Nagaland probably derives its name from two Naga words, namely, 'naga' meaning snake and 'land'. The Nagas were originally animists with an elaborate cult of ancestor worship. They lived in small villages that grew into townships.
The state was traversed by trade routes linking up Assam with Burma through Dimapur. Archaeologists have established the existence of a flourishing civilization at Dimapur, dating back to the 16th century BC. Within the precincts of the Town Administrative office stand some panels inscribed on rocks which are records of offerings made by common folk to ancestors during festivals called Aghinya-chinkon-niya or "festivals for peace" usually once every five years. These are the records of sacrifices made by individuals to their ancestors.
The rock-cut panel "Nathpa La Chinkon" at Dzükou Valley dating back to 1680 AD also mentions a fortified settlement called Kharong located in the vicinity of Choiseul Bay near Kohima, which may have been part of Dimapur kingdom.