Basic Features of Neolithic Culture are listed below:
It was the Neolithic culture which started the practice of food production. More enduring settlements brought other changes. The portable and lightweight material possessions of many hunter-gatherers were replaced by heavier tool kits and more lasting houses.
Grind stones, implements of tillage and axes with ground and polished edges were essential parts of farming culture. Food production led to changed attitudes towards the environment.
Cereal crops enabled people to store their food, creating surpluses for use in ‘winter’. The hunter-gatherer exploited game, fish and vegetable foods but the farmer altered the environment by the very nature of exploitation. Shifting cultivation’ slash and burn cultivation’ meant felling trees and burning vegetation to clear the ground for planting.
Voracious animals stripped pastures of their grass cover, than heavy rainfalls denuded the hill of valuable soil and the pastures were never the same again. It implies that, however, elementary the agricultural technology, the farmer changed the environment.
2. Domestication of Animals:
Animals were first domesticated where potentially tamable species like the wild ox, goat, sheep, and dog were widely distributed. Having one’s own herds of domesticated mammals ensured a regular meat supply.
Later on, domesticated animals provided by products like milk, cheese, and butter, as well as skins, tent coverings, and materials for leather shields and armour. Then, people learned how to harness animal energy for the purpose of transport and afterwards how to breed animals for specialised tasks like ploughing, egg and milk supply transport and a host of other utilities.
3. Pottery and Technology:
Pottery making is another achievement of man during Neolithic Age. The manufacture of pottery is a difficult art and requires a high degree of technological sophistication. To make a useful pot requires knowledge of clay and the techniques of firing.
Initially, Neolithic pottery was handmade and sun baked. Earlier, the tool maker had to be content with removing parts of the core (flaking/ chipping) from a piece of stone. He was not in a position to easily manipulate hard stone.
On the other hand, soft clay rolled with water could be molded into any shape. It gave him, beside satisfaction of creation, newer ideas.
Cultivation, domestication of animals and the new sedentary life style stimulated another technological development house building. Paleolithic hunter gatherers lived in the nature made dwellings rock shelters, caves and tree dwellings.
Neolithic settlers required more complex and diverse dwellings. Thatched huts, houses made of wood with the provision of entry and exit points were Neolithic innovations. These houses were of permanent nature.
Clothing was yet another new development. For the first time in human history, clothing was made of woven textiles. The raw materials and technology necessary for the production of clothing came from flax and cotton from domesticated sheep, and the spindle for spinning and the loom for weaving came from the inventive human mind. Basket weaving was also evolved and different types of baskets were made of bamboo and other natural fibers.
5. Food Production:
The earliest evidence of food production in Europe comes form the Argissa-Maghula village mound in Greece. The Argissa-Maghula farmers were cultivating emmer wheat and barley and keeping sheep even as early.
6. European Neolithic:
Danube river valley presents very important view of European Neolithic. At a time (around 4800 BC) when the Danubians were practicing plant cultivation in the plains of Western Europe, new farming economies were becoming established around the shores of the Mediterranean. An important lake site that was first discovered hundred years ago was from Lake Zurich, Switzerland.
It has yielded evidences of lake dwellings. Later, further sites came to light on the shores of Lakes Geneva and Neuchatel. Besides yielding lot of pottery, axes and wooden piles it throws light on early European farming.
These lake shore settlers cultivated barley, wheat, peas, beans and lentils. They also grew small apples. Flax was cultivated for its oily seeds and for its fiber employed in making textiles. The Swiss farming cultures were characterised by scattered agricultural communities between the Mediterranean and the English Channel.