Class 11 Anthropology Chapter 5 Prehistoric Anthropology

Class 11 Anthropology Chapter 5 Prehistoric Anthropology As Per New Syllabus. Class 11 Question Answer to each chapter is provided in the list so that you can easily browse throughout different chapters SCERT Class 11 Anthropology Chapter 5 Prehistoric Anthropology and select needs one.

Class 11 Anthropology Chapter 5 Prehistoric Anthropology

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Also, you can read the SCERT book online in these sections Solutions by Expert Teachers as per SCERT (CBSE) Book guidelines. NCERT Solution of Class 11 Anthropology Chapter 5 Prehistoric Anthropology is part of AHSEC All Subject Solutions. Here we have given AHSEC Class 11 Anthropology Chapter 5 Prehistoric Anthropology Notes for All Subjects, You can practice these here.

Prehistoric Anthropology

Chapter – 5


1. Write short answers:

(a) Who is the author of the book ‘The old stone age’?

Ans: The author of the book ‘The old stone age’ is Francois Bordes.

(b) Who first used the term ‘prehistory’?

Ans: Daniel Wilson first used the term ‘prehistory’.

(c) Who is the author of the book ‘Primitive Culture ‘?

Ans: Edward Tylor is the author of the book ‘Primitive Culture’.

(d) Who invented the radio-carbon dating method?

Ans: Dr. W.F. Libby invented the radio-carbon dating method.

(e) Who invented the Dendrochronology dating method.

Ans: Dr. A. Douglas invented the Dendrochronology dating method.

2. Describe the Potassium-argon dating method.

Ans: Potassium- argon analysis is another method of absolute dating which is based on a technique similiar to that of radio-carbon analysis. Following intense heating due to volcanic eruption, radio- active potassium decays of a known rate to form argon. As the rate of disintegration of K40 is known, therefore it is possible to determine the age of the given rock or volcanic debries by measuring the ratio of radioactive potassium to argon. Radioactive potassium’s half life is very long i.e. 1330 million years. This means that K- Ar dating may be used to date samples from 5000 years old up to 3 million years old. 

The K- Ar method is used to date minerals and rocks in a deposit and not the fossil specimens themselves. Potassium is especially common in ignores minerals and volcanic glass and is also found in some sedimentary rocks. Because volcanic deposits are quite likely to have been formed at the sometime as fossils found in the depositd the K- Ar method is well suited to dating these kinds of fossils.

Potassium argon dating had some limitations. Not all fossil deposits include volcanic materials and not all sedimentary deposits have potassium containing minerals. This means that other methods must be used to date such fossil deposits. With the help of potassium argon dating method, the hominid remain at Olduvai Garge were dated which yielded a date of 1.75 million years.

3. What is plio-pleistocene boundary? How it is defined?

Ans: The words ‘Pleistocene’ is originated from two Greek words ‘pleistos’ means most and finals and ‘koinos’ means new. The term first used by Charles layell, physiologist in 1839. Another Geologists Haug formulated a theory to define pleistocene in 1921. In 1948 this formula was accepted in the international geological conference held in London. According to this formula the lower Pleistocene must contain any one or more fossils from the groups identified as Villafranchia and calibrian and the strata below this is Pliocene. Villafranchia is the combination of three major fossils of terrestrial animals- known as Boss, equaus and elephus, while calibrian is the combination of fossils of marine brachiopods and Molluscs. When any one or more fossils of these groups found in a strata, it can be recognized as Pleistocene. And below this strata is Pliocene. This imaginary line is known as Plio-pleistocene Boundary. 

It is defined as “The commission recommends that in order to eliminate ambiguity in clothes as its base in the type areas the calibrian formation together with its terrestrial equivalent the villafranchian.

4. What is excavation? Write name of a few instruments use in excavation.

Ans: Excavation is done to discover cultural sequence in the site and also collect and record details of cultural levels lying below the surface of the soil.

There are two types of digging. One is vertical and the other is horizontal. The vertical digging determines the different cultural levels lying one over the others. For this careful control over stratigraphy is to be maintained. Horizontal digging reveals relationship between each cultural material found in the same level.

Excavation is generally carried out to know the general nature of the site, material remains of prehistoric past. Excavation destroys primary evidences, it is essential to keep good records. Every minute change is the colour of soil or earth excavation are recorded, collected and examined. All the objects unearthed must be carefully jotted down in the context of the soil and the colour and texture of every objects must be minutely noted down.

After collection of data through exploration and excavation archaeologists are ready to analyse the recovered artifacts and other materials from the site. Before analysis, archaeologists must first conserve and reconstruct the materials they have found. Conservation is the process of treating artifacts, ecofacts and is some cases even features, to stop decoy, and if possible, even reverse the detoriation process. It is important to protect and converse artifacts and other archaeological resources for the future. The recovered material have to classify on the basis of similarity, contexts, raw material, functurs technology etc. 

5. What are the different sources of studying prehistory? Describe.

Ans: The different sources of studying prehistory are: The goal of prehistoric anthropology is reconstruction of past ways of life. It deals with the study text free sources or unwritten documents. There are no written records from those periods from which to draw inferences. But we have other kind of sources, other kinds of evidences from the past. These sources help us to know a lot about how our human ancestors evolved and how they lived long ago.

If we are going to study individual societies, communities or other groupings of people in the prehistoric period, we have got to use various techniques and remains of past. Because the people we are studying are dead. We cannot go and ask them questions and watch their daily life. The main sources of studying prehistory period is material cultural remains. Material cultural refers to the sum of artifacts. Stone tools are the earliest traces of material culture. Besides artifacts prehistorian rely on three kinds of sources to learn about the past. These are ecofacts, fossils and features. Together artifacts, ecofacts, fossils and features provide a detailed story about human life long ago. Artifacts and fossils are known as movable sources on the other hand ecofacts and features are immovable sources of studying prehistoric anthropology.

6. Write the causes of the occurrence of the great ice age.

Ans: Do yourself.

7. What is pluvial period? Write the names of pluvial and interpluvial periods.

Ans: Prolong periods of high rainfall are called pluvials and are marked by changes in lake levels and it flora and fauna. Relatively wet climate is pluvial period.

The names of pluvial periods are:

(a) Kageran.

(b) Kamasian.

(c) Kanjeran.

(d) Gamblian.

And the names of interpluvial periods are:

(a) Kageran-Kamasian.

(b) Kamasian- Kanjeran.

(c) Kanjeran- gamblian.

8. Describe the climate of Pleistocene period.

Ans: In 1940 famous astronomer melanin melancovits forwarded a theory on the role of orbitals changes of earth which is known as melancovit’s cycle. According to this theory changes in shape and positions of orbit of earth could cause drastic changes of climate. He proposed that the shape of the orbit 8f earth changes slightly once in 96000 years. It causes owing to the gravitational forces of Venus. The temperature in different seasons occurs due to inclination of earth’s orbit due to the rotation of earth on its axis in every 26000 years interval. The process is known as axial- precision according to Melanchovitch, all this factors were responsible for ice age in pleistocene period.

On the basis of similar observation, other two causes of changes of climate in pleistocene period were put forwarded by two scientist James croll and Simpson.

The astronomical hypothesis of climate change which is also known as Croll’s hypothesis was put forwarded by astronomer James croll. He proved that the changes of shape of the earth’s orbit was the main factor of drastic climatic changes during Pleistocene. When the shape of the orbit become more elongated, the polar region receive more solar rays and more spaces are covered with ice sheets. And the when shape become rounded, interglacial period occurs.

Simpson’s theory proposed by Simpson, both the earth and sun changes it’s portion. As it result the temperature varies from time to time and climate changes occur.    

Though different scientists had put forwarded different causes no theory could explain it completely. May be climatic changes occurred during pleistocene in different reasons which cause differentiation in solar radiation.

9. What is dating method? Describe any one of the absolute or relative dating method.

Ans: Dating method deals with the unrecorded period of human history. The cultural materials of the past have been found embedded under the earth’s crust. Prehistoric culture is dated from the geological, palaeontological, archaeological and such other remains. There are two methods of dating or determining the chronology of a prehistoric site. They are known as relative and absolute dating.

Absolute dating method is used to measure the actual age of a specimen or deposit. It can give the time sequence in terms of calendrical years. Absolute dating is afforded by analyzing the radioactive isotopes like radio carbon, potassium argon and also by fission track etc. Thus of the two methods, relative dating provides only relative date whereas absolute dating is purely based on physico chemical analysis of the radio-active isotopes of fossils, that can provide a concrete time period in terms of calendrical years.

The absolute method of dating prehistoric culture is purely a scientific device. Prehistoric artifacts are found in association with the fossils of animals. The physico chemical analysis of the fossil bones give a concrete time period of its existence. Thus with the help of such analysis the actual days in terms of years of an artifact or culture can be determined. There are various methods of absolute dating.

10. How paleoanthropology helps in the study of prehistory?

Ans: Do yourself.

Additional Questions

1. Write in short:

(a) Define prehistory?

Ans: Prehistory deals with the story of man and everything that concerns him from his animal ancestry until the time when the existence of written records  leads the investigator in the realm of history proper.

(b) Define prehistoric anthropology?

Ans: Prehistoric anthropology is the subject that studies the history of culture through material remains prehistory in its true sense is a period before writing was known.

(c) Define protohistory?

Ans: Protohistory is a period between prehistory and history. It is the study of human beings in the times that immediately antedate recorded history.

(d) What is relative dating?

Ans: Relative dating is obtained through stratigraphy, typology and technology, seriation, fluorine tests and various other techniques.

2. Write short note on:

(a) Artifacts.

Ans: Anything made or modified by human is an artifact. The most common artifacts from the past are stone tools. Stone tools are the only artifacts available for 99 percent of human history. Another common kind of artifact is ceramics. An object of any type made by human hands with a purpose may be called an artifact. The tools that are used in the home, the weapons that are required for hunting, the engraved and sculptured objects, the pottery are all artifacts. The objects of decoration such as the beads, pierced shells or teeth used for necklaces and others which are generally called ornaments may be classed as artifact. An artifact expresses a fact of human culture. Because it is a product of human behavior. In more technical words that it is a material representation of extinct cultural behaviour.

(b) Ecofact.

Ans: Ecofacts are things that were not made by man but are important in understanding the archaeological record. Natural objects that have been used by humans or affected by humans is known as ecofacts. Things such as the remains of animals eaten by humans or plant pollen found in archaeological sites are example of ecofacts. Ecofacts are equally important to reconstruct the past. Texture of soil, soil deposits, bones, plant remains, charcoal and all the associated finds of a prehistoric site is called ecofacts. From the soil deposits we can reconstruct the palaeo environment. Charcoal is more important because we can date the site with the help of dating method. Prehistoric diet can be known from the food remains on the prehistoric site. The type of food habit indicate the types of flora and fauna and the relationship of prehistoric man with its environment. Ecofact is any organic material found at an prehistoric site that has not been technologically attered by humans yet still has cultural relevance. The study of ecofacts alongside other cultural materials such as artifacts are a key element to understanding how past societies interact with their surrounding environment and with each other. Ecofacts also reveals information about the domestication of certain plants species and animals which demonstrates for example the transition from a hunter- gatherer society to a farming society. Ecofacts reveal how people respond to their surroundings.

(c) Fossils.

Ans: A fossil is any trace or impression of an organism of past geologic time that has been preserved in the earth’s crust. Fossils are usually found in different strata of the earth. Example of fossils include bones teeth, shells, leaf impression, foot prints. Sometimes human fossil remains are present at prehistoric site. These fossils are the direct evidences of evolution and are known as palaeontological evidences. Fossils are important for our understanding of human evolution, palaeo environment and food habits. Much of the palaeo- anthropological research focuses on the locating and study of fossil remains. The study of fossil is beneficial because the fossils contain information about the life of an organism and its environment.

(d) Features.

Ans: Artifacts of humans manufacture that cannot be removed from an archaeological site is known as features. Hearts, storage pits, buildings, cave painting, rock shelter are example of features. Features are a kind of artifact. But it is different from other artifacts because they cannot be easily removed from a prehistoric site.

Information about the past obtained by analyzing the sources recovered from the prehistoric site. These sources help the prehistorian to grain insights about the past.

3. Write the methods of studying prehistory?

Ans: The methods of studying prehistory are: 

(a) Geological method: Geological method is also known as stratigraphical method. In order to find out the cultural sequence and chronological sequence the stratigraphical method is applied.

Stratigraphy is the study of layers deposited in the earth. Stratigraphy deals with the determination of the age of a particular culture by the culture by the study of different layers of earth formations. Stratigraphy studies the strata where human being lived and left their material evidences of the past. The formation of these strata may occur in the river valley, loess deposits, rock shelter and in prehistoric cave homes.

(b) Palaeontological method: palaeontological method deals with the recovery and identification of plant and animals remains that existed in the geologic past.

The palaeontological method is based on the successive replacement of groups of animals and plants during the historical development of the organic world. Palaeontological evidence include the fossils of extinct organisms as well as the fossil records of biological activity. In other words, these are a “Trangible” glimpse into a prehistoric life Paleontology is mutually interdependent with stratigraphy and historical geology because fossils constitute a major means by which sedimentary strata are identified and correlated with one another.

(c) Ethnographic Method: It is one of the most important method of studying prehistory. To reconstruct the ways of life and culture of prehistoric people ethnographic method is used.

In recent decades it is believed that prehistoric evidence cannot be studied without ethnographic data. And prehistoric data are not completed without ethnographic evidence. Thus integrity of ethnographic data with prehistoric data is called ethnoarchaeology.

(d) Archeological method: Scientific reconstruction of early man and his culture is major part of the study of prehistoric anthropology. There are two steps of study in archaeological method. First step for the study in collection of data on man and his culture. This is done through exploration and excavation. Second step is to fix the time dimension of the materials and data collected. This method comprises mainly exploration, excavation and classification of finds.

(e) Chronological method: The chronological method deals with the dating of prehistoric cultural materials. The methods of dating have been classified into geochronological and chronometric. The geochronological method help to ascertain the relative date of the artifacts or culture on the other hand, chronometric method involves the absolute chronology of the artifacts. The chronometric method is the most important scientific device to date prehistoric culture in terms of calendrical years. Thus, chronological method also helps in some way or the other to study prehistoric anthropology scientifically.

Therefore, it is observed that all the above methods involve scientific approach, which help to study prehistoric anthropology in its real perspective.

4. Write a brief note on Radio carbon dating?

Ans: The most widely used absolute dating technique is radio carbon dating. This method was developed by Dr. W.F. Libby in 1949. The discovery of this method led him to earn the prestigious Nobel prize.

Radio carbon dating method is based on the fact that all living organisms absorb radio- carbon and that, this absorption ceases at the time of death. Plants absorb this carbon in the form of C14 from the atmosphere. Animals acquire it by taking plant food or by taking animal flesh that have eaten plants. It is possible to measure in the laboratory, the amount of radioactive carbon left in a given substance, because radioactive substances beak down or decay slowly over a fixed period of time. C14 begins to disintegrate returning to N14 emitting radioactive beta particles in the process. At death, about 15 beta radiations per minute per gram of material are emitted. The rate of decay is known as “half life” and the half life of C14 is 5730 years. This means that it takes 5730 years for half of the original amount of C14 to decay into N14. After that beta radiation will be 7.5 counts per minute per gram. Thus, in another 5730 years half of the remaining amount of c14 will also decay. So in 11,460 years, only one fourth of the original amount of c14 will be present. Thus the age of an organic substance such as charcoal, wood, shell or bone can be measured by counting the beta rays emitted by the reaming c14. The radio carbon method can adequately date organic materials up to 70,000 years old.

The basic principle of radio-carbon dating is that cosmic radiation produces neutrons which enter the earth’s atmosphere and react with radio active nitrogen to produce radioactive carbon and hydrogen n+N14 = c14 + H.

At the time of disintegration, radioactive carbon emits beta particles and thereby returns to radioactive nitrogen.

Radiocarbon dating is used to date many of the prehistoric sites of Europe, Africa and Asia including India. This method is used to date chalcolithic culture of India like Harappan Civilization.

The date yielded by the C14 method is used is not as absolute as is believed, because there is always a certain amount of error is involved with this method. That is why, any c14 date always has a factor attached to it. Moreover, the time limit if this dating is comparatively very short in relation to the length of the prehistoric period. As such, in dating recent prehistoric culture which may go back to the period of upper Palaeolithic period.

5. Write a brief note on Dendrochronology or Tree ring analysis?

Ans: Dendrochronology is one of the method of absolute dating. Dendrochronology also called tree- ring dating, the scientific discipline concerned with dating and interpreting past events, particularly palaeoclimates and climatic trends based on the analysis of tree rings. Dendrochronology is a dating technique that exploits the annual growth increment of trees to provide a precise estimate of the age of a wood sample. 

This method is based on the fact that in the right kind of climate, trees add new growth ring to their trunks every year. This rings vary in thickness, depending upon the amount of rainfall received in a year. When plenty of moisture is available, the rings become wide and while it is draught, they become narrow. Since all the trees within a particular area are affected by the same weather conditions, this tree ring sequences show the same patterns. By comparing the tree ring sequences of many trees in a particular area, a master chart may be drawn up to show the characteristic tree ring sequence for that area. This chart can be extended for back in time as progressively oldest trees are found whose later tree ring sequences overlaps those younger trees. 

This method has also some limitations because dendrochronology is applicable only to wooden objects. Furthermore it can be used only in regions in which trees of great age such as the giant sequoias and bristlecone pine are karun to grow. However tree ring a analysis has been practiced with some success in England, Germany, Norway, Turkey, Egypt and various parts of United States.

In addition to c14, Potassium argon and dendrochronology methods there are other absolute dating methods such as amino acid recomization, fission- truck dati ng method, paleomagnetic dating method and thermoluminescence dating method, which can be used to find out the age of archaeological or paleoanthropological sites.

6. Write the causes of glaciation?

Ans: There are different opinion among the scientist about the causes of drastic climatic changes in the pleistocene period. All the opinions and theories put forwarded by different scientists can be divided into the following categories:

(a) Geographical theories

(b) Astronomical theories

The geographical theories are based on 3 principles:

(a) Geographical positions of continent.

(b) Changes of wave of ocean.

(c) Plate tectonic movement of earth.

The scientists opined that the climate of north western Europe is largely depended on warm gulf current of Atlantic. Due to thermohaline circulation of water of Atlantic Ocean the area remains warmer. But according to some scientist that during the pleistocene period due to the plate tectonic movement North and South America continental plates drifted from European plate and changed the position of Florida region. As a result Antarctic circumpolar current couldn’t flow through it isolating Antarctica from warm waters and led to formation of ice sheets and lowering of sea level. The sea water from towards north poles as it could not flow throw the Baring straight and the polar region was over with ice sheets. This theory is only applicable to explain the reason of ice sheet formation in North east Europe but not applicable in other parts of the earth.

7. Choose the correct answer:

(a) Who used the term ‘prehistory’ for the first time?

(i) Edward Tylor.

(ii) Daniel Wilson.

(iii) V. Gordon Child.

(iv) Charles lyell.

Ans: (ii) Daniel Wilson.

(b) In which year “The Archaeology and Prehistoric Annals of Scotland” was published?

(i) 1815

(ii) 1751

(iii) 1753

(iv) 1851

Ans: (iv) 1851

(c.) Who first used the term prehistory in Anthropology?

(i) Edward Tylor.

(ii) Daniel Wilson.

(iii) V. Gordon Child.

(iv) Charles lyell.

Ans: (i) Edward Tylor.

(d) Who was the father of Prehistory?

(i) Edward Tylor.

(ii) Charles Darwin.

(iii) Charles lyell.

(iv) V. Gordon Child.

Ans: (iv) V. Gordon Child.

(e) Which method is also known as the Stratigraphical method?

(i) Geological method.

(ii) Palaeontological method.

(iii) Archaeological method.

(iv) Ethnographic method.

Ans: (i) Geological method.

(f) Which method deals with the dating of prehistoric cultural materials?

(i) Geological method.

(ii) Chronological method.

(iii) Ethnographic method.

(iv) Archaeological method.

Ans: (ii) Chronological method.

(g) When was Charles Lyell born?

(i) 1797

(ii) 1875

(iii) 1779

(iv) 1857

Ans: (i) 1797

(h) Who developed the radiocarbon dating method?

(i) Charles lyell.

(ii) Dr. W.F.Libby.

(iii) Edward Tylor.

(iv) Charles Darwin.

Ans: (ii) Dr. W.F. Libby.

(i) Who first used the term ‘Pleistocene’?

(i) Charles Darwin.

(ii) Dr. W.F. Libby.

(iii) Charles lyell.

(iv) Edward Tylor.

Ans: (iii) Charles lyell.

(j) Who invented the Dendrochronology dating method?

(i) Dr. W. F. Libby.

(ii) Dr. A. Douglas.

(iii) Charles lyell.

(iv) Edward Tylor.

Ans: (ii) Dr. A. Douglas.

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