Fish symbol found on ring well at Keeladi

The structure was unearthed during the seventh phase of excavations

October 20, 2021 01:03 am | Updated 06:48 am IST - Madurai

New discovery:  The symbol of a fish appears above the first coir band, on the top-most level of the ring well

New discovery: The symbol of a fish appears above the first coir band, on the top-most level of the ring well

The only ring well with patterned twin coir bands, unearthed during the seventh phase of excavations in Keeladi three months ago, has thrown up another surprise — on the top most of its seven levels, a decorated fish symbol has been found incised.

It appears above the first coir band, carved with thumb impressions. The shape of the fish, with tail, fins and scales, is clear. Only the part with its head is broken. The terracotta ring well, with rope design, was first exposed in July. As the seventh round of excavations drew to a closure last month-end, archaeologists traced it up to a depth of 140 cm, with six rings interlocked one below the other. The seventh layer was found broken. The trenches at the site have been left open because work for the on-site museum is on.

The pits are covered with tarpaulin sheets when it rains. Towards September end, when the staff were taking drone photographs of the antiquities embedded on the walls of the eight quadrants, an outline of a fish was spotted on the outer surface of the ring well.

“After brushing, the diagram became clear,” AO Ajay Kumar told The Hindu . “The excitement of unearthing things from the ancient past never ends with just digging them out,” he said, adding: “The significance of the decoration will have to be ascertained.” The announcement about finding the fish symbol was made when Archaeology Minister Thengam Thennarasu visited the site on Tuesday. He tweeted that Keeladi never ceased to fascinate one about the way people lived on the banks of the Vaigai river.

Seven ring wells have been excavated so far in Keeladi, and of these, two were exposed in the seventh round. The fifth phase unearthed three, the highest so far. The ring wells found in Keeladi not only testify the science behind building the structures, but also their aesthetic sense, said deputy director of the Department R. Sivanandam.

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