South India is one of the few places known to have been inhabited since Stone Age. There are evidences of settlement in various parts of Tamil Nadu as early as 15,000 BC or BCE (Upper Palaeolithic period of Stone Age). As civilizations evolved around the world so did the inhabitants of this region. There are archaeological evidences showing the existence of more developed tools from this region belonging to 2500 BCE (Neolithic period of the Bronze Age; also known as the early Harappa or Indus Valley civilization period).
History of Tamil Nadu and of the South India is inextricably linked to the developments in the rest of the South Asian region. Dravida Kingdom (considered to be a common reference to all the kingdoms of South India) is referred to in Mahabharata. This would indicate a rather advanced state of the society in the South India by the 9th to 3rd century BCE. This view is supported by various archaeologically significant findings in the South Indian region dating back to the Iron Age (1700 – 26 BCE). Various other findings also highlight the political and social developments in Tamil Nadu during this period. These include noting in Asoka’s edicts of 300 BCE and Hathigumpha inscription in 150 BCE.
The period from 300 BCE to circa 300 AD or CE is known as the Sangam Period or Tamilakam (தமிழகம்) – named after the famous Tamil poets and scholars who lived during this period. Tamilakam covered most of South India.