Origin of Dravidian languages

Thu Feb 12 15:14:27 UTC 1998

Most ancient Texts in Tamil

The following is an extract (Chart IV, p. 42-43) from the book
"The Smile of Murugan" by Prof. Kamil Zvelebil on the most ancient
texts in the Tamil language (Kamil Zvelebil, The Smile of Murugan
- On Tamil literature of South India,E.J.Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands,
 1973).The earliest poems contained in these texts belong roughly to
100 B.C.- 250 A.D. The upper limit for these anthologies is the 5th-6th
Cent. A.D. Linguistically, this period is usually described as
Early Old Tamil. At the beginning of this period, we have the Ur-text
of the Tolkappiyam. At the end of this period, we have the earliest
poetics of Tamil, the Akapporul of Iraiyanar.

N. Ganesan

Text                     Details                         Approx. date
Early Tamil Brahmi       The two rock-inscriptions of    3rd -1st
 Inscriptions.           Netunceliyan at Mangulam.         Cent. B.C.
                         Asoka's Brahmi introduced
                         around ca. 250 B.C. into the
                         Tamil country. Adapted between
                         250-220 to Tamil.

Ur-Tolkappiyum:          First standardization of the     2nd-1st .
 Eluttatikaram and       Tamil language; the first          Cent. B.C
 Collatikaram minus      literary norm of Maturai
 later interpolations.   between ca. 200-50 B.C.,
                         based on oral bardic liter-
                         ature, pre-literary tradi-
                         tions and "pre-Sangam" lit-
                         erature of ca 250-150 B.C.

The earliest strata of   Earliest "Sangam" poets:         1st Cent. B.C.
extant Tamil literature  Ammuvan (Ak. 10, 35, 140 etc.      - 2nd A.D.
in the Anthologies:      Aink. 101-102, Kur. 49,125,
 early poems of          163 etc.; Nar. 4, 35 etc.)
Ainkurunuru,Kuruntokai,  Otalantai (Aink. 301-400,
 and Narrinai,prob.also  Kur. 12, 21, 329), Orampoki
purananuru and           (Ak. 286, 316, Aink. 1-100
  Akananuru              Kur. 10, 70, 122 etc.,Nar.
                         20, 360, Pur. 284), Kapilar
                         the Elder (Aink. 201-300 etc.
                         Peyan (Aink. 401-500 etc.).

Arikamedu graffiti and                                    1st-2nd Cent.
 the related group of Tamil                                      A.D.
 Brahmi Inscriptions at
 Anaimalai etc.

The Satavahana bilingual                                  Ca. 150-200.
   coin.                                                      A.D

The earliest strata in   Kapilar the Elder, Mutat-        2nd-3rd Cent.
 the Pattuppattu         tamakkanni, Katiyalur                  A.D.
 anthology:              Uruttiran Kannan.

The middle strata of the  e.g.Paranar (150-230 A.D.),     2nd-4th Cent.
 Anthologies: Ainkuru-     Nakkirar the First,                   A.D.
 nuru, Kuruntokai, Nar-    Mankutimarutan.
 rinai, Patirruppattu,
 Akananuru, Purananuru,
 Malaipatukatam, Matu-
 raikkanci, Netunalvatai.

Late Tamil Brahmi         Later inscriptions from         3rd-4th Cent.
 Inscriptions:the Ceral   Araccalur, Mamantur etc.              A.D.
 inscriptions at Pukalur

Later strata of the       e.g. Nagpputanar,               3rd-5th Cent.
 Anthologies:               Nallur Nattattanar.                A.D.
 Akananuru, Purananuru,
 Mullaippattu, Cirupan-

Transitional Tamil Brahmi                                 5th-6th Cent.
 (Proto-vatteluttu) Inscrip-                                A.D.
 tions at Pillaiyarpatti
 and Tirunatarkunram.

Latest strata of the                                      4th-6th Cent.
 Anthologies: e.g.                                            A.D.
 Cirupanarruppatai (?).
 Iraiyanar's Akapporul.


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