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Chalcolithic Age: History, Definition, Facts, and Features

The Chalcolithic age in India marks a vital transition in prehistory, known as the Copper-Stone Age, where people utilized both stone and copper tools. This period saw the rise of settled village communities, the introduction of agriculture, animal domestication, craft production, and the expansion of trade networks. For UPSC exam aspirants, especially those selecting history as an optional subject, understanding the Chalcolithic age is crucial as it is a significant topic in the UPSC syllabus. This article provides insights into the Chalcolithic age and the types of tools used during this era.

Chalcolithic Age

The Chalcolithic Age, alternatively termed the Copper Age or Eneolithic, lasted from 3000 BC to 1000 BC. Recognized as the Bronze Age, it gained its name from the prevalent utilization of bronze and copper during this period. This archaeological era is marked by the growing adoption of smelted copper, succeeding the Neolithic era and preceding the Bronze Age. The occurrence of the Chalcolithic Age varies in different regions and is notably absent in certain parts of the world, such as Russia.

Key Facts About the Chalcolithic Age


The word ”Chalcolithic” comes from the Greek words khalkós, meaning ”copper” and lithos, meaning ”stone.”

Hence, the Chalcolithic indicates the connection between copper and stone in the tools used by the people who lived during the Copper Age.

Duration- The Copper Age followed the Stone Age and overlapped with the Bronze Age as people of the Copper/Bronze Age learned the art of creating alloys. Copper was used with tin to create Bronze which was more useful for contemporary civilization. We can understand the Chalcolithic period by following-

Stone Age Period Timeframe
Paleolithic Age 500,000 – 10,000 BCE
Mesolithic Age 10,000 – 6000 BCE
Neolithic Age 6000 – 1000 BCE
Chalcolithic Age 3000 – 1000 BCE

Key Sites in India- The Chalcolithic Age’s principal locations were

  • Gilland (Rajasthan)
  • Ahar (Rajasthan)
  • Malwa (MP)
  • Nevada
  • Songhai
  • Kayatha

Chalcolithic around the World and in India

Distinguished by its utilization of copper and stone, this Indian civilization sets itself apart from non-urban, non-Harappan cultures in the region. It embraced diverse subsistence strategies like pastoralism, agriculture, hunting, and fishing.

  • Sumer and Chaldea of Mesopotamia: They were probably the first to develop and use copper tools in the world.
    These societies also used copper for a variety of everyday objects, tools, and weapons including pins, dishes, jugs, razors, and harpoons.
  • Egypt: copper plumbing pipes found inside the Pyramids are one of the most striking kinds of copper Artifacts to come out of Egyptian archaeological sites.
    Knives, saws, dishes, and decorative objects made of copper all seem to have been characteristic of the Copper Age in Egypt.
  • India: India also had a thriving Chalcolithic period.
    Indians made knives, agricultural tools, fishing hooks, jewellery, and chisels out of copper.
    The Chalcolithic Age (Copper) in India lasted until around 700 BCE, often overlapping with bronze tools that were also in use by that time.

Features of Chalcolithic Period

The Chalcolithic era, denoting the time when copper and stone were both utilized, is recognized as the stone-copper phase. These societies bear a unique regional identity that sets them apart. The Chalcolithic period is categorized into three distinct stages.

  • The Chalcolithic period (including the Bronze Age) in India often overlaps with the Harappan Period. The Copper Age is especially also referred to as the pre-Harappan period.
  • The Chalcolithic Period saw the development of Agriculture and the Domestication of animals for various purposes.
  • The nomadic lifestyle of the earlier period gave way to settled and early city life.
  • As people started living in established settlements, the development of social hierarchies and division of power started in these societies.
  • This period also saw the emergence of religious practices and cultural traditions.
  • The development of city life further gave way to early trade networks, especially between cities and villages.

Tools Of Chalcolithic Age

During the Chalcolithic age, there was a notable rise in various crafts, accompanied by the utilization of both stone and copper tools. This technological development facilitated progress in agriculture, construction, and the production of crafts.

Types of Tools and Objects Materials Used Techniques Employed
Stone Tools Blades, scrapers, querns, axes, arrowheads Crafting from chert and quartzite stone
Microlithic Tools Blades, drills, scrappers Production from tiny stone chips
Copper Tools Axes, chisels, daggers, fish hooks, arrowheads Utilization of durable and efficient copper
Chalcolithic Pottery Red and black polished ware, plain grey pottery Production with fast pottery wheels
Pottery Designs Geometric and floral designs in white and black pigments Application on pottery
Beads and Bangles Microbeads (faience, terracotta), shell beads Large-scale production, importation from coastal areas
Terracotta Objects Figurines (mother goddesses, animals), spindle whorls, ear studs, painted dish-on-stand Crafting from terracotta clay
Stone Bead-Making Beads, pendants, ornaments Perforating and polishing stones like agate, jasper, carnelian
Bone and Antler Tools Borers, points, combs, spatulas, battens Crafting from bone and antler materials
Metal Working Copper smelting, casting, hammering Production of various objects from copper, use of copper-tin alloys
Jewellery Necklaces, bracelets, shell bangles Beads strung together with gold and copper wires, use of shell bangles

Chalcolithic Age for UPSC Exam

The chalcolithic Period is also known as the Copper Age/Bronze Age. Copper Age/Bronze Age is important for UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains Exam (GS Paper 1- Indian Art and Culture).

Check: All UPSC History Notes

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What is the Chalcolithic Age?

The Chalcolithic Age, also known as the Copper Age or Eneolithic, is a significant transitional period in prehistoric India. It is characterized by the use of both stone and copper tools, marking advancements in agriculture, settlement life, craft production, and trade.

When did the Chalcolithic Age occur?

The Chalcolithic Age lasted from 3000 BC to 1000 BC, representing the transition between the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. It is recognized for the widespread use of copper and bronze.

How is the Chalcolithic Age relevant to UPSC exams?

The Chalcolithic Age is a crucial topic for UPSC aspirants, especially those opting for history as an optional subject. It is part of the UPSC syllabus (GS Paper 1 - Indian Art and Culture) and provides insights into early human civilizations.

Which tools were used during the Chalcolithic Age?

Various tools were utilized during the Chalcolithic Age, including stone tools (blades, scrapers), microlithic tools, copper tools (axes, daggers), and pottery. Craftsmanship in terracotta, metalworking, and jewelry making also flourished.

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