Imagine that you owned a time machine and that you travelled back to those days when your great grandparents were children. You found that your home and the surroundings look very different. If you travel back further, you will be even more surprised and fascinated by the food, clothes and even the language that your
ancestors were using. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what happened in the past? Do you realize that we can relate with our past even today. Does it not sound like a mystery that we must solve? In order to do this, we will use sources to understand how human life progressed from pre-historic times till today.


  • After studying this lesson you will be able to:
  • establish that study of Social Science includes disciplines like History, Geography,
  • Economics, Political Science and Sociology;
  • appreciate that all these subject areas are interconnected and together form the
  • knowledge mass of Social Science;
  • discuss the different stages through which human societies evolved and
  • identify opportunities and challenges of our present day society.


As the name itself suggests, Social Science is concerned about society. It aims at understanding all aspects of society as well as finding solutions to deal with social problems. It is a broad area of knowledge and includes several different disciplines under its domain. The main ones that you need to know at this stage are:

  • History and Archaeology
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • Economics

The various modules and units of this course in Social Science are connected with these very subjects. In this Unit, we will try to understand the discipline of Social Science, especially History. We will understand the importance of studying Social Science and how closely it is related to our lives. We will see how, as human beings, we have gone through several stages to evolve from when we lived in caves to today’s modern world of cities. We will read about History not simply as a set of facts about our past but also learn from them. Social Science also helps us to acquire a capacity to make inter connections between various subjects. We will learn to draw linkages between events and processes of development across the times. This will help us to draw connections between our past, present and future. Let us study more about these subjects to understand their impact on our lives


An academic discipline, or a field of study, is a branch of knowledge that is taught at various levels of education and researched at university level. Any field of study has several sub-disciplines or branches. These may at times overlap. Some important branches or sub-disciplines of Social Science are Economics, History and Archaeology, Geography, Political Science and Sociology. You would be surprised to know that in the beginning, there was only one discipline, Philosophy. Philosophy means love for wisdom or knowledge. That is why even now the highest Degree in any subject is Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy). Later, when knowledge started increasing and expanding, a need was felt to classify knowledge into different disciplines. Science and Social Science came to be differentiated. Both refer to different aspects of our reality. Environment Science deals with knowledge regarding the natural and physical world. Social Science on the other hand deals with knowledge concerned with all aspects of society and human beings themselves. Let us begin with History.

History and Archaeology

What is History? History is an account of events that have happened in the past. It is about the real people and the real things. It does not deal with mere ideas and ideals or what should have been. On the other hand, it is a study of what has been. History does not deal with individuals alone. It is concerned with nations and societies. It is not limited to kings and queens, but all human beings. It includes all men and women, rich and poor irrespective of their background in terms of religion caste etc. Have you ever wondered how and what happened to our ancestors in ancient times? You will learn about them in this book. While going through this course, note down all the events which seem interesting to you. Go to the libraries and search the internet to see if you can get more information on them. We will also help you in your search for more knowledge.


Why do we study History? The study of History helps us to know our roots, strengths and achievements and gives us a sense of pride as well as direction. What we call progress would be non-existent if we do not have proper knowledge and understanding of our past. There is a general belief that history deals with the past, which we think is dead. In reality, our past has important lessons for the present and the future. History records this legacy that has an important bearing on our lives. In essence, history relates the story of cooperative actions of a large number of men and women in their quest for a better life. When we think of how we can know about our past, we get connected to Archaeology. Often these past activities and achievements bring a sense of pride. Let us keep them safe for our future generations.

Archaeology is the study of the ancient times with respect to society and culture. m The traces of those events can be found in material remains i.e. the artifacts, burials, ruined buildings, monuments, etc. and are studied by archaeologists. They interpret them to provide knowledge about the times to which these artifacts belong.The study of Archaeology also includes the written records that are very ancient and cannot be easily deciphered or understood. These sources give more reliable and authentic information.

Most of the time, such traces are found buried underground and have to be dug out. This is called archaeological excavation. Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Nalanda are some well known sites where excavations have been undertaken and valuable material found. Such excavations are often carried out and reported in the newspapers. A very interesting recent discovery is that of the remains of a city found under the sea near Gujarat. It is believed to be Hindu God Krishna’s city Dwarka. Rakhi garhi, in Haryana, is another very recent excavation site.

A trip to such a site will transfer you back to those times. You must visit such sites whenever you get an opportunity. Also, find out more about such sites in other countries too. Archaeological sources also include inscriptions, pillars, metal plates, coins, seals, monuments, tools, pottery, toys, pictures etc. Works of art like paintings, sculptures, architecture, etc. tell us about the culture of particular periods. Look around your city or town for a museum or visit somebody’s house which has a collection of some of these items. Make a list and then try and find out which period they belong to. For this you can search on the internet or visit a library to know more about them. Today, a lot of information can be got from books, magazines and newspaper.


The study of History and Archaeology remains incomplete without knowing something about the Geography of the area being studied. Geography is the study of the earth’s landscapes, people, places and environment. In simple terms, it is knowing about the world in which we live. Geography is unique in bridging the social sciences (human geography) with the natural sciences (physical geography).Geography plays an important role in shaping the life and history of any society. It helps us to recognise the differences in cultures, political systems, economies, landscapes and environments across the world. It also helps us to establish links among them. Geography provides an ideal framework for relating to other fields of knowledge, too. If we know the geography of a country, we can understand what happened in history.

In this lesson, you will read that early humans made bows, arrows and other small tools. It is from studying Geography that you get to know why. After ice age, changes in environment must have taken place. As a result, many dense forests might have become grasslands. Can you imagine what must have happened? Yes, it led to a growing population of grass eating animals like the deer, goat, sheep and the antelope. You also know that these animals can run fast. So hunting them was not easy with heavy weapons. These light stone weapons, which the early humans had invented, helped them in their survival.

Political Science

Government is a word with which you are familiar. You often hear or read about it in the newspapers or on the television. Have you ever thought about what a government is? Do you know the role it plays in our lives and the important things it does for the people. The government of a country makes laws and everyone living in the country has to obey these laws. In democracy, it is the people who give power to the government when they elect them. In this way people help the Parliament of that country to make laws. While in a monarchy, it is the monarch or king/queen who has the powers to take decisions and enforce them. Social Science also deals with how we are governed. It also helps us to understand the role of people like us in the running of nations and governments.

This discipline is called Political Science Political Science is a social science concerned with the theory and practice of politics and the analysis of political systems and political behavior. It tells us how the government is elected. Political scientists study the relationship between the political events and the conditions. They try to understand general principles about
the way the world of politics works. It includes studies on governments, public policies, political processes, systems and political behavior. If you decide to study Political Science in senior secondary you will learn more about political theory, political philosophy and political economy, which are the important branches of this subject

Sociology is yet another very important part of Social Science. It is the study of human behavior in societal context. Sociology focuses on the study of human groups. Sociology comes from the Latin word ‘sociologie’. It literally means the study of companion. Sociology seeks to understand the structure of a society and how it works. It also seeks to define and understand the different factors that have shaped our society. This includes race, class, gender, culture, religion, belief systems and government. Sociology also studies the way individual and group behaviours impact on the running of our society.

Living in a society also means that we must know how to organize our lives. We must know how to economise our income, time and resources because all of them are limited. You must also learn to organise your time in such a way so that you can manage to do things you want. Similarly, when we make a budget for our home ,we make the best use of the resources which are available to us. We can avoid many problems in this way. We call this study Economics. It is much more than making a budget. It is the scientific study of the ways in which humans make choices about
production, consumption and wealth. This becomes very important when we are faced with limited means. It is the social science of striking a balance between needs and available resources. Studying this subject will be more interesting if you apply the learning to real life situations. One such activity could be to make your household
budget or time table.


The first human-like beings are believed to have emerged about two million years ago. They resembled apes. Biologists called them Homo sapiens (wise human beings in Latin). They did not know how to cultivate land and grow food. Nor did they know how to build a house for shelter. They lived in caves or on tree tops. Do you know that human beings had started living on earth much earlier than they learnt to write? The invention of writing was an important landmark, as written records became the main source of our knowledge of the past. Do you know what is not recorded
in writing is called Prehistory? You will be surprised to know that the period of prehistory is much longer than the recorded time, which we term as history. So to re-construct the life of prehistoric humans, historians and anthropologists study tools, weapons, ornaments, cave dwellings and cave paintings made by our ancestors.
History refers to that period of human evolution for which written records are available. Such writings are found on rocks, pillars, copper plates and more recently paper.

Nomadic Life: The Stone Age The primitive human beings were nomads. They kept moving from one place to another in search of food from the environment. They moved in groups to ensure safety from wild animals, for social security and for companionship. They also started making tools with stones. So we call that period in human evolution as the Stone Age. In each stage human beings used stones as implements which were better than the earlier ones. This helped them to progress to a better and safer life. It had the
following main stages:

(i) The Old Stone Age – Paleolithic Age (500,000 B.C. -10,000 B.C.)

During the old stone ages, (Paleolithic Age) human beings lived in the foothills of the mountains preferably near a river. Rivers provided them with drinking water as well as food in the form of animals that came there to quench their thirst. They could find caves for shelter on the foothills. So, their basic needs of food, water and shelter were satisfied easily at such spots. Do you know that early humans had to push out wild animals, specially the giant bears, from the caves in order to make a home for themselves? Just imagine how difficult and dangerous life the primitive people lived.
To cover and protect their bodies from heat and cold, these primitive humans wore bark from the trees and the skin of animals, which they dried under the sun. You must appreciate the role environment plays in sustaining the human beings even today.

There are some places in India like the Andaman and Nicobar Island where certain tribals live like the early humans even today. Early humans lived in caves and made paintings depicting hunting scenes on the walls of these caves. Paintings of animal-chase, especially big animals like bison and reindeer can still be seen in the Bhimbetka caves in Madhya Pradesh. It is quite possible that this practice of drawing on the walls was some kind of a ritual that ensured that they would be successful in their hunting expeditions. It is also possible that it was a creative expression to make their surroundings beautiful by making an artistic expression of their hunts.

The Paleolithic humans also developed certain practices which we think must be their religious beliefs. They worshipped their ancestors after their death and buried them with tools and eatables for a comfortable journey to the next world. They were afraid of natural phenomena like lightning and thunder. They could not understand facts like the rising and setting of the sun. But they knew that when the sun rose in the east, it gave heat during the day time, whereas the moon gave peace and coolness at night. To them it was something supernatural, because they could not understand the cause. So they worshipped the Sun, the Moon, Thunder and Lightning. Moreover, they were wise enough not to destroy nature and its balance. They took from nature only as much as they needed and preferred to live in harmony with it. Don’t you think that the world would be a nice place to live in if people followed what the early humans did? The Old Stone Age was followed by the Middle Stone Age or the Mesolithic age. The Mesolithic age was regarded as the transitional age between the Paleolithic age and the Neolithic age.

(ii) The Middle Stone Age – Mesolithic Age (10,000 B.C. – 8,000 B.C.)

Let us see how the humans during the Mesolithic age discovered the use of fire. It is quite possible that when two pieces of flint stone were struck together they produced a spark. This spark may have fallen on some dry leaves and caused a fire. This could have frightened or surprised the early humans. The intelligent humans learnt to use this discovery to their advantage. They found that fire frightened the animals and so could provide them safety if kept burning near the caves. It also provided light during the night. Even the food became softer and tastier when cooked
on fire. It also warmed up the cold caves by providing heat. Even today, people warm themselves sitting near a fire on a cold winter night. This must have been really a great event in the life of early humans. Can you imagine how the progress of early humans from living on the treetops to the discovery of fire took place? It could not have happened overnight. Obviously, it took several thousand years. No wonder that fire became an object of wonder as well as worship.

Beginning of Community Life

Agriculture, mixed farming, development of tools and discovery of wheel all led to settled life which we may call the beginning of a village life. By now, the groups of human beings that had settled together had become larger. And a large group needed someone who could maintain law, order and some discipline. So, it was natural that they those one such person amongst themselves who could lead them. Various groups decided their own method of choosing a leader. The leader was more often the oldest person in the group and sometimes it could be the strongest person
in the community. The leader looked after the law and order of the settlement. If a dispute arose between any two members of the group, the leader would act as the mediator. Gradually, these settlements became even larger. Towns and cities started coming up. Do you know that the area around the rivers Saraswati and Indus were the places where the first Indian cities came up around 2500 B.C.? It was the Indus Valley Civilization (called Indus-Saraswati Civilization by some historians after the discovery of sites in Harappa).

Religion: Human beings all over the world have fear of the unknown. Any event, which was not understood by them, was held in awe and soon became sacred. The same happened with the early humans. The earth assumed the status of a mother figure, which provided food for all living beings – her children. The sun gave life and warmth. It was also reassuring after the dark night. It was the same for the moon, stars, rains etc. People started worshipping them. They started sacrificial rites and sang songs in praise of these natural objects. There were magic practitioners, who claimed they could prevent people from coming to harm by them. Some individuals decided to perform sacrificial rites and pray for the community. Such persons came to be known as priests.

People had realized that death was a journey from which people never returned. So they began to follow the practice of making graves for burying their dead. They covered the graves with large stones called megaliths. Sometimes, various articles of everyday use were also placed, keeping in mind the requirement of the dead on their last journey.

Iron Age and beyond

As you have learnt, human culture and civilization has undergone several phases of development. The earliest human beings started making tools with stone.Later, human beings discovered metals, which proved to be more useful for making tools. Copper, Bronze and Iron were discovered in that very chronological order.

The discovery of iron was a very important landmark in human civilization. It helped in making tools that were more lasting and durable. Later, other materials came to be used. People learned to make alloys, which are made up of two or more metals in fixed ratios. Brass is an example of an alloy. Then, we learnt how to make steel by adding Carbon to Iron. And much later, modern science gave us a very useful material called plastic. Plastic is still used for making all kinds of tools and objects of everyday use. It has many advantages over other materials. However, lately, it has been found to have a negative impact on our environment. Therefore, its use is being restricted. I am sure you have heard about the ban on plastic bags. The scientists are now trying to discover biodegradable plastic. So, you must realize that every age of human development presents its own set of challenges. These have to be addressed as humans evolve to the next stage. Let us now study the various stages of human development.


Now, based on the above narrative, we can trace the development of human civilization in different stages that are common for people all over the world in all the countries. We will also find the certain discoveries from the past are still relevant today, e.g. the use of wheel.

(a) Hunting Stage: Many clues that have been provided to us by archaeology have helped us to reconstruct our prehistory. This type of life was called primitive because people depended on nature for their livelihood. These early human beings began life as hunters preying upon beasts, birds, fish and insects for food, just as wild animals in the jungle do. They lived only as hunters for hundreds of thousands of years. This stage in history was called the Stone Age. This period was also marked by tending of domesticated animals. This gave people an assured food supply and also some new food items like milk, butter and cheese. For the people, life was much more secure now than it had been when they were hunters. Besides tending of animals was a much lighter work than hunting. People had leisure to think about other matters. But they still had to live like nomads, moving from one place to another in search of food. They had to look for new pastures for their cattle when the previous ones became bare, eaten up by the animals.

(b) Village Life (Rural): With the advent of agriculture came the opportunity for settled life. People discovered that they could sow seeds in the soil and make them grow into plants. This technique enabled them to grow their own food
at one place. Now they could have permanent settlements, which later took the shape of villages where civilization, in the modern sense, was born. This can also be termed as the rural stage.

(c) Town Life (Urban): From rural life in villages and agriculture, human beings moved towards urbanization. At this stage, there was an immense growth in the population. Human beings were no longer food gatherers. They were now food producers. The groups of families became larger and societies were formed. Now there was no need for every family to work in the fields and produce their own food. Those who were weavers, potters or carpenters exchanged their products for food. There was a great improvement in their lives. Discovery of metals had led to specialization in preparing crafts. Some artisans had better skills than the others did. This led to the society’s stratification into skilled and semi-skilled craftsmen depending on the skills they possessed. By this time, metals like copper and bronze had been discovered.

These were being used in producing articles essential for a comfortable life. Human beings used these skills in making crafts like Pottery, leather-work and masonry. People would get together at a convenient place to exchange their products. Even the farmers would come to sell their surplus grains and buy other necessities. These activities happened at a central place. At this stage of civilization, people looked for more than just satisfying their need for food and engaged in other activities such as weaving, pottery and metal works. It was also the stage when iron was being discovered. Now there arose a need for structure and categorization into smaller and specialized groups. Division of labour took place on the basis of the work performed by them.

Humans were now ready to move to the next stage of their existence and development. The invention of writing was a great step forward. Knowledge could now be passed forward from one generation to another. Writing was also needed for keeping records by the traders as also by the people who were looking after law and order in the villages, towns and cities.

(d) City Life: Later, people started growing surplus grain and storing it for the future. This resulted in a lot of leisure time, which led to the progress of civilization and culture. Arts like painting, music, sculpture and architecture developed. More decorative crafts like metalwork and ornament making were introduced. Now that people had security and their basic needs were fulfilled, they could cater to their higher social and aesthetic needs. It was also
the beginning of the concepts of caste and class. From towns developed more advanced and urbanized cities. The earliest cities to be discovered were Harappa and Mohenjo-daro which are now in Pakistan. In India some important sites for these cities were at Ropar near Chandigarh, at Lothal near Ahmedabad, and a third at Kalibangam in Rajasthan. These cities were well planned and had all facilities that were available at that time such as roads that cut each other at right angles, drainage system and use of burnt bricks.

With the advancement in science and technology, progress in material sphere was accelerated manifold. Life became more comfortable and later luxurious, at least for some people. Soon cities gained importance too. Some of them came to be called metropolitan cities in which we find high rise buildings, important offices, big business houses and factories. Life has changed for the better for some of us. We have made many discoveries, inventions and innovations to make our lives not only comfortable but also meaningful. But there are many of us who do not have access to clean
drinking water, electricity and basic facilities like education and health. This in turn has created many problems for which we have to find solutions. We shall read more about them in this lesson.


It has been a long journey from the times when we were hunters in forests to the modern times when we explore other planets and send out satellites into outer space. Information can now be stored and communicated with the help of computers and robots. We have stepped into the age of information and communication technology. Cities have given way to the metropolis. But we are still changing, developing, evolving and progressing.

You may have by now understood how humans have evolved from hunting and food gathering stage to the present day modern society. It has been a very long journey with many new discoveries and challenges and opportunities. The relationship of humans with self, society, and nature should inspire us to create a society in which all of us rather than only a few could lead a gainful life.

Even though we have made good progress, we still need to overcome several challenges. You will read about many of these issues in the Modules and Units that follow in this course. We will go through them and see what possible solutions we can have for the following:

(a) Poverty and Hunger
(b) Inequitable distribution of wealth
(c) Unemployment and underemployment
(d) Parallel economy, tax evasion & Black money
(e) Corruption in public life
(f) Pollution and environmental degradation
(g) Lack of nationalism and love for the country
(h) Gender based problems: discrimination against women, crime against women, dowry system, infanticide and foeticide, human trafficking, prostitution.
(i) Violence: Terrorism, Naxalism
(j) Hurdles to National Integration – Linguism, Regionalism, Casteism, Communalism