The diffusion of Indian Civilization and its “great tradition” to the extreme south of the peninsula occurred in the earliest stages by sea, not by land. Such characteristics of civilization as script and literacy, kingship and the state, and organized religions, developed at first in the earliest urban centers in Tamil Nadu, which were located on the coast opposite Ceylon. In the half millennium before Christ there was sea traffic between the coasts of Gujarat and Sind, and Ceylon, which laid the basis for the development of civilization in that island. Early civilization in soutliern Tamil Nadu developed parallel with this, and most of its intrusive features were analogous with those in the island, or were inspired by them. The earliest attractions of the far southern coasts were pearls and gems, which brought merchants, and ultimately, script, religions, and the Pandiyan dynastic traditon. Early civilizations characterized by the Colas and Keralas, as well as in the Andhra deltas, were inspired by sea traffic. Sources are early Tamil and Ceylon Brahmi inscriptions, Tamil Sangam literature, early Ceylon chronicles, etymologies, legends, and some archeology.

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