or wove baskets, or dug pits into the ground.
Animals multiply naturally. If they are looked after carefully, they provide milk, which is an important source of food, and meat, whenever required. Animals that are reared can be used as a ‘store’ of food.
Towards a settled life
There were site from where archaeologists have found evidence of early farmers and herders.
Some of the most important ones are in the north-west, in present-day Kashmir, and in east and south India.
Evidence such as plants and animal bones remains of burnt grain were found. Scientists can identify these grains, and so we know that a number of crops were grown in different parts of the subcontinent. They can also identify the bones of different animals.
Archaeologists have found traces of huts or houses at some sites, which shows that people have a stable life.
(1) They have also found cooking hearths both inside and outside the huts, which suggests that, depending on the weather, people used to cook food either indoors or outdoors.
(2) Stone tools have been found on many sites. Many of these are different from the earlier Palaeolithic tools, and that is why they are called Neolithic. These include tools that were polished to give a fine cutting edge and mortars and pestles. Mortars and pestles are used for grinding grain even today. Apart from these tools, some of the tools were also made of bone.
(3) Many kinds of earthen pots have also been found. These were used for decoration and for storing things.
(4) People also began weaving cloth, using different kinds of materials. For example, cotton.
This site is located in a fertile plain, near the Bolan Pass.
Mehrgarh was probably one of the places where people learnt to grow barley and wheat, and rear sheep and goats for the first time in this area. It is one of the earliest villages that we know about.
At this site, many animal bones were found. Bones of wild animals such as deer and pig, and also bones of sheep and goats were found.
Other finds at Mehrgarh include remains of square or rectangular houses. Each house had four or more compartments, some of which may have been used for storage .
When people die, their relatives and friends generally pay respect to them. People look after them, perhaps in the belief that there is some form of life after death. Burial is one such arrangement. Several burial sites have been found at Mehrgarh. In one instance, the dead person was buried with goats, which were probably meant to serve as food in the next world.