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Old Stone Age in Tamil Nadu

Paleolithic Age

The Old Stone age in Tamil Nadu is estimated to be from 5 lac years to 15000 BCE. The people of the Old Stone age were using the axes made of stones. In one of the Excavations in Pallavaram, a Stone Axe used in the Old Stone age was discovered. Various other weapons made of stone age stones were discovered at places around Chennai Metropolitan City. They include knives, handheld axe etc. This technology is also named as Chennai technology. In locations such as Chengalpattu, Thanjavur, North Arcot, Handheld axes, cutting stone equipments, chiseled instruments, double edged sharp stone equipments were discovered by the Archaeological Survey teams. All these instruments are made out of smooth stones. These stones were made into instruments with minimum technology and the technology is named as Achulian type of technology. Life and Style: The people of Paleolithic age were ancient in culture; not literates; were depending upon the art of hunting; staying in the mountain caves and other open places in the hilly terrains or riverside terrains. They were unaware of the art of making mud pots and use of utensils. They were also eating Raw Meat, fruits, Yam and Vegetables.

Mid Stone Age

The Mid Stoneage period is estimated to be between 8000 to 2000 BCE. Tamils lived in this age were using smaller stones for making their weapons instead of the quartsite stones. They made weapons such as knife, triangular implements, hammers, spoons, swords etc.,. This is called as Levasian Technology. In this Mid Stoneage, Tamil people were found living in Tamil Nadu locations such as Dharmapuri, Gudiyamalai, Thirumangalam, Kallupatti, Thirunelveli, Yeral, and Nazareth. They were found using the weapons which were claimed to be refined over the old stoneage. They were also better in Culture and they were engaged in Fishing and Hunting as their avocation. As there was a cultural improvement, they changed their lifestyles according to the situations locations and climatic conditions. They were found living in the foot of the hills. They also worshipped the nature. Dead were buried. They started worshipping God and conducted Prayers. They also believed in life and Rebirth concepts.

Neolithic Age

The age called Neolithic is estimated between 1500 to 700 BCE. Locations of the Tamil people stayed in North Arcot, Salem, Krishnagiri, Cheroy Hills, Pudukottai, Palani, Kodaikanal, Bodinayakanur. Locations have been discovered in the Archaeological Survey projects in Tamil Nadu. We are able to infer that they belonged to a better Society with improved culture by studying the Instruments and weapons in their usage.

They made their weapons with Diorite, Draptine and Basalt. These instruments were stronger and also shining and smoother.

They used the following instruments:

• Drilling equipments

• Handheld Axe

• Hammer

• Handles

• Cutting Instruments

• Harness instrument

• Mega Hammer

• Polished stone axe

It is learnt that they also made instruments out of the bones. Avocation: They were engaged in Fishing, Hunting and also in Agriculture. They have removed the forests and created farm lands. There were many more features of their lifestyle that are brought out by the researchers and historians: • They ploughed their lands and cultivated the lands.

• They were found using sharp instruments for ploughing and other sharp instruments like Axes for cultivation.

• As they were farming, they stayed in places permanently.

• They built their house walls made of clay soil.

• The floors designed as circles, squares or rectangles

• Roofs were covered by leaves and kora grass .

• They reared animals also such as Dogs, Cows, Goats, and Bullocks

Cultural observations:

• They are found to be more cultured than the earlier stone age people

• They were engaged in more avocations

• They were sporting dress made out of Cotton threads, wooden barks and animal leather

• Stone Rocks were decorated by their Artwork and Paintings

• Wearing Ornaments was considered a fashion

• Giving importance to dressing and decorations was considered during this age

• Prayer methods were found to be present

• Worshipping the nature was also found

From the distribution pattern and the cultural components of this culture, it is clear that the present region was colonized due to the southern and south-eastern expansion or intrusion of Southern Neolithic culture (of India) in the second phase around 2000 BCE from the adjoining areas of Karnataka.

The distribution of Neolithic cultural sites are Coimbatore, Chingleput, Salem, North Arcot (14), Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli, Villupuram and Dharmapuri district.


Metallic Age represented a drastic change in the life and style of Tamil people. This age followed Neolithic age. All the instruments and weapons used in this Age were all made out of metals. Though the North Indian metallic age speaks about wide usage of Copper, in Tamil Nadu, the usage of Iron was found more and Cultural Tamil Nadu evidences establish this fact. Use of Iron brought a sea change in the economic and social activities of this metallic age people. They found the use of iron in making Swords, Axes, Household articles. This alone brought a change in their lifestyle also. As they were confined to one place carrying out Agriculture, their living as a Society caught up as a Social Pattern for Development. They grew paddy, and pulses in their fields.

Megalithic Age

Megalithic Age is estimated to have been in existence between 700 to 300 BCE. The primary identity of this Age is represented by the Memorials with Big Round Stones that were built in memory of the dead. They erected memorial structures around and above the burial place of the dead with big stones. Hence, the name Megalithic.

Tamil Nadu witnessed different burial practices like

• Mudpot system

• Midstone system

• Capstone system

Cemetries were built in different styles using the big stones. The dead were buried around the plateaus and valleys in the same fashion. These types of burials have been located by the Researchers at Adichanallur, Chingelput, Nilgiris, in Tamil Nadu. Importance to Agriculture : More of an Agrarian avocation was observed in this age. They grew Paddy and pulses. Implements and Instruments: They were found using Showels, Pick Axes, boulders and sickles for their agricultural activities. Megalithic utensils: Mud pots of black and red colours were found to be in use by the people of Megalithic Era. These pots carried markings such as arrows, triangle, stars which have different connotations in the eyes of the historians and researchers.

Sangam Age

Sangam Age is considered a unique time period in the Tamil country wherein all round developments witnessing a civilization that created and gave unto itself with all types of activities that were relevant for a contented pioneering lifestyle filled with heroism, political activities of kingdoms, education, entertainment, leisure, music, art, drama and culture, economic activities with trade and commerce including exports and imports, growth of path breaking literature covering the emotions, beliefs and cults, religious, cultural moral and ethical values.

One of the earliest Tamil word found in any written record in the world appears to be the word for ‘peacock’ in the Hebrew text of the Kings and chronicles, in the list of the articles of merchandise brought from Tarshish or Ophir in Solomon’s ships. In the ruins of Mugheir…..not less than 3000 BCE, was found a piece of Indian teak. These references are calculated to give some idea of the antiquity of civilization in the Tamil land.

Sangam is the Academy of Tamil Poets. The word has its origin from Sanskrit Language. The Sangam literature is the ancient Tamil literature of the period in the history of south India. The first Sangam age dates back to close 9000 years while the second to about 3600 years respectively.

It is believed that Sangam Literature provided the roadmap for the entire Tamil literature, life and values for the future generations of Tamils. The Sangam Literature was the composition by Tamil Poets belonging to both the genders of men and women who were from various professional backgrounds. These compositions were later on collected into various anthologies during 1000 A.D.

Why the name: The name is after the Sangam Academies constituted with Divine Presence/Sages/Poets as Heads during the period.


There were patronized by the Pandya Kings.

• The Primary Sangam (Thalai Sangam) was held at Thenmadurai. Chairman of the Sangam is said to be Sage Agastya. No literary work of Madurai Sangam survived and available.

• The Middle Sangam (Idai Sangam) is popular by its literary work Tolkappiyam, authored by Tolkappiyar. Second Sangam was held at Kapadapuram. Initiated by Sage Agastya, it was later taken up by Tolkappiyar, a disciple of Agastya.

• The Last Sangam (Kadai Sangam) The Last Sangam (Kadai Sangam) was organized at Madurai under Nakkeerar. This Sangam has contributed a large number of literary corpus in Tamil. The founder of this Sangam is Mudathirumaran

Three Sangams (Muchchangam)

While Early Sangam was founded at the then Madurai, Middle Sangam was functioning from Kapadapuram and the Last Sangam was founded at Madurai. It is learnt that the Early Sangam of Then Madurai (South Madurai) and Middle Sangam of Kapadapuram, submerged due to a deluge and the Third Sangam which is considered the Last Sangam, was established by the Pandya Kings at Madurai. The Sangam and its literature that we learn and understand belong to the Last

Sangam of Madurai as other two Sangam’s Literary as well as other resources went under the water world of Indian Ocean.

The Sangam Literature is referred to as the ancient Tamil Literature in the ancient South India known as Thamizagam or Tamilagam. Akananooru, Kurunthogai, Natrinai are the classic collections which contained 2381 poems composed by 473 poets of whom 102 were remaining as anonymous. Categorization of the literature Sangam Literature fell into two categories such as: Akam(Inner) and Puram(outer).

Sangam Literature was compiled in the 10th century into two categories on the basis of chronological order. 1) Pathinenmelkanakku 2) Pathinenkilkanakku Pathinenmelkanakku (“the eighteen greater text series”) comprised of Ettuthogai and Pattupaattu. The rest were under Pathinenkilkanakku(“the eighteen lesser text series”).

Tirukkural authored by Tamil poet and philosopher, Thiruvalluvar is considered the most important work among the literature. While Thiruvalluvar focused on ethics, virtue, wealth and love, Mamulanar, who lived during the Sangam period, related his writings to the historical happenings of that age.

In their values and stances, they represent a mature classical poetry: passion is balanced by courtesy, transparency by ironies and nuances of design, impersonality by vivid detail, austerity of the line by richness of implication. These poems are not just the earliest evidence of the Tamil genius.’


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