The Neolithic transition involved less a technological revolution than one in
land use. If hunting and gathering flourished for thousands of years, what
made people become farmers and herders? That is, why and how did the
relation of people to certain plant and animal species change so radically that
these species were biologically transformed? Only an ecological approach
can provide the answers.
    After millennia of success as hunters and food-gatherers people settled
down to village life as farmers or stockbreeders. It cannot be coincidental that
this process of settling down and tending to wheat, barley, cattle, sheep and
goat-species whose wild ancestors had a wide though discontinuous
distribution through the uplands of Asia from Turkey to Afghanistan-is first
attested in South Asia at a site in a frontier region, Mehrgarh (from 6000 BC).
    There was no particular period in South Asia when hunters and gatherers
took to agriculture and animal-rearing. The Neolithic stage appeared in
different regions at different times, in each case with a unique stone and
ceramic technology and range of domesticates.
    Clearly not all Neolithic economies were based on species locally
domesticated. Neolithic cultures in the Jhelum valley and in the Garo and
North Cachar Hills exhibit a frontier character, with arte-factual links with
cultures outside the subcontinent. On the other hand, in Orissa we may have
mingling of traditions from the northeast and the Deccan plateau.
    Detailed characterisations of the different cultures, however, cannot be
made as in some cases we rely on undated surface finds and in some
instances we lack faunal and botanical evidence on the nature of economy.
    Like the Kachhi plain, the region comprising the Belan valley at the edge
of the Vindhya plateau and the adjoining Ganga plain around Allahabad is an
important zone. For here we have a sequence of sites from the terminal
Paleolithic to the Mesolithic and early Neolithic, and there is evidence of the
local domestication of rice and humped cattle. The dates of the transition are
however controversial.
Chalcolithic Phase
After the Harappan civilisation we have a sequence of Chalcolithic cultures,
which span the second millennium BC and extend geographically from the
Banas and Berach basins northeast         of Udaipur, through Malwa, and into