Chalcolithic Age (3,500 BC-1,000 BC): A Brief Overview

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Chalcolithic Age

With the end of the Neolithic Age, numerous cultures started incorporating metal, mostly copper and low-grade bronze for a multitude of purposes. The Chalcolithic Age, also known as the Copper Age, Eneolithic, or Aeneolithic, refers to the time between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. The term Chalcolithic is a combination of two words, Chalco + Lithic which is derived from the Greek words Khalkos + lithos, referring to copper and stone or Copper Age. 

Classification of the Chalcolithic Age in India

In India, The Chalcolithic Age spanned somewhere around 2000 BC to 700 BC. Although it was predominantly visible in the pre-Harappan Age, it was still visible in some places around the post-Harappan era as well. It is generally classified into three distinct stages including:

Age Timeline 
Pre-Harappan Age3,500 BC-2,500 BC
Harappan Age2,500 BC- 1,750 BC
Post Harappan Age1,750 BC- 1,000 BC

Also Read: Things Everyone Must Know About Harappan Civilization (3300-1300 BCE)

Characteristics of the Chalcolithic Age

Here are the key characteristics of the Chalcolithic Age according to different categories:


  • The painted polychrome pottery is one of the most significant characteristics of the Chalcolithic Age. 
  • Ceramics found on such sites include fenestrated pottery or pots with openings cut into the walls. 

Domestication of animals

  • People of the Chalcolithic Age started domesticating and raising numerous animals such as sheep, pigs, goats, and cattle, along with hunting and fishing activities. 
  • Diary products like milk were as important as fruit trees. 

Also Read: Bronze Age: Facts, Weapons, Civilisations

Chalcolithic Architecture

  • Houses built during the Chalcolithic Age were primarily constructed of stone or mudbrick.
  • Chain building, which is a row of rectangular houses connected to each other by a shared wall is a major characteristic of Chalcolithic architecture. 
  • Additionally, numerous burials are also found varying significantly and ranging from rock-cut tombs to jar burials. 

Chalcolithic Tools

  • During the Chalcolithic Age, people started using metals to make knives, pins, rods, and fishing rods.
  • Among others, copper was the most common metal. 
Source: India-a2z


  • With the domestication of animals started numerous agricultural practices.
  • People started cultivating crops such as barley, wheat, green peas, black gram, bajra, ragi, and so on. 
  • In some Chalcolithic sites, traces of rice cultivation are also found. 

Art and craft

  • People of the Chalcolithic Age were expert coppersmiths, terracotta artisans, and ivory carvers.
  • They made ornaments using numerous semiprecious stones and beads. Common examples include jasper, agate, and chalcedony.
  • Additionally, they were also skilled in weaving and spinning. Traces of cotton and silk threads are found at sites located in Maharashtra. 

Also Read: When did Agriculture Begin: A Timeline

Chalcolithic Culture Chronology

Below is a chronological list of India’s Chalcolithic culture:

  • Period I: Chalcolithic (c. 18th–7th BCE)
  • Period II: Early historic (c. 7th–2nd century BCE & 2nd century BCE – first century CE),
  • Period III: 1st–6th centuries CE
  • Period IV: is defined as the late medieval period (16th – 18th centuries CE)

Chalcolithic Culture according to the Geographical Location

Ahar Culture

  • It is among the earliest Chalcolithic cultures of India.
  • It is also known as the Banas culture which derives its name from the valley where most of the sites are located. 
  • Major excavated sites include the Ojiyana in the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan, Gilund in the Rajsmanad district, and Ahar and Belathal in the Udaipur district. 

Kayatha Culture

  • The Kayatha Culture got its anime from the Kayatha site of Ujjain district. 
  • Some historians consider the earthquake as the reason behind the sudden end of the culture.  
  • Numerous short-necked storage jars are found with painted pottery. 
  • During this period, people lived in small huts with earthen floors and a thatched roof. 
  • People also cultivated crops like barley and wheat and tended to cattle, sheep, and goats. 
  • According to some theories, the Kayatha Culture practiced a mixed economy which included hunting, fishing, stock raising, and farming. 

Also Read: Neolithic Age: Origin & Characteristics

Malwa Culture 

  • As the name suggests, sites of the Malwa Culture are predominantly found in the Malwa region.
  • The initial excavations were found at Maheshwar on the river Narmada. Other popular excavation sites include Kayatha, Nagda, and so on. 
  • Evidently, a major portion of the sites were discovered on the banks of the tributaries. 
  • Remains of barley, jawar, oilseeds, rice, and wheat are also found. 
  • Ceramics of the Malwa Culture contained cream slipped with dark brown painted patterns, white painted black and red ware, and red/grey ware.
  • When it comes to religious practices, numerous terracotta female figurines of different types have been found on the excavation sites.
  • Similarly, terracotta bull figures suggest either toys or religious beliefs. 

Jorwe Culture 

  • It got its name from the site of Jorwe, located in the Ahmednagar district of Gujarat.
  • It was first discovered in 1950 and covers regions of Prakash in the Tapi Valley, Inamgao in the Bhima Valley, and Daimabad in the Pravara Godavari Valley. 
  • The architecture of the early Jorwe Culture houses was rectangular and the late ones were circular. 
  • According to historians, people of the Jorwe culture relied on dry farming, stock-raising, hunting, and fishing. 
  • Different crops such as wheat, barley, rice, ragi, lentil, black gram, and jawar were cultivated during this period. 
  • Additionally, numerous child burials were also found in urns which were later laid in pits. If the dead were an adult, their body below the ankles were cut. 

Ochre Colored Pottery Culture 

The OCP or Orchre Colored Pottery is named after the particular ceramic type. Let us learn more about the Ochre Colored Pottery Culture.

Source: Pinterest
  • Fragile in nature, this type of pottery has a red ochre wash.
  • Numerous OCP sites have been found in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Punjab.
  •  Remains of animals like cattle have been found at the OCP excavation sites.
  • Additionally, traces of crops like rice and barley also provide useful insights into their subsistence practices.

Also Read: Mesolithic Age: History, Artifacts & Developments

Painted Grey Ware (PGW)

As the name suggests, pained grey ware refers to an extremely smooth and even-coloured grey pottery with a thin fabric.  Let us learn more about the Painted Grey Ware.

  • It was made using high-quality clay.
  • The PGW excavation sites contained evidence of wheat, rice, and barley. 
  • Deep circular pits alongside the habitation areas at the Atranjikhera indicate kaccha wells, a type of primitive irrigation facility. 
  • Evidence of unbaked bricks and baked bricks are found at Hastinapura.
  • The sites of PGW culture show diverse geographical distribution ranging from the Himalayan foothills to the Malwa plateau in central India and from the Bahawalpur region of Pakistan to Kaushambi near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. 


Which age is known as the Chalcolithic age?

The Chalcolithic period refers to the period of time which preceded the Bronze Age. It got its unique name due to the excessive use of copper and stone tools during that period.

What is the difference between the Chalcolithic Age and the Neolithic Age?

The Chalcolithic Age, also known as the Copper Age, refers to a period between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. It is widely characterized by the use of stone tools and copper. On the other hand, the Neolithic Age saw the rise of agricultural practices, the domestication of animals, and a rapid shift from hunting and gathering to settled communities. 

What are the 3 Stone Ages?

The three Stone Ages include the Palaeolithic period, the Mesolithic period, and the Neolithic period.

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Indus Valley CivilizationPaleolithic Age
Iron AgeMahajanapadas

This was all about the Chalcolithic Age. If you are interested in learning more about such historical topics, then you can find more informative blogs on Indian History by staying tuned to our General Knowledge section.

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