Excavation in Tamil Nadu: Remanence of Sangam Era

Excavation in Tamil Nadu: Remanence of Sangam Era

Excavation in Tamil Nadu: Remanence of Sangam Era

In this topic, you can learn about the History of Tamil Nadu. It also talks about the how “Remanence of the Sangam Era” impacts Indian History. Here Many aspects of the era were described like the Sangam age, Literature, reasons for the remanence of the era, Administration of the era and many other things related to this era.

Prelims: Indian History 

Mains: GS I Indian Art and Culture 

Why in news?

  • In the most recent excavation of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) near Chennai, some artefacts were found 12,000 years old roulette ware, hand axes, scarpers, cleaver and choppers, roman amphora shreds and glass beads indicating active trade with Rome in between the Sangam era to 2,000 years ago.
  • According to the scholars, it will be a crucial chapter in bridging the gap in Tamil History. 

About Sangam Era

Sangam age 

  •  The age between the 3rd century B.C. and 3rd century A.D. approximately in south India i.e. ancient Tamil Nadu, Kerala and some portion of Sri Lanka is known as the Sangam period.
  • The people of that era were situated south of rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra.
  • The era was named after the Sangam Academies, which flourished under the patronage of the Pandya rulers of Madurai.
  • In that era renowned scholars  gathered and work on the board of censors and the choicest literature was presented in the nature of anthologies

The Sangam literature

  • It was assumed that the literature was composed and compiled in assemblies called Sangams of the poets that were held in the city of Madurai, that is the reason, why the literature of that period is known as Sangam literature.
  • It is also called Cankam literature signifying the ancient Tamil literature and it oldest known literature of Southern Indian history.
  • As per the Tamil Scholar, there were 3 Sangam held, i.e assemblies of poets where they composed and compiled the poems called Muchchangam.
  •  It was believed that the 1st Sangam was held at Madhurai, and it was attended by the gods and prominent sages. the literary work of this Sangam is not available.
  • The 2nd Sangam was held at Kapadapuram, and from this  only Tolkappiyam survived
  •  The 3rd Sangam Agin held at Madurai.  Very few, of its work have survived and proved to be one the useful full sources  to reconstruct the history of the Sangam period

 A few of the works of literature of the Sangam period are.

 Tolkappiyam,  composed by Tolkappiyar.

  • It gives you information on the social life, psychology of humans and economical and political conditions of the Sangam Age
  • It also mentioned the Tamil Grammar  
  •  It is categorised into 3 segments and further has been divided into nine chapters.
  • It consists of a total number of 1612 sutras which are extensive in their range.

The 2nd Sangam literature was divided into eight anthologies and they are:

  • Ettuthogai,
  • Pattupattu, are 10 idylls
  • Patinenkilkanakku, and

Two epics named:

  • Silappathikaram
  • Manimekalai.

The decline of the Sangam era:

  •  The period gradually saw its decline towards the end of the 3rd century  AD.
  •  The annexations of kalabhras in Tamil country in the post-Sangam between 300 AD to 600 AD, and the period is called an interregnum or the “dark side” as per the earlier historians.

The administration: 

Sangam Era

Pic: Remanence of Sangam Era

Dynasties ruled

Chera dynasty

The royal emblem was a bow. 

  • They ruled over the region today known as Kerala.
  • The Castes of the rulers of that time are not known.
  • There was no evidence of superstitions, Ancestors or tree worship has been found.
  • The dynasty declined as trade with Romans declined.

 Chola dynasty

The royal emblem was a tiger. They had control over southern Andhra Pradesh and some part of north Tamil Nadu. 

  • During the era, the Chola dynasty expanded their territory from the present Tiruchi district to southern Andhra Pradesh.
  • Karikala was the most known king Sangam chola ruler
  • The book called Pattinappalai tells about his childhood and his military triumphs.
  • His military successfully elevated him to the position of the king of the whole Tamil kingdom. 
  • He encouraged the people of his kingdom to practice agriculture.
  • He also built the  Kallanai across the Kaveri River and many irrigation canals.

Pandya dynasty

The royal emblem was crap

  • They had ruled over the Tamil country of that period.
  • The council of ministers assisted the king of the monarchy, There was a huge body of officials for administration.
  • The whole empire was divided into three divisions: mandala ->nadu -> urs.
  •  The kind kept a regular army.
  •  Land revenue was the prime source of income including customs duty and war booty was others.
  •  The trade of that era was prosperous the pearls were seen in frequent use.
  • The Sati, castes and idol worship have commonly practised the widows had no social respect. 

Some of the parts of the temples of that era are :

  • Gopuram
  • Garbagriha
  • Viman
  • Prakaras
  • Gateways.

These are the dominant rulers of the Sangam era, apart from the above three.  there were minor chieftains who were subordinate to the Chera, Chola

and Pandya but were strong and powerful in their respective regions.

 Politics of sangam era 

  • During this period, its government was of hereditary monarchy
  • The king was assisted by a council of  minister
  • The courtroom used to consist of Court poets, the council of ministers and the imperial court known as Avai.
  • The rulers of the Chera dynasty known as Vanavaramban, Vanavan, Kuttuvan, Irumporai, and Villavar,
  • Chula rulers were known as Senni, Valavan, and Kili,
  • The Pandya rulers were known as Thennavar and Minavar.
  • Each Sangam dynasty had its own royal emblem
  • A big group of officials, divided into five councils, assisted the king. Ministers (amaichar), priests (anthanar), military commanders (senapathi), envoys (thuthar), and spies (orrar) were among them.
  • Each of the dynasties had a regular army also its own Kodimaram (tutelary tree).
  • The customs officials, known as Pattinappalai, work in Puhar’s harbour.
  • War booty was also an important source of revenue for the royal treasury.
  • Well-maintained Roads and pathways were monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week to check for robbery and smuggling.


The five land divisions of Tolkappiyam:

  • Kurinji the hilly trails, 
  • Mullai the pastoral, 
  • Marudam agricultural land  
  • Neydal coastal areas, and 
  • Palai deserted places  

The people who lived in these five divisions had their own independent jobs and also had individual deities to worship.

  • Kurinji –Mullai – chief deity Mayon (Vishnu) – chief occupation cattle-rearing and dealing with dairy products.
  • Marudam – chief deity Indira – chief occupation of agriculture.
  • Neydal – chief deity Varunan – chief occupation of fishing and salt manufacturing.
  • Palai – the supreme god Korravai is the major occupation of robbery.

Tolkappiyam it was mentioned 4 castes based on their works :

  • Arasar is the governing class.
  • Anthanar were influential in Sangam politics and religion
  • Vanigar are the traders and the merchants
  • vellalar was the one who practised agriculture.

There are some other tribal tribes found in the  Sangam civilization named the Parathavar, Panar, Eyinar, Kadambar, Maravar, and Pulaiyar. Some primitive tribes such as the Todas, Irulas, Nagas, and Vedars existed during this period.


  • Agriculture was the prime source of income so, it has the most employment opportunities,
  • Rice is one of the most grown crops, others are ragi, sugarcane, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and many more types of fruits
  • There were well known for jackfruit and pepper  and Chola and Pandya were mainly dependent on the paddy
  • The handicraft of this period was popular weaving, jewellery building, metal works and carpentry,
  • As the demand for these handicrafts was much higher at that time so  internal and external commerce was at its peak during this era
  • Cotton and silk clothing spinning and weaving got the highest excellence.
  • Cotton clothing from Uraiyur had a huge demand in the Western world at that time.
  • Merchants take products from place to place on carts and on the backs of animals. The carter system was mostly practised in the overseas trades
  • South India and the Greek kings conducted outer commerce.
  • Large ships used to carry valuable products reached Puhar’s harbour, and the city became a foreign commercial hub.
  • The other commercially active ports are Tondi, Musiri, Korkai, Arikamedu, and Marakkanam.
  • The author of Periplus conveyed the most important information on external commerce.
  • Excess  gold and silver coins were  minted by Roman Emperors such as 

Augustus, Tiberius, and Nero were found near Tamil Nadu.

  • The chief important imports were gold, horses, and sweet wine.

Religion and Worship

  • The major Tamil gods of the the era, Seyon or Murugan,
  •  Murugan worship has a traditional origin, and festivals related to God Murugan were documented in Sangam literature.
  • He was given six abodes named  Arupadai Veedu in his honour.
  • Mayon (Vishnu), Vendan (Indiran), Varunan, and Korravai were also at that time
  •  Nadu Kal worship was chief throughout the Sangam era.
  • The Hero Stone was created to commemorate the warrior’s valour in combat.


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