India Intelligence Report

   Thailand Tamil-Brahmi Inscription



  • Inscription in Tamil-Brahmi found in Thailand by French and Thai archaeologists

  • Inscription dates back to 2nd century AD proving large maritime contacts between South India and South East Asia and is the oldest find for this region

  • Researchers have found similar inscriptions in Egypt and Red Sea proving the high civilization of the Tamils

A team of Thai and French archaeologists found a shred of pottery dating back to the 2nd Century Christian era (CE) with three letters including the characteristic Tamil-Brahmi letter ‘Ra’ attesting the prevalence of Tamil civilization and extent of maritime contacts. Pre-eminent Indian epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan said that the three letters read are ‘Tu’ ‘Ra’ ‘o’ that could be “Thuravan” or Tamil word for a “monk.” Monks of different religions, especially Buddhist monks, from South India which was called Tamizhagam at that time traveled extensively to the Far East through the Straits of Malacca through Kadaram which is called Kedah in Malaysia. This is the earliest known Tamil inscription in South East Asia.

Mahadevan said that the world knew “of the existence of a touchstone engraved in Tamil in the Tamil-Brahmi script of about the third or fourth century AD found in Thailand” which is “presently kept in a museum in the ancient port city of Khuan Luk Pat in Southern Thailand.” He expressed hope that “the ongoing excavations of the Thai-French team will bring up more evidence of ancient contacts between India and Thailand.”

Noted American expert on Indian Epigraphy University of Washington Professor Richard Salomon said that he was happy that the “inscription in question is in fact Tamil-Brahmi” because it confirms his suspicion for other reasons. This is the first time there is “a parallel with the situation with Indian inscriptions in Egypt and the Red Sea area. There we find both Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions and standard-Brahmi insciptions; and we now see the same in Vietnam and South-East Asia. This indicates that the overseas trade between India to both the West and the East involved people from the Tamil country and also other regions.”

The Thai-French archaeological team includes Dr. Bérénice Bélina of the Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique, France, and Praon Silpanth, Lecturer, Silpakorn University, Thailand. This discovery was at an excavation at Phu Khao Thong in Thailand.

The Tamil kings were famous for their accurate recording of information in the form of inscriptions at various places including temples, pillars, monuments, graves, and caves. Please visit to find most inscriptions from South India of several dynasties.

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