The book is based on the author's extensive fieldwork carried
in two spells between 1962-66 and 1991-1996.
The study deals comprehensively with the epigraphy, language and contents
the inscriptions. The texts are given in transliteration with translation and an
extensive word by word commentary.
The inscriptions are illustrated with tracings made directly from
estampages and direct photographs.
Palaeography of the Tamil-Brahmi and Early Vatteluttu scripts is described
with the help of letter charts. The special orthographic and grammatical
features of the earliest Tamil inscriptions are described in this work for the
A glossary of inscriptional words and several classified word lists
have been added to aid further research.
The introductory chapters deal with the discovery and decipherment of
inscriptions relating their language and contents to early Tamil literature and
The recently discovered Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions on pottery and
objects like coins, seals, rings, etc., have also been utilised to present a
more complete picture of early Tamil epigraphy.
IRAVATHAM MAHADEVAN (b. 1930) is a specialist in Indian epigraphy,
especially in the fields of Indus and Brahmi scripts. He was awarded the
Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1970 for his research in Indus script and
the National Fellowship of the Indian Council of Historical Research
in 1992 for his work on Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions.
His book, The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables (1977)
is recognised internationally as a major source book for research
in the Indus script. He has also published Corpus of the
Tamil-Brahmi Inscriptions (1966), besides numerous papers on
several aspects of the Tamil-Brahmi script.
He has served as the Co-ordinator, International Association
of Tamil Research, for 10 years (1980-90). He was elected
he President of the Annual Congress of the Epigraphical
Society of India in 1998 and the General President of the
Indian History Congress for its session in 2001.
He served the Indian Administrative Service and retired
voluntarily to devote himself to full-time academic pursuits.
He lives in Chennai.
To be released in March 2003