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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Gracious and Groovy Gaya (3G), Part VI: Daeseong-dong Tumuli Site, Gimhae, Southern Gyeongsang

The tumuli in Daeseong-dong, located to the east of the Royal Tomb of King Suro (26 Garak Avenue 93rd Street/Garak-ro 93beon-gil, Seosang-dong 312-beonji), reflect the formation and development of the Gaya Era. The Daeseong-dong Tumuli are located in the center of the shell mounds of Hoehyeon-ri, setting of the founding of the Gaya Kingdom (according to local legend). On the hilltops, which were viewed as prime burial places, are the tombs of kings and rulers; on the slopes are the tombs of the lower classes. 

The site is excavated 3 times by the museum of Kyungsung University between 1990 and 1991. The site is the tombs of ruling class of Geumgwan Gaya between 2nd ~6th Century CE. Diverse grave types including wood coffins, wooden burial chambers, stone coffins, stone burial chambers, and jar coffins have been discovered. Especially in a wooden burial chamber that seemed to be a tomb of ruling class of Geumgwan Gaya, various relics were found and these revealed the true status of Gaya culture that had the advanced ironware culture and cavalry army. In addition, mirrors of the late Han Period of China, cylinder shaped bronzeware and swirl pattern bronzeware that are usually found in Japanese tumuli were found. They are very important material for the research of the trading relations between Korea, China, and Japan at the time. 

A total of 136 tumuli were found in the Daeseong-dong area. Further investigation of the tumuli revealed several important and interesting facts. First, from the end of the third century, men and horses were buried alive along with the dead. Also, weapons were bent and buried as well, with many of these artifacts being unearthed among the tumuli. Other materials found in the tumuli such as cylindrical bronze items, pinwheel-shaped bronze items, and jasper items showed that Gaya was involved in trade with Japan. The Daeseong-dong Tumuli is significant in that it gives a glimpse into the political and social structure of the Gaya Kingdom, and the cultural exchange between Korea, China, and Japan. A repair project started in July 2001 and the Tumuli Museum was opened in August 2003.

The Daeseong-dong Tombs Museum (Hanja: 大城洞古墳博物館) in 126 Gayaui-gil, Daeseong-dong 434-beonji, Gimhae, Southern Gyeongsang displays artifacts unearthed from the four excavations of the Daeseong-dong Tumuli. Highlighting often overlooked relics of the Geumgwan Gaya, the museum has three ground floor exhibit halls and several underground auxiliary facilities. Main exhibits include a life-sized statue of a mounted solider and a statue of a warrior, both of which were recreated based on bones excavated from the tumuli of Yean-ri. The museum relies heavily on the use of videos and dioramas to help visitors explore all that the museum has to offer.