Sangam Age

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Sangam Age: The period between the 1st century B.C. to the end of 2nd century A.D. in Southern India is known as Sangam Period. It has been named after the Sangam academies during that period.

Here, we are giving the complete study material of ‘Sangam Age’ that will ease the journey of aspirants to crack the competitive examinations like BPSC and other state-level examinations.

Sangam Age – The Dawn of History in the Deep South

The Megalithic Background

Megalith graves were encircled by big pieces of stones. They also contained pottery and iron objects buried with the corpse. They are found in the upland regions of Peninsula with the concentration in Eastern Andhra Pradesh and Tamil NaduSignup for Free Mock Test

State formation and the rise of civilization

The megalithic people started to reclaim the fertile deltaic lands. The route to the south is called as Dakshinapatha which became economically important.

Megasthenes knew about Pandyas while Ashokan inscriptions mention about Cholas, Pandyas, Keralaputras and Satyaputras

Flourishing trade with the Roman empire led to the formation of these three states i.e., Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas

Sangam Period

Sangam period is the period in the history of ancient Tamil Nadu spanning from c. 3rd century BC to c. 3rd century AD. It is named after the famous Sangam academies of poets and scholars centred in the city of Madurai.

Three early kingdoms

KingdomCapitalPortEmblemFamous Ruler
CherasVanji – Modern KeralaMuzuri and TondiBowSenguttuvan
CholasUraiyur and PuharKaveripatinam/Puhar. They had an efficient NavyTigerKarikalan
PandyasMaduraiKorkai for Pearl FishingFishNedunzheriyan


  • They had Palmyra flowers as their Garland
  • Pugalur inscriptions mention of three generations of Cheras
  • Senguttuvan introduced Pattni cult or Worship of Kannagi as ideal wife


  • Karikalan built Kallanai (Check dam) against River Kaveri


  • Maduraikkanji written by Mangudi Maruthanar describes the socio-economic conditions of the Pandyas
  • Invasion by Kalbharas led to their decline

These kingdoms had a profitable trade with the Roman empire. They produced Pepper, Ivory, Pearls, Precious stones, Muslin, Silk, Cotton etc. which led to prosperity in their region.

Rise of social classes

  • Enadi – captains of the army
  • Vellalas – Rich peasants
  • Arasar – ruling class
  • Kadaisiyar – the lowest class
  • Pariyars – agricultural labourers

Four castes mentioned in Tolkappiyam

  • Arasar – Ruling class
  • Anthanar – Brahmanas
  • Vanigar – People involved in Trade and Commerce
  • Vellalar – Labourers

Five-fold division of land

LandType of landChief deityChief occupation
KurunjiHilly tractsMuruganHunting and honey collection
MullaiPastoralMayonCattle rearing and dealing with dairy products
NeidhalCoastalVarunanFishing and salt manufacturing

Sangam administration

  • Avai – the imperial court
  • Kodimaram – tutelary tree of every ruler
  • Panchmahasabha
    1. Amaichar – ministers
    2. Senatipathiar – Army chief
    3. Otrar – Spy
    4. Thoodar – Envoy
    5. Purohitar – Priest
  • Kingdom’s division
    1. Mandalam/Nadu – Province
    2. Ur – town
    3. Perur – Big village
    4. Sitrur – Small village


SangamPlaceChairmanSurviving texts
2ndKapadapuramAgasthiyar and TolkappiyarTolkappiyam
3rdMaduraiFounder – MudathirumaranNakkirar Ettutogai, Pattu Pattu (10 idylls)

Tamil language and Sangam literature

  • Narrative – Ettutogai and Pattupattu which are called Melkankakku – 18 Major works. They are divided into Agam (love) and Puram (Valour)
  • Didactive – Pathinenkilkanakku – 18 minor works. They deal with Ethics and Morals.
  • Thirukkural ­– Written by Thiruvalluvar is a treatise covering various aspects of life.
  • Tolkappiyam by Tolkappiyar is the earliest of Tamil literature. It is a work on Tamil Grammar but also provides information on Political and Social conditions of Sangam period


  • Silapadhikaram by Elango Adigal
  • Manimegalai by Sitthalai Sathanar
  • Valayapathi
  • Kundalagesi
  • Sivaga Sinthamani

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