In Southern india the period between the 1st century B.C. to the end of 2nd century A.D. is known as Sangam Period.
Sangam periodnamed after the Sangam academies during that period.
There were three Sangams (Academy of Tamil poets) held in the ancient South India popularly called Muchchangam. These Sangams grow under the royal support of the Pandya kings of Madurai.
The First Sangam held at Madurai, The Second Sangam at Kapadapuram, and the Third Sangam was held at Madurai .
A few of these Tamil literary works have survived and are a useful sources to reconstruct the history of the Sangam period.
Sangam was a college or assembly of Tamil poets held probably under royal patronage of pandyan kings in Madurai. According to tradition,the assembly lasted for 9990 years and was attended by 8,598 poets and 197 pandyan kings.
Political History of Sangam Period:-
During the Sangam Age, it was ruled by three dynasties-the Pandya,chola and chera.
The Pandyas were first mentioned by Megasthanese,who said that their kingdom was famous for pearls.
The Pandyan territory included modern district of Tirunelevelli,Ramnad and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.It had its capital at Madurai,situated on the bank of Vaigai river.
The Pandyan Kingdom profited from trade ith roman empire and sent emissaries to roman emperors.Augustus and Trojan.
The Pandyas find mention in the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The earliest known Pandyan ruler was Mudukudumi,who ruled from Madurai,he accused kovalan of theft. As the result the city of Madurai was laid under the curse by kannagi(kovalan’wife).
The Cholas (Emblem-Tiger)
The Cholas kingdom wascalled as Cholamandalam situated to the north-east of Pandya kingdom between Pennar and Vellar rivers. The Chola kingdom corresponded to modern Tanjore and Tiruchiranpalli districts.
Its inland capital was Uraiyur, a place famous for cotton trade. One of the main sources of wealth for cholas was trade in cotton cloth.
Puhar ,identical with kaverippattinam was the main port of cholas and served as alternative capital of cholas.
The earliest known chola kingdom was Elara,who in 2ndcentury BC conquered Sri Lanka and ruled over it for nearly 50 years.
Their greatest king was karikala (man with charred leg) who founded puhar and constructed 160 km of embankment along the kaveri river.
They maintained an efficient navy.
The Cholas were wiped out by the attack of pallavas from north.
The Cheras (Emblem-Bow)
The Chera country occupied the portion of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The capital of Cheras was Vanji.
It main ports were muzris and tondi.the Romans set up two regiments at muzris(identical with Cranganore ) in Chera country.They also built a temple of Augustus at Muzris.
One of the earliest and better known chera rulers was udiyangeral.
The greatest of Chera King,however,was,Senguttuvan or Red Chera . It is said that he invaded north and even crossed the ganga
He was the founder of the famous Pattini cult related to worship of goddess of chastity-Kannagi.
The king was the center of administration.He was called Ko Mannan,Vendan,korravaan or iravian.Avai was the court of crowned monarch.
The Kingdom was divided into Mandalam,Nadu(province),Ur(town),Sirur(small Village,perur(Big Village)
Karai Land Tax
Irat Tribute paid by feudatories and booty collected in war.
Ulgu Customs Duties
Iravu Extra Demand or forced gift
Variyam A well know unit of territory yielding tax
Variyar Tax collector
Position of Women during Sangam period:
There were women poets like Avvaiyar, Nachchellaiyar, and Kakkaipadiniyar who flourished and contributed to Tamil literature.
Love marriage was a common practice and women were allowed to choose their life partners.
But, life of widows was miserable.
There is also a mention about the practice of Sati being prevalent in the higher strata of society.
Economy of the Sangam Period:
Agriculture was the chief occupation where rice was the most common crop.
The handicraft included weaving, metal works and carpentry, ship building and making of ornaments using beads, stones and ivory.
These were in great demand of all above products in the internal and external trade as this was at its peak during the Sangam period.
A high expertise was attained in spinning and weaving of cotton and silk clothes.
The port city of Puhar became an important place of foreign trade, as big ships entered this port containing precious goods.
Other significant ports of commercial activity were Tondi, Musiri, Korkai, Arikkamedu and Marakkanam.
Many gold and silver coins that were issued by the Roman Emperors like Augustus, Tiberius and Nero have been found in all parts of Tamil Nadu indicating flourishing trade.
Cotton fabrics and spices like pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric along with ivory products, pearls and precious stones were Major exports of the Sangam age.
Horses, gold, and sweet wine were Major imports for the traders.