Human beings emerged about two million years ago. They resembled apes, who lived in caves or on tree tops. Prehistory is the period for which no written records are available. History refers to the period of history for which written records are available.

1. Stone Age:

  • Paleolithic (5,00,000 BC to 1,00,000 BC) - Food gatherers
  • Mesolithic (10,000 BC to 8,000 BC) - Use of fire discovered
  • Neolithic (8,000 BC to 4,000 BC) - Food producers

Different Stages of Human Development

  • Hunting stage: As food gatherers, (earliest stage)
  • Village life (Rural): Advent of agriculture and settled life
  • Town life (urban): As food producers, discovery of metals led to specialisation of crafts
  • City life: Civilisation and culture progressed, Arts like painting, music, sculpture and architecture developed

2. Discovery of metal led to human civilisation becoming highly evolved. Copper was the first metal used by human beings. The cultures based on use of both copper and stone are called Chalcolithic Cultures.

3. An alloy of copper and tin (bronze) replaced stone, wood and bones to some extent for making weapons and implements. Town based civilization came up for first time in Mesopotamia (Between Tigris and Euphrates), Egypt (Nile), India (Indus) and China (Hwang Ho).

4. Buddhism: Gautam Buddha was born at Lumbini in 563 BC and at the age of 29 attained enlightenment. He gave four noble truths and eight fold path.

5. Jainism: Rishabhnath, the first tirathankara founder of Jainism, Parshvanatha 23rd tirathankar and Vardhamana Mahavira, the 24th tirathankar. Mahavir was born in 540 BC at Kundegram near Vaishali. He became ascetic at the age of 30, died at Pavapuri in 468 BC near Rajagriha.

6. Mauryan Age (322 BC - 184 BC): Magadha, the powerful Mahajanpada expanded considerably under Bimbisara, Ajatshatru, Mahapadman and Chandragupta Maurya.

7. Sangam Age (300 BC - 200 AD): Sangam assembly of scholars and literary figures held under the royal patronage of Pandyan kings of Madurai. Early Tamil literature comprised work such as Tolkappiyam, Eight Anthologies (Ettutogai), the ten Idylls (Pathupattu), Eighteen minor works and three epics (Shilappadikaram, Manimekalai and Sivaga Sindamani).

8. Kushana Age: Kushana were a branch of Yue-chi tribe of central Asia. The greatest ruler of the Kushana dynasty was kaniska and he was a devoted Buddhist.

9. Gupta Age (319 AD - 550 AD): It was a period of high material prosperity mentioned by Fahien (4th - 5th AD). Maharaja Shri Gupta founder of Gupta dynasty, succeeded by Ghatochkach gupta and Chandragupta I (319 - 315 AD). Samudra Gupta (his account available in Allahabad pillar inscription) performed Ashwamedha Yagna, a symbol of imperial authority. His son Chandragupta II (415 - 455 AD) had brought peace and prosperity.