Sangam period
Tamilakam, located in the tip of South India during the Sangam Period, ruled by Chera dynasty, Chola dynasty and the Pandyan dynasty
Alternative namesSangam Age, Third Sangam period, Last Sangam period
Geographical rangeIndian subcontinent
PeriodIron Age India
Datesc. 600 BCE – c. 300 CE
Major sitesKeezhadi excavation site, Kodumanal, Arikamedu, Murugan Temple, Saluvankuppam, Adichanallur

The Sangam period or age (Tamilசங்ககாலம், caṅkakālam, Malayalamസംഘകാലം, saṅkakālam), particularly referring to the third Sangam period, is the period of the history of ancient Tamil Nadu and Kerala (then known as Tamilakam), and parts of Sri Lanka dating back to c.6th century BCE.[1] It was named after the legendary Sangam academies of poets and scholars centered in the city of Madurai[2] which are believed to be mythical.

In Old Tamil language, the term Tamilakam (Tamiḻakam, Purananuru 168. 18) referred to the whole of the ancient Tamil-speaking area,[3] 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 and Karnataka. Whereas Sri Lanka is distinguished from it and is known as Ilam or Eelam,[4] although also influenced by the Sangam Period.[5][6][7]


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 (Tamilகடைச்சங்க பருவம், Kadaiccanga paruvam),[8] or third Sangam period (Tamilமூன்றாம் 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[9] Books[9]
First 4440 years[9](from 9600 BCE to 5200[10] BCE) 549[9] Pandiya No books survived
Second 3700 years[9]( 1700[9] Pandiya Tolkāppiyam (author - Tolkāppiyar)
Third 1850 years[9] Pandiya covers entire corpus of Sangam Literature

Literary sources

Main articles: Sources of ancient Tamil history, Sangam literature, and The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature

Ilango Adigal is the author of Silappatikaram, one of the five great epics of Tamil literature.[11]

There is a wealth of sources detailing the history, socio-political environment and cultural practices of ancient Tamilakam, including volumes of literature and epigraphy.[6]


Further information: Economy of ancient Tamil country, Agriculture in ancient Tamil country, Industry in ancient Tamil country, Ancient Tamil music, and List of Sangam poets

The Sangam Tamils enjoyed a sophisticated cultural life. Their interests in education, literature, music, dance, drama and festivals have been described in the Sangam literature.[citation needed]


The fourfold Vedic system of caste hierarchy did not exist during the Sangam period. The society was organised by occupational groups living apart from each other.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Jesudasan, Dennis S. (20 September 2019). "Keezhadi excavations: Sangam era older than previously thought, finds study". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  2. ^ Dr. Anjali (2017). Social and Cultural History of Ancient India. Lucknow: OnlineGatha—The Endless Tale. pp. 123–136. ISBN 978-93-86352-69-9.
  3. ^ Saju, M. T. (20 September 2019). "Carbon dating confirms Keeladi 3 centuries older". The Times of India. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  4. ^ Pierre-Yves Manguin; A Mani; Geoff Wade (2011). Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross Cultural exchange. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 9789814345101. ((cite book)): |website= ignored (help)
  5. ^ Wilson, A.Jeyaratnam (2000). Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism: Its Origins and Development in 19th and 20th Centuries. UBC Press. ISBN 9780774807593. Retrieved 28 April 2012. ((cite book)): |website= ignored (help)
  6. ^ a b Abraham, Shinu (2003). "Chera, Chola, Pandya: using archaeological evidence to identify the Tamil kingdoms of early historic South India". Asian Perspectives. 42 (2): 207–223. doi:10.1353/asi.2003.0031. hdl:10125/17189. S2CID 153420843.
  7. ^ "Women, Transition, and Change: A Study of the Impact of Conflict and Displacement on Women in Traditional Tamil Society". 1995.
  8. ^ Zvelebil, Kamil (1973). The smile of Murugan on Tamil literature of South India. Brill. p. 46.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Daniélou, Alain (11 February 2003). A Brief History of India. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781594777943.
  10. ^ M., Arunachalam (1989). Musical Tradition Of Tamilnadu (1st ed.). madras: International Society For The Investigation of Ancient Civilisations. p. 11.
  11. ^ Rosen, Elizabeth S. (1975). "Prince ILango Adigal, Shilappadikaram (The anklet Bracelet), translated by Alain Damelou. Review". Artibus Asiae. 37 (1/2): 148–150. doi:10.2307/3250226. JSTOR 3250226.
  12. ^ Nath sen, Sailendra (1999). Ancient Indian History and Civilization (Second ed.). Routledge. p. 205. ISBN 9788122411980.