The Korean people share a common heritage in spite of the modern-day split between North and South Korea. Human habitation of the Korean Peninsula dates back 500,000 years. No fossil proven to be Homo erectus has been found in the Korean Peninsula, though a candidate has been reported. Tool-making artifacts from the Palaeolithic period have been found in present-day North Hamgyong, South Pyongan, Gyeonggi, and north and south Chungcheong Provinces of Korea, which dates the Paleolithic Age to half a million years ago, though it may have begun as late as 400,000 years ago or as early as 600,000–700,000 years ago. [Source: Wikipedia +]

The oldest known evidence of modern humans in Korea has been dated to 40,000 to 50,000 years. It is not known what link these people had, if any, to modern Koreans. The earliest known Korean pottery dates back to around 8000 B.C., and evidence of Mesolithic Pit–Comb Ware culture (or Yunggimun pottery) is found throughout the peninsula, such as in Jeju Island. Jeulmun pottery, or "comb-pattern pottery", is found after 7000 B.C., and is concentrated at sites in west-central regions of the Korean Peninsula, where a number of prehistoric settlements, such as Amsa-dong, existed. Jeulmun pottery bears basic design and form similarities to that of Mongolia, the Amur and Sungari river basins of Manchuria, the Jōmon culture in Japan, and the Baiyue in Southern China and Southeast Asia. +

Excavations have found pottery and stone tools from Neolithic-age settlements ca. 4000 B.C. and evidence that by 2000 B.C. a pottery culture had spread to the peninsula from China. Starting in about 1100 B.C., migration from China into the Korean Peninsula established the city of Pyongyang. By the fourth century B.C., a number of walled-town states had been noted in Korea by Chinese officials. The most illustrious site, known to historians as Old Chosun, was located in what today is the southern part of northeastern China and northwestern Korea. Old Chosun civilization was based on bronze culture and consisted of a political federation of walled towns. [Source: Library of Congress, May 2005]

Archaeological evidence demonstrates that agricultural societies and the earliest forms of social-political complexity emerged in the Mumun pottery period (c. 1500–300 B.C.). People in southern Korea adopted intensive dry-field and paddy-field agriculture with a multitude of crops in the Early Mumun Period (1500–850 B.C.). The first societies led by big-men or chiefs emerged in the Middle Mumun (850–550 B.C.), and the first ostentatious elite burials can be traced to the Late Mumun (c. 550–300 B.C.). Bronze production began in the Middle Mumun and became increasingly important in ceremonial and political society after 700 B.C.. Archeological evidence from Songguk-ri, Daepyeong, Igeum-dong, and elsewhere indicate that the Mumun era was the first in which chiefdoms rose, expanded, and collapsed. The increasing presence of long-distance trade, an increase in local conflicts, and the introduction of bronze and iron metallurgy are trends denoting the end of the Mumun around 300 B.C. +

50,000-Year-Old Human Footprints Found in South Korea

Fossilized human footprints, dated to around 50,000 years ago, men have been discovered for the first time in Asia, in South Korea, cultural authorities there said. AFP reported: “Some 100 detailed footprints from the Paleolithic Age, which dates back 50,000 years, were found on the southern coast of the southern island of Jeju in October 2003, the Cultural Properties Administration said. The Cultural Properties Adminis-tration has declared the site as a national treasure and cordoned it off. [Source: AFP, February 7, 2004]

“This is first discovery of Paleolithic men's fossilized footprints in Asia and the world's seventh, according to officials of the Cultural Properties Administration. The six other countries where they were found are Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Italy, France and Chile. The footprints, which were found on sedimentary rocks composed of volcano ashes, were highly detailed and were complete with heels, medial arches and balls. Their lengths were between 21 and 25 centimeters (8.4-10 inches).

“Also preserved on the rocks were the footprints of elephants, horses and deer and tracks of birds, fish, mollusks and sea plants. "These priceless relics testify that Stone Age men inhabited Jeju and enable us to surmise the physical features of our Paleolithic ancestors," said Archeologist Kim Jeong-Yul, who led the discovery. “If they are really the footprints of elephants, it is highly likely that the climate of the Korean Peninsula was warmer during the middle Paleolithic age than it is now,” said Ku Tae-hee of Kyung Hee University.

About 100 footprints were found. Kim. A professor at the Korea National University of Education, said: “Three different-size footprints were discovered, indicating that they belong to persons of at least three different ages. “This is solid evidence of Paleolithic human activity in Jeju.” Other Paleolithic era relics have been found on Jeju in the past. Yang Seong-young, professor emeritus of Kyungpook National University, said the fossilized human footprints supported the theory that the Yellow Sea did not exist 50,000 years ago. The depth of the sea is now 50 meters at the deepest point, and Mr. Yang said Jeju Island, the Korean Peninsula and mainland China were probably all linked at the time. “It is possible that the route down the peninsula was not the only way for Paleolithic men to have arrived in Jeju,” he said. [Source: Korea, Joong An Daily, February 6, 2004]

World's ‘Oldest’ Rice: 15,000-Year-Old Grains Found in Korea?

In 2003, South Korean researchers said they had found 15,000-year-old burnt rice grains at a site in South Korea, claiming it was evidence of the world's oldest rice and challenging the idea that rice was first cultivated in China. However, the evidence remains controversial in the academic community.

AFP reported: “South Korean archaeologists said they had found the world's oldest known domesticated rice, pushing back by thousands of years the recorded origins of Asia's staple food. Radioactive dating of the 59 burnt grains of rice found in central South Korea has pushed back the date for the earliest known cultivation of the plant to somewhere between 14,000 and 15,000 years ago, they said. “This discovery challenges the accepted view about where rice originated and how it evolved," said Professor Lee Yung-Jo of Chungbuk National University in Cheongju. [Source: AFP, October 22, 2003 \=] \=\

Dr David Whitehouse of the BBC wrote: Lee and Woo Jong-yoon of Chungbuk National University in South Korea found the ancient grains during excavations in the village of Sorori in the Chungbuk Province... DNA analysis shows the early rice sample to be different from the modern intensively farmed varieties, thereby offering scientists the opportunity to study the evolution of one of the world's principal food sources. The region in central Korea where the grains were found is one of the most important sites for understanding the development of Stone Age man in Asia. [Source: Dr David Whitehouse, BBC, October 21, 2003]

Carbonized rice grains, which were found near the Yellow River and Yangtze River in China and were considered to be the world's oldest rice, were dated between 10,500 and 11,000 years ago. Lee told AFP: “It suggests that rice may have also evolved in areas which are far north from there." Sorori is located between 36 and 37 degrees of latitude north. According to Lee, the excavations were made between 1997 and 1998 and again in 2001. \=\

Doubts About the 15,000-Year-Old Rice Found in Korea

Some researchers refuted the claim about the about the 15,000-year-old rice found in Korea In “The emergence of rice agriculture in Korea: archaeobotanical perspectives” an article published in “Special Issue: The Archaeobotany of Asian Rice.", Sung-Mo Ahn, wrote: “Argument for the earliest evidence of domesticated rice at the Sorori site, 15,000 years ago, is invalid. The evidence for rice cultivation in the Neolithic (Chulmun) is still insufficient although rice remains have been reported from a few late Neolithic sites in central-western Korea which dated to about 3000 B.C.. The existence of rice agriculture in the Bronze Age (Early and Middle Mumun: c.1300?~?300 B.C.), on the other hand, is demonstrated by the high percentage and/or frequency of rice remains among crops recovered from various sites, as well as through the numerous findings of paddy fields.

“Rice appears to have been introduced from the Liaodong region, China, while so called ‘southern diffusion route’ that the beginning of rice cultivation was first stimulated by influences from Southeast Asia or South China is no more valid. Charred rice remains recovered from the Bronze Age dwellings consist of dehusked clean grains and weedy seeds are very rare among samples containing rice grains, which could be related with the harvesting and processing methods of rice."

7,000-Year-Old Oar and Boat Found in South Korea Marshes

In 2010, South Korean archaeologists announced that that they have unearthed a rare neolithic period wooden boat oar, believed to date back about 7,000 years but still in good condition. AFP reported: “The oar was discovered in mud land in Changnyeong, 240 kilometres (140 miles) southeast of Seoul, the Gimhae National Museum said. "This is a very rare find, not only in South Korea but also in the world," museum researcher Yoon On-Shik told AFP. "We have to check with Chinese artefacts to confirm whether it is the oldest watercraft ever found in the world." One of the oldest boats or related artefacts was found in China's Zhejiang province in 2005 and was believed to date back about 8,000 years. [Source: AFP, August 17, 2010]

“The oar, which was found intact in its entirety, is 1.81 metres (nearly six feet) long. "The oar was well preserved because fine mud layers completely blocked oxygen from decaying it," Yoon said. It was uncovered on August 11 at a site where experts in 2004 unearthed the fragments of what is believed to be two up to 8,000-year-old canoe-like boats, which are believed to have been 13.1 feet long in their original state.

The oar and boats were made from pine trees, Yoon said. The technique that made them indicate there might have been a certain form of neolithic period trade using boats between Japan and the Korean peninsula. "With this set, we can picture trade between the Korean peninsula and Japan, sailing techniques and a lifestyle back then," Yoon said, pointing to a similar find in Japan. Japanese archaeologists discovered an oar, believed to date back about 6,000 years, on the Sea of Japan (East Sea) coast in 1999.

The oar and a boat were found in the Upo Wetland, located in Changnyeong-gun County, Gyeongsangnam-do Province, and the largest riverine wetland in South Korea. According to UNESCO: Recent archaeological discoveries such as an old wooden boat found in Bibongri Shell Mound Site confirm that in the past the inland area of Changnyeong region was affected by the intrusion of sea water that flowed along the Nakdonggang River. The small riverine marshes surrounding Upo were also created in this process. The shell mounds are very important evidence in understanding the creation of Upo and its adjacent wetlands. The wooden boat found in the shell mound is estimated to be 7500 years old, which places it amongst the world's oldest boats such as those found in Kuwait and China (8000~7000 years). The shell mounds, a pit for storing acorns and fishery tools, are believed to have been used by people in communities who lived along the seashore, being evidence of prehistoric lifestyles in this area. Besides, other archeological discoveries including stone pestles, grinding stones, wooden goods, pottery shards and a mesh bag significantly enhances the site's archeological value. These archeological relics prove the previous interaction with sea water in this area which is now regarded as a freshwater zone, and also provides a glimpse of lifestyles of the Neolithic era. It also reveals how the relationship between the wetland and human beings has changed with the flow of time.” [Source: UNESCO]

First Koreans

Scholars assume that present-day Koreans did not descend from the Paleolithic humans that inhabited the Korean Peninsula half a million years ago, but may be linked to the Neolithic age (from 4,000-3,000 B.C.) humans who inhabited the area, identified archaeologically by the ground and polished stone tools and pottery they used. Around 2,000 B.C., a new pottery culture spread into Korea from China. These people practiced agriculture in a settled communal life, and are widely supposed to have had consanguineous clans as their basic social grouping. Korean historians in modern times sometimes assume that the clan leadership systems characterized by councils of nobles (hwabaek) that emerged in the subsequent Silla period can be traced back to these neolithic peoples, and that a mythical "child of the sn," an original Korean, also was born then. There is no hard evidence, however, to support such beginnings for the Korean people. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1993]

Koreans descended from nomadic people from northwest Asia. Based on linguistic and DNA evidence, scholars suggest that the first Koreans descended from the Tungus people of the Altai region of Mongolia and Siberia — where the Turks, Hungarians, Mongolians and Finns also came from — and migrated from Central Asia to present-day Liaoshi and Manchuria (regions in China) and the Korean peninsula. There is still a large population of Koreans in China today.

Three Korean tribes — the Mahan, the Chinchan, and the Pynhan — settled in the river valleys and fertile plains of the south. A fourth tribe, the Koguryo settled in the colder north. Koreans generally trace their origin back to the Old Chosun culture (2333 to 194 B.C.), the first Korean state to possess bronze, which arose in northwestern Korea. Rice farming was introduced to Korea and Japan from China in the second millennium B.C., bronze metallurgy arrived around 1000 B.C., and iron making began around 400 B.C..

It is theorized that Koreans are descendents of a mix of the Mongolian peoples who migrated into Manchuria (the northeastern part of China continguous with the Korean peninsula) and later waves of Yue/ Tai/ Dai people who migrated northwards from Southeast Asia, roughly following the coast. It is plausible that the indigenous groups along this route weren't welcoming towards the migrants, and migrants continued northward until they found an unoccupied area they could claim for themselves. Another theory is that Koreans descend from a group which migrated from Siberia. Japanese originated from a similar mix of Ancient peoples.

Korean DNA

Studies of mtDNA, which relate to maternal line gene flow, and Y chromosome studies of male-mediated gene flow show slightly different patterns but have common haplotypes that show strong affiliations of both Japanese and Koreans to the Chinese and of Japanese to Koreans:

Population studies of genetic markers such as HLA variation and mitochondrial DNA have been used to understand human origins, demographic and migration history. Recently, diversity on the nonrecombining portion of the Y chromosome (NRY) has been applied to the study of human history. Since NRY is passed from father to son without recombination, polymorphisms in this region are valuable for investigating male-mediated gene flow and for complementing maternally based studies of mtDNA. Haplotypes constructed from Y-chromosome markers were used to trace the paternal origins of Korean. By using 38 Y chromosome single nucleotide polymorphism markers, the genetic structure of 195 Korean males was analyzed.

The Korean males were characterized by a diverse set of 4 haplogroups (Groups IV, V, VII, X) and 14 haplotypes that were also present in Chinese. The most frequent haplogroup in Korean was Group VII (82.6 percent). It was also the most frequent haplogroup in Chinese (95 percent) as well as in Japanese (45 percent). The frequencies of the haplogroups V, IV, and X were 15.4 percent, 1 percent, and 1 percent, respectively. The second most frequent haplogroup V in Korean was not present in Chinese, but its frequency was similar in Japanese. [Source: Sunghee Hong, Seong-Gene Lee, Yongsook Yoon, Kyuyoung Song, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 388-1 Poongnap-dong, Songpa-ku, Seoul, Korea, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com |||]

Ancient Koreans, Chinese and Japanese and Their DNA

Analysis of skull shapes and DNA has shown that modern Japanese are close genetic kin to Koreans and Chinese. Aileen Kawagoe wrote in Heritage of Japan: The DNA sequencing picture that emerges today shows the central Honshu people of Japan to be genetically just a little closer to Sino-Tibetan and Han Chinese (from the Jiangsu region who were possibly rice-farming immigrants during the Yayoi era) evidenced by the specific genetic Y markers found in Japanese today (ie O3a5, O3a and O1), in their mix than to modern-day Koreans whose ancestors contributed significantly to the Japanese gene pool probably during Koguryo and Paekche migrations into Japan of the Kofun era to Asuka eras around 2000 years ago. One surprising point that emerges from a look at both mtDNA and Y Haplogroups charts, is that the Koreans show an even closer genetic affinity to Okinawans (and therefore to the Jomon stock) than mainland Honshu Japanese do themselves…comprising 17.4 percent of their DNA sequence compared to the Japanese 16.1 percent of their DNA sequence. [Source: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com]

“Surprisingly, Japanese also display the highest frequency of haplogroup O3a5, which is a Han Chinese and Sino-Tibetan specific O3 branch. Japanese Haplogroup O3a5 (O3e) 10/47= 23 percent This frequency is about 5 percent higher than the frequency of O3a5 among Manchus, Koreans and other Northeast Asians. For North Koreans, the frequency of O3a5 is even lower than some Tungusic populations. Overall, the Koreanic haplogroup O3 were the least influenced by Sinitic populations. |||

“Whereas pure haplogroup C3 (M217-no subclade) was observed at a high frequency among Tungusic (20 percent) and Koreanic (16 percent) populations. The frequency of haplogroup C3 among Japanese was only 1 percent. This means that Japanese origins were not as prominently from Siberia as was commonly thought, since Japanese bear more of C1, whereas C3 is found only in northern populations of Japan. Haplogroup D was observed among Japanese (25 percent) and Tibetans (40 percent); it was also observed among Han Chinese, Mongolians and Koreans. |||

The DNA sequence SNP study done by Japanese researchers in 2005 (the biggest contributor of DNA of each East Asian people is bolded) showed the following results: 1) Korean DNA sequence is made up of: A) 40.6 percent Uniquely Korean; B) 21.9 percent Chinese; C) 1.6 percent Ainu; D) 17.4 percent Okinawan; E) 18.5 percent Unidentified. 2) Japanese DNA sequence is made up of: A) 4.8 percent Uniquely Japanese; B) 24.2 percent Korean; C) 25.8 percent Chinese; D) 8.1 percent Ainu; E) 16.1 percent Okinawan; and F) 21 percent Unidentified. 3) Chinese DNA sequence is made up of: A) 60.6 percent Uniquely Chinese; B) 1.5 percent Japanese; C) 10.6 percent Korean; E) 1.5 percent Ainu; F) 10.6 percent Okinawan; G) 15.2 percent Unidentified. The biggest components in Japanese are Chinese, Korean, Okinawan. Overall, Japanese are closest to Tibetans and Han Chinese, but only marginally more so than to the Koreans.

Genetic Data on the Migration of People from Korea to Japan

Kawagoe wrote: The Haplogroup O expansion A second immigration wave arrived in Japan 2,000-4,000 years ago, and was composed of Yayoi people who brought rice cultivation (as well as weaving and metal working) from Korea and North Eastern Asia. At this date, the land bridges to Japanese islands were submerged and sea-faring migrations must have been responsible for the spread of the Yayoi. Japanese are also carriers of O — subclade O3 is major branch represented in East Asia — which is connected to agricultural revolution in Neolithic Era. The Yayoi origins are estimated to have contributed approximately 52 percent of the current population, while the Jomon contribution is estimated at 40 percent. [Source: Aileen Kawagoe, Heritage of Japan website, heritageofjapan.wordpress.com |||]

“Beside the O3 subclade, Yayoi have also been identified with the O2b1 subclade (SNP 47z). The analysis of haplotypes in the O2b1 subclade reveals a star-like network, which fits well with a model of a major or single founding lineage contributing to a Japanese population. The precursor to the O2b1 subclade, O2b (SNP SRY465), is also abundant in Japan. STR haplotyping in the O2b subclade shows a higher diversity in the Korean population versus the Japanese population, supporting an older age and probable origin in the Korean Peninsula."

“In addition to the other O subclades, the O2a subclade is found in Japan and was also probably introduced at a more recent date with the expansion of rice cultivation. O2a is however associated with Southern East Asia and with speakers of Austro-Asiatic languages (non Austro-Asiatic groups also have good levels of O2a ~ 15 percent). (O2a is also very abundant in India, and another proposed as the ancestral home of this Y-chromosome type) but the frequency of O2a (97 percent) peaks in the unique population of the Mang. A study of the Mang population who live near the border between China and Vietnam in SEAS found only 3 haplogroups: O2a (SNP M95), O3a3b (SNP M7) and O3a3c (SNP M134). The genetic signature is unique and suggests that this is an indigenous population. The Mang have a short stature, live by foraging and have a language related to Mon Khmer. |||

“Because the Yayoi spread from south to north – their highest influence is in Kyushu, which lies closest to the Korean Peninsula. However, the Haplogroup O genetic signature of the Yayoi is not found in Hokkaido, the northernmost island. The geographically separate southern Ryukyu Islands (the largest island is Okinawa) were also spared the domination by Yayoi. Essentially, the distribution of Haplogroup O (highest central location) is the reciprocal of Haplogroup D (highest in north and south). Thus, the island archipelago structure helped to create barriers and genetic structure throughout Japan. New research establishes that native Okinawans and Hokkaido's Ainu share genetic characteristics that pre'date Yayoi arrivals. |||

Origins of the Korean Nation

As is true of all countries, Korea's geography was a major factor in shaping its history; geography also influenced the manner in which the inhabitants of the peninsula emerged as a people sharing the common feeling of being Koreans. The Korean Peninsula protrudes southward from the northeastern corner of the Asian continent and is surrounded on three sides by large expanses of water. Although Japan is not far from the southern tip of this landmass, in ancient times events on the peninsula were affected far more by the civilizations and political developments on the contiguous Asian continent than by those in Japan. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada and William Shaw, Library of Congress, 1990*]

Because the Yalu and Tumen rivers have long been recognized as the border between Korea and China, it is easy to assume that these rivers have always constituted Korea's northern limits. But such was not the case in the ancient period. Neither of the rivers was considered to be sacrosanct by the ancient tribes that dotted the plains of Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula. Because the rivers freeze in the winter, large armies were able to traverse them with ease. Even when the rivers were not frozen, armies equipped with iron tools could easily build ships to cross them.

The Korean people trace their origins to the founding of the state of Chosun. Chosun rose on the banks of the Taedong River in the northwestern corner of the peninsula and prospered as a civilization possessing a code of law and a bronze culture. The Chosun people gradually extended their influence not only over other tribes in the vicinity, but also to the north, conquering most of the Liaodong Basin. However, the rising power of the feudal state of Yen in northern China (1122-225 B.C.) not only checked Chosun's growth, but eventually pushed it back to the territory south of the Ch'ongch'on River, located midway between the Yalu and Taedong rivers. The Chinese had discovered iron by this time and used it extensively in farming and warfare; the Chosun people were not able to match them. Yen became established in the territory vacated by Chosun.

Chinese Influences and Intrusions on Earliest Korea

Chinese sources assert that Ki-tze (Kija), a Shang dynasty refugee, founded a colony at Pyongyang in 1122 B.C., but the first Korean ruler recorded in contemporaneous records is Wiman, possibly a Chinese invader who overthrew Old Chosun and established his rule in N Korea in 194 B.C. Chinese forces subsequently conquered (c.100 B.C.) the eastern half of the peninsula. Lolang, near modern Pyongyang, was the chief center of Chinese rule. [Source: “Columbia Encyclopedia”, 6th ed., The Columbia University Press]

Much of what subsequently came to constitute China proper had been unified for the first time under Qin Shi Huangdi. Subsequently, Yen fell to the Qin state; the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.) was in turn replaced by a new dynasty, the Han (206 B.C.- A.D. 220). In 195 B.C. a former officer of Yen took over the throne of Chosun by trickery, after which he and his descendants ruled the kingdom for eighty years; but in 109-108 B.C. China attacked Chosun and destroyed it as a political entity. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada and William Shaw, Library of Congress, 1990*]

The Han Chinese then ruled the territory north of the Han River as the Four Eastern Districts; the original territory of Chosun became Lolang (or Nangnang in Korean). (North Korean historians have argued that the Lolang District was located more to the northwest of the Korean Peninsula, perhaps near Beijing. This theory, however, has not been universally accepted.) Until the Han period the Korean Peninsula had been a veritable Chinese colony. During some 400 years, Lolang, the core of the colony, had become a great center of Chinese art, philosophy, industry, and commerce. Many Chinese immigrated into the area; the influence of China extended beyond the territory it administered. The tribal states south of the Han River paid tribute to the Chinese and patterned much of their civilization and government after Chinese models.

Earliest Korean Ironworking Maybe Came from Russia Not China

The earliest source of Korean ironworking technology may have been Russian (Jankowski Culture) not Chinese. In 2008, the Korea Institute at Harvard University reported: “Korean and Russian archaeologists have discovered at the Barabash-3 settlement site about 2000 artifacts including earthen vessels and nine iron artifacts, such as an ax and an arrowhead. They also discovered at two Parhae (Bohai) sites 400 meters and 200 meters apart from the Barabash excavation, similar artifacts which shows that the Barabash excavated artifacts are related to those in the Korean peninsula. [Source: Early Korea Project, Korea Institute, Harvard University March 27, 2008]

“The excavations are highly significant — excavated iron items suggest that the earliest source of ironwork technology of Korea may not have been Chinese, but may be traceable to the Jankowski Culture (Russia). The technology predates Chinese ironworking technology by 2 to 3 centuries. Experts claims that the newly excavated ironware is made of gray cast iron, which predates the Chinese ironwork by 2 to 3 centuries. In the village of Barabash, 70km away from the border between Korea and Russia in a direction of Vladivostok, archaeologists have finished excavating an iron manufacturing workshop from sometime between the 7th and 5th centuries B.C.

“Until now, the widely held view was that ironworking in East Asia was introduced at least before the 4th century B.C. because full-scale usage of ironware was attested in China dating from the 5th century B.C. However, the result of this excavation shows that another source of Korean ironworking technology existed besides the route from China. The Korean-Russian Border Group for the Excavation of Prehistoric Remains from Pukyong University (director: Kang In-uk) and the Prehistoric Relics Department of the Russia Far Eastern Archeology Institute (director: N. Kluev) worked together to investigate the settlement site, which they named Barabash-3, from June 25th to July 14th. As a result, 2000 artifacts were found, including earthen vessels and nine iron artifacts, such as an ax and an arrowhead.

“At two sites 400 meters and 200 meters apart from the excavation, artifacts from the Parhae (Bohai) was discovered, which shows that these artifacts are related to those in the Korean peninsula. Interestingly, no stone axes were found in this site. On the other hand, almost of all of the iron relics were axes and fragments of axes. This shows that stone axes had already been replaced by iron axes at this period.

“The Jankowski culture to which the Barabash remains belonged is in an area in which stone swords were used at that time, and stone swords were also found in the archaeological remains. A crescent-shaped stone knife were also excavated, showing that these relics have relevance to the civilizations of the Korean peninsula. Since the late 1950’s, the Russian archeology academic circle has claimed that the Iron Age of the Maritime Province started during the 9th century B.C. A. P. Derevianko, director of the Siberian Research Association of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Russian Science Academy, claims that the iron technology came into central Asia at a relatively early time, when the inhabitants began to use ironware without first passing through the Bronze Age.

“Lee Nam-Kyu, a professor at Hansin University, claims that the newly excavated ironware is made of gray cast iron, which predates the Chinese ironwork by 2 to 3 centuries. Scholars of the history of iron technology generally believe that cast iron first appeared in China during the 5th century B.C., but that it as gray iron. Gray iron, which is made by adding graphite, needs more developed technology than white iron. This technology first appeared during the 2nd century B.C. in China and had spread all over the country by the 1st century B.C. The recently excavated iron manufacturing workshop is assumed to have been destroyed on purpose by its workers when they relocated. Blacksmiths of the Balhae or Yeojin (Jurchen) also destroyed their facilities before migrations in order to prevent others from discovering their technology.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.

Text Sources: South Korean government websites, Korea Tourism Organization, Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2021

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