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The early history of the people and rulers of Tamil Nadu is a topic in Tamil literary sources known as Sangam literature.Numismatic, archaeological and literary sources corroborate that the Sangam period lasted for about six centuries, from 300 BC to AD 300.Much later, the Pallavas were replaced by the Chola dynasty as the dominant kingdom in the 9th century and they in turn were replaced by the Pandyan Dynasty in the 13th century.The Pandyan capital Madurai was in the deep south away from the coast.Sangam literature refers these provinces as "koduntamil mandalam" which were not exactly political or socio-cultural units but linguistic agglomerations like Kongu Nadu, Puzhinadu, Thondai Nadu, Nanjilnadu, Ay Nadu and Venadu.Between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD, the three Tamil kingdoms were overwhelmed by the Kalabhras.

According to epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan, this was the first datable artefact bearing the Indus script to be found in Tamil Nadu.In Adichanallur, 24 km (15 mi) from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, skeletons, bones, husks, grains of rice, charred rice and celts of the Neolithic period, 3,800 years ago.Genetic evidence suggests that just over 4 millennia ago a group of Indian travellers landed in Australia and stayed.The Bhakti movement originated in Tamil speaking region of south India and spread northwards through India.The Bhakti Movement was a rapid growth of bhakti beginning in this region with the Saiva Nayanars (4th–10th centuries) The Pallavas ruled parts of South India with Kanchipuram as their capital.

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