Some scholars believe that they are pre-Mauryan script but which is not yet crystallized.Prakrit Inscriptions with some Telugu words dating back to 400 BC to 100 BC have been discovered in Bhattiprolu in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.
Telugu was more influenced by Sanskrit and Prakrit during this period, which corresponded to the advent of Telugu literature.
Telugu literature was initially found in inscriptions and poetry in the courts of the rulers, and later in written works such as Nannayya's Mahabharatam (1022 AD).
According to linguist Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, Telugu, as a Dravidian language, descends from Proto-Dravidian, a proto-language.
Linguistic reconstruction suggests that Proto-Dravidian was spoken around the third millennium BC, possibly in the region around the lower Godavari river basin in peninsular India.
Dated between 200 BCE and 200 CE, a Prakrit work called Gāthā Saptaśatī written by Sathavahana King Hala, Telugu words like అత్త (Aunt), వాలుంకి, పీలుఅ, పోట్టం, కిలించిఅః, అద్దాఏ, భోండీ, సరఅస్స, తుప్ప, ఫలహీ, వేంట, రుంప-రంప, మడహసరిఆ, వోడసుణఓ, సాఉలీ and తీరఏ have been used.
According to the native tradition Telugu grammar has an ancient past.
The third phase is marked by further stylization and sophistication of the literary language.
During this period the split of the Telugu and Kannada alphabets took place. The Vijayanagara Empire gained dominance from 1336 to the late 17th century, reaching its peak during the rule of Krishnadevaraya in the 16th century, when Telugu literature experienced what is considered its Golden Age.
This is evidenced by the first inscription that is entirely in Telugu, dated 575 AD, which was found in the Rayalaseema region and is attributed to the Renati Cholas, who broke with the prevailing custom of using Sanskrit and began writing royal proclamations in the local language.