Annaicoddai seal

Last updated
Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions mixed in with Megalithic Graffiti Symbols found in Annaikottai, Sri Lanka Aanaikkottai seal.jpg
Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions mixed in with Megalithic Graffiti Symbols found in Annaikottai, Sri Lanka

Annaicoddai Seal is a steatite seal that was found in Annaicoddai, Sri Lanka during archeological excavations of a megalithic burial site by a team of researchers from the Jaffna University. The seal contains some of the oldest inscriptions in Tamil-Brahmi mixed with Megalithic Graffiti symbols found on the island. Although many pottery fragments have been found in excavations throughout Sri Lanka and Southern India that had both varieties of Brahmi and Megalithic Graffiti Symbols side by side, Annaicoddai seal is distinguished by having each written in a manner that indicates that the Megalithic Graffiti Symbols may be a translation of the Brahmi characters. Read from right to left, the legend is read as ‘Koveta’ (Ko-vet-a). Linguists read it as in South Dravidian or early Tamil indicating a chieftain or king. Similar inscriptions have been found throughout ancient Tamilakam, in modern day South India. [1] [2] Investigators disagree on whether Megalithic Graffiti Symbols found in South India and Sri Lanka constitute an ancient writing system that preceded the introduction and widespread acceptance of Brahmi variant scripts or non lithic symbols. The purpose of usage remains unclear. [3]

Seal (emblem) device or emblem

A seal is a device for making an impression in wax, clay, paper, or some other medium, including an embossment on paper, and is also the impression thus made. The original purpose was to authenticate a document, a wrapper for one such as a modern envelope, or the cover of a container or package holding valuables or other objects.

Sri Lanka Island country in South Asia

Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is historically and culturally intertwined with the Indian subcontinent, but is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.

Tamil-Brahmi Historical bugida script for Tamil

Tamil-Brahmi, or Tamili aka Tamizhi is a variant of the Brahmi script used to write the Tamil language. These are the earliest documents of a Dravidian language, and the script was well established in the Chera and Pandyan states, in what is now Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Sri Lanka. Inscriptions have been found on cave beds, pot sherds, Jar burials, coins, seals, and rings. The language is Archaic Tamil, and led to classical Sangam literature.

Related Research Articles

Brahmi script ancient script of Central and South Asia

Brahmi, developed in the mid-1st millennium BCE, is the oldest known writing system of Ancient India, with the possible exception of the undeciphered Indus script. Brahmi is an abugida that thrived in the Indian subcontinent and uses a system of diacritical marks to associate vowels with consonant symbols. It evolved into a host of other scripts, called the Brahmic scripts, that continue to be in use today in South and Central Asia.

Tamils ethnic group

The Tamil people, also known as Tamilar, Tamilans or simply Tamils, are an ethnic group who speak the language Tamil as their mother tongue and trace their ancestry to southern India and northern Sri Lanka. Tamils, with a population of around 76 million and with a documented history stretching back over 2,000 years, are one of the largest and oldest extant ethnolinguistic groups in the modern world. Tamils constitute 5.9% of the population in India, 15.3% in Sri Lanka, 6% in Mauritius, approximately 7% in Malaysia and 5% in Singapore.


Eelam is the native Tamil name for the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka. Eelam is also a name for the spurge, toddy and gold. The exact etymology and the original meaning of the word are not clearly known, and there are number of conflicting theories. The Retroflex approximant l in Eelam is a characteristic phoneme for Dravidian languages, retained in closely related Tamil and Malayalam. Conventionally it has been represented in the Latin script with the digraph zh.

The caste systems in Sri Lanka are social stratification systems found among the ethnic groups of the island since ancient times. The models are similar to those found in Continental India, but are less extensive and important for various reasons, although the caste systems still play an important and at least symbolic role in religion and politics. Sri Lanka is often considered to be a casteless or caste-blind society by Indians.

Sri Lankan Tamils Ethnic group

Sri Lankan Tamils or Ceylon Tamils, also known as Eelam Tamils in Tamil, are members of the Tamil ethnic group native to the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka. According to anthropological and archaeological evidence, Sri Lankan Tamils have a very long history in Sri Lanka and have lived on the island since at least around the 2nd century BCE. Most modern Sri Lankan Tamils claim descent from residents of Jaffna Kingdom, a former kingdom in the north of the island and Vannimai chieftaincies from the east. They constitute a majority in the Northern Province, live in significant numbers in the Eastern Province, and are in the minority throughout the rest of the country. 70% of Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka live in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Tamilakam geographical region inhabited by the ancient Tamil people. Tamilakam covered most of modern day Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Lakshadweep and southern parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Tamilakam or Ancient Tamil country refers to the geographical region inhabited by the ancient Tamil people. Tamilakam covered today's Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Lakshadweep and southern parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Traditional accounts and Tholkāppiyam referred these territories as a single cultural area, where Tamil was the natural language and culture of all people. The ancient Tamil country was divided into kingdoms. The best known among them were the Cheras, Cholas, Pandyans and Pallavas. During the Sangam period, Tamil culture began to spread outside Tamilakam. Ancient Tamil settlements were also found in Sri Lanka and the Maldives (Giravarus).


Tamraparni (Tamil/Sanskrit) is an ancient name of a river proximal to Tirunelveli of South India and Puttalam of Western Sri Lanka. A toponym, "Tamraparniyan" is eponymous with the socio-economic and cultural history of this area and its people. Movement of people across the Gulf of Mannar during the early Pandyan and Anuradhapura periods, between the Tirunelveli river of Pothigai, Adam's Peak and the estuary of the Gona Nadi/Kala Oya river of Northwest Sri Lanka, Java and Sumatra led to the shared application of the name for the closely connected region's culture. The entire island of Sri Lanka itself was known in the ancient world as "Tamraparni", with use dating to before the 6th century BC. It is a rendering of the original Tamil name Tān Poruṇai of the Sangam period, "the cool river Porunai".

Early Indian epigraphy

The earliest traces of epigraphy in the Indian Subcontinent are found in the undeciphered inscriptions of the Indus Valley Civilization, which date back to the early 3rd millennium BC. Two other important archeological classes of symbols are found from the 1st millennium BCE, Megalithic Graffiti Symbols and symbols on punch-marked coins, though most scholars do not consider these to constitute fully linguistic scripts, and their semiotic functions are not well understood. The earliest deciphered epigraphic inscriptions of significant length are the Edicts of Ashoka of the 3rd century BCE, written in forms of Prakrit in the Brahmi script. Samanam inscriptions in South India written in Tamil-Brahmi, Bhattiprolu alphabet and the Kadamba alphabet are also of relatively early date. Some Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions discovered at Palani, Erode, and Adichanallur, have been claimed to be as ancient as 500 BCE, but so far only the claimed pre-Ashokan inscriptions at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka have been published academically.

Sources of ancient Tamil history

There are literary, archaeological, epigraphic and numismatic sources of ancient Tamil history. The foremost among these sources is the Sangam literature, generally dated to the last centuries BCE to early centuries CE. The poems in Sangam literature contain vivid descriptions of the different aspects of life and society in Tamilakam during this age; scholars agree that, for the most part, these are reliable accounts. Greek and Roman literature, around the dawn of the Christian era, give details of the maritime trade between Tamilakam and the Roman empire, including the names and locations of many ports on both coasts of the Tamil country.

Nainativu Island in Sri Lanka

Nainativu, is a small but notable island off the coast of Jaffna Peninsula in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. The name of the island alludes to the folklore inhabitants, the Naga people. It is home to the Hindu shrine of Nagapooshani Amman Temple; one of the prominent 64 Shakti Peethas, and the Buddhist shrine Nagadeepa Purana Viharaya.

Kotagama inscriptions

The Kotagama inscriptions found in Kegalle District in Sri Lanka is a record of victory left by the Aryacakravarti kings of the Jaffna Kingdom in western Sri Lanka. The inscription reads;

"The women-folks of lords of Anurai who did not submit to Ariyan of Cinkainakar of foaming and resounding waters shed tears from eyes that glinted like spears and performed the rites of pouring water with gingerly seed from the bejeweled lotus like hands."

Kandarodai is a small hamlet and archaeological site of Chunnakam town, a suburb in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

Jaffna City in Sri Lanka

Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna District located on a peninsula of the same name. With a population of 88,138 in 2012, Jaffna is Sri Lanka's 12th most populous city. Jaffna is approximately six miles from Kandarodai which served as an emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical antiquity. Jaffna's suburb Nallur served as the capital of the four-century-long medieval Jaffna Kingdom.

Tissamaharama Tamil Brahmi inscription refers to a fragment of black and red ware flat dish inscribed in Brahmi script excavated at the earliest layer in southern town of Tissamaharama in Sri Lanka. It is dated to approximately 200 BC by German scholars who undertook the excavation. The inscription is mix of Brahmi letters and Graffiti symbols.

Kudiramalai Hamlet in North Western Province, Sri Lanka

Kudiramalai is a cape and ancient port town on the west coast of Sri Lanka.

When to date the start of the history of the Jaffna kingdom is debated among historians.

Professor Karthigesu Indrapala is a Sri Lankan academic, historian, archaeologist, author and former dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Jaffna.

Megalithic markings, Megalithic graffiti marks, Megalithic symbols or Non-Brahmi symbols are terms used to describe markings found on mostly potsherds found in Central India, South India and Sri Lanka during the Megalithic Iron Age period. They are usually found in burial sites but are also found habitation sites as well. They are tentatively dated from 1000 BCE to 300 CE marking the transition of the proto-historic period into the historic period of South Asia. A number of scholars have tried to decipher the symbols since 1878, and currently there is no consensus as to whether they constitute un-deciphered writing or graffiti or symbols without any syllabic or alphabetic meaning. From archaeological stratigraphy, potsherds with and without symbols are usually found at the lowest level, followed by potsherds with mixed symbols and Brahmi or Tamil Brahmi and eventually at the highest level potsherds are only found with Brahmi or Tamil Brahmi etchings. From around 300 CE, they disappear from grave sites. Scholars such as Iravatham Mahadevan have tried to link the symbols directly to Indus Valley script or as derived due to lingering influence, whereas others such as K. Rajan see the symbols as the genesis of the later Brahmi script. Yet many others see no particular alphabetic value in them only as graffiti symbols used for socio-religious purposes.

Tamil inscriptions Wikimedia list article

This is a list of archaeological artefacts and epigraphs which have Tamil inscriptions. Of the approximately 100,000 inscriptions found by the Archaeological Survey of India in India, about 60,000 were in Tamil Nadu


  1. Indrapala 2007 , pp. 337–338
  2. Raghupathy 1987 , pp. 199–204
  3. Boivin 2003 , pp. 29–31

Cited literature

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Digital object identifier Character string used as a permanent identifier for a digital object, in a format controlled by the International DOI Foundation

In computing, a Digital Object Identifier or DOI is a persistent identifier or handle used to uniquely identify objects, standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An implementation of the Handle System, DOIs are in wide use mainly to identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, research reports and data sets, and official publications though they also have been used to identify other types of information resources, such as commercial videos.