The Chalcolithic culture of western India, particularly in the state of Maharashtra, is dated to c. 2000-700 bc. A number of Chalcolithic sites like Daimabad, Nevasa, Apegaon, Chandoli, Inamgaon, Walki, etc. have been excavated by various institutions. A majority of these sites are located in the semiarid zone with an average annual rainfall ranging from 400 to 1000 mm. The black cotton soil of this area was perhaps an important factor for the development of the early farming communities, which subsisted on farming, stock-raising, hunting and fishing. Animal remains from a majority of the Chalcolithic sites have been studied in detail and it appears that cattle is the predominant animal in this cultural phase. Probably for an agricultural society the significance of this animal in the food economy as well as in the agricultural operations cannot be ruled out. Inamgaon, a Chalcolithic site in the Pune district has revealed Malwa, early Jorwe and late Jorwe cultural phases. The faunal material from this site is being studied by the present authors. lnamgaon has revealed some very interesting evidences regarding the subsistence pattern in the different cultural phases. As mentioned earlier cattle forms a major part in the diet of the people in the Malwa and early Jorwe phases. However, in the late Jorwe phase (1000-700 bc) a greater emphasis has been given to hunting wild animals to substantiate their food economy. This variation in the composition of animals is also reflected in the other cultural aspects such as decline in farming, the absence of storage jars, change in the shape and size of the houses, etc. This drastic change around 1000 bc at Inamgaon may have been due to environmental degradation caused by prolonged human interference with nature.
Maharashtra, Chalcolithic, animals, subsistence, environment