A rich and one among the earliest Tamil classic, the Ahananuru was written in the Sangam period. Historians usually date as extending from the 2nd century B.C. up to the 3rd century A.D. There are four hundred stanzas in the Ahananuru which were composed by different poets at various times and places and were compiled by Rudrasarman, son of Madurai Uppurikkudikkilan.
The Ahananuru is replete with references to historical events, mainly about battles and kings and chieftains. In addition to this there is a large amount of information related to social history like the customs and manners of the people of that age - their religion, status of women, marriage customs, food, dress, ornaments, and so forth.
The Ahananuru also includes lifestyle of more than a dozen occupational groups like the agriculturists, hunters, fisherfolk, Brahmins who lived mainly by the performance of Vedic rituals and sacrifices, potters, smiths, etc., are presented here. Interesting details like the salt vendors who moved from place to place in carts drawn by buffaloes and the washermen who washed the clothes using a type of sand are given here.
One can get a clear picture of trade and commerce that prevailed during those days. Gold coins were in vogue and the barter system was also in place. Angadis or the market places where the goods were sold are graphically described as also the modes of transport like mules, which were used as beasts of burden and the swift-moving chariots.
The five geographical areas into which the ancient Tamil country was divided, namely Kurinji, Marudam, Palai, Mullai and Neidal are clearly given here. Descriptions of dwellings from the modest hut to tall, storied buildings provide a very interesting picture of the villages, cities and towns of the time. The superstitions prevalent then, the festivals celebrated the art of painting and sculpture, dance and music, all find mention in this work which provides students of ancient Tamil culture and history with a fund of authentic data.