The Dawn of a People - The Prehistory of Korea

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Humans occupied the Korean peninsula from as early as 500,000 years ago. Paleolithic archaeological sites, with human bones and artifacts, give some clues as to the type of early stone tools and their development over time, while sites from the neolithic period (dating from 6,000 BCE) contain pottery, chipped and ground stone tools, and consist of semi-subterranean houses grouped into small villages[1]. Sites on the east coast contained pottery with raised designs, while slightly later sites on the west coast contained comb-pattern pottery. These pottery styles spread prolifically across the peninsula from approximately 8,000-1,500 BCE. This period was a time of hunting, fishing, and small-scale plant cultivation.

The emergence of undecorated pottery is considered a marker for the next developmental period, which lasted from approximately 1,500 - 300 BCE. It was during this period that agriculture, rice cultivation in particular, developed. Settlements moved from riverbanks to hillsides to make better use of the flat land by the rivers for farming. Burial practices during this period became more advanced, with megalithic dolmens used as tombs for tribal chiefs. Korean dolmens make up over 70 percent of the world's dolmens and some have been registered as UNESCO World Heritages. Use of bronze began during this period, appearing in the form of slender daggers found only on the Korean peninsula and mandolin-shaped daggers which made their way from northwest China all the way to southwest Korea, indicative of widespread trade. However, bronze items were uncommon and reserved for the elite, usually utilized for weapons and ornaments.

Iron is believed to have begun being produced in the 3rd century BCE. It was widely used for agriculture, weapons, and armor and may have contributed to wood-working tools which gave rise to above-ground wooden houses. Primitive forms of ondol, the native Korean underfloor heating system, were used in advanced pit-houses[2] during this period.


[The Dolmen, the face of the prehistoric age (K-HERITAGE)]

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References

  1. Encyclopaedia of Korea
  2. The Korean House