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        Prehistoric Korea:

Korea is home to some 30,000 (36,000) (2), dolmens, which is over 40 percent of the global total. In South Korea (South Jeolla Province) alone there are around 16,000 dolmens in some 1,900 locations. The rest are in North Korea's Pyeongannam-do (South Pyeongan Province) and Hwanghae-do (Hwanghae Province).

 

   The Korean Dolmens:

Two distinct styles of dolmen exist, a southern style and a northern style. Among the ones that have been recorded, there are more southern-style dolmen than northern style dolmen. The Korean name for dolmen, Goindol, The name "Goindol" means "Supported Stone". "Goin" meaning "Supported", and "Dol" being the Korean word for stone (Similar to prehistoric western European).

Three dolmen sites at Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa, all located on mountain slopes of South Korea, stand out from other places, and were designated World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 2000.

 

The 'Ganghwa Dolmens':

The Ganghwa Dolmen Site, with some 120 dolmens on 12.27 hectares of land, is located high up on the mountainside at an altitude of 100-200 meters in Ganghwa Island. The dolmens found in this region are mostly table-type and presumed to be earlier in kind then those of other regions. It is here that the largest dolmen  - width 7.1m and height 2.6m - is located. (2.6 x 7.1 x 5.5 = 101.53 m³)

The Ganghwa dolmens have been accredited with capstones weighing 300 tons (28) at Gochang, but there is no support for Chatelain's (13) mention of a 600 ton capstone.



The Gochang Dolmens: The Gochang Dolmens are located on 8.38 hectares of land and possess a total 1,686 dolmens in which 447 were designated the World Heritage, and showcases the largest and the most diversified group of these monuments in Korea.

The kinds include table-type (northern type) style, in which four stone pillars sit in the ground with a huge capstone laid on top, a go-board type (southern type) style, where the capstone is laid directly on the burial site, pillar-type dolmens and other various kinds to typify the civilization of early days on the Korean Peninsula. The dolmens range from 1 to 5.8 meters in length. It was designated historical site no. 139 by the Korean government in 1994. In Gochang there is also a prehistoric village with huts and cottages for visitors to step back in time.



The Hwasun Dolmens: The Hwasun Dolmen Site holds a total of 1,323 dolmens on 31 hectares of land. It boasts the highest density of dolmens in the inland area of Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province). Most dolmens were distributed along the plains of Yongsan and rivers of Boseong. Dolmens here are known to be especially large, some over 100 tons and the largest weighing 280 tons. All are preserved in excellent condition.

Other significant aspects are the discovery of a quarry in this area, making it possible to understand the construction of the monoliths. The grave rooms also reveal burial customs at the time of construction and the year of its erection, as well as the social status of those buried. It was designated Historical Site No. 410 in 1998.
 

In Daegokri, Hwasun, Jeonnam, there is a large dolmen which is 710cm long, 400cm wide  and 370cm thick(23.7ft×13.3ft×12.3ft) at the foot of the hill. Daeshinri Dolmens are 760cm long, 420cm wide and 410cm thick (25.3ft×14ft×13.7ft). In this case, it is assumed that 1§© of granite weighs 2.5 and 2.8 tons and as 1§© equals two tons, it weighs 210 and 260 tons. (3)

(More about Dolmens)

 

Palaeolithic Korea

The Palaeolithic humans lived in caves and built nomadic shelters above ground. Evidence of hearths used for cooking and warmth has been found. Palaeolithic people on the Korean Peninsula practiced hunting and gathering. They fashioned arrow heads, and a variety of tools, by chipping rock. Archaeologists suspect, but can not prove, people hunted in communities during this period.

The earliest known Korean pottery dates back to c. 8000 B.C. or before. Known as Yungimun Pottery (ko:융기문토기), the pottery has been found in much of the peninsula. Gosan-ri in Jeju-do, and Ubong-ri in Greater Ulsan, represent examples of Yungimun-era sites. Jeulmun, or Comb-pattern Pottery (즐문토기), can be found after 7000 B.C.

An interesting Palaeolithic habitation site at Seokjang-ri, locality 1, produced some human hairs of Mongoloid species along with limonitic and manganese pigments near and around a hearth, as well as animal figurines such as dog, tortoise and bear made of rock, which were radiocarbon dated around 20,000 years ago. The 'living floor of compact clay was hollowed out in the shape of a whale'. (1)

(Palaeolithic Wisdom)

Article: The oldest boat in the world ?

The remains of an ancient wooden boat were unearthed at the Bibong-ri shell mound site. The site was located at Bibong-ri, Bugog-myeon, Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do in South Korea. A substantial fragment of the vessel was discovered in the lowest layer of the site. We collected 17 samples of charcoal and wood from pebble, sand, and shell layers. Sample preparation extracted the carbon from each sample material and converted it into graphite for AMS radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dates of the samples indicate that they belong to the Neolithic period and that the boat dates from ca. 5,700 BC. To this point, the oldest known boat in the world has been a wooden boat dating from ca. 5,500 BC in China. Other ancient boats from around the world include a log-boat dating from ca. 3,600 BC in Japan and a fleet of wooden boats dating from ca. 3,000 BC in Egypt. The Bibong-ri boat is the first boat from the Neolithic period ever found in South Korea and must represent one of the world’s oldest known boats. (2)

 

(Prehistoric China)

(Prehistoric Japan)

(Prehistoric Pacific)

 

References:

1). http://www.koreaaward.com/kor/106
2). http://www.sciencedirect.com/
3). http://www.dolmen.or.kr/e_html/e_park/sub04/e_park04_01_07.html
13). Maurice Chatelain. Our Cosmic Ancestors. 1987. Temple Golden Publ.
28). http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Gochang,_Hwasun_and_Ganghwa_Dolmen_Sites

 

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