Maharashtra State BoardHSC Arts 11th
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Megalithic Period in India

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Megalithic Period in India:

At about 700 B.C.E. Inamgaon was completely abandoned by the Jorwe people. Thereafter it was never occupied till the historic period. This situation prevailed in most of Maharashtra. However, the nomadic people of this period erected stone circles by using huge slabs of rock. The space within these circles was used to bury dead people. Because of the huge stone slabs used in their erection, these circles are known as megaliths. The period of these megaliths is known as the ‘Megalithic Age’. They were used for various purposes, but mainly they contain the remains of the dead. They were the memorials of the dead. Stone circles are usually grouped in terms of the shape and size of the stones, the span of their radius, and their population within the local area. Although many theories have been advanced to explain their use, usually related to providing a setting for ceremony or ritual, there is no consensus among archaeologists as to their intended function. Their construction often involved considerable communal effort, including specialist tasks such as planning, quarrying, transportation, laying the foundation trenches, and final construction.

For instance, the Bodos in Odisha, Todas, and Kurumbas in South India, Nagas, and Khasis in Northeast India. Most of the megalithic circles in India are dated to 1500-500 B.C.E. Some of the megalithic circles in north India are as old as the neolithic period. The people who erected the megalithic circles in Maharashtra are supposed to have come from south India. The megalithic circles in Maharastra belong to the Iron Age. They are dated to 1000-400 B.C.E.

In the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra Megalithic burials are found in large numbers, especially in the districts of Nagpur, Chandrapur, and Bhandara. Excavations of megalithic burials were conducted at various sites like Takalghat, Mahurzari, Khapa, Naikund, etc.

Megalithic tombs are aboveground burial chambers, built of large stone slabs (megaliths) laid on edge and covered with earth or other, smaller stones. They are a type of chamber tomb, and the term is used to describe the structures built across Atlantic Europe, the Mediterranean, and neighboring regions, mostly during the Neolithic period, by Neolithic farming communities. They differ from the contemporary long barrows through their structural use of stone. There is a huge variety of megalithic tombs. Excavations of megalithic burials were conducted at various sites like Takalghat, Mahurzari, Khapa, Naikund, etc. It is notable that most of these sites were situated on the ancient trade routes. However, settlements of artisans of megalithic culture are rarely found. People of Megalithic culture were nomadic artisans. They were skilled in making iron objects. A furnace of the smelting iron of the megalithic period was discovered at Naikund near Nagpur. Megalithic people used horses for transport and travel. Skeletal remains and copper ornaments of horses were found buried in the megalithic circles. Megalithic people used Black-and-Red pottery. Megalithic people were certainly instrumental to a great extent in introducing the ‘Iron Age’ in ancient India.

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