Can the tinai help understand the Iron Age Early Historic landscape of Tamilnadu?

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


World Archaeology, Taylor & Francis Ltd, Volume 46, Number 5, p.641–660 (2014)



Iron Age-Early Historic ?Megalithic? burials, Iron Age-Early Historic Habitation, Sangam Literature, Tamilnadu, tinai


The Iron Age-Early Historic landscape of southern India has been subject to scholarly study and scrutiny for over a century now. There is much variation in the chronology, typology and understanding of sites from this period. This paper looks at the habitation, burials and habitation-cum-burial sites of the Iron Age-Early Historic period, from the northern part of Tamilnadu, India. Historians have also used the Sangam texts of classical Tamil, which are believed to be contemporaneous with the archaeological sites considered, to understand the society and culture of this period. However, most of the previous literary and archaeological researches have progressed parallel to each other, thereby resulting in different perspectives for the same research questions. This paper uses the excavated sites from northern Tamilnadu as a case study to explore the possibility of combining archaeological and literary-historical approaches, while examining the advantages and limitations of each approach.


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