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ON THE TRAIL OF THE EARLIEST PEOPLE
Tushar’s train journey
Tushar was going from Delhi to Chennai for his cousin’s wedding. They were travelling by train and he had managed to squeeze into the window seat, his nose glued to the glass pane. As he watched trees and houses fly past, his uncle tapped his shoulder and said: “Do you know that trains were first used about 150 years ago, and that people began using buses a few decades later?” Tushar wondered, when people couldn’t travel quickly from one place to another, did they spend their entire lives wherever they were born? Not quite.
The earliest people: why were they on the move?
We know about people who lived in the subcontinent as early as two million years ago. Today, we describe them as hunter-gatherers. The name comes from the way in which they got their food. Generally, they hunted wild animals, caught fish and birds, gathered fruits, roots, nuts, seeds, leaves, stalks and eggs. The immense variety of plants in a tropical land like ours meant that gathering plant produce was an extremely important means of obtaining food.
None of these things was easy to do. There are several animals that run faster than us, many that are stronger. To hunt animals or catch fish and birds, people need to be alert, quick, and have lots of presence of mind. To collect plant produce, you need to find out which plants or parts of plants are edible, that is, can be eaten, as many can be poisonous. You also need to find out about the seasons when the fruits ripen.
List the skills and knowledge that the children of these communities had. Do you have these skills and knowledge?
There are at least four reasons why huntergatherers moved from place to place.
First, if they had stayed at one place for a long time, they would have eaten up all the available plant and animal resources. Therefore, they would have had to go elsewhere in search of food.
Second, animals move from place to place — either in search of smaller prey, or, in the case of deer and wild cattle, in search of grass and leaves. That is why those who hunted them had to follow their movements.
Third, plants and trees bear fruit in different seasons. So, people may have moved from season to season in search of different kinds of plants.
Fourth, people, plants and animals need water to survive. Water is found in lakes, streams and rivers. While many rivers and lakes are perennial (with water throughout the year) others are seasonal. People living on their banks would have had to go in search of water during the dry seasons (winter and summer). Besides, people may have travelled to meet their friends and relatives. Remember, they travelled on foot.
How do you come to school?
How long would it take you to walk from your home to school?
How long would it take you if you took a bus or rode a bicycle?
1. Complete the sentences:
(a) Hunter-gatherers chose to live in caves and rock shelters because ————————.
(b) Grasslands developed around ———————— years ago.
(c) Early people painted on the ———————— of caves.
(d) In Hunsgi, tools were made of ————————.
2. Look at the present-day political map of the subcontinent on page 136. Find out the states where Bhimbetka, Hunsgi and Kurnool are located. Woul Tushar’s train have passed near any of these sites?
3. Why did the hunter-gatherers travel from place to place? In what ways are these similar to/different from the reasons for which we travel today?
4. What tools would you use today for cutting fruit? What would they be made of?
5. List three ways in which hunter-gatherers used fire (see page16). Would you use fire for any of these purposes today?
Please refer to attached file for NCERT Class 6 History On The Trail Of The Earliest People