August 31, 2014

The Dawn of Indian History

As already mentioned Andhra Pradesh, along with some other adjacent parts of Deccan, is geologically the oldest region in India and, as such, must have been the earliest tract to facilitate the evolution of the Homo sapiens. The skeletal remains of a dinosaur, found a few years ago in the north-western part of the state.

Literary references also do indicate the existence, in the Godavari basin, of a very ancient civilization that passed away into oblivion. Sutta Nipata of the Buddhist canon mentions the present-day Nizamabad district in Andhra Pradesh. His disciples were said to have gone to Magadha to meet the Buddha.

In the Ramayana also we find a legend which states that in the Dandakaranya, through which the river Godavari flows, there existed in the long-forgotten past a prosperous and populous kingdom which was later destroyed by the curse of a saint, perhaps a fact lingering in the racial memory recorded therein the grab of a legendary episode.

All these point out clearly towards the existence of an ancient and indigenous civilization on the banks of the Godavari, in Andhra Pradesh, prior to the Vedic period. History dawned on Andhra Pradesh prior to the 2nd millennium B.C.

The evidence of man in Mesolithic Period and transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic and Neolithic to Megalithic


Mesolithic culture characterized by microliths/pigmy implements succeeded the Paleolithic. The Mesolithic period is bracketed between 6000 to 2500 B.C.

Most significant evidence is the rock art observed at Kethavaram, Muddanur, Dapalle, Patapet and Mudumula, to quote a few. These paintings project the contemporary socio - economic conditions.


The transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic complex in Andhra Pradesh cannot precisely be delineated owing to a deplorable lack of data. However, the Neolithic phase can be considered revolutionary because of several inventions brought in during that period. Owing to the efforts of many researchers, various Neolithic sites are brought to light recently. However, only a few of them are studied in depth. Many of them are trial trenches only. Research was carried on extensively at Nagarjunakonda.

The Neolithic folk inhabited the river and stream banks, caves and rock shelters and flat hill-tops. There is enough evidence to conclude that many of the people lived in circular houses with thatched roofs supported by wooden posts. Pit dwellings of that age are found at Kesarapalli, Nagarjunakonda. Along with stone, bone also found a place in the industry during that period. Household objects like saddle querns, grinders, pounders, rubbers and other objects such as mace-heads, sling-balls, hoes and circular tables are reported from several sites.

The pure Neolithic facies of crude handmade pottery acquires Neolithic-chalcolithic facies later on with the adaptation of painted pottery in the tradition of post-harappan chalcolithic cultures of western India. The appearance of wheel-turned, red and black ware marks the next phase of the development in ceramic art.

The Andhra-Karnataka border abounds in rock paintings and bruising. The bull dominates the scene. Beads made on semi precious stones, and clay, bangles made of shells are the objects of personal adornment.

Another peculiar feature of this culture is the discovery of Ash Mounds of varying dimension. They look small isolated low hillock. Settled cultivation and cattle keeping were the sources of economy while fishing, hunting and gathering supplemented the economy of Neolithic village communities.

The Neolithic revolution gradually led people to make tools out of iron. Anthropologist associate this phase of iron tools and black and red pottery with Megalithic tombs. Hence it is named as the Megalithic phase.


The Megaliths’ are the memorial stones erected for the dead during the prehistoric period. These are usually termed by the people of Andhra as Pandava Gullu (boulders of Pandavas) or Rakasi (from Raksasa in the sense of ‘huge’) Gullu. A good number of them are symbolic burials. But some do contain skeletal remains. The most significant factor is the association of varied and rich burial goods, ranging from pottery and iron implements to gold. The first of its kind was excavated at Kalyandurg (Anantapur District) by Longhurst.

Of the various types of the megaliths – such as the menhir, the dolmen, the dolmenoidcist, the cist burial, the urn burial, the sarcophagus, the cairn circle and stone circle – the cairn circle, the stone circle and the dolmonoid cist are more wide-spread in Andhra Pradesh. The sarcophagus type is found mostly in Kurnool, Cuddapah and Chittoor districts. The most interesting evidence of a dolmen comes from Pandavulametta. (Srikakulam district) measures 8.4mts in length and is made up of two capstones, the width being around 3mts. Innumerable cairns are found in Telangana, extending from eastern border of the Nizambad district upto the eastern border of the Nalgonda district.

Some structures found recently in excavations conducted at Peddabankur, at Keesaragutta and also a circular wall of 150mts diameter, housing many semi-circular huts at pagidigutta throw some light on the subject. The iron objects of good workmanship and the high quality black and red ceramic ware obtained therein suggest the existence of a society based on cattle-breeding and agriculture activity supported by a rudimentary defence system.

The megaliths provide us with some information regarding the beliefs that dominated the human mind during that period, especially about life after death. The nearest of the deceased took ample care to provide the dead with all the necessities of life and leave them in the grave along with his body so that his soul could lead a happy life in the other world. There is enough evidence to show that the megalithic phase had its beginning around 1100 B.C. The sites in the Andhra-Karnataka border region affirm these facts.

The study of the life journey of the early man in Lower Middle and Upper Paleolithic Periods

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The study of the life journey of the early man in Andhra Pradesh as in the rest of India is now fairly well established through co-ordinate researches by Geologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, paleontologists and palaeobotanists. As a result, a very rich prehistory cultural background of Andhra Pradesh over a period of nearly 3 lakhs of years is projected. The evidence of man leading a hunting–gathering way of life (Paleolithic), and subsequently a well established food-producing economy (Neolithic), is discovered all over Andhra Pradesh. The Paleolithic period, as a whole, witnessed hunting-foraging activity though divided into three periods: Lower, Middle and Upper Paleolithic.

The earliest discoveries of Paleolithic cultural evidence date back to the 2nd part of 19th century in Andhra Pradesh. Robert Bruce Foote is said to be a pioneer in these studies.


Various river valleys in Cuddapah basin, a geological formation, comprising Cuddapah, Kurnool, Chittoor, and Nellore, parts of Mahaboobnagar, Prakasam, Guntur and Nalgonda districts are rich in distribution of prehistoric cultures. Nallamalas, Palakondas and the Velikondas, the hill ranges of Eastern Ghats have proved to be the ideal habitats of the prehistoric man with abundant wild food resources. Lower Paleolithic evidence (comprising handaxes of various shapes, such as lancolates, oats, almonds, picks etc., and chappers, chopping tools, cleavers tools, cleavers, discoids and scrappers) is located in the above river valleys.


It comprises of evidence of tools of different shapes facilitating hafting, scrapers of different types of skinning, knifing, sharpening, borers (screw drivers) for making holes, miniature handaxes and cleavers. All this is bracketed between 1.5 to 40 lakhs of years.


Blades and Blade tools characterize the Upper Paleolithic Age in Andhra Pradesh which can be compared with that of Europe. The tool kit included blades, knives, points, blunted back points, pen knives, borers, burins, a variety of scrapers made of stone while those of bone are points, awl points, burins, borers, scrapers, pins, needles and spatula like objects. It is bracketed between 30,000 to 10,000 B.C.

Billasargam group of caves yielded a variety of stone and bone tools in association with animal remains. They include monkeys, wild cat, wild dog, wild pig, tiger, leopard, horse, antelope, wild elephant, rhinoceros like bulbs, tubers, roots, fruits, nuts, leaves, etc. The aboriginal communities like Chenchu and Yanadi still exploit these wild resources.