Paleolithic Era

The prehistory of India goes back to the old Stone age (Palaeolithic). While India lies at the eastern limit of the hand axe distribution, there are numerous Acheulean findspots. Hathnora, in the Narmada Valley has produced hominid remains of middle Pleistocene date.

The broken skull specimen of Homo erectus is first & only of its kind in India. This skull was discovered on 5th December, 1982 in the middle of the Narmada valley in Hathnora, Madhya Pradesh. It is the most ancient human remnant so far discovered in Indian subcontinent and it was discovered in situ which allow a precise determination of its stratigraphic, palaeontological and cultural context all attributable to the Middle Pleistocene (around 500,000 years ago) age in the geological time scale.

Recent finds include a middle palaeolithic quarry in the Kaladgi Basin, southern India. A tradition of Indian rock art dates to 40 or 50,000 years ago. Survey has resulted in the identification of 191 Middle Palaeolithic localities along the margins of the Malaprabha and Ghataprabha rivers.

Paleolithic peoples probably roamed Afghanistan as early as 100,000 BC. The earliest definite evidence of human occupation was found in the cave of Darra-i-Kur in Badakhshan, where a transitional Neanderthal skull fragment in association with Mousterian-type tools was discovered; the remains are of the Middle Paleolithic, dating about 30,000 years ago. Caves near Aq Kopruk yielded evidence of an early Neolithic culture (c. 9000-6000 BC) based on domesticated animals.

The earliest evidence of Paleolithic human presence in the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent consists of stone implements found scattered around the Soan River Valley in northern Pakistan. Despite the lack of fossil evidence, these tools appear to indicate the presence of hominids in the subcontinent as early as 200,000–400,000 years ago and thus are likely to have been associated with archaic Homo species. Pakistan lies on the postulated southern coastal route followed by anatomically modern H. sapiens out of Africa, and so may have been inhabited by modern humans as early as 60,000–70,000 years ago. There is evidence of cave dwellers in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, but fossil evidence from the Paleolithic has been fragmentary.