The period between Late Pleistocene and Late Holocene has been very dynamic in terms of lithic miniaturisation. Microliths are small stone tools (used to create composite tools)
ranging between 2 to 4 cm, geometric and non-geometric in shape, made on cryptocrystalline siliceous material. Microliths are generally associated with the Mesolithic period, categorised between 10-8 ka in India. However, recent research in the Indian subcontinent has pushed the dates back to ~48-4 ka. The spread of microlithic technology within India is vast and is varied spatiotemporally. Doctoral research carried out by the author in the central Narmada Basin from 2015 to 2019 resulted in the discovery of numerous microlithic sites in an open-air context. The targetted regions included Vindhyan Ranges, Gondwana Ranges, and the Narmada floodplains, dividing the study area into north, south, and central. A total number of 225 occurrences were recorded during extensive surveys in the region, out of which 18 key sites were selected for artefact collections. Chronometric dating through luminescence dating was carried out on select sites to establish the geochronology of microliths in the region. Morphometric analysis was done on 2383 microliths to understand the standardisation in lithic production. This research helped focus and shed light on the historical narratives stitched with this specific lithic technology, that are still dominated by colonial perspectives. While concentrating on the evidence from the central Narmada Basin, this presentation focuses on the microlithic technology in the Indian subcontinent as a whole.
Nupur Tiwari is a recent PhD from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab. Her doctoral research, which was lab, theory and field-based, focused on the central Narmada Basin, focusing on the spread of microlithic technology in an open-air context in the region. Before working on her PhD, she worked at National Children's Museum, New Delhi, and as a freelance facilitator at FLOW India as a cultural heritage educator. She is working on a co-edited volume on quaternary geoarchaeology of India to be published by the Geological Society of London, U.K. She is currently Chair, Students Committee, in the World Archaeological Congress.