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Sangam Age


                        Sangam Age ,It was bounded by the coast from Venkatam Tirupati in the north to Kanyakumari in the south.The Iron was similar to.It has a megalithic culture.The period from the last three centuries before the Common Year to the first three centuries starting after the Common Year is  known as the Sangam Age.It is named after the academies that flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandya kingdoms of Madurai.Much of the information about the Sangam Age is derived  from Sangam literature.These literary works are one of the earliest examples of Dravidian literature

Sangam Age Evidences:


    • Hithigumpha inscription of King Kharavela, Pugalur inscription and Peranmai   inscription  of Ashok II and XIII. Inscriptions within Mankulam, Azhagar malai and Keelavaluvu (places  near Madurai).


    • Velvikudi and Chinnamanur copper plates.


    • Coins issued by Chera,  Chola, Pandya kingdoms  and chieftains of Sangam Age  and  Roman coins.

Monuments: Burials, Middle Stones

Excavation Locations:

    • Adichanallur, Arikkamedu, Kodumanal, Puhar, Korkai, Azhagankulam, Uraiyur.

Literary Evidence:

    • Tholkappiyam, Ettuthogai,  Pattupattu,  Pathinenkilkanakku, Pattinappalai and Madurai Kanchi. Manimekalai and Silappathikaram.

Foreigner Notes:

    • The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, the  Natural History  of Pliny, the  Geography of Ptolemy, the Indica of Megasthenes,  the Rajavali,  the  Mahavamsa and the Dipa Dynasty.

Sangam Age –Political Culture:


             The Sangam literature of the 1st century and later is known about the Moovenda kings.The Chera, Chola and Pandya  kings known as Moovendhars  controlled most of the agricultural lands, trade routes and cities.


               The Cheras ruled over  Central and North Travancore, Cochin, South Malabar and Kongu region of Tamil Nadu.They ruled with Vanji as their capital. Today’s Karur.Musiri and Thondi ports were under their control.They ruled with ‘bow and arrowas their symbol.Some scholars say that a place called Thiruvanchisaikalam in Kerala was called Vanchi.Many scholars have said that there were two branches of the Chera royal family and the ‘Poraiyar branch ruled in Karur city  of Tamil Nadu.Pathitrupattu gives information about the Chera kings.

      The main Chera kings were:

        1. Uthayan Cheralathan
        2. Himayavaramban Neduncheralathan
        3. Cheran Senguttuvan
        4. Cheral Irumporai

              The Pugalur inscription mentions three generations of Chera kings.Senguttuvan was called ‘Senchera‘  or  ‘Nallacheran.The  Silappathikaram  states that the Chera king Senguttuvan  invaded northern India and  also invaded the Himalayan regions.He worshipped the goddessPattinith‘. He supported both orthodox and non-Vedic Their coin bore bow and arrow symbols without anySenguttavan ruled for 56 years.Pathitrupattu talks about the eight Chera kings, the regions they ruled and their achievements.


    The Chola kingdom of the Sangam Age  extended from Trichy district to  the Venkata hills.The Cauvery delta was the heart of the Chola kingdom and  was later  known as Coromandel.

   Important Chola Kings:

        1. Ilanjotchenni
        2. Karikal Valavan
        3. Kochenganan
        4. Killivalavan
        5. Perunarkilli

                                    They ruled with ‘Puli as their symbol.They established their capital at Uraiyur.Puhar or Kaveri Poopattinam was an important port and the residence of royal families.I referred to the bustling commercial activities in Kaveripoompattinam during the reign of Karikalan. Kadiyalur Uruthirakannanar has explained Pattinappalai in detail.Ilanjotchenniyan’s son Karikalan is known as the chief of the Chola kings.Pattinappalai describes the administrative methods of Karikalan.Karikala Chola defeated the Cholas, the  Pandyas and the  11 Velar chieftains who helped him   in the battle of Venni. This battle  took place in Venni, a  small village in the Thanjavur region.Another notable battle he waged was Paranthalai.They converted forests into land for sale.He built Kallanai across the river Kaveri for the development of agriculture. The Chola port of Puhar attracted merchants from many parts of the Indian Ocean.


                  They ruled the present  South Tamil Nadu.They ruled with Madurai as their capital.They ruled with fish as their symbol.Their coin has a picture of an elephant on one side and a tiger on the other.Korkai port was their main face. It is known for pearl bathing and collecting conch shells.In the Periplus notes, Korkai is referred to as ‘Kolkoi’.Only the names of the Pandya kings are mentioned in the Sangam songs, and there are no details about when they assumed the throne and what their year period was.

      Important Pandya Kings:

      1. Nedeon
      2. Nanmaran
      3. Dorsal aorta
      4. Nedunchezhiyan

                  The Mankulam Tamil-Brahmi inscription mentions the Pandya king Nedunchezhiyan of the 2nd century.Nedunchezhiyan defeated the combined armies of Cheras, Cholas and 5 Velir chieftains in the battle of Talailaganattu.Through the war, they brought the Nelkinda port near Kottayam under their control.The Pandyas supported the Tamil Sangams and compiled Sangam texts.

The titles assumed by the Moovendhars were:

Cheras: Aadhavan, Kuttuvan, Vanavan, Irumporai

Cholas: Chenni, Sembian, Gilli, Valavan.

Pandyas: Maran, Vazhuthi, Chezhiyan, Thennar.

Sangam Age-Small Land Kings:

  • Apart from these three crowned kings, there were many independent Kuru kings.
  • The name Ay: The name Ay is derived from the ancient Tamil word ‘Ayar ‘. Andhra, Titian and Nannan were important kings.
  • Vellars: Vellalas or a feudal class who ruled in ancient Tamilakam.  Pari,  Kari, Ori, Adhiyaman and Nalli  were famous philanthropists.

Sangam Age Administrative System:

        There was a traditional monarchy in the Sangam Age.The king was called by the word ‘Go’. They  were also  known by other names as Vendan, King of Koan, Kotravan and Lord.According to the hereditary tradition, the eldest son succeeded to the throne.The crown was awarded to the king by a ceremony known as  the coronation or coronation.The crown prince is called the Duke. He is  also known as Ilaiyar, Ilango, Ilancheliyan and Ilancheral.The king  convened the court every day.Each king had a standing army and a standard.

                 The revenue of the state was derived from taxes. Land revenue is the main source of revenue. The status line was calledIrai‘.Customs duties, tributes and fines were also collected.Warriors and kings wore heroic necklaces.It bears the wearer’s name and his or her achievements.They came to know about what was happening at home and abroad  through spies.The court of kings was called the ‘court‘.The king used to sit on a seat calledthrone‘.In the court, the king was surrounded by officials, special guests and poets.

There were five duties of the king:

  • Promoting learning
  • Conducting rituals
  • Awarding prizes
  • Protecting people
  • Punishing the offenders
  • Ambassadors were employed by the kings.
  • Many officials helped the Among them there were two aid groups, Aimperunkuzhu and Emperayam.

Sangam Age-Administration:

   Mandalam Naduà àKooramà Town The villages were called Perur (big village), Chittur  (small village) and Muthur (ancient village).

Major cities:

  • Puhar, Uraiyur,  Korkai, Madurai, Musiri, Vanchi Kanchi.

Sangam Age-Military:

               The king’s army  consisted of four divisions. They are infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots.The commander is  called ‘Thanai Thalaivan.Tail, shield, tomaram (like a missile), spear, bow and arrow were the main weapons used.Barracksis an arsenal.The fort walls were protected by deep trenches.The war drum was considered a god.

Sangam Age –Law and Justice:

                      The King is the final court of appeal.The courts were called ‘avai‘ in the towns and ‘mandramsin the villages.Severe punishments were meted The death penalty was given for theft cases.Beheading, mutilation,  torture, imprisonment and imposition of fines were the punishments  for crimes.

Tinai based Sangam Age Society:

                        The Sangam literature is of great help to us to understand the social formation of that period.The lands were divided into five tinais.Lands were classified according to the type of soil.Marudham land is calledMenpulam‘ (wet work).Except for weaving, the rest is calledVanpulam‘ (Punsei).Grains described pulses.

Department Land form Main Deity occupation people
Kurinji Hilly & hilly area Murugan (God of War and Hunting) Hunting & Honey Gathering Kuravar, Kurathiya
Mullai Forest and Forest Mayon (Vishnu) Livestock Grazing and Dairy Production Bharathava, Nulathiar
Marutham Agricultural Plains Indra (God of Rain & Thunder) Agriculture & Weaving Vellalar
Neidel Coastal Areas Varuna (God of water and sea) Fisheries and Salt Production Paraiyar
Palai Dry & Desert Kotravai (Goddess of War and Victory) Adventures & Raiding Maravar


Status of women:

               There are no restrictions on women in social life.There were more educated and intelligent women.There were 40 women poets who lived and gave rare books. There were women poets like Avvaiyar,  Velli Veediyar,  Kakkaipadiniyar, Adimanthiar and Ponmudayar.Marriage was based on women’s own choice. However, pregnancy was considered the best discipline for women.The property of the parents was equally shared by the sons and daughters.

Religious beliefs and social divisions:

                              The people worshipped the god Seyon or Muruga as their primary deity.Other gods worshipped Shiva, Mayon (Vishnu), Indra, Varuna and Kotravai.Nadukal worship was in vogue.The caste system had not developed.

Clothing and accessories:

                The more affluent people wore clothes made of muslin, silk and fine cotton leaf fabrics.Sangam literature mentions cloths (Kalinga) which are softer than snake skin.Men and women wore different kinds of ornaments.It was made of gold,  silver,  pearls, gems, stones  , conch shells and beads.

Sangam Age-Arts:

                   There are many references to various musical instruments such as drums, flutes, yazh, etc.Karikalan was proud of his musical colours.The poets were  called ‘Panar‘ and ‘Viraliyar.There was a dance performance.Koothu was an important cultural feature.They developed the concept of Muthamizh (  literature, music and drama).


  • The most important occupations of the people were agriculture, cattle rearing, fishing and hunting.
  • There were also artisans like carpenters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths and potters.
  • Weaving and farming were made part-time and full-time occupations by all people.

Sangam Age-Economy:

            Agriculture was the most important occupation. Paddy was cultivated in large quantities.Other crops are ragi, sugarcane, cotton, pepper, ginger, turmeric   , cinnamon and a variety of fruits.Malabar exported black pepper to Egypt.The handicrafts of the Sangam Age were popular. Includes weaving, metalworking and carpentry, making jewelry from beads, stones, and ivory.  Cotton and silk textiles, spinning and weaving reached a high  Merchants moved goods from one place to another with the help of carts and animals.The method of conversion was used.Roman trade gained prominence after the rise of the Roman Empire.As large ships carrying valuable goods reached the port, the city of Puhar became a foreign trading centre.

                   Light towers called ‘Kadankarai Ilangusdarwere built in important ports.Thondi, Musiri, Korkai and Arikkamedu are  the other commercial ports.Madurai had morning markets called Nalangadi and evening markets called Allangadi in Madurai.A large number of gold and silver coins minted by Roman emperors like Augustus, Tiberius and Nero were discovered all over Tamil Nadu.Cotton textiles, spices like pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric, ivory articles  , pearls and precious stones were exported during the  Sangam Age.The most important imports were topaz, horses,  and tin and











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