This is Volume I of the third Edition of Early Tamil Epigraphy, first published in 2003. The Volume deals with Tamil-Brahmi stone inscriptions discovered up to 2012. The main feature of the edition is that it is based on fresh in situ delineation and digitisation of the cave inscriptions included in the Corpus. The work provides a detailed account of the discovery and decipherment of the inscriptions and relates their language and contents to early Tamil literature and society. Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions on pottery, coins, seals and rings, have also been utilised to present a more complete picture of early Tamil epigraphy. This work provides a detailed account of the discovery and decipherment of the inscriptions and relates their language and contents to early Tamil literature and society. Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions on pottery, coins, seals and rings, have also been utilised to present a more complete picture of early Tamil epigraphy. Two new section deal with Prakrit inscriptions on pottery and other inscribed objects, and Sinhala-Prakrit pottery inscriptions, from Tamilnadu, which bring out the interaction of Tamil-Brahmi with other contemporary languages and scripts of South India and Sri Lanka. The study deals comprehensively with the epigraphy, language and contents of the inscription. The text are given in transliteration with translation and extensive word by word commentary. The inscriptions are illustrated with direct photographs in colour, together with delineations and estampages for comparative study. Palaeography of Tamil-Brahmi is described in detail with the help of letter charts. The special orthographic and grammatical feature of the earliest Tamil inscriptions are also described. A glossary of inscriptional words and several classified word lists have been added to aid further research.
Iravatham Mahadevan (b. 1930) has published Widely on Indian epigraphy, especially on the Indus and Brahmi scripts. He was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1970 for research on the Indus script and the National Fellowship of the Indian Council of Historical Research in 1992 for work on the Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions.
His books, The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables (1977), and Early Tamil Epigraphy (2003) are recognised internationally as major source books for research in these fields.
He has received many awards including, more recently, the title Tamil Chennai from the Madurai Kamaraj University (1995), the Copper Plaque of the Tamilnadu Archaeological Society (1998), the annual award of the Federations of Tamil Sangams of North America (2001), V. Chelvanayakam Award, Colombo (2004), the P.L. Gupta Medal of the Tamilnadu Numismatic Society (2006), the Madras Sanskrit College Centenary Award (2007), the Dravidian University Award for research publications in Dravidian languages (2008), Padma Sri by the President of India (2009), D. Litt degree by the Tamil University, Thanjavur (2009), Tiruvalluvar Award by the Government of Tamilnadu (2010), the Lifetime Literary Achievement Award by the Tamil Literary Academy, Canada (2010), Tolkappiyar Award (Presidential Award for Classical Tamil) for 2009 - 10 instituted by CICT and the Campbell Memorial Gold Medal for 2010 - 12 by the Asiatic Society of Mumbai for distinguished service in Oriental research.
Iravatham Mahadevan joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1954 and retired voluntarily in 1980 to devote himself to academic pursuits. He lives in Chennai.