Sources of Sangam age

Sangam literature is the chief source of information about the Sangam Age. Besides, many archaeological sources such as megaliths and inscriptions also provide us with information about the period. Literary and Archaeological Sources of Sangam age are as follows

Literary Sources of Sangam Age

Sangam literature mainly consists of Tolkappiyam, the ten poems (Pattuppattu), eight analogies (Ettuttogai), eighteen minor works (Patinenkilkanakku), and famous epics such as Silappadikaram, Manimegalai, and Sivaga Cindamani.

Literary Sources of Sangam Age #1


  • The eighteen minor works form an important source of the period. These are called minor works because the poems are generally shorter in length as compared to the other Tamil works belonging to this period.
  • Tirukkural written by Tiruvalluvar is a collection of Tamil couplets divided into 133 chapters. It comprises the Dharamshastras, the Arthashastras and the Kamasutras. It preaches simplicity and truth in its verses.

Literary Sources of Sangam Age #2


  • Ettuttogai comprises a large body of poetic literature. It is a compilation of more than 2,000 poems composed by more than 200 authors.
  • Besides, there are ten long poems called Pattuppattu. These are divided into two main parts—Aham and Puram. While the poems in the Aham categories idealize love and respect, the Puram deals with militarism and hero worship.

Literary Sources of Sangam Age #3


  • It is one of the oldest surviving literary works of the Sangam Age. It was written by Tolkappiar.
  • It is not only a textbook on Tamil grammar but also includes the classification of animals, plants, habitats, and human beings.
  • Tolkappiyam is divided into three chapters. While the first two chapters codify language, the third chapter, Porul, refers to people and their behavior.

Literary Sources of Sangam Age #4


  • There are three main epics of the Age. These are Silappadikaram, Manimegalai and Sivaga Cindamani.
  • Silappadikaram is regarded as one of the greatest epics of the period. It was written by Illango Vadigal. It deals with the revenge of a wife against her husband’s killer.
  • Manimegalai was written by poet Sattanar of Madurai. It deals with the ideals and teachings of Buddhism. It is an important source of the development of fine arts during the Sangam Age.
  • Sivaga Cindamani was written by Tiruttakkadevar who was a Jain monk. It deals with the story of a superman who becomes a Jain monk in the end.
  • The other two important epics of the period are Kundalakesi and Valayapathi.

Archaeological Sources of Sangam Age

Several archaeological remains such as punch-marked coins, pottery, shells, beads, urns, megaliths, and inscriptions have been discovered which provide us with information about the period. The main Archaeological Sources of the Sangam Age are as follows

Archaeological Sources of Sangam Age #1


  • Megaliths are large pieces of stones found mostly at burial sites.
  • A renowned historian, Champalakshmi, has identified the Sangam Age coinciding with the last phase of megalithic culture in Tamil Nadu.
  • Large agricultural settlements with their chieftains belonging to the Sangam Age have also been identified with the megalithic communities.

Archaeological Sources of Sangam Age #2

Hero Stones

  • Hero stones were the memorial stones which were erected on the burial ground of the people who died for the common cause of their village, country and the king.
  • Many references to such hero stones have been made in Sangam literature.
  • Sometimes, hero stones were also erected along with inscriptions. These hero stones along with inscriptions are found either alone or in groups generally near an irrigation tank or lake outside the village.

Archaeological Sources of Sangam Age #3


  • Inscriptions form an important source of the Sangam Age. One cave inscription which was deciphered in 1966 dating back to 2nd century BC deals with a record of the gift of a monastery by a Pandyan king to a Jain monk.
  • Many references to the Chera Dynasty are found in Tamil Brahmi inscriptions dating back to the 3rd century AD.
  • Inscriptions written on poetry have also been found from about 20 archaeological sites in Tamil Nadu.


The Sangam Age

The Sangam Age refers to the period when most of the Tamil literature was composed by a body of Tamil scholars and poets in three successive literary gatherings called Sangam. Read more

The Mauryan Empire

The Mauryan Empire is regarded as the first and one of the greatest empires in India. It is called an empire because it annexed and brought several smaller states under its control. Read more

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