NARA–The Nara prefectural Kashihara Archaeological Institute has announced that pieces of a vessel-shaped haniwa clay object with rare markings has been excavated at the Suyama ancient burial mound in Koryocho, Nara Prefecture.
The patterned pieces are believed to be part of a talisman and were found on the north side of the 220-meter-long, keyhole-shaped tomb mound built between the late fourth century and the early fifth century.
Three years ago, a wooden ship with similar surface patterns was excavated from the moat surrounding the tomb.
“The discovery indicates that people from that age shared a view that souls of the dead are transported to the afterlife by a ship,” an institute researcher said Thursday,
The patterns carved on the surface are known as chokko-mon, which combine straight and curved lines. It is only the second vessel-shaped clay object with these kinds of markings ever excavated in the nation.
The researchers excavated about 50 pieces of the clay object from a spot near where the mound meets the moat.
They believe that the entire clay object originally measured 1.3 to 1.4 meters long and 50 centimeters tall–the largest among vessel-shaped clay objects ever found in the country.