A walk down the Sangam era

Madurai, the cultural hub of Tamil Nadu, known to have housed and incubated poets and scholars from the Sangam period, is believed to be the birth place of Tamil literature.

Published: 13th May 2020 06:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th May 2020 06:57 AM   |  A+A-

Keezhadi excavation site

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Madurai, the cultural hub of Tamil Nadu, known to have housed and incubated poets and scholars from the Sangam period, is believed to be the birth place of Tamil literature. Speculated to have lasted between 300 BC to 300 AD, the Sangam was an institution to which most south Indian academics contributed, under the patronage of the Pandya kings. In fact, literature discovered of this era has been confirmed with archaeological evidence as well. With the recent Keezhadi excavations and the Kodumanal findings, culture enthusiasts are eager to understand the ancient Tamil history and culture from the time. 

And to fulfil their wishes, Friends Of Heritage Sites (FOHS), a group of history and heritage enthusiasts in Chennai, has organised a four-part webinar on Sangam literature and culturalscapes on May 14 and 15. Epigraphist and historian V Vedachalam will be taking the audience through a bird’s eye view of the Sangam period and sharing insights into its structure. Continuing the thread, V Selvakumar, archaeologist will talk about the link between Sangam literature and archaeological evidence.

“Using case studies, I will be explaining the social and cultural aspects of the era. Over 400 poets from diverse backgrounds contributed to the Sangam. There is a fair amount of documentation that gives us enough to construct its social and cultural environment. We have references to salt merchants, and involvement and contribution of women to the economic trade of the era,” says Selvakumar. 

Cascading through the various accounts uncovered by archaeologists, Selvakumar will be covering the economy of the Sangam age based on said archaeological material and literary references. Primarily, with respect to craft production and long-distance trade that the ancient Tamizhagam had with the ancient Afro-Eurasian world. Sangam literature also covers the first hints of urbanisation of the time. “Tamizhagam was inclusive of parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I will be talking about the various migrations that took place due to political and economic changes,” he says.

This is the first webinar by the team and they have already crossed  100 registrations. “Normally we host a seminar or conduct a field trip once in two months. Since we can’t do that now, and everyone is also keen on learning and trying to spend their time usefully, we thought of doing this,” says Sharmila Devadoss, president of FOHS. The webinar will be cast live on the FOHS YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/9OxC8z42wbA on May 14 and May 15 from 6 pm to 7 pm. 


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