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.