The history of the Tamils present an exciting pageant of a powerful civilization whose origin dates back to ancient times. It is clear that the Tamils, who belong to the Dravidian race, were the first major occupants of the country and settled in the northwestern part of India long before the coming of the Indo-Aryans. Excavations have revealed that the features of the people of the Indus Valley Civilization bore a strong resemblance to this race.
However, with the advent of the Aryans, the Dravidians were pushed back into the deep south where they ultimately settled.
The Tamil Sangam, which marks the Golden Age of Tamil literature, is the one major source of knowledge about the administration, art, architecture and economic conditions that existed then.It is not very clear to pinpoint the exact period when the great Tamil Sangam (Academy) flourished, though it can be said with some certainty that two Sangams were held well before the Christian era and the third between 100 and 250 AD. Among some of the greatest compositions of the four centuries of Sangam age are Tiruvalluvar's Thirukkural which consists of 1330 couplets about morality in private and public life combined with some of life's greatest truths, compositions of the saint-poetess Avviayar, Pathupatu or ten Idylls which is a compilation of the work of several authors on philosophy, intermingled with descriptions of the natural world and Ettuthogai or the eight anthologies. Of these, the last is historically the most important as it contains a description of the daily life of the people. This collection of poems is the earliest record of its kind as far as the history of the Tamils is concerned.