|Alternative names||Sangam Age, Third Sangam period, Last Sangam period|
|Geographical range||Indian subcontinent|
|Period||Iron Age India|
|Dates||c. 600 BCE – c. 300 CE|
|Major sites||Keezhadi excavation site, Kodumanal, Arikamedu, Murugan Temple, Saluvankuppam, Adichanallur|
The Sangam period or age (Tamil: சங்ககாலம், caṅkakālam, Malayalam: സംഘകാലം, saṅkakālam), particularly referring to the third Sangam period, is the period of the history of ancient Tamil Nadu, Kerala and parts of Sri Lanka (then known as Tamilakam) dating back to c. 3rd century CE. It was named after the mythical and legendary Sangam academies of poets and scholars centered in the city of Madurai.
In Old Tamil language, the term Tamilakam (Tamiḻakam, Purananuru 168. 18) referred to the whole of the ancient Tamil-speaking area, corresponding roughly to the area known as southern India today, consisting of the territories of the present-day Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, parts of Andhra Pradesh, parts of Karnataka and northern Sri Lanka also known as Eelam.
Main articles: History of Tamil Nadu and History of Kerala
See also: First Sangam, Second Sangam, and Third Sangam
According to Tamil legends, there were three Sangam periods, namely Head Sangam, Middle Sangam and Last Sangam period. Historians use the term Sangam period to refer the last of these, with the first two being legendary. It is also called the last Sangam period (Tamil: கடைச்சங்க பருவம், Kadaiccanga paruvam), or third Sangam period (Tamil: மூன்றாம் சங்க பருவம், Mūnṟām sanka paruvam).
The Sangam literature is thought to have been produced in three Sangam academies of each period. The evidence on the early history of the Tamil kingdoms consists of the epigraphs of the region, the Sangam literature, and archaeological data. The period between 600 BCE to 300 CE, Tamilakam was ruled by the three Tamil dynasties of Pandya, Chola and Chera, and a few independent chieftains, the Velir.
|Sangam||Time span||No. of Poets||Kingdom||Books|
|First||4440 years||549||Pandiya||No books survived|
|Second||3700 years||1700||Pandiya||Tolkāppiyam (author - Tolkāppiyar)|
|Third||1850 years||Pandiya||covers entire corpus of Sangam Literature|
Main articles: Sources of ancient Tamil history, Sangam literature, and The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature
There is a wealth of sources detailing the history, socio-political environment and cultural practices of ancient Tamilakam, including volumes of literature and epigraphy.
Further information: Economy of ancient Tamil country, Agriculture in ancient Tamil country, and Industry in ancient Tamil country
The Sangam Tamils enjoyed a high degree of cultural life. Their interests in education, literature, music, dance, drama and festivals have been described in the Sangam literature.
The fourfold Vedic system of caste hierarchy did not exist during Sangam period. The society was organized by occupational groups living apart from each other..