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Class 11 Anthropology Chapter 5 Prehistoric Archaeology
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Chapter – 5
Very short type questions
1. What is prehistory? Who coined the word “Prehistoric”?
Answer: “Prehistoric is the subject which deals with story of man and everything that concerns him from that dim remote moment when he first emerged from his animal ancestry until the time when the existence of written records leads the investigator in to the realm of history proper.”
Daniel Willson coined the word”Prehistoric”.
2. What are the sources of studying prehistory?
Answer: As cited earlier, prehistory deals with the study of past culture of the primitive people without having any written records of their existence. If is very tough job for the prehistorians to study the life ways of the primitive people without knowing anything about them. But only reliable evidences left for us by the primitive people which are known as material objects. It is the only source for the prehistorians in studying the prehistoric cultural sequences as well as cultural development during that period.
Thus, it is known that the main sources of the prehistory is based on material objects prepared and utilised by the prehistoric man. The sources of the prehistoric objects are to be classified into two headings:
i) Immovable Objects: The immovable objects are consisted of various typed of items such as rock-shelter, Cave, factory site, dwelling, tomb, monuments, rock-carving, burial, charcoal, painting and engraving on the cave walls etc. These relics are found in almost all the prehistoric sides in which people had lived. These objects are existed in an original sites, it can not be possible to move from one place to another. Hence these objects are to be taken as a major sources in the study of prehistory. On the other hand, this study is represented the artistics and mental ability in technological evolution of the primitive people in prehistoric period. By this study one can be determined the cultural development of the prehistoric man.
ii) Movable objects: The movable objects are comprised of different items made by the primitive people for their daily activities during the prehistoric period. These items are made up of various raw- material like stone, bone antler teeth of animal, bome, wood, cane, bamboo, metal etc. These movable items are such as:
iv) Engraved objects.
v) Agricultural implements.
vi) Hunting implements.
vii) Fishing implements.
The above mentioned objects can be moved from one place to another for which these are to be recognized as mobile or movable objects. These objects are to be found in the prehistoric site in a stratified condition or may be found on the river valley i c in river terraces and sometimes on the surface of the earth. In the study of prehistory, these objects are to be taken as a good source, which provides us enough clues about the development of culture of the primitive people of the prehistoric period.
3. What are the utilities of studying prehistory?
Answer: By studying tool making, the prehistorians had to know the tool makers and what for the tools were made. The man who had made and utilised the tools had been extinct. In this way the study prehistory throws a light on the stages of evolution of man. It gives also an idea of various types of tools used and techniques of making the tools which are used for procuring foods and safeguard from wild animals and many other situations to created with the natural calamities. So, the prehistory is also concerned with the natural as well as physical background of the existence of human being. In this regards, the prehistorians must study changes of the climate and any events in the prehistoric periods. The prehistory also deal with the vast areas reflecting in the distribution and nature of the human artefacts belonging to the period concerned. So, prehistoric studies are included the studies on tool, weapon, remains of human fossil, fossilised flora and fauna, climate, geology, geography etc. These studies give us a detailed knowledge of various relationship between man and environmental situations. In connection, we may refer here the statement of Derek hoe ( 1971: 22-23) “The prehistorian may be an archaeologist, and vice versa, but the two terms are not completely synonymous. Archaeology is best regarded as the science which concerns itself with recovering and studying the relics of Man’s past, it has its own techniques, of which excavation is only one, though a highly specialised and important one. Prehistory, on the other hand, is to be thought of as the discipline of recounting coherently the events of Man’s past before written records”.
With the development of science and technology, various types of new methods are used by the prehistorians to determine the sequences of chronology for the long period of time before the records of history. By studying the relics of a particular period, one can be determined the chronology of that period which provides a clear picture of culture of the people belonging to that particular period. Thus, the prehistory is provided us valuable information of the different stages in man’s progress towards culture and civilization. It is evident from the study of prehistory that the beginning of human industry and culture in long back to several hundred thousands years.
4. Mention three important methods of studying prehistory.
Answer: Three important methods of studying prehistory are:-
i) Stratigraphical or Geological method: Stratigraphy means the composition of succession of strata or layers. In 1816, Willium Smith has been introduced the word ‘strata’ in the subject geology. Since the word ‘strata is used extensively in the subject geology and prehistory to study the Stratigraphic sequences. The stratigraphical method entirely rely on the rule of geological norms of super position. It is stated that in the formation of stratigraphic layers resulting from aggradation where there has been no disturbance, as rule the lower layers or beds are successively older than the upper ones.
ii) Palaeontological Method: To determine the chronological sequences of prehistoric sites, the study of bones found in archaeological site has given a rough idea in this regards. It is to be noted that climatic fluctuation may be caused migration, extinction and roaming different species of animals and plants in to different regions as per their convenient motive behind. In some situations, certain animal species have been extinct, whereas, in that particular situation men are found to be appeared. In this regards, two factors are taken in to account one may use palaeontology and the other may use associated finds.
iii) Archaeological method: Archaeological methods are applied to recover informations about the past cultures through the discovery and interpretation of their remains. Where ever people have lived they left evidences of their habitation sites through the remains of dwelling sites and the abandoned tools and weapons they have left behind. To do this task, the archaeologist has developed some techniques. The prehistorians reconstruct the story of man with the help of archaeological method. Archaeology has a great deal with the study of prehistory. As cited earlier, without having written records of the prehistoric period it is very difficult to know the sources of past history of man. Ofcourse, the archaeologists have to rely on some material objects left by the prehistoric people for studying past historical background of the primitive people. These are studied by applying some archaeological methods in prehistoric sites. The fundamental job of archaeologist firstly to recover the remains or sources, exploration is must essential. Secondly, the most important methods is to excavate the site. It is evident that usually, most of the evidences of the prehistoric period are to be found in river or lake valley, cave or rock-shelter, plain surfaces of the plateau and in the hills slope or mountains.
5. How does palaeontological method help in studying prehistoric times?
Answer: To determine the chronological sequences of prehistoric sites, the study of bones found in archaeological site has given a rough idea in this regards. It is to be noted that climatic fluctuation may be caused migration, extinction and roaming different species of animals and plants in to different regions as per their convenient motive behind. In some situations, certain animal species have been extinct, whereas, in that particular situation men are found to be appeared. In this regards, two factors are taken in to account one may use palaeontology and the other may use associated finds.
Palaeontology deals with the study of different bones of different species in archaeological sites to establish relative dates of the archaeological remains. In some climatic situations, such species like- Elephas-antiquus are suited to survive and indicate the climate as temperate. In the same way where as Elephas- Premigenius lived in almost glacial condition, which indicates the situation as Tundra climate. On the other hand, some small species of animals may be taken as good sources of evidences for studying prehistoric archaeology. Often, birds are taken as more sensitive indicators of climatic situations than larger animals. In addition to larger animals, some ‘Molluscs’ and kinds of ‘Snails’ are also to be considered as more sensitive to a changing situation in climate. In some situation they became more sensitive and active, on other hand, in some climatic conditions, they became inactive. So, their presence and absence in a particular archaeological site may be considered as good sources of keeping records of the changing climatic condition of particular region. To some extent, these changing climatic condition can be related to varved clay, pollens, soil, fluorine, fossilised bones and woods, for which it enables the prehistorians to determine the date of archaeological remains in association with the skeletal as well as human remains.
The associated finds are the objects found in the deposits of archaeological sites with the industries made by the primitive man. It is not very important in comparison to stratigraphy and typological methods. Still it is used by the archaeologists to solve some problems of dating in a particular situation. It is important to note that the prehistorians must certain that the associated finds should be real and authentic. For instance, where an industry occurs in a strata or layer of stratigraphy in a rock- shelter in association with the bones of extinct fauna, then the association can be regarded as authentic finds, and the antiquity of the industry must be the same as that of the extinct animals.
6. Describe briefly any one method of studying prehistory.
Answer: Any one method of studying prehistory are:-
Stratigraphical or Geological method: Stratigraphy means the composition of succession of strata or layers. In 1816, Willium Smith has been introduced the word ‘strata’ in the subject geology. Since the word ‘strata’ is used extensively in the subject geology and prehistory to study the stratigraphic sequences. The stratigraphic method entirely rely on the rule of geological norms of super position. It is stated that in the formation of stratigraphic layers resulting from aggradation where there has been no disturbance, as rule the lower layers or beds are successively older than the upper ones.
7. What is ‘Great Ice Age’?
Answer: The term ‘Great Ice Age’ is not a single Ice Age, but a series of both cold and warmer phases of climate. The succession of climatic fluctuation has brought a tre mendous change in the plant and animal kingdom as well as land vegetation.
8. How many glacial and interracial periods are there in Great Ice Age? Mention them.
Answer: There are seven glacial and interracial periods in Great Ice Age. They are:- Gunz Glaciation, Gunz-Mindel, Mindel Glaciation, Mindel-Riss Interglaciation, Riss Glaciation, Riss-Wurm Inter-Glaciation, Wurm Glaciation.
9. Name some animals that flourished during Glacial and Interglacial period.
Answer: Some animals that flourished during Glacial period animal such as mammoth, Woolly rhinoceros, Cave beers, Reindeer were dominant animal, but in the interglacial period the Tundra fauna became extinct and their places are taken by Warm living fauna such as straight tasked Elephant, Hippopotamus, Sabra-toothed tiger.
10. Describe the effects of Glacial and Interglacial period.
Answer: The effects of Glacial and Interglacial period are:-
a) Change in the relative land and sea level: The marine beaches were above the present day sea and Ocean lavel from which can be traced out of all the continental masses of the world. There is also evidences of submerged beach lines below the sea and ocean. This indicates that during pleistocene time the general sea level was higher in relation to the land musses than it is today. The argument advanced to explain the phenomena is that during glacial period the ice sheets and the snow- fields decrease the size of the inter- glacial period due to the melting of the ice-sheets the seas decrease in the volume.
As the result of this changes in relative land and sea levels, there were considerable geomorphological changes one of which is the formation of land bridges. These land bridges are connected different parts of the world which is at present separated by sea water. At that time England was linked with the continent of Europe, so that men and animals could move freely between the island and the continent. Similarly there was land bridge across the Mediterranean linking with North-Africa and South-Europe. Similarly, Malay archipelago were linked by land bridges to the continent of Asia. There evidences are more important because by understanding the geomorphology during pleistocene period, one can understand the significance of the distribution of different stone age cultures. Besides from changes in the world sea level the climatic oscillations had far reaching effect on areas beyond and marginal to the ice.
b) Changes of flora and fauna: The vast changes of the climate during pleistocene period are reflected in the flora and fauna of the different parts of the world.
They flourished during different climatic phases. The remains of animals and plants are only preserved by fossilisation under some- what rare conditions. By collecting the fossils associated with cultural remains at any site. We can get a picture of the kind of animals prevalent in that period. To some extend, the study of such fossils will give an indication of the climatic and general environmental conditions of the time. The flora and fauna of Europe during pleistocene period changed with changing climatic conditions. For instance, during glacial period animal such as mammoth, Wooly rhinoceros, Cave beers, Reindeer were dominant animal, but in the interglacial period the Tundra fauna became extinct and their places are taken by Warm living fauna such as straight tasked Elephant, Hippopotamus, Sabra-toothed tiger. The effect of the climatic change was not so severe in the tropical regions. As a result, animals and plants are changed during pleistocene in those places.
11. In which geological age man appeared on this earth? What climatic changes took place during this geographical age?
Answer: Do yourself.
12. What is proto-historic period?
Answer: Proto-historic period is the stage of intermediate in between prehistory and history. In other words it may be called as a transitional phase of history and prehistory. As cited in earlier portion there are in general two phases i.e. history wilk having written documents and records and prehistory witheret having written documents and then to some extent another advanced phase is to be appeared in between history and prehistory known as protohistory. This phase is considered to be as transitional stage of history and prehistory. This stage is characterised by the presence of copper objects along with the lithic tools and appearing the writing process. Thus this phase is comparatively more advanced than the phase of prehistory but less than that of the historic period. That is why this transitional stage is designated as protohistory. For instance we refer the Example of the Indus- Civilization which are unearthed from the Indus river valley in Punjab. In regards with protohistory, some scholars stated that. The story of man and their works at the end of the history is being made, but before literary history made its appearance is known as protohistory. So, the phase protohistory is highlighted only for writing process and used of copper objects. Hence, the prehistorian have given more importance to know about this phase on the basis of archaeological evidences left by the people in their habitual site of those period.
13. Name two prehistoric animals which lived in the arctic climatic conditions.
Answer: Two prehistoric animals which lived in the arctic climatic conditions are:- tundra and polar bear.
14. Write a short note on c14 method of dating.
Answer: This is the most important method of determine the absolute date of specimens. In the year 1949, professor Dr. W.F. Libby of the chicago university was discovered this method. It is based on the principle that all living plants and animals during their life time possesses a certain amount of radio active carbon ( C14). When plants and animals die the C14 gradually begin to disintegrate at the same time. It is very useful to the archaeologists that all living organisms contain the same proportion of C14 and after death organic materials lost their-C14. The rate at which the carbon decays its half life is known. C14 has a half life of 5,730 years . In other words, half of the original amount of C14 in organic specimen will have disintegrated 5, 730 years after the organisms death. The remaining half of the C14 will have disintegrated after another 5, 730 years and so on. Thus by measuring the amount of radio-carbon, one can establish the time when the plant and animal died.
Radio-carbon dating is based on the following principle. The Neutrons produced by cosmic-radiation which reacts with the radio-active nitrogen or N14.
The reaction produced radio-carbon, or C14 which has a half life of about 5,730 years. The reaction is seen in the following. N14+n =C14+H.
The ideal samples for radio-carbon dating are consisted of wood, charcoal, burnt bone, grasses, antler, or tusk, lake mud, peat, mollus shall etc. By applying this method the absolute date of these samples of a prehistoric site can be determined in the “Tata Institute of Fundamental Research” in Bombay. But this method only 30,000 years may be determined of a culture.
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