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Evolution of Society in South India
In the Deccan region, encompassing major parts of present day Andhra, Karnataka and Maharashtra, the Satavahanas established a powerful kingdom in the first century BCE. In the south, the three family ruling houses, the Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas were their contemporaries, ruling the fertile parts of Tamizhagam. But the Tamil rulers started two centuries earlier as they figure in Asoka’s inscriptions of the third century BCE. There were many common things as well as differences in the polity and society of the Deccan and Tamil regions.
The megalithic burials sites of the early historic period.
Excavated material from ancient sites, including ports, capital towns, with architectural remains, such as in Arikamedu, Kodumanal, Alagankulam, and Uraiyur.
Buddhist sites with stupas and chaityas located in Andhra and Karnataka regions (Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda, etc.)
Coins of pre-Satavahana chieftains and of the Satavahanas from Andhra-Karnataka region.
The coins issued by the Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas, and the chieftains of the Sangam Age.
Roman copper, silver and gold coins.
The Asokan inscriptions, written in Prakrit, found in Andhra-Karnataka regions.
The Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions found in the caves of Tamil Nadu and Kerala such as in Mangulam, Jambai, and Pugalur.
The Satavahana inscriptions and other Buddhist inscriptions of the Andhra region
Short inscriptions found on pottery and rings and stones in Tamil Nadu and some sites outside India, like in Berenike, and Quseir al Qadhim (Egypt).
Tamil texts including the Sangam and post-Sangam literature
The Arthasastra, the treatise on economy and statecraft authored by Kautilya
The Puranas which mention the genealogy of the Andhras/Satavahanas,
Buddhist Chronicles such as Mahavamsa. Gatha Saptasati, a Prakrit text composed by the Satavahana king Hala
The Classical Sangam corpus consists of Tholkappiyam, the eight anthologies (Ettuththokai), Paththuppattu. Tholkappiyam, attributed to Tholkappiyar, is the earliest extant Tamil grammatical text dealing not only with poetry but also the society and culture of the times. The Pathinen Kilkanakku (18 minor works) and the five epics belong to post-Sangam times (fourth to sixth century CE) and describe a different social and cultural set-up.
The following Greek and Latin sources inform us about the long distance cultural and commercial connections.
The Periplus of Erythrean Sea, an ancient Greek text of the first century CE.
Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, first century CE
Ptolemy’s Geography, second century CE
Vienna Papyrus G 40822, a Greek document datable to the second century CE.
A Roman Map called Peutingerian Table
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