Origin of Dravidian Languages

Mon Feb 9 16:59:23 UTC 1998

>> When did each of Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada first appear?

For Which Prof. R. J. Zydenbos replied:
>Tamil: earliest dated inscription 270 CE
>Kannada: earliest inscription ca. 450 CE
>Telugu: earliest inscription 633 CE
>Malayalam will be later.

In the last 15 years or so, many short Tamil Brahmi inscriptions
have been found belonging to first century BC and first century AD.
Two recent articles are relevent here.
I heard that Dr. I. Mahadevan is writing a book on early
tamil epigraphy.

1) Iravatham Mahadevan,
Recent trends in early Tamil epigraphy: An overview,
Jl. of the Institute of Asian Studies, Madras,
p. 1-32, XIII, 1, Sep. 1995.

2) Iravatham Mahadevan,
Ancient Tamil contacts abroad: Recent epigraphical evidence,
Jl. of the Institute of Asian Studies, Madras,
p. 136-155, XII, 1, Sep. 1994.
 (Earlier delivered as Father X. S. Thani Nayagam Memorial Lecture,
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1994)

Tamil has one of the largest number of
inscriptions in any Indian language, if not the most.
Very many remain unpublished languishing in ASI offices.
An illustrious example.
Rajendra Chola I's Karandai tamil sangam copper plate
inscriptions in Tamil from early 11th century is the
longest inscription in the entire medieval world,
I was informed. For that copper plate inscription,
Rajendra Chola (d. 1044 CE)
Karandai Tamil Sangam plates of Rajendra Chola I.
Editor: K. G. Krishnan,
N. Delhi, Archaeological Survey Of India, 1984, 312 p.

It was the dissertation research material in 1968 by
Prof. George W. Spencer, Dept. of History,
See his dissertation:
Royal leadership and imperial conquest in medieval South Indua: the
naval expedition of Rajendra Chola I, c. 1025 AD,
Univ. California, Berkeley, 1968

N. Ganesan

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