the revealing studies on the process of state
formation of state power in a pre-state society.
• The earliest phase in the process of state formation in the far south has
been identified in the proto-historic period with the emergence of
micro-eco-zones or primary habitats of communities depending on the
possible subsistence forms. Here, the existence of clan based
chieftains is envisaged. The five types of terrains (tinais) mentioned
in the ancient Tamil literature have been recognised as the basic eco-
zones or macro-eco-zones.
• The formation of macro-eco-zones through the interaction of the
micro-eco-zones is the next phase, characterised by the emergence of
• The final stage has been associated with the gradual integration of
several macro-eco-zones into a larger primary region (nadu) in the
early historic period, witnessing the formation of the perfect state.
Factors Influencing State Formation The factors and forces responsible
for the formation of macro-regions and their integration have been identified
as both internal and external, the former being economic and cultural factors
and the latter, the influence of the Mauryan state and the northern socio-
religious ideas and institutions. The influence of the Mauryan state on Tamil
society is evident from the Tamil anthologies, but there is virtually no
Mauryan presence in the archaeology of the region. The intrusion of northern
social ideas and institutions is well corroborated again by the literary
evidence. However, the role of such external factors in the process of state
formation can hardly be significant when compared to the role of internal
factors, since a state is the result primarily, of internal dynamics.
Transition from Pre-state to State Society It is not yet clear whether the
period really witnessed the whole process of transformation from pre-state to
state society. Clues in the anthologies point more or less to a chiefdom level
society with three categories of political powers: kilar (village headman),
velir (hill chiefs) and ventar (low land chiefs).
• An ur-kilar of the pure type was a clan based headman, with kinship
ties with his people.
• The velir were the hill chiefs who sometimes subjugated the
neighbouring ur-kilar for predatory exaction, but confined their
domain to the respective