Publication Details

Brumm, A. R., Boivin, N., Korisettar, R., Koshy, J. & Whittaker, P. (2007). Stone Axe Technology in Neolithic South India: New Evidence from the Sanganakallu-Kupgal Region, Mideastern Karnataka. Asian Perspectives: the journal of archaeology for Asia and the Pacific, 46 (1), 65-95.


The transition to agriculture—and to settled village life—occurred at different times in various parts of the world. Even within the Indian subcontinent, the Neolithic transition did not occur simultaneously across the entire region; rather, Neolithic ‘‘pockets’’ developed at di¤erent moments in certain key areas within the subcontinent. One such area is the South Deccan Plateau in South India, where the third millennium b.c. saw the development of a novel Neolithic way of life that di¤ered in crucial ways from Neolithic lifeways in other parts of the subcontinent (Allchin 1963). This tradition was marked by a particular focus on cattle and by the appearance of specific, perhaps ritual practices that featured the burning of large quantities of cow dung and the resultant creation of ashmounds in the landscape (Allchin 1963; Boivin 2004). This unique Neolithic tradition, while still relatively poorly understood compared to Neolithic cultures in Europe and the Near East, has much to o¤er prehistorians attempting to understand the changes that led to and accompanied domestication and sedentarization. It also has much to o¤er South Asian scholars who wish to gain a better appreciation of the changes that led to complexity, political economy, and state-level societies in South India (Boivin et al. 2005; Fuller et al. forthcoming). One key requirement for such studies is a better understanding of the material culture changes that attended the Neolithic transition, as well as the subsequent transition from the Neolithic to the Megalithic or Iron Age (see Table 1 for period designations and chronology). Such understanding is currently poor, and this essay o¤ers an attempt to address this lacuna with respect to one particular form of material culture: stone artifacts.



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