The Chalcolithic Age denotes the first period in which metal was used. It is also called as the Copper-Stone Age, referring to the initial use of pure copper (along with its predecessor toolmaking material, stone). Scarce at first, copper was initially used only for small or precious objects. By the middle of the 4th millennium, a rapidly developing copper metallurgy, with cast tools and weapons, was a factor leading to urbanization in Mesopotamia.
The earliest settlements belonging to the Chalcolithic Phase are extended from the Chhotanagpur plateau to the copper Gangetic basin. Some sites are found at Brahmagiri near Mysore and Navada Toli on the Narmada.
The transition from use of stone to the use of metals is slow and long drawn. There is no doubt that there was an overlapping period when both stone and metals were used. This is proved by the close resemblance of metallic tools and implements with those made of stone. The Chalcolithic age produced a splendid civilisation in the Indus Valley, which spread in the neighbouring regions.
The economy was based on subsistence agricultre, stock-raising, hunting and fishing. The tools consisted of specialised blades and flakes of silicious material like chalcedony and chert.
Copper and bronze tools were present in a limited number. The culture shares the common characteristic of painted pottery.
Another striking feature was the burial practice of the dead. The dead were buried in north-south position in Maharashtra but in east-west position in south India. In eastern India, only a fraction of population buried their dead.
The Chalcolithic age in India is the first metal age. Metals like copper and its alloy bronze are melted at low temperature.
The Chalcolithic culture of Central, Eastern and Southern regions of India show altogether different features. It represents the farming communities that existed during 2000-700 BC.
Four cultural trends have been identified: Kayatha, Ahar or Banas, Malwa and Jorwe. As an illustration let us consider the people ofg Harappa. The Chalcolithic people of Harappa use bricks extensively. The walls were made of mud. The plan of the houses was either circular or rectangular. They had only one room, but multi roomed houses also existed. The houses were plastered with cow dung and lime.
The people of the Chalcolithic age subsisted on farming and hunting-fishing. Cattle, sheep, goat buffalo and pig were reared. Thereafter, they were killed for food. Crops like barley and wheat were cultivated. Other crops that were cultivated are bajra, jowar, millets, ragi, green peas, lentil, green gram and black gram. Hunting was one of the important occupations.
Wheel- made fine pottery is considered as the specialty of the Chalcolithic culture. Most of these used to be of red and orange color.
Pottery used to be decorated with linear, curvilinear and intricate designs which were mainly in black pigment. Floral, vegetable, animal, bird and fish motifs were also used. The Black and Red ware made its first appearance in the Chalcolithic sites.
Polished stone tools were also used in this period also. Metals like Copper and its alloys were used in making axes, chisels, knives, fishhooks, pins, rods. Personal ornaments made of beads of semiprecious stones like chalcedony, jasper, agate, carnelian were used.