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Mesolithic Culture (10000 BC - 4000 BC)

Mesolithic Culture (10000 BC - 4000 BC)

Introduction– Mesolithic culture is also known as late Stone Age, microlithic culture. With the folding up of great Ice age some 10000 BC the Paleolithic age came to an end and Mesolithic age begins.

Climate –became warmer & humid and there was expansion of flora and fauna contributed by increased rainfall. And there is drastic change in ecology in which man had to readjust.

Tool techniques - pressure flaking and Levalloisian techniques was used in production of flakes tools

Tools - tools are smaller in size (1 - 8 cm) & better in finish than the Paleolithic age.
Main tools types are backed blades (blades with one edge blunted), obliquely truncated blades, points, crescent, triangles, trapezes, square and rectangular scrapper, arrowheads lunates etc
Such tools could only have been used as composite tools hafted in wood or bovine jaws.
Some microlithis were used as component of spearhead, arrowhead, knives sickles, harpoon, daggers etc
Use of bow and arrow is depicted in rock art of that period
Use of bone tool like shoulder blade of rhinoceros
Spherical hematite and stone ball were used as sling bolas for hunting
Grinding stone is also discovered from few sites.
These new technological elements led to enhanced efficiency in hunting, collection and processing of wild plants as food.
Material used- quartzite, chert and bone and occasionally ivory and antlers.
Culture and living
• Man started settling in artificially created structures
• The inter group fight or warfare is not mere conjecture for this period
• Though they started partially settled life in artificial settlement but Caveswere still inhabitated
• Stone paved floor ,pottery also found on some sites
• Evidences of grave inside habitation also found
• A floor of 5X4 made off rammed, burnt clay lumps & 4 pot holes on 4 corners suggest some sort of communal cooking is found from Sarai NaharRai in Pratapgarh.
• Tools found in grave suggest some sorts of rituals practice by humans of at that time.
• They were mainly hunter and gatherer but few evidences of agriculture and some domestication is also found.
• Using tools they subsisted on cow, buffalo, sheep, goat, dogs, fish etc.

Art – rock painting from Mirzapur, Bhimbetka depicts animals forms with isolated hunting fishing event.
In Rajasthan – Bagor , Tilwara, panchpadra Basin and sojat area
In Gujarat – Langhnaj ,Akhaj, Valsana, HIrpur
In Uttar Pradesh- Sarai NaharRai, Morhana, Pahar, Lekkahia
In Madhya Pradesh-Bhimbetka, Adamgarh, Chaturbhujnath Nala.
In Jharkhand - Chhotanagpur plateau
In Odisha- Mayurbhanj ,Kheonjhar, Sundergarh .
In South India – Teni (Tamil Nadu) , Sangankallu (Karnataka)
• West Bengal – Birhanpur.

Some important sites in detail
1. Langhnaj (2000 BC)-
• It is habitation site dating from late Mesolithic period in the state of Gujarat on bank of Sabarmati river
• It was investigated by the indian archaeologists H.D. Sankalia in 1941-42
• Tools – geometric microliths (obliquely truncated blades, points, crescent, triangles, trapezes, square and rectangular scrapper, arrowheads lunates etc).
-non-lithic tools such as rhinocerous shoulder, blade as anvil for making tools
• Occupation – findings of bones of fish and animals reveales that they were engaged in fishing and hunting activity.
- But some scholars also suggest that they were nomadic pastoralist rather than hunter and gatherers.
- The pottery and tools found at Langhnaj are evidence of interaction and trade from outside.
- they subsisted on cow, buffalo, sheep, goat, dogs, fish etc.
• Shelter – no evidence has been found for houses from langhnaj. Natural shrub seems to be only shelter which would have been decomposed to leave any evidence.
• Rituals – the crouching posture in which the skeletons have been found indicates that they were deliberately buried along with some tools as part of burial ceremony.

2. Bagor(5000 BC)
• The arcaeological site of bagor is a late Mesolithic ,it is located on the Kothari river in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan region.
• It was excavated by V.N. Mishra (1967) and Vasantshinde (1970s)
• This is one of the best studied site and rich collection of Mesolithic cultural remains are recovered from this site.
• Tools –the microlithic industry is most profusely distributed more or less all over the inhabited area.
-Mass production of microblades& their conversion into various forms such as blades, trapezes, crescent, point etc is found
-tools are essentially geometric and geared to hunting economy
-this industry is characterized by perfect symmetry of tools and high standard of craft manship.
- butno scrappers, no burins, no crest guiding blades have been found.
• Settlement- characterized by stone paved floors ,rich stone industry more substantial structure of settlement, more pottery.
• Occupation – evidence of domestication of sheep, cattle, goats by nomadic pastoralists found.
-hunting and gathering was main economic activity.
• Graves and Rituals- graves are found in two phases.
In phase 1, grave was inside the habitation with no funeral appendage.only one extended adult burial with head pointing west was found.
In phase 2, earthern vessel is found in graves and body is buried in flexed position with head pointing east.

Meaning and definition
Definition – it is a field that attempts to explain human economic behavior in widest historic, geographic and cultural scope. Its origin as a sub-field of anthropology began with the work by Malinowski andMarcel Mauss on the nature of reciprocity as an alternative to market exchange.
• It is also defined as cross-cultural study of the Production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
Or • The study of economic institutions and behavior using ethnographic methods -Plattner, 1989
Or • The ethnographic approach entails an in-depth, holistic, and longitudinal study of one society, using multiple methods, including participant observation.

Economic anthropology – Scope and Relevance
Scope –
• To describe the varieties of economic arrangements developed by human kind in different times and places. For example distributional pattern like redistribution, reciprocity were studied by Karl Polyani in “Great transformations”. Further various types of recicprocity was given by Sahlins.
• To understand the social and cultural contexts in which the systems of production, distribution and exchange operate. For example Kula exchange took place to maintain social relations among islanders.
• A holistic study of economics in a society to analysis of economic life as a subsystem of the societies. For instance, Howvidyarthi explained the economic system of Maler as a part of whole NMS complex.
• A study of economic aspects of social relationships (bride price, dowry system, ceremonial exchanges)
• Studies both the primitive as well as the modern societies –peasant societies, urban economies, entrepreneurship
• To understand the historical context and to be able to connect it to the culture, environment and economics where the society operates
Example –Malinowsky studied kula

Relevance –
• In the primitive tribal societies, economies are closely cognate to their cultures – we cannot differentiate between tribal economics and cultural practices
• To understand the interaction between culture, environment and economics, an historical, comparative and holistic methodology is required
• In tribal societies, kinship, politics, religion, descent groups etc., influence economic decision making and its outcomes - A socio-economic approach is needed
• Transnational capitalism, globalization, indigenous people, neo-socialism make it very relevant today, than ever in the past.
• Now economic anthropologists study the corporations, banks and the global financial systems from anthropological point of view.

Substantivist and formalist debate
The opposition between substantivist and formalist economic models was first proposed by Karl Polanyi in his work The Great Transformation (1944)
• The modern economic theory and its neoclassical model are developed based on the study of industrial societies where the principal motivation is profit.
• Given this context, can we apply this theory to understand primitive economies where profit is not a motive?
• Substantivists like Polyani, Sahlins, Dalton says NO, because economy of simple societies is NOT PURE ECONOMY, i.e. underlying basis of economy are social. IN addition, their economy is SO SIMPLE and underlying basis is social, hence, anthropologists are BEST SUITED TO study economy of SIMPLE SOCIETIES.
• Formalists like Raymond Firth, Schneider says YES – economic laws are UNIVERSAL and apply to every society with necessary modifications. Economic theory is all about the ways in which people get maximum personal satisfaction in saving and distributing scarce resources

This debate can be analyzed through following principles of economics – (a)Principle of maximization – as per this, humans want to maximize their profits. Substantivists say that societies like Trobriander follow Kula system which is based on strengthening social relations, cultural values, norms and traditions, moral concerns, politica and religion rather than profit maximization. Further Sahlins says-“tribes are NOT maximizers they are optimisers” hence this principle of economics not applicable to simple societies.
Counter view – formalist argue that profit can be defined in terms of leisure, hence simple societies want to maximize leisure time, hence this principle is still applicable
Maori tribe, Raymond firth, maximization happen in Maori tribe. Here, maximination of personal satisfaction, social ties.
(b)Principle of rationalization – as per this, human are in general rationale in terms of profit and loss. This principle is deemed wrong by substantivist saying that in simple societies rationality demands maintenance of social relations even at the cost of profit.
Sahlins says- “Money is to west, kinship is to rest”

(c)Principles of demand and supply – in simple societies, fulfilling each other needs are more important than demand and supply. Exchange of produce between Coastal fisherman and inland cultivators (producing yarn) in Africa does not follow this principle.
Further, simple societies follow reciprocity and redistribution as primarily mode of exchange while modern societies follow market exchange where demand and supply is applicable
Counter view – in modern states, reciprocity and redistrbition is also there,here when we can apply economic laws, then why not in primitive societies.
Using concept of “Embededness”, substantivist argue that- Rather than being a separate and distinct sphere, economy is embedded in both economic and non -economic institutions.
Exchange is influenced by society and does not happen in “social vacuum”
Socio-cultural values, norms and values playa significant role in people’s decision making

Conclusion- Certain Classical economic models are not applicable to simple societies. Therefore, substantivist approach explain simple societies.


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